Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, December 5, 2016

Vancouver
The Vancouver Art Gallery begins new series featuring local contemporary artists  The VAG has launched a new triennial Vancouver Special, which, every three years, will exhibit contemporary art from the city. The inaugural iteration, Ambivalent Pleasures, is a comprehensive survey of work since the 2010 Olympics. (The overall name is a play on a typical Vancouver housing style, the Vancouver Special.) “I think we still have one of the most prominent art scenes in North America,” said Jesse McKee, head of strategy at the Vancouver artist-run centre 221A,. McKee is co-curating the show with Daina Augaitis, the VAG’s chief curator/associate director. The Globe and Mail, December 2, 2016

Getting contemporary: Vancouver Special reflects state of the art in Terminal City  In Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the big idea linking about 250 works by 40 artists is geographical: The artists are all connected to B.C…. The exhibition includes a number of contemporary paintings. That may not seem like a significant development in a province where Emily Carr is revered as an artist unless you realize that for the past two to three decades, painting has been overlooked and sometimes explicitly denigrated as a legitimate medium in Vancouver. Vancouver Sun, December 2, 2016

Sonny Assu and Vancouver Special debut at Vancouver Art Gallery  Also opening December 3 (to April 23, 2017) is We Come to Wtiness from Ligwilda’xw Kwakwaka’wakw interdisciplinary artist Sonny Assu’s ongoing body of work Interventions on The Imaginary. In this series, Assu, a graduate of Emily Carr University, transposes digital tags overtop Emily Carr paintings selected from the gallery’s collection, infusing a traditional narrative with contemporary energy. Nuvo Magazine, December 4, 2016

Thunder Bay
Artists support new gallery  Established and emerging artists say a new art gallery will not only benefit the local arts scene, but enhance the cultural identity of the city of Thunder Bay. Last Monday, officials with the Thunder Bay Art Gallery gave a presentation to Thunder Bay city council on the proposed new gallery on the waterfront. The cost of the new gallery recently increased from $25 million to $33 million… The proposed new gallery, designed by the Vancouver-based architecture firm, Patkau Architects, will be 40,000 square feet, while the current gallery is 16,000 square feet. The Newswatch, December 4, 2016

Toronto
National Gallery shuts down artist’s Instagram  Jay Isaac, a Toronto painter of some renown, woke up one day last week to find his Instagram feed had vanished. In place of the 700-some images of Canadian artworks he had assembled over three years of assiduous research was a message from the popular photo-sharing site’s legal division: that his account had been deleted for violating its terms of use and that none of his materials could be recovered. “I saw that feed as an art piece and it was just erased,” Isaac shrugged recently. Though a shock, it was no surprise. Isaac had been posting under the handle @nationalgalleryofcanada, a fact recently noticed by the real National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Toronto Star, December 4, 2016

Design for new Canadian Canoe Museum receives architectural award  The team behind the design for the new Canadian Canoe Museum has won a prestigious Canadian Architect Award of Merit. At Canadian Architect’s annual awards gala in Toronto last night, the magazine presented Heneghan Peng Architects and Kearns Mancini Architects with the award. “It’s an honour to receive a Canadian Architect Award — particularly for a project that celebrates a Canadian icon, the canoe,” says Roisin Heneghan, Director, Heneghan Peng Architect. KawarthaNow.com, December 1, 2016

Canada
Corporate art collection auctions spurred by economic setbacks, office design  When Xerox Canada moved its Toronto headquarters into a 33,500-square-foot building in North York in August, it just couldn’t find a place for Dance of the Owl. The square stonecut-and-stencil print of an Inuit child playing with a lively owl was made in 1978 by artist Kenojuak Ashevak, who died in 2013 at Cape Dorset, Nunavut….Heffel president David Heffel said some companies built large art collections in the 1970s and ’80s, encouraged in part by favourable tax laws, but the buying stalled during an economic downturn in the early 1990s… The slow economy, especially in Western Canada, is a factor for some corporate art sellers, but Heffel said a bigger influence is the trend toward open concept office design. Globalnews.ca, December 4, 2016

London
V&A museum acquires most headline-making designs of 2016  London’s V&A museum has purchased a number of design objects that “mirrored society” in 2016, including a burkini, a Vote Leave leaflet, a tile from Grayson Perry’s holiday house and the flag of the Refugee Olympic Team. The items were acquired through the museum’s Rapid Response Collecting programme – a strategy for collecting objects as soon as they become newsworthy to reflect the changing way fast-moving global events influence society. Dezeen, December 3, 2016

Upside-down Christmas tree suspended from Tate Britain ceiling  London’s Tate Britain has celebrated the start of the festive season by hanging a Christmas tree upside down from its ceiling. Created by artist Shirazeh Houshiary, the Christmas tree was unveiled today inside the gallery’s Millbank building. It reimagines a similar piece she created for Tate over 20 years ago. Dezeen, December 1, 2016

Glasgow
So What’s Wrong at the Glasgow School of Art? Quite a Lot, According to Student Protesters  Glasgow School of Art is internationally revered. So when more than 200 students protest outside its main campus, as they did a few weeks ago, it’s worth taking note. What could be wrong? Apart from Brexit? Apart from the tragic 2014 fire that destroyed part of the iconic Mackintosh building? Demonstrators claim there has been a steep deterioration in standards, a lack of studio, desk, and workshop space, and an overextended teaching staff, together with a serious lack of communication with senior management. Artnews, December 2, 2016

Geneva
Palmyra antiquities seized at Geneva Free Port  Swiss authorities have seized nine antiquities looted from Palmyra and ancient sites in Libya and Yemen at the Geneva Free Port. The artefacts, which range from the fourth century BC to the third century AD, were deposited at the secretive tax-free warehouses between 2009 and 2010, the Geneva public prosecutor said in a statement on 2 December. They were discovered during a customs inspection in 2013 and confirmed as authentic by culture authorities in Bern last year. The Art Newspaper, December 5, 2016

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