Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, December 22, 2016

The Arts News is taking a break and will be back on January 3, 2017. 

We wish you all happy holidays!  See you soon.


2016 Year in Review: 2016 helped raise Vancouver’s profile as an important art city.  “2016 was a truly extraordinary year for the visual arts in Vancouver and for the Vancouver Art Gallery in particular, from renowned Vancouver photo-conceptualist Stan Douglas being named the winner of the prestigious annual Hasselblad Award to Vancouver’s selection as one of four important art cities by the acclaimed PBS documentary series ART21, and powerful exhibitions by Vancouver-based artists at the Vancouver Art Gallery.”  Business in Vancouver, December 21, 2016

British artist Haroon Mirza brings first solo exhibition to Vancouver this winter.  British artist Haroon Mirza brings Entheogens, his first solo exhibition in Canada, to the Contemporary Art Gallery January 13, 2017. The exhibit runs until March 19. Haroon is world renowned for his light and sound installations, using a variety of instruments such as household electronics, LEDs, furniture, and video footage creating hypnotizing visual and aural effects. The Province, December 21, 2016

Review: Mary Filer’s exuberant work was full of ferocity.  The cover of The Life and Art of Mary Filer, designed by Mark Hand, shows details of the artist’s glass sculptures which reveal “her exuberant use of colour and work with light” as Canadian artist Sylvia Tait has said. Filer, who died at the age of 95 in Vancouver in January, was a leader in the development of the glass art movement. She was featured for the first time in the Vancouver Sun in 1947. This book is the ninth in The Unheralded Artists of BC series from Mother Tongue on Salt Spring Island.   Vancouver Sun, December 3, 2016

ART SEEN: Artists think outside of the box to create unique bentwood boxes.  Lattimer Gallery’s Annual Charity Bentwood Boxes auction is different from other fundraisers.   One of the things that sets it apart is the way it’s structured.  Artists aren’t asked to simply donate a work. They’re instead asked to do something much more time-consuming: they’re asked to use their skills and create a new work specifically for the event.   The annual charity fundraiser which concluded Saturday (Dec. 3) raised $88,000, the most in the event’s history. Over the years, the bentwood box fundraiser has raised $280,000. All proceeds go to the Urban Native Youth Association.  Vancouver Sun, December 2, 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.   She worked as a teaching assistant there, as an adjunct professor at the University of Western Washington and most recently as assistant curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  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.  Kamloops This Week, December 16, 2016


Calgary pop-up gallery born of economic hardship flourishes.  Despite the frigid temperatures outside, flowers are blooming inside Venture Art Gallery — Inglewood’s newest pop-up. The gallery is nestled between a shisha bar and a collectibles shop on Calgary’s original main street, 9th Avenue S.E.  Calgary Herald, December 16, 2016


Toronto public-art project made of 1.6 million sticks strives for visibility.  If artist Micah Lexier gets his wish, Torontonians looking for a convenient downtown landmark will start saying to each other “Meet you at the black circle.” The orb in question is part of Two Circles, Lexier’s new public-art project for the eastern tower of the Bay-Adelaide Centre, the newly opened second phase of a financial-district office complex. Lexier won a competition to design the work created under the Toronto Percent for Public Art program that requires private developers to offer public art in their public spaces.  Globe & Mail, December 20, 2016

Russell Smith: Artists and computer engineers share a common cause.  Advanced science is very much in the service of art these days. In the most obvious example, the technology used by movie animators – arrays of cameras that shoot a moving person from multiple angles, then feed those images to a computer that creates a 3-D synthesis of all those angles – relies entirely on giant computers. This technology has almost become necessary for the creation of most popular art forms. But even in the high arts – defined for our purposes as art you see in a gallery – artists are exploring the limits of the most sophisticated of machines.  Globe & Mail, December 21, 2016


Arts group questions diversity of projects for Montreal’s 375th bash.  An umbrella organization for a number of arts associations reflecting cultural diversity in Montreal has expressed disappointment over the city’s 375th-anniversary celebrations planned for next year.    In an open letter sent this week to Gilbert Rozon, commissioner for the celebrations, RÉSARTÉ (Réseau des artistes unis pour l’équité) said it wants answers as to why two of its member groups were turned down for 375th-anniversary funding.   Montreal Gazette, December 20, 2016


