Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, January 4, 2017


The shards of B.C. Chinese history.  Gu Xiong has explored many places where early Chinese immigrants lived and struggled to create new identities, including historic settlements in Nelson, Barkerville and Kamloops. Xiong, a prominent Vancouver multimedia artist and someone who arrived here from China more than a century after the first immigrants came to B.C. from the Middle Kingdom, these almost-forgotten sites were mesmerizing – visible symbols of a phenomenon that has preoccupied him during his 26 years here.  Globe & Mail, January 1, 2017

8 Ways that Vancouver Galleries are Coping with the Real-Estate Crunch. Finding space for art is no easy task in Vancouver, a city known for a nearing 0 per cent vacancy rate on rental units.  Though the city has been ranked third most livable by the Economist, and its art scene earned it the first Canadian foray for American art-media powerhouse Art21 this fall, Vancouver’s real-estate pressures are having a huge impact on its art-world ecology, begging three questions: Livable for whom? Creative for whom? How can galleries cope?  Canadian Art, December 28, 2016

Hornby Island

Inside Jeffrey Rubinoff’s studio and mind.  The Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park is a trip – and I don’t mean the three ferries it takes to get here from Vancouver. This is a cultivated space on Hornby Island in the Salish Sea – once wild, then a farm, now a sort of outdoor museum, where the mountainscape forms a living room, as the sculptor envisioned it – with the mountains over the water to the west and adjacent to the east (Mount Geoffrey, coincidentally) forming natural walls.  Globe & Mail, December 30, 2016


Robert Amos: Remembering artists and galleries past.  Robert Amos continues a review of galleries he remembers:  Back in 1982, I reviewed shows by Jack Wilkinson and Wayne Ngan at Whales Gallery, at the corner of Fort and Vancouver streets, in a shop that had evolved out of a pottery-supply company.  With the exception of Polychrome Fine Arts (now in a tiny space on Fort east of Quadra) and the apARTment Gallery (upstairs on the north side of the street), not many galleries have set up on what used to be called Antique Row. In the late 1980s, Robert Vanderleelie of Edmonton did his best in an old house on Fort up the hill past Cook Street, showing H.G. Glyde and Walter Dexter, but he faced the inevitable and closed within two years. Times colonist, December 31, 2016


The year of the mural — but galleries lost — in Edmonton’s art scene.  Some galleries were extremely inventive, sometimes changing their physical spaces, including a set of museum shelves at SNAP, Tammy Salzl’s curtained-off dollhouse at dc3 Art Projects and Peter Robertson Robertson turning its space into a reflective pool for Steve Driscoll’s show And a Dark Wind Blows. AT Latitude 53, Lee Henderson’s installation Palliative Care, a video of every mention of death and dying over the entire run of The Golden Girls, was clever and mesmerizing, just one of many smart shows this year.  Edmonton Journal, December 30, 2016


Boarder X explores the intersections between Indigenous culture and boarding culture.  On at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Boarder X features pieces by Indigenous artists who surf, skate, and snowboard. Jaimie Isaac is the curator of the exhibition. “I think there is a direct relationship to the land,” explains Isaac, “whether it’s skateboarding and responding to the environment of the urban terrain or snowboarding responding to those immovable mountains.” CBC News, January 3, 2017


Truth, resilience and indigenous art find their place in 2016. In January, Kent Monkman will open Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, a sprawling display of all-new works at the University of Toronto’s Art Museum.  For Monkman, who is First Nations Cree, the exhibition offers a divergent take on Canadian history in time for its 150th anniversary.  Toronto Star, December 28, 2016


School of Art artist Sharpe exhibits while awaiting lung transplant; Cube’s Ten; Heroes & Villains  Blaire Sharpe, 62, is one of Ottawa’s art treasures. He has been painting for 40 years and teaching at the Ottawa School of Art for much of that time. He has influenced and inspired generations of young artists and delighted generations of art-lovers with his own paintings, many containing bold geometric shapes and many loaded with tension as if two separate paintings were jammed together, side by side, fighting for supremacy on one canvas. Think of two evenly-matched wrestlers grappling for control.  Ottawa Magazine, January 3, 2017

Cape Dorset

Tim Pitsiulak created a fresh vision of contemporary Inuit art.  Even as a child, Tim Pitsiulak loved to draw, learning to use a pencil and paper in school when he was nine years old. “I love drawing,” he once said. “Every drawing I make I learn from it. It’s like learning from your mistakes.” You can see that devotion in some of his last work – the monumental Iceberg series – huge, hulking, peaked forms executed on outsize sheets of black paper. Shimmering with sparkling blue lights, the icebergs are both formidable and fragile; ancient and modern; alluring as a tribute to the past and the isolated nomadic life of the Inuit; and a warning to southern consumers about the present and future effects of global warning.Globe & Mail, December 30, 2016


10 Artists with Forward-Thinking Practices.  How do artists contemplate the future? Here, 10 Canadian artists with forward-thinking practices that use biosensor data, airbrushing, geocaching, 18th-century newspapers and more. These practices signal possible ways ahead, but also reflect on the past, and the present.   Canadian Art, January 3, 2017

20 Shows We Want to See in 2017.  Looking forward to: Susan Point (Vancouver Art Gallery), Olafur Eliasson (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal), Suzy Lake (Art Gallery of Windsor), Kent Monkman (Art Museum at the University of Toronto), Florine Stettheimer  (Art Gallery of Ontario), Florine Stettheimer (Power Plant), Amy Malbeuf (Kelowna Art Gallery) and many more… Canadian Art, January 2, 2017

United States

Next: 18 Curators & Cultural Leaders to Watch Who Joined New Institutions in 2016. Many cultural institutions have finally come around to realizing that it is imperative that their boards, staff and programming reflect the communities they serve. Putting such measures into practice is another matter. A recent Mellon Foundation survey conducted with the Association of Art Museum Directors and the American Alliance of Museums found most museums staffs lack diversity. Men overwhelmingly hold leadership positions, but gender equity has gained ground—women represent 60 percent of museum personnel, with the majority serving in curatorial, conservation, and education roles which are generally a pipeline toward leadership positions. However, the situation for people of color is far less representative. Culture Type, December 30, 2016


Yoshitomo Nara Sued by Korean Cosmetics Company.  Known for his moody paintings and sculptures of large-eyed, malcontent adolescents, Yoshitomo Nara has legions of fans from Tokyo to Istanbul to Los Angeles—and many imitators. But even for the notoriously laid-back artist, there are instances when someone or a company goes too far in copying his signature style. This time, however, a Korean cosmetics company has turned the tables on Nara, by suing the artist himself for copyright infringement.  ArtAsiaPacific, December 28, 2016


The art of the matter. The arrangements for artist residencies vary – there are ones where the artist pays to stay somewhere, ones where he or she is invited and costs are covered, and ones involving an open-call application process – but in general, the idea is to give artists space to think and develop their work, free from the constraints of daily life. “Traditionally they’re hosted by educational or artistic institutions but if you think about where they probably originated.   I would suspect it came from patronage, which does link to these new programs with corporate bodies,” says Cate Rimmer, who, as director of the gallery at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, also runs the school’s Audain Distinguished Artist in Residence initiative .  Globe & Mail, January 3, 2017

We turn our back on expertise at our peril  “It is not just that it appears impossible to reach a consensus on important artists such as Modigliani. Nor is it the way the auction houses are discarding specialists at an alarming rate. Nor even the fact that key artistic Foundations (Warhol, Pollock and Lichtenstein) no longer provide an authenticating service. It is all this and more.”  The Art Newspaper, December 28, 2016


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