Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, July 12, 2016

‘Unexpected’ departure of city’s cultural director leaves arts leaders concerned  Leaders in Vancouver’s arts community say they’re concerned following the sudden departure of the city’s managing director of cultural services.  The City of Vancouver says Richard Newirth is no longer employed by the city because of “organizational changes.””I am, of course, concerned about the impact this unexpected change will have on the arts and cultural sector in the city,” said Donna Spencer, chair of the city’s arts and culture policy council and artistic producer of the Firehall Arts Centre… The city shared few details about Newirth’s departure, but thanked him for his work and emphasized the continued importance of the arts in Vancouver., July 9, 2016

Exhibit offers up a little Seuss to brighten up the world  While Dr. Seuss was widely credited with getting a lot of kids to love books and to embrace the differences in all of us, he was also a prolific artist who worked in many mediums. His vast stores of work are in his estate and in an archive in Geisel Library at University of California at San Diego. It is this archive that The Art of Dr. Seuss exhibition, on at the Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver July 11-30, has mined. The exhibit showcases and offers for sale about 40 authorized limited-edition pieces ranging in price from US$295 to $10,000. The latter big-ticket item is a portfolio that celebrates the 25th anniversary of Seuss’s last book, Oh the Places You’ll Go. The Vancouver Sun, July 5, 2016

First inaugural Vancouver Mural Festival will put urban art in the spotlight  Montreal has had one since 2013, and now it’s Vancouver’s turn: on August 20, a festival that pays tribute to public art—namely murals—will hit Mount Pleasant for a full day of performances, interactive exhibits, community projects, markets, and more. The Create Vancouver Society has partnered with the City of Vancouver, Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Area, and the Burrard Arts Foundation to host the first annual Vancouver Mural Festival, which is expected to draw nearly 100,000 people to the Main Street area. The Georgia Straight, July 6, 2016

Edmonton chooses Berlin artist for $1-million transit garage art project  Edmonton’s richest-ever public art commission is about the consideration and elevation of nowhere places — both in town and, quite literally, around the globe. Called 53º20 — 40’N, the $1-million work by Berlin artist Thorsten Goldberg takes five uninhabited, mountainous locations from our exact latitude around the planet, digitally mapped and converted into faceted metal sculptures. These five moonscape-like topographies, more than 40 square metres each, will face northwest from up high on the new Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage, named for the city’s first female bus driver. The Edmonton Journal, July 8, 2016

City to investigate whether art can promote safety and ridership on transit  Edmonton’s transit advisory board says it has found a new way to make transit safer and promote ridership: public art. The board wants to see more art and interesting design worked into transit stations and shelters. Right now, the city allocates one per cent of all city project funding to public art, though there is no specific policy for transit projects. “We need something else to look at new and existing transit facilities, to bring art into those places and make it more pleasant to use,” said Izak Roux, chair of the advisory board., July 6, 2016

Dance meets art in Robert Binet’s ‘immersive ballet’ Though the concept is new to most of us, Robert Binet has long had visions of ballet swirling together with Lawren Harris’s artwork dancing in his head. Binet, the National Ballet of Canada’s choreographic phenom, first had his interest in Harris’s haloed landscapes piqued when he was “quite little” and a school trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario turned magical when he noticed one of his paintings: “Boom, wow, you see those landscapes and they’re . . . stunning.”… The ambitious project, The Dreamers Ever Leave You, will run Aug. 31 to Sept. 10 as a complement to the AGO’s Harris exhibition, The Idea of North. Toronto Star, July 11, 2016

Acquire a piece of art by looking at it  What if you could acquire a work of art by a well-known artist just by spending some time with it — equal to the time the artist spent creating it? Nicolas Grenier, an artist who combines social comment and mellow colours in carefully modulated paintings, enlisted 15 prominent artists to submit a work to an exhibition for which they may — or may not — receive an envelope with a note inside. “Buyers” are given paper and pen to write their thoughts during the several hours they spend sitting with the artwork in a cube in the Hall Building at Concordia, but they aren’t obliged to write anything. The Montreal Gazette, July 7, 2016

