Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day

Are things looking up for women in the arts?  When it comes to the representation of women artists in major art institutions, the figures are quite bleak: according to the National Museum of Women in the Arts (citing data from 2012 and 2014), work by female artists makes up only three to five per cent of major permanent collections in the US and Europe, and women around the world continue to face significant barriers to success within the arts sector. But a number of high-profile institutions are actively attempting to redress gender disparity in their collections, exhibitions, and leadership.  Apollo, March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day: This incredible celebration of women’s art will brighten up your news feed. The internet – whether on March 8, the annual day designated to celebrate the achievements of women, or any day – isn’t always a fun place to be a woman. There is, however, a great beacon of positivity for women on the Twitter landscape. The Women’s Art account, run by PL Henderson, an artist and researcher of women’s art, is a living, breathing gallery, spreading the work of female artists to new eyes across the web.  Evening Standard, March 8, 2017

Wikipedia Art and Feminism Editing Sessions There are ordinary Wikipedia-edit-a-thons, and then there is Art+Feminism, which you might call the mother of them all. What began in 2014 as a small effort to increase the visibility of women on Wikipedia has grown into a multifaceted, worldwide phenomenon that takes place every March.  Hyperallergic, March 8, 2017.  For details about Art and Feminism Wikipedia events across Canada see:  Art and Feminism wikipedia-edit-a-thons across Canada and in Vancouver.


ART SEEN: Father O’Leary painting challenges equivalence of money and virtue. A likeness of Kevin O’Leary stares out of the painting but it’s a version of O’Leary much different than his TV media personality as a tough businessman. Artist Marcus Bowcott is displaying the painting in an ornate frame that resembles the kind of classy, high-end wooden gilded frame you might find on an Old Masters painting. In reality, the frame is plastic: it looks expensive and historical but it’s really cheap and contemporary.   Father O’Leary is one of several works by Bowcott, along with ceramics by Laura Wee Lay Laq, in the exhibition fire/water at the Amelia Douglas Gallery at Douglas College.  Vancouver Sun, March 7, 2017

Post-apocalyptic Vancouver on display in local artist’s graphic novel.  How would Vancouver fare after a massive global pandemic? What if catastrophic climate change raised sea levels and wiped out much of the city’s landmarks? Graphic novelist Michael Kluckner explores the idea in his latest book 2050. He depicts a crumbled seawall, a partly submerged Alex Fraser Bridge and a walled-off downtown returned to its natural island state.  CBC News, March 5, 2017


David Staples: Art Gallery of Alberta gains renown because it celebrates our world.  It’s way too early to know if any of our newest buildings will be around in 100 years. The AGA  (Art Gallery of Alberta) is of particular interest because the building was derided by noteworthy critics when it was first proposed in 2005, but has since grown in reputation. It won the prestigious American Architecture Award in 2012. Now, the prominent U.S. architecture and design website Curbed named the AGA as one of the 17 most beautiful museums in the world.  Edmonton Journal, March 3, 2017


AGO’s popular Mystical Landscapes exhibit boosts annual attendance.  Mystical Landscapes turned out to be a big hit for the Art Gallery of Ontario. The show, which ran from Oct. 22 of last year to Feb. 12, drew 288,398 visitors, according to e-mails sent by the gallery to AGO members shortly after it closed. That makes it the sixth-most-attended exhibit in the gallery’s history Globe & Mail, March 7, 2017


National portrait gallery across from Parliament an ideal opportunity. Here is what is going on in Ottawa: Supervised by Public Services and Procurement Canada, the department that oversees the Parliamentary precinct, three departments are now working on three ideas for the old U.S. embassy building: Canadian Heritage is figuring out how to program a “Canada House” that brings the best of the regions to the capital; Indigenous and Northern Affairs is looking at how to build an Indigenous cultural centre; and Library and Archives Canada is dusting off the portrait gallery file. Globe & Mail, March 3, 2017

St. Johns & Newfoundland

A Road Trip with Christopher Pratt.  “Christopher Pratt’s 2015 retrospective at the Rooms focused on his extensive travels of his home, Newfoundland. Over the past 15 years in particular, he has continually returned to sites that hold personal importance for him. He documents these journeys in what he calls “car books”—lined notebooks where he describes weather conditions, the feeling of sunlight on his hand, what he has eaten (the same thing every day), moose sightings, conversations with travel companions and memories of family trips as a young man. These journals were included in the show, along with some of the mementos that he collects—stones, sand, strangely shaped twigs―all identified with their place of origin…We drove approximately 3,400 kilometres: St. John’s to Grand Falls–Windsor, to Buchans, to Corner Brook, to Benoit’s Cove, down the Burgeo Road, up the Great Northern Peninsula, into Gros Morne National Park, through Stephenville, around the Port au Port Peninsula. Moving through a beautiful and varied landscape, philosophical discussions transitioned to puns” — Mireille Eagan  Canadian Art, March 3, 2017


