Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, July 5, 2017


Whistler Culture Tour.  Surprisingly, as I discovered on a recent couple of culture-filled days up here in the mountains, little of that history has to do with skiing or single-track biking… I learned this and much more about the town’s first century during a fascinating one-hour guided walking tour of the village by Whistler Museum program coordinator Jeanette Bruce…The newcomer to Whistler’s cultural scene is also the area’s unabashed heavyweight. Both in terms of the collection and the remarkable building it is housed in. Opened in the winter of 2016, the Audain Art Museum is a loving tribute to British Columbia built and donated by Michael Audain and his wife Yohiko Karasawa.   Vancouver Sun, July 4, 2017


Our Community: Top honour for local photographer. A self-portrait by a Victoria photographer has been named as the best photograph in a national exhibition that recently opened at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.  Rajneesh Fontana’s photograph, I Me Myself 2012, shows the artist painting a band of yellow paint across her face and eyes. It was intended as a statement about abused and oppressed women under the theme of Freedom of Expression.  Times Colonist, July 2, 2017


Gallery welcomes new curator.  The Kelowna Art Gallery has a new curator. Toby Lawrence will be responsible for gallery exhibitions, accompanying publications, and all permanent collection activities.  Born in Kamloops and raised throughout B.C., Lawrence has held curatorial and programming positions with the Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Nanaimo Art Gallery, the University of Victoria Legacy Galleries, and, most recently, was a curator at Studio 111.  Kelowna Cap News, July 4, 2017


“Kierkegaard and Cunt in the Same Sentence”: Talking with Chris Kraus.  There’s divisiveness among those who credit Chris Kraus with opening the door for art that allows women’s experiences to be represented more comprehensively, and those who resent her for granting that permission to a generation of self-indulgent narcissists who didn’t really get the point of her book…She was in Winnipeg, on the last day of the three-week writing workshop she led at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, joined by writers Natasha Stagg and Robert Dewhurst, as well as a group of 15 graduate students and other arts professionals.  Canadian Art, July 4, 2017


AGO exhibition asks where Canada really came from. There’s a wooly, vibrant new show at the Art Gallery of Ontario that shows Canadians how far their country has come and how far it has not. The choppily titled Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood is an ambitious contemporary exhibition that collects (often new) works from emerging and established artists. Three questions are asked: Where has Canada come from, what is it now and where is it going? Globe & Mail, July 2, 2017

At the Art Gallery of Ontario: Canada, revisited. “A century is only a spoke in the wheel of everlasting time” reads a quote on the wall of the Art Gallery of Ontario, attributed to Louis Riel. It’s a poetic statement, but the fiery 19th-century Indigenous civil rights leader might like to refine the metaphor, had he the chance. If “Canada 150” is a spoke and a half, just how many do the wheels of history have here, anyway? Dozens? Hundreds? With an Indigenous presence here dating back at least 15,000 years, we could outfit an entire Tour de France.    Toronto Star, July 3, 2017


Blanket Statement.  The Hudson’s Bay Company blanket is a symbol of colonial Canada, but for Métis people in the Prairies, it also stands for community, ceremony and survival.  Canadian Art, July 3, 2017

Against the Souvenir: Thinking Through Canada 150.  “Is art certain or uncertain? There is a long-held belief—or perhaps an aggressively held contemporary one, which feels eternal because it is now so common—that objects and images inherently provide routes to richer meanings, empowerments and ambiguities.”  Canadian Art, June 29, 2017

Opinion: To know Canada, visit our fascinating national archive online.  Are we having fun during this sesquicentennial year? Out here on the Pacific Rim, we’re about as removed from Ottawa’s celebratory ground zero as one can be without leaving the country. Yet I’ve been lucky to find a couple of projects that speak to my Canadian identity. And you can do likewise.  If you’ve felt detached from Canada’s sesquicentennial (the word itself seems to defy pronunciation), I recommend spending half an hour on the Canadian Library and Archives website.  Historical events roar to life — Canadian nurses comforting French civilians during the First World War. Crowds at Expo 67. One of my favourite images shows children in the 1940s attending art classes held by Arthur Lismer at the Art Gallery of Toronto. Swathed in paint and beads, hair wild and shot from a low angle, they radiate an almost feral vitality — anticipating the juveniles in Lord of the Flies.  Another treat: the early-1940s sketchpad diaries of artist and Canadian Women’s Army Corps enlistee Molly Lamb. They capture a heady moment and a swirl of movement — young, caught up in an adventure and great cause, and meeting Canadians coast-to-coast before embarking for Europe. Vancouver Sun, June 30, 2017


