Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, March 9, 2017


Things To Do: 7 can’t-miss Vancouver arts events this week, March 8 to 14. Events include: the Vancouver Art Gallery’s FUSE on March 10…“It may be subtitled “A celebration of refusal and denial ”, but the next edition of FUSE is definitely an invitation worth accepting.” And  “To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Vancouver Art Gallery is launching two yearlong speakers’ series: The Work in Progress and The Marking Place.  Marking Place events will look at visual art, design, and art institutions as they relate to indigeneity, colonialism, immigration, and national identity.” The Work in Progress curators’ talks will look at the VAG’s history.  And the Museum of Anthropology at UBC presents the thought-provoking, socially and environmentally-conscious new exhibition Amazonia: The Rights of Nature, on display March 10, 2017 – January 28, 2018.   Georgia Straight, March 8, 2017

Vancouver Report: From Black and White to Coloured Lights.  When Vancouver skies are overcast, the dulling begins like this in the early hours and persists, a cloaking mist, until evening.  “A Terrible Signal” at Access Gallery features recent work relating to darkness by Vancouver-based artists Megan Hepburn, M.E. Sparks, Daniel Phillips, Carolyn Stockbridge and Joseph Strohan. The curatorial premise is evident at first glance, the gallery space punctuated with dark, rectangular shapes—several oil paintings on canvas, murky silver gelatin prints and a heavy-curtained video booth. Canadian Art, March 8, 2017

Vancouver artists hold ‘edit-a-thon’ for women’s equality—on Wikipedia.  Less than 13 per cent of contributors to Wikipedia — the world’s most-visited reference website —  are female, according to survey conducted by the popular site’s non-profit operator, the Wikimedia Foundation.  The Belkin Gallery’s public programs manager, Naomi Sawada, told Metro women artists often get overlooked in arts publications, and the same is true of Wikipedia. “What we want to see at upcoming Wikipedia events is women coming together and talking about how to create these pages … talking about women artists in our community, and really helping each other in a collaborative way to create more pages.”   Metronews, March 8, 2017


Robert Amos: Gallery moving ahead by looking back.  A new exhibition at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria looks at collecting policies there from 1951 to 1981. It’s an eclectic mix of artworks that might slip under your radar, but a visit with curator Michelle Jacques enlightened me about its importance. Jacques has been the chief curator in charge of the gallery’s collections for the past five years, and she is a wonderful asset to Victoria. Coming to us after many years at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario, Jacques brings expertise and a thoughtful consideration to Victoria’s rather random collections, which are the chief asset of this gallery. Times Colonist, March 5, 2017


Landon Mackenzie and Glenn Lewis receive their national awards at Rideau Hall awards ceremony.  Major figures in the Vancouver visual-arts scene, Landon Mackenzie and Glenn Lewis were in Ottawa to receive their Governor-General’s awards from Gov. Gen. David Johnston at the Rideau Hall ceremony on March 1.  Georgia Straight, March 2, 2017

Los Angeles

An L.A. Artist Who Anticipated Our Trumpian Moment. A world furred with bright-pink, hand-knit “pussyhats”; a President who said, “When you’re a star . . . you can do anything” to explain his approach to non-consensual sexual contact; Ivanka’s perfume reaching No. 1 on Amazon; a Muslim ban; a wall—if it were not our political reality in America in 2017, it could be a long-form immersive piece by the late Los Angeles-based artist Jason Rhoades.  New Yorker, March 8, 2017

New York

The beauty of art can counter Islamophobia – but it won’t be easy.  What kind of Islamic art has the power to open American hearts and minds, at a time when Donald Trump has relaunched his attempt to ban entry from several Muslim-majority nations?  In May, a new Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, set up by Qatar’s Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani, will open in downtown Manhattan. The Guardian, March 8, 2017


The Bird-Based Color System that Eventually Became Pantone.  An effort to describe the diversity of birds led to one of the first modern color systems. Published by Smithsonian ornithologist Robert Ridgway in 1886, A Nomenclature of Colors for Naturalists categorizes 186 colors alongside diagrams of birds. In 1912, Ridgway self-published an expanded version for a broader audience — Color Standards and Color Nomenclature — that included 1,115 colors. Some referenced birds, like “Warbler Green” and “Jay Blue,” while others corresponded to other elements of nature, as in “Bone Brown” and “Storm Gray.” The whole 1886 book is available to flip through online, thanks to the Smithsonian Libraries, and the 1912 expanded edition is accessible through Columbia University Libraries.Hyperallergic, March 8, 2017

