Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, March 29, 2017


A conversation with Tyler RussellIn Part One of this conversation, Tyler Russell, executive director and curator of Centre A | Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, outlined Vancouver’s problematic colonial history and the early history of the non-profit that aimed to nurture Asian art. Here, he discusses the marginalisation of non-English speaking communities in Vancouver, gentrification, art centres’ responsibilities for public outreach and the Hong Kong diaspora. Ocula, March 8, 2017

$15-million Vancouver Public Library renovation taking shape, topped by rooftop garden, 80-seat theatre. It has taken more than 20 years, but a publicly accessible rooftop garden is finally coming to the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library on West Georgia.  At 8,000 sq. ft., the finished garden, designed by landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander, is expected to be the kind of place where members of the public can sit and read or sip a coffee.  Altogether, the renovations will add about 35,000 sq. ft. of public space. There will be a new 80-seat theatre, a quiet reading area, an art exhibition area, two outdoor terraces and multi-purpose rooms with a catering kitchen.  Vancouver Sun, March 29, 2017


‘It was a shock’: Residential school survivor sees her painting more than 50 years later.  A member of the Uchucklesaht Tribe, Gina Laing was recently reunited with art she painted more than 50 years ago.  Laing’s paintings were part of a collection donated to the University of Victoria in 2008 by the family of Robert Aller, the teacher who led the extracurricular art classes at a residential school in Port Alberni.   CBC News, March 28, 2017

Canada 150: Renowned totem carver Mungo Martin resurrected native artistic traditions.  Mungo Martin (Naka’pankam) was born at Tsaxis on northern Vancouver Island in 1879. Charlie James, his stepfather, a famous carver, tutored him. Then in 1937, Ottawa decided “Native handicrafts” might have commercial value. They meant hand-carved trinkets for tourists. To help advance this plan to market curios, Martin was asked to carve something for the Canadian Pavilion at the New York World Fair. He was given a diagram for a carved arch. Instead, he made two totem poles. They were a sensation. Critics saw a powerful, globally important artistic tradition. By comparison, Canada’s official government art — intended to symbolize hydro potential — was dismissed as “allegorical social realism at its most banal and pretentious.”  Martin’s poles were not just stupendous — they became the most photographed exhibit — they were subversive. In 1949, the University of B.C. hired Martin to replicate the poles. In 1950, he was hired as resident carver at the B.C. Museum where he built his own big house. He collected 400 songs and oral histories. He trained Henry Hunt, Tony Hunt, Bill Reid and Doug Cranmer. Vancouver sun, March 28, 2017

Alert Bay
Renowned B.C. Indigenous artist Beau Dick has died. Dick was a master carver and hereditary chief from the ‘Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay, just off the coast of northern Vancouver Island. He was in his early 60s.   He was known for his mask carvings and as an advocate for Aboriginal rights.  CBC News, March 28, 2017


Site preparation begins for Surrey Museum expansion  Trees have been dug out of the earth and wrapped for transport in preparation for the upcoming museum expansion project expected to break ground this summer. The $10.3-million expansion will add 12,000 square feet of space to the existing Surrey Museum.  The trees will find a home in a City of Surrey greenhouse, where they will wait out construction before returning after all is completed. [Surrey] Now, March 28, 2017


Video: In the Studio with Patrick Cruz.  Negotiating two worlds fittingly turned out to be one of the main topics of discussion with Philippines-born, Toronto-based painter and installation artist Patrick Cruz, who completed his MFA at the University of Guelph in 2015 and won the RBC Canadian Painting Competition later that year. His family moved to Vancouver when he was 18, and Cruz says he couldn’t recognize—let alone distill—the organized chaos of his home until he lived in its absence, under Vancouver’s grey skies.   Canadian Art, March 28, 2017

Mexico design duo Pedro y Juana plan stereo-vision installation for Power Ball XIX.  Ruiz Galindo is one half of Pedro y Juana, a Mexico City-based design duo. With partner Mecky Reuss, in Toronto, they discussed their latest project, a site-specific installation at the VIP Party at Power Ball, the annual fundraising event for the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery happening on June 1. Globe & Mail, March 27, 2017


At the McMichael, the matter with size. Steve Driscoll makes great big paintings, most often, astonishingly, within the space of just a few hours. And while their garish, electric-neon glare isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, no argument you can make would convince me they don’t have presence.  Walking into a lower gallery at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, where 16 of Driscoll’s Day-Glo compositions are now on view, it’s undeniable: they tower as tall as three metres high, their glossy hides shimmeringly alive and near-squirming in the neutral space.   Toronto Star, March 24, 2017


Photo of naked young girl displayed at Montreal museum causes controversy.  A photograph by Beijing artists, the Gao brothers, featuring a young naked girl is getting people talking. The piece of art is part of Parle-moi d’amour — an exhibition-auction featured at the Montreal’s Contemporary Art Museum. The pair is known for their controversial work, and often feature nudity in their art.. Global News, March 28, 2017

New York

Should Art That Infuriates Be Removed?  We all encounter art we don’t like, that upsets and infuriates us. This doesn’t deserve to be exhibited, our brains yell; it should not be allowed to exist. Still, does such aversion mean that an artwork must be removed from view — or, worse, destroyed?  New York Times, March 27, 2017

Censorship, Not the Painting, Must Go: On Dana Schutz’s Image of Emmett Till.  The presence of blackness in a Whitney Biennial invariably stirs controversy — it’s deemed to be unfit or not enough, or too much. The current Whitney Biennial is no exception — the art press has been awash this past week with reports of a protest staged in front of a painting of a disfigured Emmett Till lying in his casket and a letter penned by an artist who called for the work to be removed and destroyed. Hyperallergic, March 26, 2017

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei to build fences in New York.  The artist Ai Weiwei will build dozens of fences in New York for an exhibition opening in October that focuses on walls that divide people and mark borders.  A champion of refugees and migrants, Ai is calling his new large-scale conceptual installation “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.”  He took the title from the final line in “Mending Wall,” a poem by the 20th-century U.S. poet Robert Frost that reflects on a wall between neighbors. CTV News, March 28, 2017


Serota sets up commission to explore benefit of arts for children.  A major investigation into the best ways of nurturing creativity in young people is to be announced by the new chairman of Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota.  Serota will use his first speech since beginning the job in February to announce the Durham commission on creativity and education. The Guardian, March 27, 2017


Thieves steal giant gold coin worth €3.7m from Berlin’s Bode Museum.  Thieves broke into Berlin’s Bode Museum yesterday morning (27 March) and stole a 100kg, pure gold Canadian coin worth an estimated €3.7m.  Yhe coin, which police said was protected by bulletproof glass, carries a nominal value of C$1m and was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007.  The Art Newspaper, March 28, 2017


Exit Through the Pop-Up. Art’s relationship with fashion is well-known, from Dalí and Schiaparelli to Beecroft and Yeezy. Under the influence of social media and shifting cultural economies, however, fashion seems more and more a model for art. At times, it’s difficult to tell the two apart.   Canadian Art, March 27, 2017

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