Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, August 24, 2016


Vancouver artist Carolina de la Cajiga featured in contemporary Islamic art exhibit at New York’s Met Museum. The work of local artist Carolina de la Cajiga has been selected to be part of a prestigious art exhibition highlighting contemporary Islamic works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.   Curated by Dr. Maryam Ekhtiar, a scholar in Persian art and culture and the associate curator of Islamic art at the Met, the fifth annual Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Islamic Art will showcase works inspired by Islamic art, literature, and architecture, and will feature work in a variety of mediums and styles.  Georgia Straight, August 23, 2016

UBC proud owner of $202,000 US rare book from 1896.  The “most beautiful of all printed books” has been acquired by the University of British Columbia for $202,000 USD — a purchase that was two years in the making.  The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer — printed by William Morris’s Kelmscott Press in 1896 and known as the Kelmscott Chaucer — features intricately designed decorative borders and illustrations on each page to accompany Chaucer’s writing.   “It’s quite a coup for us to have this as a potential tool and also a work of art — a really spectacular work of art, when you look at it,” said English professor Gregory Mackie.  Vancouver Sun, August 24, 2016


Is the Still Life Still Alive?  Fifteen artists spent six weeks this summer considering the still life, art history’s most maligned genre, during a residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Arriving at the Banff Centre, which is a 15-minute walk from downtown, feels like heading off to college, with the nervous anticipation of new friends and routines and work. The campus’s architecture, like much of the building in Alberta and parts of British Columbia, looks vaguely Alpine-inspired with a dash of Pacific Northwest Coast: the primary materials are river rocks and timber. Footwear is stout, food largely free of whole grains. It’s an odd collision of pragmatism and whimsy. Led by Calgary-based artist Mark Clintberg, the Still Alive residency wasn’t wed to traditional ideas of the still life.  Canadian Art, August 23, 2016


Cheap thrills: Artist aims to disorient audience with responsive exhibit.  Bruce Montcombroux is in the midst of a two-week residency at PAVED Arts on 20th Street, where he’s installing a second exhibition TL; DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read), which opens in mid-September. Instead of spending his vacation time (Montcombroux is an assistant professor in the art department at MacEwan University in Edmonton) outdoors, the artist is building the show for 12 hours a day, seven days a week. TL; DR fills the entire gallery space. Star Phoenix, August 23, 2016

Q and A with Saskatoon-raised artist Jerry Rugg, a.k.a. BirdO.  People strolling under the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge this week will notice a man, armed with an array of spray paint cans, turning a once-drab concrete wall into a sprawling mass of design and colour. That man is Saskatoon-raised artist Jerry Rugg, or BirdO, whose work is displayed internationally. He sat down with StarPhoenix reporter Brandon Harder to talk turkey about himself and his art.  Star Phoenix, August 23, 2016


Canadian Photography Institute aims to be a centre of photographic study, display The new Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, its creation announced with great fanfare last November, is set to open to the public this fall with a French photography expert at its helm. Luce Lebart, 45, currently director of collections and curator at the Paris-based Société française de photographie, officially assumes the CPI directorship Aug. 29.   Globe and Mail, August 23, 2016


The current state of Toronto’s art gallery scene.  Toronto’s west end is most definitely experiencing the next art gallery gentrification swing and combined with that excitement is a brave new sense of community. There’s something exciting happening in the city’s art gallery world that overshadows real estate woes.  Blog Toronto, August 20, 2016

Thunder Bay

Patkau Architects win commission to design Thunder Bay Art Gallery.  Following a three-year architect selection process, Vancouver-based Patkau Architects has won a commission to design a new art gallery in Thunder Bay. The award-winning team beat out 13 architecture firms vying for the commission to design the new gallery, to be located on the waterfront in Tugboat Bay. Federal, provincial and municipal governments have announced a shared $2.2 million for the gallery’s design.  Canadian Architect, August 23, 2016

