Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, March 1, 2017


ART SEEN: Trans Am Totem’s fate up in the air as three Vancouver Biennale sculptures … Three Vancouver Biennale sculptures are leaving Metro Vancouver for Montréal.  And the future of a fourth one, the popular Trans Am Totem, is still up in the air. Workers started removing the eight squatting red monks in Wang Shugang’s The Meeting today from its spot in front of the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art in North Vancouver. On Thursday and Friday, the nine Walking Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz will be taken from along Lonsdale between 13th and 23rd Streets. Trans Am Totem is a stack of five cars on top of an old growth cedar by Marcus Bowcott.  Weighing an estimated 11,000 kgs and standing about 10 metres in height, the sculpture is located at on Pacific Boulevard where it turns into Quebec Street at Milross Avenue. Vancouver Sun, February 28, 2017

Meet the Mexican-born artist whose work graces Vancouver’s Trump Tower. When Trump Tower officially opened in Downtown Vancouver on Tuesday, one of the first things visitors saw once they make it past the protesters is a wall sculpture entitled “Paths to be Crossed” by Mexican-born artist Miriam Aroeste.  “That speaks about community, about integration, about togetherness, love, connection,” Aroeste said.  It may be ironic that such a piece would hang in a building associated with a man who wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico.  Global News, February 27, 2017


Christian Schwochow’s Paula and Marcie Begleiter’s Eva Hesse, reviewed  The Red Shoes is a consummate – perhaps the consummate – case of a film about art expressing that art in the full breadth of its weirdness and wonder. Most films about art and artists, the subject of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s ongoing “Film + Art” screening series, struggle to do the same. Two recent “Art + Film” titles, Christian Schwochow’s biopic Paula and Marcie Begleiter’s doc Eva Hesse, feel hemmed in by convention, unable to sufficiently dramatize (or even depict) the professed radicalism and importance of their subjects.  Globe & Mail, February 28, 2017

St. Catharines

Levine Flexhaug: One and a million.  Levine Flexhaug, the mid-century prairie artist hawked his wares like a traveling salesman, infusing his narrow niche of nature paintings with magic along the way. A Sublime Vernacular, a show of his tight oeuvre at Rodman Hall, puts hundreds on view for the first time.  Toronto Star, February 27, 2017


Outside the Box: Breaking the Colonial Gaze with Virtual Reality Masking is central to the art practice of Montreal-based artist Olivia McGilchrist. She was inspired by Jonkonnu, a festival derived from 18th-century slave celebration where performers wore masks in mimicry of the white plantation owners, in effect revealing their whiteness as a posture or construction.  Canadian Art, February 27, 2017


A Fast Shutter for Slow Violence: The Art of Thaddeus Holownia.  Drawn to a deadly light on a foggy night, songbirds begin to fall from the sky. By evening’s end, more than 7,500 are rendered flightless, lifeless. Twenty-six species of songbird felled by one flame, a flare from the natural gas burn-off at the Canaport Liquefied Natural Gas terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick.  The Canaport bird kill provides the backdrop for one of the many lingering images that comprise “The Nature of Nature: The Photographs of Thaddeus Holownia, 1976–2016,” a career retrospective running at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until May 28th.Canadian Art, February 28, 2017


Quality isn’t enough: Canadian arts content needs government support  The Ministry of Canadian Heritage has finished consulting anyone who wants to express an opinion about its ongoing cultural-policy review and this week issued a summary of the results. The web page for the report begins with a slide that offers this optimistic comment from one Pollyanna on the Canadian cultural scene: “The strongest creators will generate content that stands out and gets noticed. The government can let the audience discover it on its own. If we make it, they will come.”  Globe & Mail, February 24, 2017

8 Texts on Indigenous Art That Put Things in Perspective. “Like exhibitions, texts about art can be roughly divided into two categories: those that focus on a single artist (or even a single work) and those that cast a wider net in the attempt to capture a relevant thematic or a socio-political context shared by a number of artists. This column will focus on the latter, looking at eight texts that helped to both put into perspective and make space for the explosion of new ideas and imagery among artists of Indigenous heritage that reached critical mass in the 1980s” — Richard William Hill. Canadian Art, February 28, 2017


Two Groups Scuffle Amid Art Inside a Minneapolis Museum.  Officials at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, that city’s grand encyclopedic museum, probably didn’t bargain on a version of democracy as messy as the one they got on Saturday, when a protest turned violent and made its way into the galleries, with fists and feet flying near artworks. The confrontation began when a large group of organized protesters, holding banners identifying themselves as the Industrial Workers of the World, held a rally in front of the museum. New York Times, February 28, 2017

