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

City of Vancouver selects Ballet BC executive director as its new head of culture  Branislav Henselmann, executive director of Ballet BC, will be the City of Vancouver’s new managing director of cultural services. “I think culture generally can truly be a platform for profound societal change,” says Mr. Henselmann, whose career has been focused mostly on performing arts and who has no previous experience in arts administration at the government level. The Globe and Mail, December 15, 2016

City committee recommends Vancouver Art Gallery lease deadline extension  The City of Vancouver’s Standing Committee on City Finance and Services has recommended a deadline extension to execute a lease for the new Vancouver Art Gallery to be located at 688 Cambie Street, from April 2015 to December 31 2018. The proposal to relocate the Vancouver Art Gallery from its current location to the site at 688 Cambie was made in April 2013. The City agreed to provide a 99-year lease, and imposed the precondition of a two-year deadline for the Vancouver Art Gallery Association (VAGA) to meet its fundraising goals for the $350 million project. Vancouver Sun, December 14, 2016

Ambivalent Pleasures: A Conversation with Jesse McKee  I recently spoke with the curator Jesse McKee who, along with Daina Augaitis, organized Ambivalent Pleasures, the Vancouver Art Gallery survey of local practices, which opened December 3, 2016. Lee Plested: As part of organizing this survey, how did you unravel the story of artistic production in the city today? [interview] Art21, December 12, 2016

Writer-artist imagines a grim future Vancouver I have been trying, largely in vain, to find some Vancouver writers and artists willing to take on the city’s housing and rent crisis in their creative work. I put out a call for contenders in my November column, headlined “Vancouver’s creative community squeezed out, says Bowering” … Can someone explain why most of Metro Vancouver’s writers and artists seem so reluctant to address the city’s major social-political issue? Vancouver Sun, December 15, 2016

Sechelt receives donation of art  A recent donation to the District of Sechelt’s public art collection is now on display in the Sechelt Public Library. Night Forest, 1962, by the late Don Jarvis was generously gifted to the District of Sechelt this year by local arts supporters and philanthropists Bill and Heather Beamish. Coast Reporter, December 15, 2016 

Interim KAG curator has ‘commitment to artists in B.C.’ Adrienne Fast has been hired as interim curator at the Kamloops Art Gallery for the next 13 months. Fast received a doctorate in art history and theory last year at the University of British Columbia… KAG executive director Margaret Chrumka said “Adrienne impressed us with her commitment to artists in B.C. and her experience working with collections and artists at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her particular interest in printmaking and South Asian art provide us with a unique opportunity to share this expertise with our community.” Kamloops This Week, December 16, 2016

World famous sculpture ‘The Thinker’ to ponder at the Winnipeg Art Gallery  One of the world’s most famous sculptures is now on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. A bronze cast of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ was unveiled Friday morning. “I think it’s a great Christmas present for Winnipeggers and the WAG,” said Stephen Borys, WAG director & CEO. When on display the sculpture sits 10 feet tall and complements the Starting with Rodin exhibition currently on at the gallery., December 16, 2016

Picturing The Ward: Construction hoardings paint portrait of historic Toronto neighbourhood  The street art covers two blocks, recounting life stories from the gritty, impoverished area that used to be known as “The Ward.” It was a first home for new immigrants to the city dating back to the 1800s. The art project will remain at the corner of Armoury Street and Centre Street for at least a year. Beyond that, telling the story of this long-gone neighbourhood will continue. Once the new courthouse is completed and open in 2020, provincial officials plan to display some of the artifacts discovered on the property., December 16, 2016

Montreal project helps solve issue around recovering Nazi-stolen art  This week, at a landmark ceremony at the Canadian embassy in Berlin, Montreal’s Max Stern Restitution Project not only recovered two Dutch Old Masters paintings – Ships in Distress on a Stormy Sea by Jan Porcellis and Landscape with Goats by Willem Buytewech the Younger – it announced a solution for one of the most problematic questions surrounding Nazi-looted art: How do you ask for the return of a plundered work from a party that innocently came to own it? The Globe and Mail, December 16, 2016

In the Context of No Context: A Digital Billboard in Chicago Raises Questions About Art in the Public Sphere Flashing brightly for a few seconds at a time, the black-and-white mugshot of an unnamed African-American male loomed against the Chicago skyline, interrupting the mundane ads…that shared space on the same digital billboard… George Stinney, Jr., an artwork by Vik Muniz, stood out not just from regular billboard programming but also from 19 other works that were part of Override, a project undertaken as part of the Expo Chicago art fair in September… A stark presentation of the mugshot of a 14-year-old boy, the youngest-ever American to suffer the death penalty, the piece was far more serious than the other selections. It was also, for reasons that would become increasingly clear, a genuinely troubling work of art. Artnews, December 16, 2016

New York
The Dark Final Years of Mark Rothko Mark Rothko was a great artist with highfalutin aims, which he summarized, in 1956, as “tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” That’s a lot to claim for fuzzy rectangles on paper or canvas. But at least the “and so on” holds true. No other painter can occasion feelings so intense, so directly. His pictures are emphatically objects. They are in scale with a viewer’s body, but their color and brushwork have a disembodying effect. [review] The New Yorker, December 19 & 26, 2016

Jennifer Scott first woman to be appointed Dulwich Picture Gallery director Jennifer Scott, the director of the Holburne Museum in Bath, has been appointed as the Sackler director of Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London. She replaces Ian Dejardin who is leaving after 12 years in the post to join the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Ontario as chief executive. Scott, the first woman to fill the post, takes up the position in April next year. In 2017, the gallery will celebrate 200 years since it first opened its doors to the public. The Art Newspaper, December 15, 2016

Saved by Shakespeare’s Father, a Series of Medieval Murals Is Finally Restored Conservators in the UK have revealed and restored a series of medieval wall paintings, intended to be destroyed during the English Reformation but saved by none other than John Shakespeare — the father of the famed playwright. Covering the interior walls of Guild Chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon, renowned as Shakespeare’s birthplace, the works represent what is likely one of the only extant examples of a nearly complete, medieval decorative scheme still in situ., December 14, 2016

David Hockney honoured with gallery in home city of Bradford David Hockney’s home city of Bradford is to honour the artist by opening a permanent gallery dedicated to his work to mark his 80th birthday. The David Hockney Gallery will be housed in the city’s Cartwright Hall. “I used to love going to Cartwright Hall as a kid,” Hockney said in a statement. “It was the only place in Bradford I could see real paintings.” The new gallery will show works ranging from early sketches to well-known paintings and his iPad drawings. It will open on 7 July – two days before his 80th birthday. BBC News, December 17, 2016

Chattering classes cause an almighty row at the Musée d’Orsay A teacher at a French secondary school has sparked debate about the treatment of school groups in French museums after a warden at the Musée d’Orsay told her party of 93 pupils to “shut their mouths” during a visit to the Paris museum. The French Minister of Culture, Audrey Azoulay, has also been drawn into the row, and requested that a report be drawn up on the incident and its aftermath. The Art Newspaper, December 16, 2016

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