St. John’s, NFLD

Kym Greeley and the New Newfoundland Painting.  In her apartment in New York City, Kym Greeley would remember Newfoundland through glowing screens. She would repeatedly play one level on Metroid Prime: Phendrana Drifts. Its jagged rocks and snowdrifts reminded her of home.  Greeley returned to Newfoundland in 2003. Trained as a conceptual minimalist painter, her windshield became a compositional frame, with echoes of the flat, fixed perspective of video games she played in New York. In her highway paintings, she reduces sentimentality by lessening the emotive hand of the painter through the act of screen-printing. Titles are often abstract, randomly selected. It is Newfoundland, but it could be anywhere, and that is the point.   Canadian Art, August 22, 2016


Judge rules famous artist did not paint landscape at center of lawsuit A federal judge in Chicago says internationally heralded artist Peter Doig did not paint a landscape work that had been valued at over $10 million and is owned by a Canadian.  Doig, whose paintings sell for millions of dollars, “absolutely did not paint the disputed work,” U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman said, adding that the testimony and documents presented at a seven-day trial “conclusively” show the artist did not paint the desert scene in 1976.  Chicago Tribune, August 23, 2016

New York

The Hallmark of a Great Artist’s Studio: A Daybed.  In this series for T, Emily Spivack, interviews creative types about their most prized possessions.   In her home studio, the artist Susan Cianciolo’s primary piece of furniture is a daybed, a nod to artists before her, such as Henri Matisse and Donald Judd, whose studios included beds for nap-taking and contemplation.  New York Times, August 23, 2016

Art Aids America review – gay artists channel anguish, anger and intimacy.  No one has a fully convincing theory as to why gay men are so overrepresented among artists, writers and performers. But we are and, in the 1980s and early 1990s, Aids scythed through the American cultural landscape, wiping out a generation of creators and inspired others to mourn, memorialize, organize and fight back. Art Aids America, an exhibition on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, revisits those harrowing, death-trailed years, and argues that Aids changed the course of art history, not only through its casualties but through the response it galvanized.  The Guardian, August 19, 2016

Windsor, England

Thomas Hardy altarpiece discovered in Windsor church.  The author of Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd trained as an architect and worked as a draughtsman in the 1860s, working on designs for a number of churches. In the 1970s, a collection of designs was discovered behind the organ of All Saints church in Windsor, many of which featured the work of Hardy. Although three of the drawings were kept in the church, until Stuart Tunstall and his fellow churchgoer Don Church embarked on a search for the building’s foundation stone, it was believed that none of the designs had been realised.  The Guardian, August 16, 2016


What do we do with art from the past deemed offensive today?   The news that a former Islamist warrior in northern Mali has pleaded guilty to – and apologized for – the destruction of ancient architecture in Timbuktu is mild vindication for all of us who were outraged by the continuing destruction of valuable art and sculpture across the Middle East by religious fanatics… We are all for the preservation of the past and of the hand-worked artifacts of foreign cultures. Even if those cultures had values antithetical to our own (as the priceless Islamic libraries of Timbuktu, being themselves pretty sexist, surely did), we believe that history in itself is valuable. Or do we? It’s funny: People who denounce the cultural cleansing of ISIS and the Taliban are often just as likely to demand the removal of old-fashioned artwork from their own public spaces. Our Western reasons are far more sensible: We want the removal of murals and paintings that perpetuate dangerous racial or gender stereotypes (noble “natives” leading European explorers, contented cotton pickers in the U.S. South, socialist-realist mothers clasping babies behind their warrior men…). Globe & Mail, August 23, 2016

Why People Collect Art. Debates about why people collect art date back at least to the first century CE. The Roman rhetorician Quintilian claimed that those who professed to admire what he considered to be the primitive works of the painter Polygnotus were motivated by ‘an ostentatious desire to seem persons of superior taste’. Quintilian’s view still finds many supporters.  Another popular explanation for collecting – financial gain – cannot explain why collectors go to such lengths. Of course, many people buy art for financial reasons. You can resell works, sometimes reaping enormous profit. You can get large tax deductions for donating art to museums – so large that the federal government has seized thousands of looted antiquities that were smuggled into the United States just so that they could be donated with inflated valuations to knock money off the donors’ tax bills.  Aeon, August 22, 2016


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