Wonders and blunders: what makes a great museum? What makes a museum building successful? Until the arrival of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilbao in 1997, this question might have been almost exclusively focused on the best environments in which to view art. But the Guggenheim’s phenomenal success, which allowed the Basque government to recoup the construction costs within three years, moved the debate on to issues of branding and statement architecture. Now the discussion has moved on again. In the public imagination, museums have been transformed from cultural destinations into leisure ones, and there has been a global rise in visitor numbers…We asked architects, artists and curators to name their favourite museum buildings. The Art Newspaper, July 8, 2016

Artists Begin Building Trump’s Border Wall, Sending Mexico the Bill  Ever since Donald J. Trump announced his plans to build a wall at the border, pundits and voters have been debating how it would work. Now a pair of artists have offered an example: They have built a wall — or the start of one, anyway — near the edge of Jacumba Hot Springs, Calif., a border town about 70 miles southeast of San Diego.“It took about 52 cinder blocks,” David Gleeson, one of the artists, said by phone on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after he and his partner, Mary Mihelic, erected their version of Mr. Trump’s wall. It stands 20 yards from the actual United States-Mexico border, which already has a fence. The New York Times, July 8, 2016

Valeria Napoleone’s all-female art collection hits the road  The London-based philanthropist Valeria Napoleone is to show her all-female art collection in public for the first time in the UK regions. The Italian-born collector has exclusively acquired works by women artists for the past two decades in a bid to redress the art world’s persistent gender imbalance. An exhibition of highlights will open at the Graves Gallery in Sheffield in the north of England next week (Going Public: the Napoleone Collection, 15 July-1 October), before travelling to Touchstones Rochdale in Greater Manchester (10 December-11 March 2017). The Art Newspaper, July 7, 2016

Restoring a Charles Rennie Mackintosh Architectural Gem From the Ashes  In May 2014, a small fire that started in the basement of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building at the Glasgow School of Art here ripped through its wooden innards, working its way from the basement to the upper stories and destroying much of the west wing of a building long considered the jewel in Glasgow’s architectural crown. Now, after two years of planning, preservation and debris removal, restoration on the Mackintosh is set to begin. “It’s one of those unique moments where you have to rethink how you actually use a building,” said the art school’s director, Tom Inns. The devastating fire, he said, “was actually a significant catalyst in how we think about the space.” The New York Times, July 11, 2016

New Evidence in Stolen Picassos Case  Art dealer Olivier Thomas has been indicted once again as new evidence has emerged in the ongoing investigation into stolen Picasso paintings. Last year, Picasso’s stepdaughter Catherine Hutin-Blay accused the dealer, who’s associated with former Freeport head Yves Bouvier, of stealing three works from her. Hutin-Blay alleged that three paintings, including two works by her stepfather that she had entrusted to Bouvier for storage, had been stolen and surreptitiously sold to Dmitry Rybolovlev without her consent. Artnet, July 12, 2016

Dis-affecting: Mostafa Heddaya on the Ninth Berlin Biennale  It is easy to feel trolled by the Ninth Berlin Biennale. The show, which is organised by the New York-based DIS collective (Lauren Boyle, Solomon Chase, Marco Roso and David Toro), is a belated conclave for several attitudes that are more affiliated socially than they are intellectually and that began proliferating on either side of the Atlantic at the turn of the decade… The result of this amalgam is that the handful of important works in the Berlin Biennale are lost in a conceptually unmoored exhibition veneered by easy-outrage, media-oriented provocations. The Art Newspaper, July 8, 2016

Takahiro Iwasaki Will Represent Japan at Venice Biennale in 2017 Artist Takahiro Iwasaki has been selected to represent Japan at the 2017 Venice Biennale, according to the Japan Foundation. Iwasaki, who is based in Hiroshima, will be showing a work called Upside-Down Forest, which addresses the nature of Venice as a city built upon wooden stakes as well as the design of the iconic Itsukushima Shrine. Artnews, July 11, 2016

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