At home with Calgary’s creative art collective

The greatest artists of our time all had eccentric tics.

Leonardo Da Vinci slept in 10-minute bursts, Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear and Andy Warhol obsessed about cats. The core collaborators for a group of Calgary designers and artists toss playing cards.

“That’s one of our secret skills — throwing playing cards,” says Dave Carlton, co-founder of Light and Soul Creations.

He grabs a playing card off the bookshelf to demonstrate. “Like this nine of diamonds,” He chucks the card.

“We throw cards at each other, try to hit targets and eventually stop when we decide ‘all right, I don’t want to be hit in the face anymore,’” he says.

Kai Cabunoc-Boettcher, his friend and co-collaborator says, “It’s a fun team-building game.” He catches the card. “You develop grace and agility and reflexes.”

They developed this meditative practice in 2007 while spending time in their friend’s garage.

The duo both started out with ambitions for business. Cabunoc-Boettcher spent a year studying at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business. Carlton spent a year at Mount Royal University working towards a bachelor of business administration.

After a soul-searching trip to Australia and countless hours in the garage, they decided to pursue what they loved.

Carlton says, “We used to hang out a lot and talk about life, and what we wanted to do, just get creative and crazy. Keep throwing ideas back and forth,” he says.

Cabunoc-Boettcher adds, “With the help of the hookah.” Kai Cabunoc-Boettcher has painted murals in various locations around Calgary and canvas for home display. He tries to use recycled or refurbished materials for his creations.
Photo by: Jessica Clark

Light and Soul Creations Projects

The group now operates with eight members — ranging from artists to athletes. They launched their latest clothing line this past December focusing on sustainability. All of the items are up-cycled —constructed from recycled material. Their pieces are for sale in Calgary at The Gallery on 17th Avenue, or during events at Market Collective.

The group has created public art works throughout Calgary — including a mural in Chinatown, one in Bowness and another planned for Canada Olympic Park.

They also regularly attend and help organize events, such as Market Collective.

Of all the places in Canada to explore artistry, the guys say that Calgary offers a unique setting.

“There’s a lot of opportunity because it’s such a growing city,” Carlton says. “There are a lot of hungry guys and girls out there who want to get creative and build the culture and community. There’s a lot of opportunity in that.”

Cabunoc-Boettcher says, “The grassroots art community is evolving naturally and it’s good to see. It’s nice to be a part of it.”

Angel Guerra, creator of Market Collective, says, “They’re awesome to work with.”

Evolving into the future

Light and Soul creations also has plans to involve themselves in urban farming.

Carlton says, “Light and Soul is about creating community and culture. We’re an artist collective, clothing company, crazy worm composters and gardeners.

“It’s very broad,” he says. “We’re passionate people supporting people with passions.”

Cabunoc-Boettcher adds, “It’s always evolving. When we were young we wanted to live happy and help other people live happy.

“But it’s evolving into helping people live their passions with us living alongside them, giving back as much as we can to the earth and community and enjoying the process,” he says.

The guys are very connected to their food — with respect to its consumption and production.

Carlton works at an organic food market and is in charge of the worm composting in their kitchen.

“We’re very healthy eaters,” he says.

Dave Carlton(left) and Kai Cabunoc- Boettcher joke around during their down time. The duo spend afternoons reading,snowboarding or rock-climbing.
Photo by: Jessica Clark

He recently returned from a spin-farming seminar in Kelowna. The concept revolves around backyard garden plots within the city.

Carlton says, “It’s interesting and eye opening and amazing how easy it is. You rent out people’s backyards and in exchange for the use of space you give them a box of food.”

Cabunoc-Boettcher says, “We want to start developing some urban farming here in Calgary. The goal is to grow organic food and share that within the community.”

“We’re seeing that if we want to take it to the next level we need to change how we’re doing things now. That’s something we’re trying to do — evolve our practice. We’re getting to the point where we want to extend our endeavours beyond clothing.”

jclark@cjournal.ca