New York

Met Museum Director Thomas Campbell Forced To Resign Thomas P. Campbell resigned as director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the institution announced this afternoon. He will leave his position June 30, 2017…  “Record-breaking attendance and popular new branches or not, a certain critical mass of articles chronicling deficits and layoffs and cancellation of high-profile expansions and asking if your museum is ‘a great institution in decline‘ will probably end up in news like this.”  Artnews, February 28, 2017

‘How Can You Survive?’ Bice Curiger on Why Parkett Is Closing.  Bice Curiger took a break from her work in Arles, where she is the artistic director at the Van Gogh Foundation, to talk to Artnet News about the ways Parkett did and didn’t change over the years and about the reasons they called it quits.  Artnet News, February 24, 2017

Andrea Rosen to close gallery spaces in New York. Andrea Rosen has announced that after 27 years, she will close her New York gallery space in the coming months. Since 2002, the gallery has been the chief agent of the Felix Gonzales-Torres Foundation; going forward, Rosen will co-represent the foundation with David Zwirner Gallery. The Art Newspaper, February 22, 2017

Washington, D.C.

Yayoi Kusama exhibit is an economic puzzle for museum. “What may be the most anticipated art exhibition of the year recently opened at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. Record crowds are expected to see the work of Yayoi Kusama, that rare kind of living artist who draws in collectors, critics and casual fans by the millions. Even a single piece of her work has been enough to inspire fans to line up around the block. And now the Smithsonian has an entire exhibition. Kusama creates installations in tiny rooms that only a handful of people can experience at a time. Economics offers a simple solution for situations like these where demand far outstrips supply: Raise the ticket price.  The Hirshhorn could multiply the admission price by 10 or even 100 and it wouldn’t be enough. Entry there is free, meaning the museum has to find more creative ways of weathering the storms of supply and demand. The Hirshhorn decided to issue timed tickets, something it has never done. Visitors have to sign up days in advance. When the first batch of tickets went up for grabs online, 9,000 passes disappeared in minutes.   One way around that system is membership, which starts at $50. By the eve of the opening, the membership base had grown by 20 times as art lovers whipped out credit cards to secure priority access to the Kusama exhibition. The extra revenue is nice, but the new relationships may be worth a lot more.”  Marketplace, February 22, 2017

United States
Business & Employment in the Arts: Measuring the Scope of the Nation’s Arts-Related Industries. “This brief report from America for the Arts summarizes data on not-for-profit organizations and businesses “involved in the production or distribution of the arts”. Included in the definition are organizations and businesses such as not-for-profit orchestras, museums and theatres as well as “for-profit film, architecture, and advertising companies”. Overall, the report finds that there are just over 700,000 arts-related organizations and businesses in the U.S., employing 2.9 million people. “This represents 3.9 percent of all U.S. businesses and 1.9 percent of all U.S. employees—demonstrating statistically that the arts are a formidable business presence.””  America for the Arts via Arts Research Monitor, February 22, 2017

Collector Valeria Napoleone on the Need to Support Women Artists.  When London-based collector Valeria Napoleone started her collection in the mid 1990s, she resolved to acquire only works by women artists. Over the years, the collection has grown at a steady pace, covering a wide range of media, from pottery to video.  Hyperallergic, February 28, 2017

Design Museum Explores Unrealized Architecture of Moscow After the Russian Revolution.  “What a century it’s been. It was 1917 when the Bolshevik Revolution exploded, resulting in the Soviet Union declaring Moscow as the capital. “Imagine Moscow: Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution”—running March 15 to June 4 at the new home of the Design Museum, London—looks back at the city in the 1920’s and ’30’s via models, plans, and drawings for projects that were proposed but never realized.”  Interior Design, February 28, 2017


Creative Economy Employment in the US, Canada and the UK  “Based on Canadian, American, and United Kingdom employment surveys, this report compares the creative economy in the three countries. The authors did substantial work to ensure a high degree of comparability between the different occupational and industry codings in North America and the U.K.  Based on the definitions used in the report, Canada’s creative economy is comprised of 2.2 million workers, including 534,000 creative workers in creative industries, 815,000 creative workers in non-creative industries, and 893,000 non-creative workers within the creative industries.  Comparisons between the three countries show that Canada has the highest share of total employment on three related measures.”  Nesta, UK, via Arts Research Monitor, February 22, 2017)

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