Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, March 23, 2017


Museum of Anthropology’s Amazonia surveys an ancient region at risk.  Amazonia: The Rights of Nature, on at the Museum of Anthropology, examines the impacts of resource exploitation and industrial agriculture on indigenous peoples and the lands they have occupied for thousands of years.  In its cultural and environmental themes, the show echoes In the Footsteps of the Crocodile Man, on view last year in the same temporary exhibition gallery at MOA.  Georgia Straight, March 22, 2017

Photographer Jackie Dives’s images create personal story about anxiety.  To the unknowing eye, the curated stills in Jackie Davies’ show Slow Like a Bruise, Quick Like Hunger, which will be displayed at a pop-up gallery for one night only, might reveal a familiarity that speaks to the awkward experience of being a teenager, but to Dives, each carefully composed frame reminds her of the moments before and after the shutter click: heart-to-heart conversations, contemplative silences, moments of self-doubt and angst.  Georgia Straight, March 22, 2017

How this artist stays connected to her grandfather’s surrealist legacy…using lighters.  There’s no very easy way to categorize Christina Kenton’s sculptures — they’re fantastical and range from dreamlike creatures to intricate bedroom sets, covered in tiny, hand-painted patterns. The common thread is just as unusual: the self-taught artist’s sculptures are all built around lighters.  They’re also informed by an important part of Kenton’s past: her grandfather was a well-known Surrealist painter (one of the founders of Slovak surrealism) named Ladislav Guderna. CBC News, March 21, 2017


From Sea to Sky. In British Columbia, the names John and Patricia Patkau, FRAIC have long been synonymous with accomplished homes featuring breathtaking views of the Pacific coast. For a number of years, however, their work has expanded greatly in scope and scale, and in time has become identified with highly prestigious cultural institutions. With the Audain Art Museum, inaugurated in 2016, the architects demonstrate a remarkable level of maturity.  Canadian Architect, March 9, 2017


Burnt Trees photo exhibit finds beauty in rebirth of Kootenay forest.  Death births life in Burnt Trees, an exhibition at Artpoint Gallery & Studios Society depicting the aftermath and regrowth of the 2005 forest fire at Kootenay National Park.  Photographers Ellis Bartkiewicz and Brad Hays documented the destruction along Highway 93 once they realized the burned trees offered a compelling contrast with the snowy landscapeof the winter season.  Vancouver Sun, March 22, 2017


Prairie folk artist David Thauberger ‘makes the everyday seem remarkable’  David Thauberger has had hundreds of exhibitions and many accolades in almost five decades as an artist. To think, he fell into art somewhat by accident.  Regina Leader Post, March 22,2017


How One Toronto Artist is Critiquing Putin’s Reign. Toronto artist Felix Kalmenson—born in St. Petersburg in 1987—does not shy away from targeting the manipulative and authoritative reign of Vladimir Putin in Russia. His current exhibition “Kak Vsegda/As Always,” on until March 25 at Pari Nadimi Gallery in Toronto, is a refreshingly critical show that exemplifies how contemporary art can act as poignant political dissent. Canadian Art, March 23, 2017

A Twist on the Lost Art of Letter Writing.  “I want each letter to only be its own copy,” writer and poet Tova Benjamin remembers telling illustrator, sculptor and artist Kendra Yee a year ago, prior to preparing for their current exhibition of writing and mixed-media artifacts, “To Whom It May Concern,” at Toronto’s Xpace Cultural Centre. Benjamin holds a kinship to the epistolary format when she talks about the letters that she wrote to her loved ones, to strangers, to herself, in no particular order, from 2013 to 2016.  Canadian Art, March 22, 2017

Young & Giroux cage their Tangerine Panther.  Daniel Young & Christian Giroux: Tangerine Panther: For a duo whose likely best known work is called Infrastructure Canada, a hypnotic, meditative film piece now owned by the National Gallery of Canada about, well, infrastructure in Canada, Tangerine Panther seems a little off key. Grabby titles have rarely been their thing (see: 50 Light Fixtures from Home Depot, another counter-intuitively compelling film work), so why the turnaround? Consider, perhaps, the context. Tucked into 8-11, a tight window-box gallery on a strip of Spadina Ave. in Chinatown that increasingly feels like the city’s last bastion of un-condoized urbanity, the machismo bluster makes a little more sense. Toronto Star, March 23, 2017


Montreal’s All-Night Underground Art Maze. Art Souterrain is something of a pun: broadly speaking, what’s on display can be considered underground art, and the exhibition takes place entirely within the network of largely subterranean passageways that link most of Montreal’s major downtown office complexes, shopping centres and major transit stations… As I took a seat in the convention centre to consider what I had experienced, I was distracted by the interactions of strangers surrounding Camille Rajotte’s À deux, c’est mieux!, a seesaw with a twist, constructed such that the two participants face away from each other, requiring an added degree of trust to achieve an enjoyable equilibrium. The fun wasn’t in winning, but in achieving balance and harmony. It was successful, and despite my initial criticism, I could only conclude that on the whole, so too was Art Souterrain.  Canadian Art, March 22, 2017

