Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, January 19, 2017


The economy meets engaging art in Belkin Gallery show. A quick read through the press release for To refuse/To wait/To sleep suggests an exhibition so crammed with critical ideas that it threatens to alienate the viewer. A slow walk through this group show, however, reveals the exact opposite: the works on view are highly engaging, visually as well as intellectually.  Melanie Gilligan, Gabrielle Hill, Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, Marianne Nicolson, and Raqs Media Collective take on a battery of issues related to our distressing entanglement with global capitalism and the market economy.  Georgia Straight, January 18, 2017

New in must-have Vancouver art books: A Rodney Graham catalogue and a Neil Wedman monograph. Two influential Vancouver artists are the subjects of eye-pleasing recent releases from local galleries.  The Rennie Collection at Wing Sang has just put out Rodney Graham: Collected Works, a catalogue that commemorates the multivenue celebration of Rodney Graham’s work that happened here in 2014.   An artist of the same era, with a similar penchant for humour, social commentary, and deconstructing photographic art, Neil Wedman has titled his linen-bound book Selected Monochromatic Paintings and Works on Paper after similarly named exhibits. It’s published by the Charles H. Scott Gallery and ECU Press, in collaboration with Equinox Gallery.   Georgia Straight, January 16, 2017

Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Vancouver receives $40,000 grant from province.  The Yaletown neighbourhood facility dedicated to arts and culture is receiving a $40,000 grant from the B.C. provincial government.  Georgia Straight, January 18, 2017  PuSh International Performing Arts Festival received $60,000 from B.C. government  Five organizations: Push, Fascinator Management, Made in BC Dance on Tour, Theatre Replacement Society, and the Vancouver Art Gallery Association all received grants from the B.C. government’s International Presence funding in 2016-2017.  Georgia Straight.  January 16, 2017


Burnaby’s Nikkei Place receives $1 million donation from West Vancouver philanthropist Yoshiko Karasawa.  The Nikkei Place Foundation announced that on November 25, West Vancouver philanthropist Yoshiko Karasawa donated $1 million to support the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, which officially opened in Burnaby in 2000.  Karasawa has been a devoted contributor to Vancouver’s arts community with her time and expertise, and she has been a member of the Vancouver Opera board, where she helped to introduce opera to Asian Canadian communities.  Georgia Straight, January 18, 2017

Rock, Paper, Scissors at Nikkei National Museum.  An upcoming exhibition at the Nikkei National Museum explores connections between Canada and Japan in a unique multimedia installation.   Rock, Paper, Scissors, by Cindy Mochizuki, opens at the museum on Saturday, Feb. 4. The multimedia installation includes radio drama, video-animation and sculpture.   Burnaby Now, January 17, 2017


Art gallery showcases around the world.  With the Kelowna Art Gallery’s 40th anniversary in 2017, the gallery is launching its collection online. The gallery’s permanent collection is now available 24/7 for residents and visitors across the globe to explore.  Kelowna Capital News, January 18, 2017


Earthlings: Seven artists bridge north and south with group exhibition. It seems like a bit of a vague, catch-all title. And, at least on the surface, it may also seem like a misleading one when referring to the new exhibit at the Esker Foundation.  After all, the notes for the seven-artist showcase use terms that suggest a certain otherwordliness: alien, spiritual, myth, imagined spaces, phantasmagorical . . . otherworldly.   Shary Boyle, the Toronto-based artist who organized the exhibit, says the collaborative pieces are not weird for weird’s sake. They are never random images. They tell a very specific story.  Calgary Herald, January 19, 2017


Open books.  The latest in a string of excellent public buildings from architects, RDHA,  the Waterdown Library and Civic Centre in Hamilton is fresh proof that libraries are the locus of creative architecture in Canada. Waterdown brings together an elegant metaphor and accessibility with a sense of place – and shows how excellent art can emerge from constraints.  Globe & Mail, January 18, 2017


