Artistic mother and daughter duo try to broaden their horizons outside of the downtown core

On a Friday afternoon, around the peak of rush hour, I sit in the basement of Art Central with my friend Tanya Gold and her five-year-old daughter Syd.

Syd occupies herself with some koi circling in a fishpond.

My intention with interviewing the duo was to write a story on culture in the suburbs — if such a thing actually exists. And the notion that we’re nowhere near Calgary’s outskirts at the moment isn’t lost on me.

I’ve embarked on a culture hunt through each quadrant of the city. The southwest yielded a bizarre coffeehouse experience listening to pre-teen vampire literature readings. The northeast provided a tour of the newly built Genesis Centre — an awe-inspiring hub of recreation and community. And the northwest and southeast were abandoned projects after I realized those places were inconsequential. I needed to speak to individuals.

Gold seemed like a good source because she graduated from ACAD with a degree in sculpture and her semi-routine Facebook updates show the creative projects her and Syd work on together. Gold’s intentions are to raise a well-rounded girl with a broad sampling of art and culture.

Gold says, “I always feel that I’m looking for stuff that other parents may not be looking for.”

Syd Gold (left) and her mother Tanya Gold spend countless hours in search of cultural and artistic opportunities in Calgary.
Photo by: Jessica Clark
Some of the activities are deemed kid-friendly, but most are centred on Gold’s interests.

“What I’m looking for and what I think is kid-appropriate is very different from the rest of the world,” she says. “We’ll go to some things and sometimes there is support to see [Syd] there, other times it’s raised eyebrows.”

True, bringing a kindergartener to something like the Soundasaurus music festival to sit through hours of pounding electronica may not factor into most parenting plans, but what other artistic options are available to a family that demands more?

In their northwest community of Panorama, the go-to option is Cardel Place. But Gold is not athletic; she is no soccer mom.

Gold says, “My neighbour across the road is the sport end of what I’m doing. She puts her kids in ‘Kids of Steel’ – it’s a triathlon for the five and six-year-old set. They bike for two kilometres, run five kilometres and swim in open water.”

I raise my eyebrows as Gold describes the intensity of such a sadistic program and she laughs. The mother-daughter pair ran their first mini-marathon together last year — an attempt to “keep up with the Joneses, so to speak.”

I’ve known Gold for a while now — almost ten years — and I always associated her with a quirky, offbeat style. She exposed me to my first “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and is my go-to resource for the best in comic book literature. It’s difficult to picture her in a marathon for any reason other than a hipster sense of irony.

“The mini-marathon was our least successful endeavour,” Gold says. “I overestimated what a five-year-old is capable of. She moves constantly but that doesn’t mean she can keep up with a pack.”Syd shows off her balancing skills on the stairs at Art Central.
Photo by: Jessica Clark

Syd has lost interest in the koi and scrambles up and down the Art Central staircase. Boredom and a short-lived, child’s attention span sets in, she comes over to us for some attention.

“Come look what I can do,” Syd says. We follow her to the side of the staircase where she proceeds to demonstrate her climbing abilities and her poses.

Gold says, “You said once that I am the most unmarried, married person you know and I apply that same philosophy to her. Just because I am a mom doesn’t mean I will stop going to the things I love; I’m just going to take her along with me.”

So, can Calgary’s suburbs be considered a hive of cultural activity? I guess it depends on whom you ask, or where you look. But Gold and her daughter Syd will continue their search. And I think their bond is stronger because they’ve embarked on the adventure together.

jclark@cjournal.ca