Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, April 3, 2017

Reconciliation Pole at UBC nails the past to confront harsh reality of residential schools One of the most distinctive parts of Reconciliation Pole are the copper nails. It has 6,000 of them pounded flat into the surface. Each one represents an indigenous child who died at residential schools across the country, said Haida artist James Hart, who was commissioned to design and carve the totem pole. Most of the shiny copper nails are in a sculptural element on the pole meant to represent a residential school… Reconciliation Pole will be raised Saturday, April 1 in a traditional Haida ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. The totem pole, made from an 800-year-old red cedar from Haida Gwaii, will be installed at Main Mall and Agronomy Road on the southern end of the Point Grey campus of the University of B.C. Vancouver Sun, March 31, 2017

Is no news good news for the new Vancouver Art Gallery building? “What is happening with the VAG?” is probably the No. 1 question I hear from the culturally curious around here. So what is happening with the VAG? “Things are on track,” says Ann Webb, who last year left Toronto to become the gallery’s associate director, director of engagement and strategic initiatives. Webb is the former publisher of Canadian Art magazine and most recently managing director of contemporary culture for the Royal Ontario Museum… “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think this museum was going to be built,” she says during a recent interview. “This museum will be built.” The Globe and Mail, March 31, 2017

Local artists retell history in immersive exhibits at Capture Photography Festival Husband-and-wife artists David Campion and Sandra Shields have been crafting photo-text installations that explore the history and damaging effects of colonialism for nearly two decades… Five years of research and creative efforts later, Campion and Shields have built Grand Theft Terra Firma, a disarmingly humorous installation of composite vignettes, props, and character portraits taken from an imaginary video game of the same name. Presented as part of this year’s Capture Photography Festival, the exhibition casts viewers as a gang of white bandits carrying out “daylight robbery” by order of a criminal mastermind in England. Georgia Straight, March 29, 2017

Canada 150: The abstract realism of Canadian icon Lawren Harris Lawren Harris was born in Brantford, Ont., and is usually associated with Toronto. But Canada’s most acclaimed painter spent the last 30 years of his life in Vancouver. Harris was living in Santa Fe, N.M., when the Second World War broke out in 1939. But he found it hard to access his money in Canada, so in 1940, he moved to 4760 Belmont Ave. near Spanish Banks, where he remained until his death in 1970 at age 84. Harris taught at the University of B.C. and became a key figure in local art. When Emily Carr died in 1945, Harris was named one of two trustees of her paintings. Vancouver Sun, March 31, 2017

Toronto architect receives Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Allied Arts Medal A Toronto architect whose focus is ephemeral art installations in public places will receive the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s (RAIC) Allied Arts Medal for 2017. Christine Leu, MRAIC, is the co-founder, with Alan Webb, of the multi-disciplinary arts and curation practice LeuWebb Projects in Toronto. She also teaches courses in architecture and interior design at Ryerson University. LeuWebb uses space, light, sound and texture to activate public space, with a focus on social issues and respect for historical context. Canadian Architect, March 30, 2017

Dr. Sean Buller Murphy: A true believer in the power of art [obituary] Montreal lost one of its great patrons and promoters of the arts when Dr. Sean Buller Murphy, former president of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, died March 16 at age 93. “The MMFA, the city of Montreal, Quebec and Canada have lost an exceptional man whose achievements are woven fast into the fabric of our history,” said Museum president Jacques Parisien in a statement. “We will pay him tribute at the Museum in the coming months.” “Murphy believed that in viewing works of art, a man discovers and understands who he is, and that art, like music, can soothe the soul,” wrote Georges‐Hébert Germain in the book A City’s Museum: A History of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Montreal Gazette, March 31, 2017

I Am an American: The Photographic Legacy of Japanese American Incarceration Arizona had (at least) seven incarceration sites. The ruins of the Tucson Federal Prison Camp are just a few miles up the road from the museum. Another was on the Gila River Indian Reservation, outside Phoenix. That is where Yasuke Shimada died. She was 57. Her family number was 06350. She died of a heart attack. [Dorothea] Lange took her photograph on the half-mile walk between the train station and the temporary detention center in Turlock, California, where she was incarcerated before Gila River… Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit: Triumphing over Adversity. Japanese American WWII Incarceration Reflections, Then and Now continues at the Tucson Desert Art Museum through April 30. Hyperallergic, March 31, 2017