Dead bees: The new buzzzz of the art world.  Ruth Marsh has an unusual hobby: she’s been collecting dead bees in the mail. People send them to her because her art practice uses the bodies of the insects to create hybrid taxidermy creatures. From these creations, she’s building a museum for the future: an institution to memorialize bees, who will potentially become extinct. And in the process, she’s trying to build a future for bees to survive in a new harsh environment. Ruth Marsh’s work will be  PAVED Arts in Saskatoon and Mount Saint Vincent in Halifax in 2018.   CBC News, March 7, 2017

New York

Future Shock at the Met?  “It’s not breaking news that the museum has been foundering under Thomas P. Campbell’s leadership, dogged by reports of deficits, layoffs, and scrapped plans for a six-hundred-million-dollar renovation of the wing for modern and contemporary art—this after it had already leased and inaugurated the Whitney’s former Marcel Breuer Building, on Madison Avenue, to plant a flag for “art of the now” during remodelling… Nonetheless, the timing of Tuesday’s announcement felt pointed, landing, as it did, during the kickoff to a week in which no less than a dozen art fairs open in New York City, trailing the power players of the international art world in their wake.” New Yorker, March 3, 2017

The Scandalous Flap Books of 16th-Century Venice.  As a republican port city, 16th century Venice was tolerant of all sorts of people and all sorts of behavior in ways that other European cities were not. Above is one example of an illustration from Le vere imagini et descritioni delle piv nobilli citta del mondo—“the true images and descriptions of the most noble city in the world.” This image is part of a new exhibition at the New York Public Library, Love in Venice, which includes two flap books from the late 16th century that depict a lascivious kind of love.   Atlas Obscura, March 3, 2017


How the Hirshhorn prepped for the Kusama exhibition.  The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden spent two years preparing to give visitors about 20 seconds of wow.   “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” invites visitors to consider their place in the universe by immersing themselves in the Japanese artist’s whimsical and ethereal installations. “A great deal of our thinking was about the orchestration of the visitor through the building,” Chiu said. “What’s the optimal engagement with this exhibition, how can we make it meaningful and compelling?”  Washington Post, March 7, 2017


A World View: John Latham; Speak review – a time-bending experience.  John Latham (1921-2006) is probably best known for getting his students at St Martins to chew up a library copy of Clement Greenberg’s detested Art and Culture and spit it out. (Their mastications, fermented and preserved in vials, belong to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.) Latham lost his job for failing to return the book in readable condition, and gained his evergreen reputation as an establishment goad. Even at his death, he was at loggerheads with Tate Britain for withdrawing from display a work that embedded copies of the Bible, Torah and Qur’an in chunks of glass. He saw their action as pusillanimous.  The Guardian, March 5, 2017

Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask review – jail, gender and Jersey.  What distances lie between Claude Cahun and Gillian Wearing and what proximities? In a 1994 video, Wearing dances alone to the music in her head in a shopping mall in Peckham, London. In 1947, Cahun stands on the sea wall at the bottom of her garden in Jersey. This is just one of the strange and awkward meetings that attempt to show the affinities between the two artists, in a fraught, unbalanced exhibition called Behind the Mask, Another Mask.   The Guardian, March 6, 2017


Canadian Lani Maestro to Represent Philippines at Venice Biennale.  Canadian artist Lani Maestro—who was born in the Philippines and is also based in France—is gearing up to exhibit at the Venice Biennale’s Philippine Pavilion.  The Philippines’ project, titled “The Spectre of Comparison,” is a two-person exhibition also featuring the work of painter Manuel Ocampo.  Canadian Art, March 7, 2017


The art of diplomacy: Getting Warhol and Picasso out of Tehran.  Less than a year after the landmark nuclear deal came into effect, Iran was on the verge of another unlikely diplomatic breakthrough.  But these lesser-known Iran talks have led nowhere. And one of the country’s most powerful arsenals remains locked away deep in the bowels of a dimly lit state-owned building in Tehran, hidden from the world’s eyes.  Some might call that a tragedy.  Because by any measure, the collection held at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is exceptional, the greatest outside the West.  CBC News, March 7, 2017


Welcome to the $45 Billion Art Market: 5 Things to Know From the TEFAF 2017 Global Art Market Report.  Global art sales went up, auction houses got squeezed, and Asian bidders took home an increasingly large piece of the art-market pie.  That, at least, is the high-level takeaway from the TEFAF 2017 Global Art Market Report, which will be released on Monday to chart the health of the global art market in 2016.  Artnet News, March 4, 2017

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