Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, February 14, 2017

Vancouver Public Library Receives $2 Million in Support to Expand its Central Branch Hedy Fry, Member of Parliament (Vancouver Centre), today announced $2 million in funding for the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. Ms. Fry made this announcement on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. This support will allow VPL to renovate space on the eighth and ninth levels of its iconic Central Branch in downtown Vancouver… VPL will be able to provide increased services to the public, create arts and heritage spaces for cultural programming and artist-in-residence activities, and produce a community gathering space and publicly accessible rooftop garden. The additional venues will be free for use by professional arts, heritage and community groups wishing to increase their profile and build new audiences by providing free presentations to the public. MarketWired, February 10, 2017

Cree artist makes pointed statement about racism in Vancouver exhibit Judy Chartrand and her creations are both controversial — and honest — about the reality of being Indigenous. That could be a reason why it took a couple decades for the Vancouver-based Cree artist’s work to get mainstream recognition. Even when the Bill Reid Gallery approached Chartrand to exhibit her sardonic ceramic pieces, there were hesitations. “We initially weren’t sure how people would respond,” said Beth Carter, the gallery’s curator. “She doesn’t hold back in speaking about the relationship between white people and Indigenous people.” Chartrand’s exhibit “What a Wonderful World,” a retrospective of her ceramics that she has been creating since the late 1980s, is now being shown and was recently extended for another month. Metro Vancouver, February 10, 2017

ART SEEN: The Kardashians, Donald Trump and art meet in Alternative Facts How far is it from Keeping Up With the Kardashians to Donald Trump? In the new media reality of ‘alternative facts,’ it’s closer than you might think. Curator and writer Myriam Ben Salah is connecting some of the dots in a film screening Saturday [February 11] at 221A. She’s calling it Alternative Facts after the now infamous phrase by Kellyanne Conway, adviser to the U.S. President…. Vancouver Sun, February 10, 2017

Métis painter promises ‘inspiring’ art after grant award As a struggling artist determined to get noticed, Justin Berger has never liked it when people seeing his work tell him his paintings are going to be worth something when he’s dead. “I’m alive and I’m making a statement,” said Berger in the studio which has taken over his Edmonton apartment. Canvases stand in every space, paper sketches are on the walls, and paint and brushes are cluttered everywhere. The 34-year-old Métis artist is dedicated to his craft and has an unflinching belief in his talent. But he has found it difficult to get a breakthrough in the art world — until now. After working labour jobs and even shovelling snow to pay the bills and keep his dream alive, Berger has been chosen to receive a $15,000 Cultural Diversity in the Arts project grant from the Edmonton Arts Council., February 14, 2017

City beefs up art supply for its $40M collection City taxpayers spent $102,000 on acquiring new artwork in 2016, adding to a collection that’s valued at $40.2 million. River Coun. Riley Brockington, who has been curious about the city’s art holdings, said he was surprised by the high value of the collection. While he believes the size of it seems reasonable, it makes him wonder what average taxpayers think about it… According to the city, the art collection was last appraised at $16.4 million in 2015. The city’s Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, which includes 1,603 pieces representing 190 artists, has an appraised value of $23.8 million. The city has distributed more of its art collection to municipal buildings in recent years, especially city hall, which now has art in virtually every hallway and office. Ottawa Citizen, February 8, 2017

Janet MacPherson: A Canadian Bestiary For A Canadian Bestiary, which the Gardiner has commissioned as a Canada 150 project, MacPherson reaches deep into the past, to the beginnings of our exploitive impulses: A shrine to St. Jean de Brebeuf, a colonial-era missionary charged with the “salvation” of indigenous people near her hometown of Midland, Ont., exposes its roots, represented by gilded sacramental hearts. Another procession, this time massive and epic, suggests migration — from Paleolithic first peoples to European settlers to the millions now fleeing disaster in such places as Syria to arrive here, one of few welcoming havens remaining — as a way of life in a world whose unsettledness seems to go against nature itself. Toronto Star, February 11, 2017

