Horror in Highlands: A Cold Sweat outdoor art show designed to unnerve


Matthew LaPierre’s Neighbour is part of Lowlands Project Space’s A Cold Sweat outdoor art show. Photo by Fish Griwkowsky /Postmedia

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Edmonton’s newest, all-outdoor art gallery is already having a second group exhibition — and this time it’s horrifying … on purpose.

A Cold Sweat is a loosely Halloween-themed show at Lowlands Project Space, over in Highlands at 11208 65 St., featuring the work of 15 artists from across Alberta.

Walk up to the neighbourhood gallery just north of June’s Delicatessen and you’ll see your reflection in a giant screaming head, be leered at by a furry monster peeking over the neighbour’s fence, witness scary projections on the wall, and puzzle over creepy riddles up in glass frames. In the backyard, a corpse sits under a tall conifer while a dizzying, false perspective stone corridor leads to an unnerving video. And this is just half the art.

“We’ve had ghosts mailed in from Lethbridge, we’ve had a number of monsters built on site — just a bunch of creepy and fun stuff for Halloween,” says gallery director Steven Teeuwsen, his Santa beard exploding from under a pandemic mask.


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The 39-year-old explains the overall concept of A Cold Sweat. “We set out to put together a theme of anxiety in spooky, fearful artworks and people really responded with some interesting anxieties,” the curator says. “Lots to do with what’s going on in the world right now: pandemic, climate change, racism. There are so many things you get anxious about, you don’t even want to leave the house sometimes. But we’d love it if you came down.”

Having said this, creeping through the show, it’s not an overtly political vibe, having more of an updated CHED Haunted House feel. “We also have some monsters that are built with pumpkins, more typical Halloween fare, modified and usurped to become these weirdo art projects.”

From health and guts horror to the Four Riders of the Pandemic to freaky hand-cranked animation, artists behind it all are Andrew Benson, Breanna Barrington + Micah Haykowsky, Deirdre McCleneghan + Char L. Hunt, Eszter Rosta, Hailey Brancato, Jackie Huskisson, Madeline LeBlanc, Madison Dewar, Matthew Lapierre, Nickelas Smokey Johnson, Ryland Fortie, Sanaa Humayun and Shanell B. Papp, each with an interesting twist on the graveyard discomfort we summon every year.

Nickelas Smokey Johnson’s interactive head is at the front door of Lowlands’ latest art show. Photo by Fish Griwkowsky /jpg

“We even have projections on the wall that are distorted frames from Nosferatu,” says Teeuwsen. “And it changes a lot from daytime to nighttime — you can’t even really see some of the work till the sun goes down.” Saturday’s sunset will be at 6:32 p.m., P.S. — the opening event starts at noon.


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Lowlands’ successful first show, Castles of Butter, was a direct response to the often overwhelming pandemic reality of a world of decreasing guarantees.

Dipping his toes in similarly churning water, Teeuwsen laughs. “Yeah, questions of existence are pretty heavy themes for art shows. Hopefully we’ll hit something a little more lighthearted for winter that’s got a little more of a warm and fuzzy feeling to get you through the winter.”

But asked about A Cold Sweat’s most terrifying piece, he quickly focuses on the gallery’s October artist in residence. “Yeah, there are a couple pieces that really creeped me out. Haley Bracanto made a resin cast of herself, and it’s this disjointed, life-sized, ball-jointed doll collapsed in the corner under the tree.”

In an orange wig with green skin, the nude definitely jumps out of the uncanny valley right into the “no” place in your central nervous system. “It’s definitely caught me off guard, it’s very scary.”

Overall, though, this is no face-melting gore fest, less explicit than an Indiana Jones movie, and kids are absolutely welcome.

In fact, says Teeuwesen, “Everyone’s welcome, we’ll have the show open for three weeks and have candy ready for trick or treaters of any age on Halloween.”

Feel free to wear costumes — especially your favourite mandatory mask — and donations are happily accepted.




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