Explore Downtown Calgary Differently: Buds Collective Winter Window Art and Augmented Reality Exhibition

Have you ever been to downtown Calgary in mid-winter?  You’ll quickly discover that the streets are mostly devoid of pedestrians.  Unless, of course, we’re experiencing one of our infamous Chinooks, causing our ambient temperature to spike within hours by 20°C.  Then, it’s understandable that you might even see Calgarians cruising the sidewalks in short sleeves pretending to be somewhere tropical, living in denial that it’s still mid-winter and the mercury has barely inched its way above freezing.

But, unless there’s a Chinook, or you’re a tourist hankering after the thrill of experiencing a real-life outdoor deepfreeze, you’re most likely going to be navigating downtown from the comfort and warmth of the bridged maze that is Calgary’s iconic plus 15.

Buds Collective Northern Reflections Winter Exhibition

However, aside from the odd Chinook, there is another cool (pun intended) annual winter phenomenon that passes through the city that entices locals and visitors alike onto the downtown sidewalks in defiance of the bitter cold.  Starting on December 1st, 2019 and running until New Years’ eve a group of artists and animators, who have been transforming participating business’s office windows into winter works of art, launch an outdoor experience known as the Buds Collective Northern Reflections Winter Exhibition.

Our mascot, Gary, gets in on the Winter Magic on 9th Av SW before immersing himself into a 4-D animated snowy street scene complete with Santa’s sleigh being pulled across the sky by reindeer (see photo gallery below)

Established in 2016, Buds Collectivesupport local artists and makers by providing them with opportunities, visibility, fair compensation and access to tools and resources”.  Local Calgary-based artists collaborate with animators who, together, create winter-scene paintings on office windows dotted throughout the downtown core.  When viewed though a free downloadable augmented reality App (Augle) the 2D painted artwork is gamified into a 4-D animated moving scene complimented by audio tracks.

Now in its third year, the 2019 exhibition will feature nine participating artists and animators presenting six artworks.  Using the Northern Reflections Exhibition as a cunning mechanism to make art accessible to all while enabling visitors to explore downtown in the brisk winter air, you’ll discover a wealth of talent in some of our local young artists.

A downloadable map of the various artworks is available below.  Be sure to plan your route beforehand so you can maximize your art-spotting while minimizing your exposure to the outdoor wintery elements.

Art engagement and voting

The downloadable Augle App will enable you to check off the art pieces you’ve seen and interacted with.  It will then allow you to vote for your favourite work.  Results are collated and the winning artworks are selected at the end of the exhibition.  Artist- and animation-winners are announced at a formal event in early January.

www.iamcalgary.ca I Am Calgary Buds Collective Northern Reflections Winter Exhibition East Village 20181222
One of the Buds Collective Northern Reflections Winter Exhibition artworks in the East Village (2018)

So, don your warmest winter wear and join us as we hit the sidewalks of downtown Calgary to explore this unique outdoor seasonal art exhibition.  In the process, be prepared to rediscover our city from a new perspective in this frigid yet fun festive season.

And best of luck to the 2019 participants. Thank you for – and the sponsors – for showcasing our city (and art) in this unique way!

For more cool and unique ways to explore downtown Calgary check out these previous popular blog posts:

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