This weekend is Calgary's annual ArtWalk and UPPERCASE will be participating (click here for a map of the ArtWalk route). There's plenty of Old School goodness to see in our gallery and the neighbouring gallery, One Blue Wall (aka The Principal's Office.) We will also have some drop-in activities such as the Make-a-Button station, Letter Necklaces, and the Old School activity sheet and colouring contest (you can also download it here).

At 2pm on Saturday, you can participate in the Silhouette workshop to make an old-fashioned cut-paper portrait. The new-school twist? We will digitize your silhouette and turn it into a vector file so that you can use it for all sorts of projects: make your own letterhead, t-shirts, use it in scrapbooking, on your blog or Facebook, on family Christmas cards... Or print it out on decorative paper and frame your silhouette for yourself or as a gift. (The fee is $20 for the digital file, which will be emailed to you early next week.)

This is a silhouette I made of Deidre. The top image is the digital silhouette made from the cut paper version below. Since the file is a vector file as opposed to a bitmap, you'll be able to scale the silhouette up or down without any loss of quality.

Silhouettes were a popular method of portrait-making from around 1790 to the mid-1800s, prior to the invention of the camera. You can find out more about the history of silhouettes at the time of Jane Austen on this interesting site. 

In UPPERCASE, we're using our film strip projector to cast shadows onto black bristol board. The shadow is traced in pencil and then cut with scissors. Classical silhouettes, however, were often cut freehand out of paper. This skill is quite rare, but American artist Karl Johnson excels at the art:

"Karl learned this unique skill as a young boy from his father who had been taught many years earlier by a long time friend of the family. Karl took to this unusual art form extremely well. Something he attributes, in part, to having vision in only one eye.  Karl was born being able to see only from his right eye. Not having binocular vision forces Karl to judge the distance and shape of an object by examining its shadow. This allows Karl to capture an image in shadow in an uncanny way." Some examples of Karl's work are shown below.

We hope you will join us on Saturday afternoon to take part in this fun activity. On Sunday, we will be hosting another workshop: Customized Lunchboxes. This requires a reservation and there is room for one more. Give us a call if you'd like to attend.

UPPERCASE After School Specials, Wednesdays 5 - 5:45pm

Remember the bubble gum machine intros for abc Afterschool Specials? The Old School celebration of early education aesthetics continues with Wednesday After School Special screenings in the gallery, 5-5:45pm.

Please join us for this week's episode: "Dear Lovey Hart: I am Desperate." Popcorn twists are free and schooling in the seventies looks slow and sweet.  Not to mention star-studded...

We have had many comments and requests to show some of the grittier Afterschool Specials ('Angel Dust' starring Helen Hunt..) but UPPERCASE is playing it cool and keeping the fun clean and all-ages for this show folks.

Afterschool Specials represent a nostalgic pastime and a guilty pleasure but they are also a significant landmark in television history. The series blended the melodrama of classic exploitation cinema with a sincere educational mandate and established a cult teen following in the process. TV buffs might be interested to note that Brandon Stoddard, the creative force at abc who gave the go ahead to launch Afterschool Specials in the seventies also had the good smarts and style to green light David Lynch's stellar - and spooky - television series 'Twin Peaks' some twenty years later.

For any Afterschool Special fans who can't make it to the gallery but care to reminisce from a distance, check out the following snippet from a classic episode: 'My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel.'   For a new take on an old script, see Vince Vaughn's re-enactment of his early role in an Afterschool Special about the perils of steroid abuse among young athletes. The guy definitely has Old School spirit!


When I was in elementary school, collecting stickers was a big deal! Snoopy, Garfield, Hello Kitty, Scratch 'n Sniff and googley eyes were ones that I coveted. I remember the joy in finding lost stickers in the playground—their adhesive backs speckled with sand. Here are some pages from my book. Want to make a virtual trade? Send me jpgs via email or link to photos of your sticker book in the comments!

Vince Vaughn in Old School Uniform

The Chicago Sun Times gave our Old School exhibition a kind mention and we wanted to send a special thanks back to the windy city for helping put UPPERCASE on the map. Turns out that my favorite Chicagoan and fellow Old Schooler, Mr. Vince Vaughn is doing his part to put Calgary on the map by romancing a local Albertan.  Lucky girl... Old School is in session until the end of September so if you happen to be in town to visit your new sweetheart Vince, drop by the gallery: we've got an open desk with your name on it. School uniforms are optional. 

Book by its Cover

We're happy that Old School is included on Julia Rothman's fabulous site "Book by its Cover". Ok, she might be a bit biased... her illustrations are included in the book!

This artwork is available for purchase in our shop. (Just $75 each for authentic notebook pages from her childhood with new illustrations drawn on top!) They each come on our Old School hand-gocco'd clipboards for easy display.

Urban Preschool

Jolayne recently mentioned UPPERCASE on her blog, Urban Preschool, which has led to the discovery of some really great links.

Jolayne is an early childhood educator. "I am currently working on developing a progressive early learning program that incorporates art, design, music, languages, multiculturalism and ecoliteracy. is a place for me to store and share all that inspires and influences me. I am surrounded by creative people, mostly designers and artists who are starting to have children and I have a very strong desire to design a school that they would be proud to be a part of." Based on the quality of ideas presented in her blog, her learning program will be marvelous!

Film Studies

Here are some views of the film strip projector and opening sequence of the educational film strips that we have on display in UPPERCASE. Thank you to Myles who delivered a garbage bag of discarded social studies film strips — we were happy to sort through moldy sandwiches and orphaned mits to rescue some strips. They have been used in interesting ways...

Leslie Hart's Old School submission, available here.

Judy Lee and Shaun Liu's cafeteria food made from paper. (Check out the bacon strips!)

Lisa Congdon

This is San Francisco artist Lisa Congdon's piece for Old School - a dimensional collage of real objects, presented in a black shadow frame. I've been honoured to include Lisa's work in UPPERCASE a couple times. I appreciate her willingness to explore different mediums and themes – you get the sense that she is constantly (and enthusiastically) learning as an artist. You can see more of her collage work here. Her Old School piece is available for sale in the store and online.

Within the Old School book, we have included class photos, report cards, and other personal mementos from our artists. Here is some of the items Lisa sent for inclusion on the Old School book:

Type Tuesday: Maura Cluthe

Here is Maura Cluthe's Old School submission, entitled "Six-sided stories". It's a wonderful piece: there are nine vintage blocks adorned with collage and illustrations which allow you to make your own arrangements of type, pattern and image within a larger black frame. It has been sitting on my desk and I find myself easily distracted by it! (Visit Maura's Flickr for more images. It is available here.)