Philadelphia Museum of Art breaks ground on Frank Gehry-designed core renovation When you hear the name Frank Gehry, you likely picture his splashy, titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which put the industrial city on the worldwide map when it opened in 1997. But when the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s former director Anne d’Harnoncourt initially approached Gehry in the late 1990s about designing a major overhaul of the encyclopaedic Pennsylvania museum, she gave him a different sort of challenge: to transform the museum within its current footprint, completed in 1928. This $196m part of the project, which will be completed while the institution remains open, will add 90,000 sq. ft of public space. It is due to be completed in 2020. The Art Newspaper, March 31, 2017

New York
In Effort to Cover Deficit, Metropolitan Museum Partners with Airbnb to Rent Period Rooms Today, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Airbnb launched a partnership that will allow visitors to rent out several of the institution’s historical rooms for a night at a time. The announcement comes after reports that the Upper East Side museum, which was the second-most-visited in the world last year and had a budget of roughly $300 million, is facing a budget shortfall of $10 million. Now, as it looks to capitalize on its collection in unconventional ways, the Met is hoping it can replicate the kind of viral success the Art Institute of Chicago enjoyed recently with its Vincent van Gogh-themed Airbnb partnership. Hyperallergic, March 31, 2017

James Rosenquist, Pop Art Pioneer, Dies at 83 James Rosenquist, who helped define Pop Art in its 1960s heyday with his boldly scaled painted montages of commercial imagery, died on Friday in New York City. He was 83 years old. His wife, Mimi Thompson, said Mr. Rosenquist died at his home after a long illness. Like his contemporaries Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Mr. Rosenquist developed a powerful graphic style in the early 1960s that traditionalists reviled and a broad public enthusiastically embraced. The New York Times, April 1, 2017

St. Ives
Tate St Ives offers first glimpse of £20m refurbishment After an 18-month closure, Tate St Ives is reopening this Friday, 31 March. It will have double the exhibition space and, this autumn, its first ever semi-permanent display dedicated to the Modern artists who flocked to the town in the mid-20th century. Inaugurated in 1993, the museum is located in the south-west corner of England, and most of its visitors are seaside holidaymakers. Mark Osterfield, the director of Tate St Ives, says the £20m project will “re-present the story about why St Ives is significant in the story of Modern art, in an international context”. The Art Newspaper, March 29, 2017

Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art will shine a light on Baltic and Nordic artists The 2018 art calendar has a new addition—a major new biennial due to take place in Riga, Latvia, in June next year which, say the organisers, will include a “significant proportion” of works by artists born or based in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  The new Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art is organised by the non-profit Riga Biennial Foundation. Its founder is Agniya Mirgorodskaya, who previously worked in the Russian art department at Christie’s. The Greek-born curator Katerina Gregos, who organised the Belgian pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, has been named chief curator of the inaugural biennial. The Art Newspaper, April 3, 2017

Renzo Piano completes stilted art gallery on Santander waterfront Thousands of shimmering ceramic discs cover the stilted volumes of Renzo Piano’s Centro Botín art gallery, which stands on the docks in the Spanish city of Santander. The Centro Botín is Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s first building in Spain, and is part of a wider redevelopment of Santander’s Pereda Gardens… The 10,285-square-metre gallery is split across two D-shaped blocks and joined by an elevated walkway that cantilevers out over the sea. Dezeen, April 3, 2017

Hong Kong
Andy Warhol portrait of Mao sells in Hong Kong An Andy Warhol portrait of Chairman Mao has been sold at a historic auction in Hong Kong – but fell short of its top estimate of $15m (£12m; HK$116m). The iconic silkscreen portrait fetched $11m in the sale at Sotheby’s on Sunday, or $12.6m after tax and fees. It was bought by an unnamed Asian collector. In the past, Chinese officials had stopped versions of the painting being exhibited on the mainland, where censors closely guard Mao’s depiction. Just four years ago, during the first comprehensive survey of Warhol’s art in China, the Mao portraits were nowhere to be seen. BBC News, April 2, 2017

Clashes Between Artists And Government Authority Arise Over Studio Demolition On March 29, the residence and studio of Chinese artists Shen Jingdong and Cao Zhiwen was demolished in Songzhuang, Beijing. Over 100 public security personnel clashed with around 100 local artists attempting to halt the demolition, leading to multiple injuries and the arrests of two protestors. Government officials refused to acknowledge the issue when they were contacted about the case… By the afternoon, the studio was demolished with the artists’ belongings tossed onto the street. ArtAsiaPacific, March 30, 2017

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