Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, September 1, 2016


Ryan Quast turns humble objects into high art.  Ryan Quast’s exhibition Everyday Living juggles a number of representational tropes, traditions, and inversions, from trompe l’oeil to readymade to pop art. His highly realistic depictions of humble objects and accumulated detritus—cigarette butts, spent matches, a used paint tray with roller, a plastic bag stuffed with garbage—are paintings in sculptural form. Or perhaps they’re sculptures in painted form. Georgia Straight, August 31, 2016.

Are Conservative Approaches to Indigenous Art Working Against Us?   “My greatest ambition for my book on Indigenous art from 1980 to 1995—and therefore what I most fear getting wrong—is to be able to provide the analytical rigour that the art demands while also conveying the drama of events and personalities.  Too much emphasis on events, and the book will become overly journalistic and biographical: approaches that are often criticized as intellectually lightweight and conservative. But if the work is strictly analytical I worry about missing out on conveying the real drama of what went on.”—Richard William Hill, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Studies at ECUAD.  Canadian Art, August 2016


Calgary couple ditches the finance industry to sell art on the open road. “We bought the van in April just before we quit our jobs. It just sort of made sense that while our website,, was being developed we would go out and find artists and have that face-to-face connection. It’s been really super positive. So far, we have interviewed more than 130 artists from B.C. to Newfoundland and up to the Yukon and back.” —Corinne Funk  Globe & Mail, August 31, 2016


Subtle sexism entrenched in art world.  Do we still have to talk about gender?” Shawna Dempsey, a Winnipeg performance artist and co-executive director at MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art), gets that a lot.  She’ll be talking all about gender at this month’s Art Talk/Art Walk at the Free Press News Café (Friday, Sept. 2, 6 p.m.). She’ll discuss the current position of female artists in Canada and the entrenched attitudes that sometimes sideline women’s art. She’ll also be looking at creative ways artists and organizations in Winnipeg are approaching the stubbornly persistent issue of inequality.  Winnipeg Free Press, August 29, 2016


Toronto gallery’s stunning collection of Vivian Maier photographs caught in legal quagmire.  At the Stephen Bulger Gallery, self-portraits by the now-famous nanny and photographer Vivian Maier are locked in murky legal circumstance as the Chicago-area county where she died, without a will, is claiming copyright to all her work.  Toronto Star, August 25, 2016

At Ontario Place, Days of Futures Past.  The old Cinesphere (at Ontario Place), a waterfront landmark of ’70s-era futurism that has morphed, in more recent years, into a gloomy symbol of the tangled practicalities of waterfront redevelopment, lights up again for the first time in four and a half years, with both an artists’ film series and a nostalgic look back.   Max Dean, a Governor General’s Award-winning artist, salvaged figures from the Wilderness Adventure ride — animatronic miners, robotic wildlife — in Ontario Place, which was cast as a fiscal sinkhole by the Ontario government and abruptly shuttered in February, 2012.  Dean’s creatures will be going home  as part of In/Future, a new visual art and music festival opens on the park’s west island.  Toronto Star, August 30, 2016


Curators Demand Changes to Culturally Diverse Grant. Toronto-based curator Su-Ying Lee is known for unconventional approaches to art.  Alongside architectural practitioner Jennifer Davis (in a curatorial collective known as Rear View Projects), Lee has initiated projects with migrant workers in Hong Kong, and also staged talks in a Toronto laneway.  But there’s a problem: Lee is not seeing that kind of increasingly prevalent practice supported by the Ontario Arts Council’s grants for Culturally Diverse Curatorial Projects and Aboriginal Curatorial Projects.  Canadian Art, August 26, 2016


Visual arts: Six new Montreal galleries have six unique perspectives.  “This week I am introducing six new and new-to-me galleries that I hope will inspire readers to visit.   Two galleries were included after I served on the jury for a Mtl en Arts street-fair event with gallerists whose judgment I trust: France Cantin of the gallery that bears her name, and Claire Crombez of Galerie C.O.A.  Common themes that emerged from my visits included collaboration with other galleries and efforts to reach an international public.”  Montreal Gazette, August 25, 2016


