As Edmonton grows at an unprecedented pace with seemingly no limits to our ambition, it's important to remember who we are and where we came from. Having said this, a number of the grandest of the city's headline-grabbing projects, from Light Up the Bridge to the sensational Outdoor Neon Sign Museum, conceptually followed ideas in other places – from light shows on San Francisco's Bay Bridge to Las Vegas' similar museum of historic signs.
There's nothing wrong with being inspired – all art comes from inspiration of one sort or another. But on the global scale we're hoping to play in, fresh innovation is worth consideration. Should we create things in Edmonton just because someone else did it elsewhere?
In playful reaction to this open-ended question, If I Can Make It Anywhere, I Can Make It Here is a survey of dozens of New York-themed businesses, apartments and locations found in the Edmonton area. By bringing images of #yeg NYC together, we're hoping people looking at the photos think about the concept of borrowing a vibe of authenticity from elsewhere. What do a high-rise condo named The Manhattan and a food court chain like New York Fries have in common with each other, and why do they entice us? How do we feel when we hear New York New York played by the bell tower of City Hall? (It should be noted at this point Boston Pizza started in north Edmonton!)
We researched and shot every example of New Yorkery we could find here, posing co-artist Doug Organ out front dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Some are examples are hilarious, others quaint, hopeful.
Two examples include our favourite restaurants in town, Brooklyn Tomato and New York Bagel Cafe, which took the idea of New York's ethnic diversity and ran with it. Other businesses seem to have picked locations within the Five Boroughs out of a hat, with no particular qualities of their namesake. This has a sort of hilarious charm we love, honestly without irony.
It's an art show, a document of where we are and its concept is something to keep in mind as we move along, through to the idea that bigger is always better. Do we really want to be New York City? Are the things we're doing already making that happen?