artScene Hotel MacDonald Review



artsScene Edmonton’s Behind the Scenes events execute a blissfully straightforward concept: pull back the curtain and let interested onlookers get an intimate look at their favorite local performing arts groups.  

Not so last night at the Hotel MacDonald. True, the rapture-ready air quality made for a hazy evening; but it was an even hazier connection to the arts that was responsible for the dour faces on the fifty or so attendees crammed into the stately but staid Wedgwood room.

The artists featured in the program – a smooth jazz trio, a capable DJ and illustrator laureate of summer 2010 Sarah Jackson – had no thematic linkages to either the venue nor each other.   But no matter; they’re supporting characters for the star of the show: the tour itself. 

The star fizzled. 

For a hotel steeped in historical import, the guide from the Hotel MacDonald had little to impart. It was the sort of crassly promotional showcasing you’d expect of someone selling you a time share.  What was learned?  That front desk agents are eager to upsell guests to the $3000 suite because of the lucrative kickback they receive.  That celebrity guests prefer single-level suites to those with stairs. That the hotel limits wedding bookings -- business conferences sell meeting space and guests rooms, you see.   

A throw-away comment at the end of our tour revealed that the Wedgwood room once played host to a visiting art exhibition from the National Gallery of Canada, making it the first gallery space in the city. I wish I could provide you with more details, but our guide was unable to provide any further.

While this iteration of Behind the Scenes was undoubtedly harmed by the circumstances beyond the organizers’ control, both environmental and logistical, dozens of Edmontonians were still willing to brave the atmospheric apocalypse to take part.  No doubt, the show will go on: one flop doesn’t mean the curtain won’t part again.



more in Visual Arts     |     posted Aug 20th, 2010 at 4:26pm     

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