HEATWAVE: Calgary’s Hottest Art Show

It’s been one hot fucking summer, and with Heatwave in town, it’s about to get even hotter. Heatwave is a Calgary-based art show happening now until September 29 at cSPACE King Edward. Check out the closing reception from 6 PM to 8 PM on Friday, September 29.

The temperature is dropping. The leaves are losing their green hue, as they dry up and fall to the ground. Leather boots and ripped jeans have taken the place of flip flops and denim short-shorts. Blanket scarves adorn the shoulders of girls rushing indoors, tightly gripping their half-sweet, non-fat, pumpkin spice lattes. While all signs seem to indicate otherwise, I’m happy to report that summer ain’t over yet, bitches! At least, not while Heatwave is in town.

Heatwave is an art show happening now at the historic cSPACE King Edward in Calgary. Curated by the ridiculously talented Lyndon Navalta, Heatwave includes pieces exploring modern romance and sexuality from twelve local artists: Heather Buchanan, Sarah Gonzales, Macy Hippsley, Mike Hoover, Natasha Jensen, Joanne Leung, Kyle Metcalf, Lyndon Navalta, Andrew Rodger, Dylan Smith, Maria Stoian, and Michelle Vu. (Bonus points: Eleven out of the twelve artists are Alberta College of Art & Design graduates.)


A glimpse at some of Heatwave’s diverse pieces. Photo by Lyndon Navalta.

I was lucky enough to attend Heatwave’s opening reception, where I was blown away by the immense talent demonstrated in the pieces, and captivated by the diversity that came out of the theme of the show. In 2017, relationships and sex are no longer black and white. Gender and sexuality are fluid. With the rise of dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder, relationships become increasingly complicated. The show featured a number of elements very unique to sexuality in the present day, such as dick pics and blow up dolls. Other pieces display elements such as the orgasm, and the beauty of the naked human form. These pieces remind us that, in some respects, sexuality does remain unchanged cross-generationally.


The thirsty crowd gathers at Heatwave’s opening reception on September 15. Photo by Mike Kerr.

I caught up with Lyndon Navalta and Natasha Jensen after the show to talk all things sex and art.

The Cummentary: What is Heatwave and what inspired you to put it on?

Lyndon Navalta: Heatwave is a case study on modern relationships in the 21st century. I love studying people. Everyone has a story or two about what it feels like to fall in love. Sex? Everyone has a story or two about that as well. Sex to me, is the ultimate self expression. It’s where you’re more honest and in tune with what turns you on. It’s where you pursue what triggers your desires. It’s where you’re more in touch with yourself.

The most passionate time of the year would definitely be summer. The heat just does something to people. With all that exposed skin walking around everywhere, it’s hard not to be hot and bothered. So in honour of summer lovin’, I put on a show together with my friends; the people [who] inspire me the most. I know these people are provocateurs, so I wasn’t really worried that it would make waves. These people are definitely the inspiration for the show. I wanted to hear their voices and, man, did they deliver. It’s also great that all of my friends are all over the gender spectrum. Together, we all paint a diverse point of view. Hey, it’s modern. Being queer is now the new cool. Just ask your dad.


The show’s curator, Lyndon Navalta, stands beside his piece, entitled “<3”.

TC: What does romance look like, to you, in the 21st century?

LN: Good question. Romance now isn’t just about roses and doing stuff with the other person; It’s more evolved. I personally believe it all hinges on harmony. [Factors like] age, racial background, sexual orientation, number of people, [don’t] matter anymore. It’s more [to do with] what connects individuals to their romantic partners. I say harmony equals compatibility. It’s what everyone desires in a relationship, really. Harmony is the thing that captivates and moves people. People [who] glide along through tough and happy times together are [in] the kind of relationships that stand the test of time. Without romance, it’s like being fucked in the ass without lube. It’s rough, uncomfortable, and you bleed. Yes, you can put that on a shirt. Fuck the “milk and cookies” bullshit. Next time, say, “We go together like anal and lube”. Now, that’s romance.

Natasha Jensen: That is a question I have been asking myself [all of my] 20’s!  For myself, I think modern romance is about making your own rules [for] how you want to express love and receive love from another person. I like small, well thought out romantic gestures, rather than big monumental gestures from another person.  I think the best thing to come out of the past decade, [in regards to] modern romance and dating, is the conversation about consent. Consent is sexy and absolutely necessary in all forms of relationships, and [can] also […] be withdrawn like a vampire on your doorstep.


Artist, Natasha Jensen (left), with her piece, “Dick Pic.”

TC: Tell me about the your piece and the inspiration behind it.

LN: [The piece, entitled] “<3”, is a painting about threesomes. A good threesome is magical. It’s like fireworks. Limbs, and mouths, and skin, and hair, all over the place. It’s a perfect balance of power, submission, and voyeurism… I wanted to depict the act as being lighthearted, playful, and [decadent]. Just like a cigarette or an ice-cream on a hot day, threesomes are just frivolities. They don’t contribute to your heath or well being, but god damn, they’re fun.

The main element of the piece isn’t actually the figures (modelled after another artist in the show, Dylan Smith). [The main element is] the triangle. The triangle is an ancient symbol with lots of meaning. It’s the symbol for gender and sexuality. It’s a symbol for countless trinities and triads, that depict harmony and creation. It’s the symbol for fire in alchemy. It’s the symbol for power and balance. It’s the geometric shape for the number 3.

NJ: “Dick Pic,” is a piece I’ve actually been wanting to make for a while, about online dating and unsolicited dick pictures. For this show, I wanted to create an image that removes the power of an erect penis as a symbol of toxic masculinity, and make the dick into something that was soft, sensitive, and romanticized. I am really interested in the Victorian era and its idealized views on romance and sexuality. [I also] wanted to bring that into the work as a conversation about modern romance. I think the Victorians were fascinating, and its a time in history that has really set in motion how we’ve constructed our […] norms in society. Let’s break those rules, but also keep the chantilly lace. I am hoping to build this out into an entire series, and I’m playing with the idea of calling it, “You’ve Got Junk Mail.”

Thanks for the pillow talk!


Check out Heatwave at cSPACE King Edward, on now until September 29. Closing reception is September 29 from 6 pm – 8 pm at cSPACE King Edward.

Limited edition prints of “Dick Pic” by Natasha Jensen will be available after September 29 at

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