Public Art: It’s (Still) A Man’s World.  Both anecdotal and quantitative evidence shows that women are getting more public art commissions than ever before—but it’s still not enough.  This year, for the first time, Vancouver artist Jill Anholt—prolific in the public art realm—was on an all-female shortlist for a public art project.  And in Vancouver, commissions for temporary public art are now evenly divided between women and men.  But permanent commissions in that city still go to men at a rate of 2 to 1, writes Karen A. Henry, planner for Vancouver’s Public Art Program.  In Montreal, ratios of 2 to 1 (male to female) for recent permanent public art projects are also the norm. It’s not just public art that suffers from structural sexism. In March of this year, Metro Toronto found that only five of Toronto’s 25 city-owned public memorials depict women.  Canadian Art, August 31, 2016

New York

Bronx Museum Names Replacement Board Members After Board Leaders Quit In Protest.  Following the abrupt resignation last week of its top trustees, the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Wednesday announced two interim appointments — Joseph Mizzi as interim chairman and Joan Krevlin as a vice chairwoman. (Marilyn Greene continues to serve as the other vice chairwoman.)”  New York Times, August 31, 2016

Whitney Museum drowning in water bills: report  The new Whitney Museum that only opened in May 2015 has managed to generate a titanic water bill and is already behind on payments.  The bill, including interest, had grown to $208,964 as of Sunday. According to city records, no payment has been made in the past 12 months. Whitney director Adam Weinberg said last year the new $422 million museum hoped to double the 340,000 in annual attendance at its previous building on the Upper East Side. It has tripled its numbers in its first four months of operation, equating to some 20,000 people per day — and obviously a lot of toilet flushes.  New York Post, August 29, 2016

Sotheby’s is now streaming the world’s best galleries into your living room. Sotheby’s, the  New York auction house will launch its own online ‘Museum Network’ to showcase videos and TV series made by the world’s leading art museums.  Available on as well as Sotheby’s Apple TV channel app, you’ll be able to see inside internationally-renowned galleries including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate galleries, and the National Palace Museum in Taiwan.  The Memo, August 29, 2016


Bass Museum Reopening Delayed.  The Bass Museum of Art in Miami will now reopen in the spring of 2017 rather than this December, due to construction delays. The opening was set to feature shows with Ugo Rondinone, Mika Rottenberg, and Pascale Marthine Tayou—these have all been postponed until next year.  Artforum, September 1, 2016


Eyes on the prize: the must-see art and design of autumn 2016.  Elton John shares his photography collection, Tracey Emin gets into bed with William Blake and David Shrigley gives everyone a big thumb’s-up.   The Guardian, August 31, 2016


How Italy stopped Venice being put on Unesco’s Heritage In Danger list.  Unesco’s World Heritage Site Committee meeting in Istanbul this July voted not to put Venice on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites, but instead to postpone the decision until the 2017 meeting. TVenice’s addition to this list (currently 55 sites, with only three in the West) would not only be embarrassing for the Italian government, which regularly uses its cultural assets and conservation know-how as an instrument of foreign policy, but would also lead to close and potentially unwelcome monitoring of Venice by Unesco officials.  The Art Newspaper, August 31, 2016

Croissy-Beaubourg, France

Anselm Kiefer’s studio robbed of 12 tonnes of raw marble and €1.3m lead sculpture.  Early in the morning on Sunday, 28 August, the German artist Anselm Kiefer’s 35,000sq. m studio and warehouse space in Croissy-Beaubourg, about 25km west of Paris, was burgled and robbed, as first reported by the French daily newspaper Le Parisien. The thieves are suspected of cutting through wire cages and making off with a ten-tonne lead sculpture of stacks of books—valued at €1.3m—and 12 tonnes of raw marble, worth around €1m. The Art Newspaper, August 31, 2016


Is old master artwork old news for collectors?  At Christie’s over the past few weeks, two experts in old master paintings and drawings quietly left the auction house.  Their departures followed a year of spotty sales, in which the values of works by old masters – a pantheon of European painters working before around 1800 – fell by 33 per cent, according to the 2016 Tefaf Art Market Report.  At a time when contemporary art is all the rage among collectors, viewers and donors, many experts are questioning whether old master artwork – once the most coveted – can stay relevant at auction houses, galleries and museums. Globe & Mail, August 31, 2016



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