Artist Ivan Ostapenko creates new work at cSPACE

 In cSPACE News

Construction sites are notorious for getting tagged by vandals and cSPACE King Edward is no different.  We could have simply painted over some recent graffiti but why not take it as an opportunity for art creation? cSPACE recently invited our friend – artist, architect and Blank Page Studio resident Ivan Ostapenko – to tackle our North entrance while we await our construction to start.  We also took the opportunity to talk to him about his practice and the inspiration for his piece at the King Edward School.

A collaborative practice 

An emerging design professional, Ivan holds both a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Studies from U of C and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His practice ranges from art and architecture, to magazine writing and curation.  Recently, collaboration has played a large part in his practice: from Play on Wheels with Antyx Community Art , Water Works with Wreck City’s Phantom Wing project at the King Edward in 2013, to The Field Manual in the East Village with with local artists daniel j. kirk and Kai Cabunoc-Boettcher. His newest focus is the curation of an upcoming metalwork gallery show at the studio he shares – Blank Page.   Much of his recent collaboration has arisen organically from the community in that space (learn more in our article about Blank Page).

Entrepreneurship & the arts

When asked how entrepreneurship informs his practice, Ivan replied “it’s a necessity”. Often, Ivan’s practice has been about experience, learning through failure and the journey. While he isn’t one to hold a standard day job (and has avoided the traditional route to working as an architect), involvement in diverse projects such as welding Calgary’s food trucks have been experiences to fuel better art making.  But while business skills are important, he feels “the arts should not necessarily be commodified…for artists there are often more pertinent concerns –  like passion”.  The best entrepreneurs stick to the novel idea that made them stand out – rather than changing course simply to generate revenue. Ivan believes that one key to successful entrepreneurship as an artist is to “not be afraid to fail – without some degree of risk you won’t get anywhere innovative.”


In progress


Vitality of Calgary’s art scene

Ivan describes the Calgary art scene as “a healthy and thriving community” fuelled by tremendous local talent.  Stuart Mclean (of CBC’s The Vinyl Cafe) recently visited Blank Page Studio to ask his office mates about just that. They didn’t hold any opinions back – there are still many challenges facing artists in the city. Like many other artists, Ivan echoes a dire lack of affordable workspace. From his perspective, Calgary is “lacking facilities and that’s a big obstacle in getting local talent to the next level… especially for bigger projects requiring shop equipment and space. There is no acceptable communal pool of resources, and it’s done on an individual level out of people’s garages”, Ivan says.


The final piece, woven into earlier work by Karen Klassen during Phantom Wing in 2013

On Graffiti, and the newest mural at the King Edward School

The North door piece, like much of Ivan’s work, is less about specific imagery and focuses more on the process of creation. With the remnants of an earlier pre-demolition art piece by Karen Klassen, Ivan describes that the piece was “not about covering up but about creating a visual discussion”.  With an effort made to integrate and remix the old work and celebrate the original, he likened the process to preservation of older buildings in Calgary. “The attitude in the city is that if it’s not new we don’t like it…but integrating or remixing and keeping a little bit of the old even if its not great or popular, brings layering and diversity rather than monoculture” Ivan says.

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