Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, May 19, 2016


Art! Vancouver joins international fair frenzy. For Art! Vancouver, more than 100 exhibiting artists and galleries are joining in, from as far away as China, Australia, and Argentina.  Georgia Straight, May 18, 2016.  See also: From oils to hardware, Art! Vancouver shows a huge range of media.  Georgia Straight, May 18, 2016

Dance at Robson Square: Vancouver’s hippest nonsecret secret.  The collection of segregated physical spaces and the more communal central point of the rink makes Robson Square a perfect hub. It was designed for foot traffic and human interaction back in the 1970s. According to biographer Nicholas Olsberg, architect Arthur Erickson wanted the space to represent the foundations of society: the law courts being at one end of the square, the art gallery at the other, with government offices to support the people throughout. UBC also now has a campus there.  As much as Robson Square is important to the dance community, it brings a human element to the heart of downtown that can’t be argued and should not be undervalued. “Even if you’re not a dancer, it’s amazing to just sit on the steps and see the conglomeration of different dances and artists in that space, each invested in their craft.”  Georgia Straight, May 18, 2016


Robert Amos: Inspiring art knows no borders  More than half the artworks in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria are in the Asian Department. Among them, the Japanese ink paintings known as Nanga — it means “southern painting” — are among the most important. Currently, the best of these make up an extensive show at the gallery.  Times Colonist, May 13, 2016


At the ROM, an ancient Third Gender informs the present. Earlier this month, the Royal Ontario Museum opened A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints, and what strikes you immediately about the show is not the work itself but how it’s framed.  Toronto Star, May 16, 2016

Sydney, Nova Scotia

Aboriginal children express their pain through story and art.  Research in the Maritimes has revealed it’s more difficult for Indigenous children to say when they’re hurt or feeling pain than non-Aboriginal kids.  John R. Sylliboy, ACHH’s community research project co-ordinator, says the concept of ‘two-eyed seeing’ was used to develop a way to recognize when Indigenous children are in pain and to help them recognize it in themselves.  Sylliboy says the celebrated Mi’kmaq artist Alan Sylliboy was enlisted to help children and young people learn to express themselves, first through narrative, then through art.  CBC News, May 18, 2016


Emerging Visual Artists Win $65,000 in Awards.  On May 14, painter Ambera Wellman, born in Lunenberg and recently studying at the University of Guelph, won the $25,000 Joseph Plaskett Award at a ceremony at Equinox Gallery in Vancouver.  The visual artists who received Alberta’s  2016 Emerging Artists Awards include: Ashleigh Bartlett of Bragg Creek; Jason de Haan of Calgary; Tyler Los-Jones of Canmore; and Amy Malbeuf of Rich Lake.  Canadian Art, May 19, 2016

San Diego

Kathryn Kanjo named new director of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.  Since 1983, director Hugh Davies has steered the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego through exhibitions, expansions and off-site programming that has regularly engaged the city of San Diego and the communities that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border. But after more than three decades, he is preparing to hand the reins to MCASD deputy director Kathryn Kanjo, who will become the museum’s director and CEO in October.  Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2016


Milwaukee Art Museum names Marcelle Polednik its next director.  The Milwaukee Art Museum has hired a new director, Marcelle Polednik, currently the director and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville at the University of North Florida. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 17, 2016

New York

Full Exposure.  Female impersonators, midgets, hermaphrodites, tattooed (all over) men, an albino sword swallower, a human pincushion, a Jewish giant: “Characters in a Fairy Tale for Grown Ups” is the way Diane Arbus once described her subjects—“people who appear like metaphors somewhere further out than we do.” The New Yorker, May 23, 2016 issue


Conceptual Art’s Long Shadow “None of these artworks are really for passive contemplation,” said Andrew Wilson, curator of British contemporary art and archives at Tate, who put together “Conceptual Art in Britain: 1964-1979.” “They’re not pleasant arrangements of shapes and colors on a canvas. They are provocations, some of them: provocations to actually thinking what art might be.” The New York Times, May 18, 2016

‘It’s a bigger story’: Frances Morris outlines her global vision for Tate Modern.  The appointment of Frances Morris as Tate Modern’s new director in January was greeted with near-unanimous approval. Unlike her three predecessors, Morris is a Tate insider who joined as a curator in the Modern collection in 1988, the same year as the Tate museums’ director Nicholas Serota. She may have a low public profile, but she is widely respected throughout the art world—especially by artists—and behind the scenes has already done much to expand and define the Tate we see today. The Art Newspaper, May 19, 2016

Martin Creed: ‘I keep hair. And I’m afraid of cheese’  In an exclusive preview of his new show, Turner winner Martin Creed gives us a guided tour round old cars, smashed chairs and plastic bags from under his fridge The Guardian, May 18, 2016

Greenpeace activists scale British Museum to protest BP sponsorship.  Museum temporarily closes as activists hang huge banners renaming the new BP-sponsored Sunken Cities Egypt exhibition as ‘Sinking Cities’ The Guardian, May 19, 2016

Grayson Perry creates huge phallus to represent bankers’ worldview.  The artist Grayson Perry has revealed two new works inspired by his experience of the world of high finance, including a giant penis embossed with banknotes and George Osborne’s face.  For the final episode of his Channel 4 series exploring masculinity in the 21st century, Perry spent time interviewing the men who control the UK’s financial services industry. The Guardian, May 19, 2016


Mel Chin Crowdfunds a Film About Climate Change, Featuring an Inuit Hunter and Poodles.  Artist Mel Chin’s plan was to film an Inuit hunter racing through the streets of Paris on a sled pulled by seven fluffy white poodles, timing this vision of the Arctic in the French capital with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December of last year. However, the evening of November 13, before major production was to begin, the city was struck with a series of terrorist attacks.  Hyperallergic, May 17, 2016


Nice Museum. Where’s the Art?  The museum experience is shifting in our digital age, and it’s hard to say who is leading the vanguard: the visitors wanting something more than a stuffy salon, or the curators nervously anticipating public fancies. Anyway, the upshot is construction. Since 2007, museums have committed $8.9 billion to expansion, more than half of that in the United States, according to a survey by The Art Newspaper.  The New Yorker, May 13, 2016


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