Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, June 22, 2017


Canada 150: Fred Herzog, colourful street photographer.  Fred Herzog saw art in almost everything: a family sitting outside on a summer’s day, a Volkswagen Beetle turning the corner in the rain, a wall of photos of men’s hairstyles in a Main Street barber shop. He shot billboards, second-hand stores and store window displays, neon signs, the working waterfront, and people… “Fred has a really kind of uncanny ability to render bodily gesture,” says Grant Arnold of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “He has a real amazing sensibility for that. So much of the meaning of his photographs is conveyed through bodily gesture and the positioning of the body.” Vancouver Sun, June 22, 2017

UBC Museum of Anthropology’s new gallery helps shed fresh light on artifacts.  There’s a wonderful paradox afoot in the UBC Museum of Anthropology’s newly built exhibition space. The Gallery of Northwest Coast Masterworks is a beautiful room, filled with subdued colours and textures that evoke both rain-grey skies and sun-bleached logs on West Coast beaches. It also boasts state-of-the-art amenities, including seismically stabilized display cases and computerized softbox lighting that responds to conditions outdoors. Opening Thursday (June 22), the gallery will be the site of long-running temporary exhibitions, the first show being In a Different Light: Reflecting on Northwest Coast Art.  And here is where the paradox occurs.  The inaugural show is not so much about the old-fashioned and Eurocentric notion of “masterworks” that the gallery name suggests…Georgia Straight, June 20, 2017

UniverCity public art program welcomes new work from Holly Ward to SFU Burnaby neighbourhood.  The SFU Community Trust celebrated a new addition to its public art program in the UniverCity neighbourhood on Tuesday evening (June 20) with the unveiling of a new work by Vancouver artist Holly Ward.  Georgia Straight, June 21, 2017

Bringing (Virtual) Salmon Back to False Creek.  This summer, nearly seven years after its conception, the cinematic spectacle Uninterrupted by indie docufilm company, Canada Wild Productions, will bring the natural beauty of the salmon run to the heart of Downtown Vancouver just in time for Canada 150 celebrations. The public art installation, which will project on the undercarriage of the Cambie Bridge, honours B.C.’s natural history. As the project’s artistic director, Wild hopes the beauty of the salmon run will encourage Vancouverites to preserve their legacy by working to keep the cycle uninterrupted.  Vancouver Magazine, June 16, 2017.  See also Salmon return to False Creek in cinematic public artwork projected onto concrete Cambie Bridge.  Georgia Straight, June 20, 2017

Skidegate, Haida Gwaii

A superhuman landscape. Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson inherited an important gift and responsibility from her great-grandmother.  An award-winning musician – and legal counsel for the Haida Nation – Williams-Davidson is now making her first foray into visual art with a new show at the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay.  Globe & Mail, June 16, 2017


Walking Softly with Christi Belcourt. In my recent phone conversation with Christi Belcourt, this Michif (Métis) artist—whose ancestry originates from the historic Métis community of Manitou Sakhigan (Lac Ste. Anne) in Alberta and who was raised in Ontario, where she is currently based in Anishinaabe territory on the North Shore of Lake Huron—we spoke about her recent work, much of which is geared towards revitalizing Indigenous culture, language and land-based knowledges as well as drawing attention to the urgent situation facing the planet as a result of resource extraction and climate change… Belcourt’s well known paintings of floral motifs—one of which is going on view starting June 22 as part of “Wapikwanew: Blossom” at Karsh-Masson Gallery in Ottawa—evoke customary Métis beadwork designs. Water Song (2010-11)—which is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada and served as the basis for Belcourt’s collaboration with the Italian fashion house of Valentino—are profoundly sumptuous.  Canadian Art, June 21, 2017


Toronto architects embrace their contrarian nature. The designer duo of Eiri Ota and Irene Gardpoit are preoccupied with making ordinary materials extraordinary.  Globe & Mail, June 21, 2017


At the Galleries: A fresh crop of props, and capturing the artist’s realm.  It’s summer, which means a breezier season of group shows in many venues, public and private (though not so much the big institutions, with Canada 150 in the air).  Oakville throws in with Propped, a 17-artist ensemble affair that toggles back and forth from the absurd to the profound with aplomb. Toronto Star, June 21, 2017


$18,000 painting stolen from downtown Montreal art gallery. On May 23, a man entered the gallery and took the painting, hiding it under his coat before leaving. Surveillance footage captured the suspect leaving the gallery. The painting is by Quebec painter Marc-Aurèle Fortin. It’s an oil painting in a frame sculpted with gold leaves and measures eight by 10 inches. There’s an inventory number on the back of the painting, but it may have been removed without causing any damage. The painting is listed in a catalogue called Raisonné under the number H-1062.  Montreal Gazette, June 22, 2017

Denver, CO

Mass Resignations Embroil Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.  What caused nearly every employee of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art to resign en masse last week? Was it a difficult museum boss who staffers say worked them to the point of exhaustion for low wages and treated them with little respect? Or was it the result of a plan that backfired — a plan hatched by a handful of disgruntled workers who, as Ron McMahan, a board member, put it, tried to “take over” control of the institution? New York Times, June 20, 2017