Nuit Blanche taps into spirit of Expo 67 In a year replete with events marking Montreal and Canada’s respective anniversaries, Nuit Blanche is looking to another historic milestone – 50 years since Expo 67 – for thematic inspiration. The 14th edition of the city’s annual late-night party on March 4 that caps the Montréal en lumière festival will feature 200 mostly free activities, including a number fuelled on nostalgia and civic pride. Underground City gallery Art Souterrain will also return, to go along with the new Illuminart trail of light-based art pieces. Montreal Gazette, February 14, 2017

Denise Scott Brown wins Jane Drew Prize 2017 for women in architecture Denise Scott Brown has been awarded this year’s Jane Drew Prize for raising the profile of women in architecture, four years after her unsuccessful campaign to be retrospectively recognised for her role in her husband Robert Venturi’s Pritzker Prize. The American architect was announced yesterday as the winner of the prize, which is jointly awarded by the Architects Journal and The Architectural Review in recognition of women’s contributions to the profession. Her receipt of the prize is “a culmination of the grassroots drive to see her contribution to the profession adequately recognised” according to the organisers. Dezeen, February 7, 2017

Conjuring Paintings’ Innermost Thoughts at the Barnes Foundation For the past 15 years, contemporary artist Andrea Hornick has been creating fictional narratives based on early Renaissance portrait paintings of women. For this series, titled Journey, she channels the sitters of the portraits via a shamanic drumming ceremony to identify the animal spirit of each female subject. She then repaints these historic portraits incorporating the animals, creating ironic, satirical works that are also spiritual in their aim to channel the power of the unknown. Hyperallergic, February 9, 2017

In and Around the Fair: A Report from Mexico City’s Zona Maco In the lead-up to the five-day fair, the Mexican peso’s stark decline and strained relations with the new United States presidential administration left many wondering how Zona Maco would, well, fare. “Everyone was a little bit worried, especially because most galleries operate in U.S. dollars,” said Polina Stroganova, director of the Mexican gallery ProyectosMonclova, in the opening hours of the fair. “But I have a feeling that it’s actually generated a kind of opposite effect, people were even more enthusiastic to come.” ProyectosMonclova sold the majority of its booth by the end of the fair, including works by Gabriel de la Mora, Chantal Peñalosa, Martin Soto Climent, and Adrien Missika. Artnews, February 14, 2017

Egypt’s Surrealists come out of the shadows The Egyptian Surrealist group Art et Liberté chose the image of Picasso’s Guernica (1937) to illustrate their first manifesto, Vive l’art dégénéré (Long live degenerate art), published in 1938. Fittingly, the document is now going on show at the monumental painting’s home, Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, as part of the exhibition Art et Liberté: Rupture, War and Surrealism in Egypt (1938-48) (until 28 May). Organised by the independent curators Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil, the show traces the history and production of the little-known Surrealist-inspired group for the first time. Art et Liberté attracted a young generation of artists, intellectuals and activists in a time of great cultural and political reform in Egypt and became part of an international movement defying fascism, nationalism and colonialism. The Art Newspaper, February 14, 2017

Russian billionaire’s new Venice gallery to open with show of Soviet and contemporary art The leading US artist Barbara Kruger will unveil a major new work in the inaugural exhibition organised by the V-A-C Foundation at its new gallery in Venice this summer. Kruger’s work will be the centrepiece of the exhibition Space Force Construction (13 May-25 August) taking place in the 19th-century Palazzo delle Zattere. The installation, which will cover the floor and walls of the building’s second floor, is described in a project statement as “an image of a hand holding out an iPhone with apps that show declarative virtues and vices in Russian, English and Italian”. The Moscow-based V-A-C foundation, which was established in 2009 by the Russian gas billionaire Leonid Mikhelson, has organised annual exhibitions in Venice since 2010. It has teamed up with curators at the Art Institute of Chicago for the launch show which lifts the lid on early 20th-century Soviet art, marking the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution (another version of the exhibition, titled Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test, will be shown in Chicago, 29 October-14 January 2018). The Art Newspaper, February 13, 2017

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