The booming energy business has fueled a hot art market around town, with galleries and studios popping up almost weekly (often as corporate tax breaks). Encorp’s Art Central is the most ambitious, with a multistory complex of studios, galleries, shops, and cafés located right downtown. Check out Steve Speer’s Ansel Adams–inspired frontier photos at the Four by Five gallery or the cute, slightly sinister Menthol Mongers, a collection of unhappy-looking smoking toys designed to help people kick the nicotine habit (ongoing). Avant-garde performance pieces take place at Truck, located next to the Fairmont Palliser (the gallery’s recent mobile art installation, Shredded Green, dispersed dime bags of shredded American money out of the back of a camper).
The bohemian charm of Kensington village has thankfully been spared the relentless construction eating up much of the skyline. Here, the streets are small and pedestrian-friendly, and the shopping (everything from local pottery to Canadian-made yogawear) is first-rate. Tip back a pint of properly poured Grasshopper wheat beer at the Kensington Pub, a cozy spot with exposed-wood beams. Then catch a late-night documentary screening at the twenties Plaza theater, followed by a cup of fresh-ground decaf at the Roasterie (314 10 St. NW; 403-270-3304).