Ottawa artist Marc Adornato sees flattery in imitation. Marc Adornato has gotten used to having other artists’ work mistaken for his own.  “That’s the way the art world goes,” Adornato explained, “I mean when you’re dealing with visual arts you can have two people doing portraits, and you wouldn’t argue that they’re copying each other necessarily… Stuff can look very similar, but it’s left for the public to decide at the end of the day.”.  CBC News, January 14, 2017


Visual Arts: Françoise Sullivan’s legacy as a conceptual artist in an almost-all black-and-white exhibition. Françoise Sullivan’s art career has spanned almost the entirety of the contemporary art scene in Quebec, if its beginning can be set in the 1930s, when John Lyman and Paul-Émile Borduas set off the sparks leading to Automatism, Canada’s first art movement that was part of the world’s avant-garde.  Sullivan was a founding member of the Automatistes in 1941, and in 1948, she wrote part of the Refus global that was a rallying cry for modernity in Quebec.  Montreal Gazette, January 18, 2017

Leonard Cohen to be revered at Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art.  He was both “profoundly Montreal” and “totally planetary” and now the late, great Leonard Cohen’s work will serve as inspiration for Montrealers and visiting artists as part of a special exhibition.  It’s organized by Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) for the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations.  CBC News, January 18, 2017

Los Angeles

Is This L.A.’s $600 Million Man?  As this new year begins, Michael Govan is consumed with an even more urgent and consequential campaign, one that could help define not only Los Angeles’s position on the world’s art stage but Mr. Govan’s standing in his adopted city: a $600 million reconstruction of Lacma.  It is as ambitious in its architectural aspirations as in its cost.  New York Times, January 18, 2017


Rosalyn Drexler: Who Does She Think She Is?  Art and writing, for New York artist Rosalyn Drexler—who currently has a retrospective at Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery—have always been a rescue mission, an attempt to save someone, usually herself, from a bad situation. “When I first began writing,” she says, “I’d listen to my parents’ arguments. And they would kick me out if I asked them to please stop yelling. And so I’d listen very carefully and I’d write everything that was said and present it in the morning. And got some reaction from it…So I got to know the value of writing, especially honest writing.”  Canadian Art, January 18, 2017

New York

Inside Job: In the Tradition of Institutional Critique, Artists Are Throwing Wrenches Into the Art World’s Works.   In the 1970s, Hans Haacke presented documentation about the business dealings of the wealthy and conducted polls at art institutions, and Michael Asher made subtle architectural alterations to highlight and undermine museums’ claims to being neutral aesthetic spaces. Meanwhile, Marcel Broodthaers was inventing elaborate fictive institutional structures, playfully poking at the grandiose claims made by the art industry.   These artists entered the canon under the heading of “institutional critique,” and many of their once-radical ideas have been thoroughly embraced by art organizations.  Artnews, January 18, 2017


To Bear Witness to Japanese Internment, One Artist Self-Deported Himself to the WWII Camps.  For many, Isamu Noguchi is the guy who invented the classic mid-century coffee table— the one with the heavy glass and elegantly curved wood base that’s part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and coveted by design addicts around world. Noguchi is indeed a design icon and is also considered one of the most influential artists in the United States. What’s lesser known is that during World War II, Noguchi voluntarily interned himself to try to improve conditions for his fellow Japanese-Americans, despite being personally exempt because he lived on the East Coast.  The Smithsonian, January 19, 2017

United States

Art museums are offering refuge from Trump on Inauguration Day.  Museums across the US are offering refuge for those who want to temporarily block out or process the reality of Donald Trump’s presidency on inauguration day.  Many institutions are offering free or pay-what-you-wish admission on Friday and several are transforming their galleries to agoras for political expression.  Quartz, January 18, 2017. A Running List of Nationwide Art Spaces Closing for the #J20 Art StrikeHyperallergic, January 18, 2017


Will a hard Brexit spell disaster for London’s cosmopolitan art scene?  A survey of galleries represented at the London art fair has found that 49% believe the best way the government can help the art trade cope with Brexit is by preserving free movement of people and goods. Hopes of any such market liberalism are fading fast as the prime minister puts control of the UK border high on her agenda and Britain is to leave the European single market.   The Guardian, January 18, 2017

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