United States

Trump’s Travel Ban Ensnares Artists and Authors.  In early February, Thair Orfahli, a Syrian refugee and photographer whose images are included in the International Center for Photography’s new exhibition Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change, found out that he would not be able to attend a panel at the museum because his US visa application had been refused… The Argentine curator Juan Garcia Mosqueda, who has lived in the US for a decade and runs the Chelsea art and design space Chamber, claims he was denied reentry by Customs and Border Patrol agents after a recent trip back to Argentina.  On February 23, the artist Aaron Gach, a US citizen, was detained at San Francisco International Airport on his way home from the opening of an exhibition in Leuven, Belgium.   Artists, writers, and other cultural producers are in unique positions to share their experiences through public channels, but for each of them there are countless other detainees who have no such recourse. Indeed, all the people mentioned above make a point, in their respective accounts, of noting their privilege compared to many of the other travelers they saw languishing in CBP waiting rooms.  Hyperallergic, March 8, 2017


Facing the future: Gillian Wearing digitally ages herself in new artwork.  Not everyone will want to know what they might look like when they are 70, but the artist Gillian Wearing is more than happy to contemplate it, dozens of times.  The National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday unveiled a huge wall of images called Rock ’n’ Roll 70 Wallpaper showing a digitally aged Wearing in about 30 different situations and clothes.  The Guardian, March 8, 2017


Louvre Security Staff Threaten To Strike as Blockbuster Vermeer Show Causes Disarray.  The security staff of the Louvre plans to strike on Friday in protest of the dysfunctional management of crowds flocking to the museum’s new blockbuster Johannes Vermeer exhibition.  Since opening last month, the exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting — which features ten of Vermeer’s three dozen known paintings alongside works by his contemporaries — has drawn record numbers of visitors, including more than 9,000 people on its first day and some 40,000 during its first week.  Hyperallergic, March 8, 2017  See also: Chaos at the Louvre as blockbuster Vermeer show draws thousands of visitors.  The Art Newspaper, March 8, 2017

Dordogne, France.

Prehistoric Pointillism? Long Before Seurat, Ancient Artists Chiseled Mammoths Out of Dots.  Almost 100 years ago, archaeologists were hard at work tearing up the ground at Abri Blanchard and Abri Cellier, two archaeological sites in Dordogne, France.  So when Randall White and a team of researchers visited the sites in 2012 and in 2014, they didn’t have high hopes of finding anything undisturbed. When they found a large pile of limestone blocks stacked at Abri Cellier, for instance, it seemed like just another pile of unremarkable materials that the early archaeologists had disrupted without thoroughly examining and documenting. Then they realized the rocks were covered in markings. Chiseled into one of the stones were rows of dots that formed a striking pattern: a woolly mammoth.  Smithsonian Magazine, February 27 2017


Ai Weiwei Reflects on the Sadness of Ren Hang’s Photographs.  The sudden death of photographer and poet Ren Hang on Feb. 24 shook the art world to its core. His photographs were a radiant celebration of sensuality and the naked beauty of life that he continued to create despite constant censorship from the Chinese government. Time, March 7, 2017


Goodbye to All That: Why Do Artists Reject the Art World?  Martin Herbert’s latest book is a collection of essays about 10 artists who play with the system, struggle against it, or walk away altogether. Hyperallergic, March 8, 2017

A Visual Search Engine for the Entire Planet.  At this moment in history, there are more satellites photographing Earth from orbit than just about anyone knows what to do with. Planet, Inc., has more than 150 orbiting cameras, each the size of a shoebox. DigitalGlobe has five dump-truck-sized sensors. And more startups are planning to launch their own.   What should we do with all that imagery? How can we search it and process it? Descartes Labs, a startup that uses machine learning to identify crop health and other economic indicators in satellite imagery, has created a tool to better index and surf through it. They call it Geovisual SearchThe Atlantic, March 7, 2017

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