Commercial Alley 2016: Daniel Ellingsen

Photographer: 
Bob Matheson
Commercial Alley 2016: Daniel Ellingsen

The City of Victoria’s partnership with Open Space Arts Society has transformed Commercial Alley’s busy thoroughfare into an accessible, outdoor public art gallery for the past four years. Open Space and the City of Victoria are delighted to announce Daniel Ellingsen as the Commercial Alley artist for 2016. Born in the UK, Ellingsen has lived and worked across Canada for the past thirty years, exhibiting in Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Toronto. He currently lives in the City of Victoria, and recently finished his MFA at the University of Victoria, where he presented his solo exhibition, Die Strandloper.
 
In his proposal, Ellingsen expressed the “potential for public art work to synthesize Victoria’s architectural and social history.” He saw the Commercial Alley Public Art Gallery as a way to continue to vitalize the growing city, “creating a richer experience for Victoria’s citizens and visitors.” The commissioned work, Coastal Reports, will feature a four-panel installation that will reflect on Victoria’s landscape—both urban coastal, environmental, and economic. Each panel will combine eye-catching cut-out graphics with gold-leafed texts to ask viewers to muse on the relationship between the coast and the city.
 
The installation will have an opening reception during the Integrate Arts Festival on Saturday, August, 27, 2016 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in Commercial Alley.
Thank you to the City of Victoria staff, especially the Carpentry Crew, for installing the work.
 
Please click on the following links to see the past Commerical Alley artworks:
2013/2014- Commercial Alley: Troy Lovegates (a.k.a OTHER)
2014/2015- Commercial Alley: Roy Green
2015/2016- Commercial Ally: Liz P. Dempsey

The following was written and delivered by Daniel Stephen Ellingsen on August 27, 2016 upon the presentation of his work for the 2016 iteration of the Commercial Alley Project:
 
I am a resident. But not permanent.
 
These panels are signs of my residency. But not my permanence. Like all things they have come but they will go as well.
 
I live and work here, in this small and useful city. By choice. And I know this because I am often watching other places. Places that I have tried to understand. Some that I have been a resident of.
 
Victoria is in the midst of economic manoeuvres that are creating a physical intensification, the gaps are being filled, and rising... expanding our awareness of what can be accommodated... filling up our downtown... as dough expands when proofing.
 
The Capitol Six becomes Capitol Hill... the Hudson Hole becomes a shadow-caster. Things seem to be speeding up.
 
It is a moment when we come more alive together as we collectively adjust to our slightly newer, slicker and more reflective surroundings. Like when the weather shifts and we compare notes and predictions about how the changes will affect our day, or our weeks to come.
 
I am a contemporary artist. I think of this as someone who makes things that they haven't exactly seen before. I am not looking for something that is entirely original, this seems very rare and difficult, and even harder to show people. I aim for a fresh combination of components that are sort of recognizable but not in a way that I am used to. It's not a grand project, just one that keeps me occupied and relatively content.
 
An artist named John Baldessari coined a phrase - and it may or may not be his - He described a Community of The Submerged. He suggested that the great majority of artists lie in a land that is often overlooked and mostly unknown by those beyond its borders. He described this place as a broad territory, somewhere between the provinces of the emerging and the established. I think of it as a small city with many citizens going about their work much like we do here in Victoria... thinking, watching and creating paths through the economies that surround them. No one getting an unusual amount of notice, just quietly making their ways through the streets, trying to avoid the cul de sacs, and sometimes searching out the darker alley's. The straight lines through the squares.
 
I have made these panels for these short-cut through the blocks. They are visual reports, small illuminations to accompany our way's through to the other side.
 
I am a modest person. Evenings like this have always made me feel uncomfortable as they have little to do with the work itself and the long hours of making it. And that is what I most enjoy. I often wish there were another way... I will keep working on that.
 
But until making and receiving the unfamiliar becomes more a part of our society AND especially our public education system this may be the best way to herald what comes out of, and sometimes inhabits, the spaces between us.
 
I must thank the City of Victoria for supporting this project and also Open Space and the other contributing organizations for this opportunity to share what is normally so much more exclusive in its display. And I especially thank you all for coming this evening. I invite your feedback, especially if it's uncomfortable...
 
For you and for me... but especially to the submerged.