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Art Gallery of Alberta

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We searched and searched all day to find it and when we finally discovered it we discovered it was not worth the search. Shakespeare said that. Well, at least I think he did. I’m paraphrasing of course. We drove around the city for what felt like hours looking for this art gallery. We didn’t check any maps, or go online, or ask anyone at the hotel for directions, or ask anyone on the street for directions, or look for signs on the street that said Art Gallery of Alberta This Way. We did none of those things. We just searched and searched. It was not worth finding when we got there. Shakespeare said that. I’m paraphrasing.

A Canadian’s idea of art is just paintings of Jack Bush. I knew this going in and I told the young girl at the desk that we wouldn’t be paying full price to see hundreds of paintings of trees. We entered the space reserved for the modern art and then the postmodern art. I reached out to the docent nearest our group. Another young girl, probably 14, or maybe 25. She had one of those bull rings in her nose. I asked her how can something be post modern. Modern times are happening right now, so how can anything be POST this time? It didn’t make any sense to me. The mousy young thing squeaked some gibberish about how postmodernism was a response to modernism. A departure. I gently, and I repeat − gently − squeezed her arm and pulled her closer to me so I did not have to shout at her in the gallery. A courtesy not afforded to our group by the gaggles of children screeching and spitting around every corner of the gallery, just like the incessant rumbling from the motorcycles on the streets of Edmonton. Albertans love motorcycles. They love making noise. So, I squeezed her arm ever so gently and basically whispered to her, “how. can. something. be. post. modern?”

It was at this point that they asked us to leave. We had seen enough “art” by this time anyway.

We walked out to the late afternoon sunshine beating down on us. Not as hot as it can get in Nevada, but still hot. One of the members of our party spotted a fountain across the way and suggested we check out the fountain and maybe use the small pool to cool ourselves off. I could hear the screams of the children playing from across the street but decided not to go against the group’s wishes.

I sat down on the ledge of the small pool with my back to the City Hall (what is it with this city’s obsession with triangles and pyramids?) and it did feel nice to have the cool mist hitting the back of my neck.

I looked south across the square and, through the heat waves rising off the asphalt, spied our hotel a few hundred yards away. Like an oasis in the desert.

Contributor: Jason Lee Norman
Twitter: @bellyofawhale
Website: jasonleenorman.com

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