Art in 2016: Insides and Outs.  For a talk related to his Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition “How to Build a House Museum,” artist Theaster Gates conflated both isolationism and interiority in a discussion of black-owned US businesses, so many of them ironically lost in the wake of post-segregation legislation and late-capitalist, white-washing gentrification… My favourite 2016 contemporary-art experience was at the otherwise dry and pretentious Biennale de Montréal, through a narrow door that opened to Moyra Davey’s video work Hemlock Forest.  Canadian Art, December 21, 2016

Art by Indigenous Artists, or Art about Indigenous Issues? Is Indigenous art any art made by an Indigenous person? Or is it somehow art that is the product of particular cultural traditions? Or could it be something like: art about Indigenous issues or ideas? And, by the way, what is an Indigenous person? Canadian Art, December 20, 2016

Los Angeles

One Woman Is on a Mission to Find All of L.A. County’s Hidden Civic Art.  Launched in 2015, an intrepid team of researchers, registrars and art sleuths embarked upon the uninspiringly titled Civic Art Baseline Inventory. But the scope of the project is exciting, as the team tirelessly searches the county’s unassuming institutions and public spaces, spreading out over hundreds of L.A. County sites in 88 municipalities across 4,000 square miles, looking for inspiring art that has been commissioned or donated over the 166-year history of Los Angeles.  Los Angeles Weekly, December 20, 2016

New York

New York Art Dealer Charged With Trafficking Illegal Antiquities.  The dealer, Nancy Wiener, has sold illicit Asian objects to Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses, according to the criminal complaint filed in Manhattan Criminal Court. The case is likely to revive questions about the auction house’s due diligence procedures before they sell antiquities.”  Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2016

Washington, D.C.

African American museum opens website for passes. It took 4 minutes to sell out. Like tickets to hot concert tour, free same-day passes to the National Museum of African American History and Culture were snapped up in minutes Monday morning, the day the museum moved its same-day distribution method from an in-person line to its web-based ticket system. Washington Post, December 19, 2016

United States

Stallone refused Trump’s arts job – but who will take this poisoned chalice?  Sylvester Stallone is not as dumb as he looks. Of course he isn’t – he’s made a career of it. Stallone may be famous for playing action heroes and musclebound fighters, but in real life Rocky loves to draw and paint. He has even exhibited at major museums in Russia and France. He may not be a great painter, but he does plug away at an art he apparently prefers to acting.   Now Stallone has, according to reports, been sounded out for a top arts role, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, by the soon-to-be-upon-us Trump administration.  The Guardian, December 21, 2016


Canadian Siksika nation artist’s work to be displayed at British Museum. Visitors to the world-famous British Museum in London will soon be able to look at two paintings by a visual artist from the Siksika nation in Alberta who goes by the Blackfoot name of Little Brown Boy Heavy Shield.  He’s also known as Adrian Stimson.   CBC News, December 22, 2016


Pope Francis Names New Female Director of Vatican Museums.  The Vatican Museums, one of the world’s pre-eminent art collections, announced Tuesday that Barbara Jatta, an Italian art historian and longtime Vatican official, will become its new director, making her the first woman to hold one of the most prestigious jobs in the art world.  Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2016


Considering the Ankara Assassination Photos As History Painting I’ve never seen anything like the photographs of the assassination of the Russian ambassador at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey. A pathological act of bloodletting, terrorism, nationalism, a state of political siege. But in the stark white, pristine setting of an upscale art gallery showing contemporary art, with patrons, assassin, and victim all dressed in elegant black, the photographs themselves look strikingly surreal The Vulture, December 20, 2016


These Are the Artists You Should Invest in Now.  While a Basquiat or Picasso may be out of reach for some, there is no shortage of artists selling work at more palatable prices, and one company is determined to convince you to invest in them. In its annual Invest in Art Report, Saatchi Art, an online art gallery and platform that grew out of the blue-chip London gallery of the same name (but now operates independently) makes a case for investing in emerging artists.  Architectural Digest, December 21, 2016


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