“So many people think of art as an afterthought, but at Bridge art is part of the fabric of this project.” says Cory Nespor, one of three visual artists creating custom art for the interior spaces within Bridge at Bridgeland.
Cory is joined by fellow Calgary artists Michelle Hoogveld and Alex Kwong, all commissioned by JEMM Properties early in Bridge’s design and development process to create art within the building. Planning for the 285-suite residential rental building started in 2018, art was completed in early summer of 2022 and the first tenants moved in on July 1st, 2022.
Incoming residents of Bridge will be treated to unique art experiences throughout the common areas in the building. The art story begins at the front lobby, with an illuminated lightbox designed by Cory Nespor and a curving geometric mural by Michelle Hoogveld. The artwork also extends up from the parkade onto each of the 17 elevator lobbies with painted murals by Alex Kwong, then continues with another bold mural by Hoogveld as a centrepiece for the resident’s spacious rooftop lounge.
“We believe that great cities and great communities have great art.” explains Edan Lindenbach, Principal of Land Planning and development at JEMM Properties. He adds, “There are lots of things you can do through excellence in building design and answering everyone’s everyday needs. The next level for JEMM was to evoke emotion for people who will live at Bridge.”
Certain they wanted authentic local art, the JEMM team reached out to the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association for insight on available artists. They were referred to the Beltline Urban Murals Project (BUMP), who provided a means for JEMM to form relationships with Calgary-based artists who would suit the vision of community and connectedness forming at Bridge. Cory, Michelle and Alex were all chosen by JEMM as much for their individual talent as for their collective energy, authenticity and collaborative spirit.
Alex Kwong, Visual Artist
Calgarian Alex Kwong focusses on creating art that shares the stories of people and places. He has contributed significant large-scale murals to urban locations around Calgary and was a natural fit to join JEMM in developing a presence for art at Bridge.
His bold, imaginative interpretation of Bridge’s theme of connection was to create one continuous mural featuring faces and natural elements he’d photographed and collaged from the local community. The mural is then divided into 17 vivid, interconnected sections. Alex’s intensely colourful and highly memorable mural fragments are painted on the elevator lobbies ascending from Bridge’s parkade to the rooftop level.
“Art changes the energy of a space, reduces isolation and affects how people interact with one another.” explains Alex when describing his aspiration for how Bridge’s residents will feel each day experiencing art in their living space. “I hope people receive the art in such a way that elevates that aspect of where they call home. I hope it brings them joy each day.”
Michelle Hoogveld, Visual Artist
“Art finds a way to make the space come alive.” explains Michelle Hoogveld, contemporary painter and mural artist based in Calgary. Her work is known for vibrant style, inspired by colour theory, bold patterns and textile-like blockings of colour.
At Bridge, Michelle has applied her unmistakable style to spaces in the entryway as well as rooftop social lounge. The energy and sense of fun in her work is particularly suited to the places where Bridge residents will come together.
Michelle’s hopes that the artwork she has created for Bridge will inspire connection and love, adding essential aspects of emotion to the building. “Once you feel that someone has touched a space artistically, a human touch, that’s when people are invited into a space.”
Cory Nespor, Visual Artist
Cory Nespor is a Calgary-based artist with a background in electrical work. He’s pursuing a lifelong artistic journey that has generated bold, often friendly and ironic mixed-medium pieces. For Bridge at Bridgeland, he has conceptualized, fabricated and installed Attached – a large scale lightbox located at the building’s lobby. The organic motif of this one-of-a-kind work is highly inspired by the connection, community and ecosystem forming among the residents at Bridge.
Cory’s work embodies the ethos of connection by creating a physical opportunity for collaboration with fellow artists Michelle Hoogveld and Alex Kwong, each of whom were working simultaneously on artwork for other spaces within Bridge. Both Michelle and Alex contributed portions of artwork to Attached that are now physically and symbolically connected to each other within the piece.
The residents of Bridge, and their journey of connection, were also at the forefront of Cory’s approach to Attached. “The idea of people experiencing a piece daily is different. To have access to a distinct community is a very special thing.”
Attached features words from John Muir, reading “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world”.
The legacy of Bridge’s Art Story
The decision to include art at Bridge was made early and with an aim of authenticity, fun and community and for JEMM the result has been beyond all expectation.
“Our hope at JEMM is for the community members who live inside the building to feel inspired every day.” says Lindenbach, adding “And for the artists, we hope this showcases their talents and shows Calgary what incredible talent we have here locally.”
Now at the end of a multi-year development process and the start of a new chapter for Bridge’s incoming residents, Lindenbach reflects on the process. “The whole journey of working with these incredibly talented artists couldn’t have been a better experience. We just want to thank all three of them from the bottom of our hearts. They have really contributed to an amazing community and ecosystem here.”
Connect With Bridge
Read more about art at Bridge at Bridgeland: Wishing Well Sculpture unveiled
Topics: Urban Art, Local Artists, Calgary Art, Bridgeland, JEMM Properties, Alex Kwong, Michelle Hoogveld, Cory Nespor