Expanding Albright-Knox Art Gallery underground.  The Buffalo Albright-Knox Art Gallery is getting a hundred million dollar makeover.  The museum will be expanding by about 50,000 square feet. Architects will not be taking any of the park land, instead, they found other creative ways to develop the current campus. The project architect, Shohei Shigematsu with OMA came up with a solution where the project wouldn’t disrupt the Olmsted Parks system.  WIBV (Buffalo), June 21, 2017


An Artist for the Instagram Age.  If there is a poster artist for the current participatory-art craze, it has got to be Yayoi Kusama, whose exhibits—especially her Infinity Mirror rooms—have drawn record crowds around the world for the past few years. In her case, the challenge is not so much getting to the show, but getting into the show, and then getting into each individual room in the show.  The Atlantic, July/August 2017 issue.

New York

The Inaugural Triennial on New York’s Waterways Drops Anchor.   Works on Water, a new triennial on New York’s waterways, hosts an exhibition on local artist engagement with the city’s tides and currents.  Hyperallergic, June 19, 2017

United States

US Arts Nonprofits Outside LA and NYC Generated $166.3 Billion in Spending in 2015, Report Shows.  A new report from Americans for the Arts shows how the non-profit culture sector stimulates the economy both locally and nationally.  The fifth “Arts & Economic Prosperity” report from Americans for the Arts makes a compelling case for the vital economic contributions of the non-profit cultural sector. For instance, in 2015 US arts organizations supported 1.15 million jobs, or about .83% of the total US workforce; for the sake of comparison, elementary school teachers make up 1% of the national workforce, while police officers account for .45%.  Hyperallergic, June 21, 2017

Mexico City

The Idiosyncratic Writings of Leonora Carrington, a Reluctant Surrealist.  To understand the macho, egocentric nature of Surrealism and the eliding of women artists of this time, you need look no further than the fiercely imaginative and belatedly recognized artist Leonora Carrington. Carrington wrote about her time at an asylum three years after being released, in 1944, and at the suggestion of Andre Breton. By this time, she was already living in Mexico City, where she moved after marrying a Mexican diplomat to escape her controlling family. She would remain in Mexico City until her death in 2011, leading an autonomous artistic life and becoming increasingly feminist in her outlook. Down Below is not about a surreal spell of madness, but is a startlingly lucid book that on the one hand demystifies mental illness, and on the other reveals how the episode brought her clarity and power of mind.  Hyperallergic, June 19, 2017


We don’t want to be dug out’: the Indigenous art helping to protect the land from mining. Wunungmurra’s sculpture of a mokuy (spirit) is among more than 120 pieces of Indigenous art from across the NT’s remote communities up for auction by the Northern Territory Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), an organisation which has supported his people in advocating for stronger legal protections of their land and water.  The Guardian, June 21, 2017


Serpentine pavilion 2017: a shimmering African canopy spreads out over Kensington Gardens.  I almost hope it will rain,” says Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine, standing beneath the soaring timber canopy of the gallery’s summer pavilion, which plunges inwards to form a conical funnel where rain will be channelled into a circular waterfall. “It has definitely been designed with British summers in mind.”  The opening of the annual pavilion has been plagued by untimely downpours in previous years, putting optimistic architects from warmer climes to the test, but this year African architect Francis Kéré seems to have brought the scorching heat of Burkina Faso to Kensington Gardens.   The Guardian, June 20, 2017


What Did You See in That Painting?  In a small-scale study, a research team led by Francesco Walker of Vrije University presents evidence that children and adults look at works of art quite differently, with kids focusing first on visually stimulating elements. Adults, in contrast, try to make sense of the thing from the get-go.  Pacific Standard, June 21, 2017


Spain’s new Centro Botín shuns the ‘Bilbao effect’  Almost 20 years since Frank Gehry’s $100m titanium-clad Guggenheim Bilbao opened, another city on Spain’s north coast is getting a major contemporary art centre designed by an internationally acclaimed “starchitect”. The Centro Botín, Renzo Piano’s first big commission in the country, opens in Santander on 23 June. But comparisons with the museum that became a model for culture-driven regeneration schemes worldwide are too simplistic, say Piano and the president of the Fundación Botín’s visual arts committee, Vicente Todolí.  The Art Newspaper, June 22, 2017


An artist created 2,000 colorful paper guns to challenge perceptions of gun culture Chinese artist Li Hongbo, famous for his seemingly classical busts that bend surprisingly into wavy shapes like accordions, is showcasing a more colorful selection of work this summer. He’s created 2,000 paper weapons for a polychromatic exhibit called “Ocean of Flowers” at Beijing’s Eight One Art Museum. Quartz, June 21, 2017


Syrian refugees to be trained to rebuild Palmyra and other heritage sites.  The World Monuments Fund is launching a £500,000 scheme to train Syrian refugees living in and around the Zaatari camp on the Jordanian border in traditional stone masonry. The aim is to develop skills so that cultural heritage sites that have been caught in crossfire or destroyed by Isil can be rebuilt once peace is restored to Syria.  The Art Newspaper, June 22, 2017

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