Ottawa & Washington

Canada Council cruises through budget as U.S. arts fund faces attack.  The Canada Council was so certain that the budget would continue with last year’s five-year plan to double its allocation by 2021, the communications department wasn’t even planning a press release. The nail-biting days of the lean, mean and last-minute Stephen Harper Conservatives feel like a fading memory. Compare that to the perilous state of affairs at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, where the culturecrats must be down to bloody knuckles by now. The NEA is one of 19 federal agencies that Donald Trump is simply proposing to disappear – by eliminating them from the budget that he now has to get through Congress.  Globe & Mail, March 23, 2017

Los Angeles

Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts Announces 2017 Artist Project Grants. The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts has announced its 2017 Artist Project Grants, with a focus on projects at nonprofit institutions and organization in Los Angeles. This year’s batch includes a Charlemagne Palestine show at Human Resources/356 S. Mission Rd. and an exhibition about artist activism on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border at the Vincent Price Art Museum. Artnews, March 22, 2017 

Long Beach

Lourdes Ramos named president of the Museum of Latin American Art — first Latina to hold the post.  Lourdes Ramos, who for the past dozen years has led the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan as executive director and chief curator, has been named the new president and chief executive of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach. She will be the first Latina to hold the post.  Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2017

New York

Protesters Block, Demand Removal of a Painting of Emmett Till at the Whitney Biennial.  On Friday, the 2017 Whitney Biennial opened to the public and protesters showed up to physically block and voice their objections to “Open Casket” (2016), a painting of Emmett Till by Dana Schutz. According to protesters Parker Bright and Pastiche Lumumba —New York-based artists who went to the Whitney on opening day independently, meeting there for the first time — a white artist should not be permitted to use and profit from the image of a black man killed in a racially motivated crime.  Hyperallergic, March 22, 2017.  See also The Violence of the 2017 Whitney Biennial.  Hyperallergic, March 22, 2017

At the World Trade Center, a Familiar Tale of a Developer Exploiting Artists. Since last summer, artists have been invited to create works for free on the 69th floor of Four World Trade Center, a raw space that was recently leased to Spotify.  Many saw the opportunity to work in Four World Trade Center as an honor; an exceptional privilege to be part of the rebirth of the complex. A number of artists Hyperallergic spoke with said they signed onto the project as they believed they were making temporary work for a tightly curated exhibition under the working title, Streets to Towers: Life in NYC, purportedly set to open on September 11, 2016, to coincide with a 15th anniversary memorial ceremony organized by Silverstein Properties. No such event ever occurred; the developer now markets the display under the incongruous title, 69th Floor Graffiti Artists, according to promotional materials.  Hyperallergic, March 22, 2017


Artists Sift Through Archives for Memories of Miami.  For this exhibition, artists searched through home videos, letters, documents, and images, finding physical ephemera and strange histories with which to create new work.  Hyperallergic, March 20, 2017


‘I take portraits of gods’: the photography of Nobuyuki Kobayashi – in pictures. With his gorgeous and patiently realised black and white images, Nobuyuki Kobayashi searches for a spiritual dimension in the calm beauty of nature.  Kobayashi will host a Q&A and walk-through of his work at the Sway Gallery, London, on 24 March.  The Guardian, March 22, 2017


What does the election mean for France’s art market?  The results of the impending French presidential election could radically change the country’s political landscape and alter the balance of power between London and continental European market places, casting a cloud of uncertainty over France’s resilient art trade.  The Art Newspaper, March 22, 2017


Jesus’s tomb unveiled after $4m restoration. The restored tomb in which Jesus’s body is believed to have been interred after his crucifixion will be officially unveiled at a ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday.  A team of Greek scientists and restorers has completed the nine-month renovation project, which focused on a small structure above the burial chamber, known as the Edicule. It is the most sacred monument in Christianity.  The Guardian, March 21, 2017


Riverrun,’ an Exhibition Centered on Artistic Language at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.  The title Riverrun (March 18 to June 4, 2017) comes from the experimental novel Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. The book weaves a dreamscape, producing a stream of consciousness in dream language, full of obscure phrases that defy comprehension and contravene convention. In the act of creation, looseness, freedom, or deviance is permitted, and can even be sublimated as the nutrients of art. This also suggests the possibility of arranging creative meaning through a method approaching psychoanalysis. Because of such freedom, art is broad and inclusive.  The exhibition centers on artistic writing, at a level where history, memory, and spirit mingle.  Hyperallergic, March 20, 2017

Hong Kong

Asia’s new rich help cushion global market’s fall, economist Clare McAndrew reports.  Total sales in the global art market shrank by 11% in 2016 to $57bn, a more than $10bn fall from an all-time high of $68bn in 2014 – this is the headline finding of a report by the economist Clare McAndrew, which was released today. Speaking ahead of The Art Market 2017’s publication during Art Basel in Hong Kong on 22 March, McAndrew said: “There have been two years of decline, but that was after such a high peak, so we are not back to the situation in 2009, and even then it bounced back quickly.” The choice of Hong Kong to launch the first report by the founder of Art Economics for Swiss-based Art Basel, in collaboration with the Swiss bank UBS, is appropriate given another key finding: for the first time, the number of high net worth individuals is greater in the Asia-Pacific region than in North America. McAndrew also noted that there are 1.7 million millionaires in China and Hong Kong and Asia sees three new self-made billionaires minted every three days.  The Art Newspaper, March 22, 2017



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