Ai Weiwei on creating political art in the Trump era: ‘Be part of the change’  Chinese artist and provocateur Ai Weiwei relishes the symbolism of displaying his portraits of political dissidents and activists in Washington at a time when human rights and liberties are eroding around the world.  Washington Post, June 27, 2017

New York

The Power and Complexity of Children’s Art: An Interview with Brian Belott. Art classes are an endangered species. It’s absurd and sad, so I wanted to slap people with, like, “Look at the celebration of children and their imagination, it’s limitless. And you want to take this out of their curriculum? You want to take pencils and paintbrushes out of children’s hands?” Hyperallergic, July 3, 2017

North America

Here’s How Much Money Museum Employees Really Make.  It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a museum professional who got into the arts for the money. But even curatorial assistants have to pay rent.  A new survey conducted by the Association of Art Museum Directors provides hard data on the average salaries for curators, conservators, registrars, and other museum staff members—as well as which roles in this notoriously poorly paid field have seen the biggest salary bumps in recent years.  Artnet News, June 29, 2017

Mexico City

Provocative artist Jose Luis Cuevas broke from Mexican muralism.  Mexican artist Jose Luis Cuevas, who set out to shock a national art scene dominated by mural painters and once even put his own semen into an exhibition, has died at the age of 83.  Globe & Mail, July 4, 2017


Maria Balshaw: Tate’s northern powerhouse set for the challenge.  Maria Balshaw took over the top job – overseeing all four Tate galleries – last month, replacing Sir Nicholas Serota.  Her appointment breaks new ground in and of itself: she’s the first female director in Tate’s 120-year history, and has cheerfully described herself as a “feisty northern woman”. She was certainly seen as dynamite in her previous role: appointed in 2006, Balshaw revitalised the Whitworth – fundraising for a £15m, hugely successful redevelopment, as well as parlaying that job into a dual role.  The Guardian, July 2, 2017

How Georgia O’Keeffe left her cheating husband for a mountain: ‘God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it’   A major retrospective of O’Keeffe’s work that opens at Tate Modern next month will include several pictures of these bones, burnished by the wind and bleached by the sun. O’Keeffe long aspired to make, as she put it, “the Great American Painting” and this series is often interpreted as her response to the Great Depression.  The Telegraph, June 30, 2017

Compton, UK

How departing director Perdita Hunt saved the Watts Gallery from near death.  During the 20th century, the Watts Gallery became a picturesque relic, appreciated mainly by connoisseurs of Victorian art. In 2004, it was added to English Heritage’s “at risk” register.   Everything changed under the 12-year directorship of Perdita Hunt, who is leaving the Watts Gallery—Artists’ Village in July.  The Art Newspaper, July 3, 2017


Aric Chen of M+ receives top Design Curator Award at the inaugural Design Prize in Milan.  Aric Chen, a lead curator for Design and Architecture at one of the world’s largest visual art museum, M+ in Hong Kong has been named the winner in the Design Curator and Design Critic category. Since joining M+ in 2012, Chen has led the museum’s efforts in building its design and architecture collection.  Archinect, July 3, 2017


China launches crackdown on social media.  A new cybersecurity law in China, which came into effect in June, is likely to push artists into deeper levels of self-censorship. In the first week of its implementation, authorities used the law to target celebrity gossip on social media platforms WeChat and Weibo. Younger users of social media platforms “are feeling nervous for the first time”, says Xu Wenkai, a Shanghai- and Berlin-based media artist and blogger who goes by the name Aaajiao.  The Art Newspaper, July 3, 2017



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