Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, July 12, 2017


A path to Monet’s  not-so-secret garden.  While the emphasis of the show is on Monet’s final, prolific period at Giverny, Claude Monet’s Secret Garden, also traces his decades-long career. There are works from his periods in Argenteuil, Vétheuil and Trouville (where his beach paintings were embedded with bits of sand and seashell – that’s en plein air for you). The exhibition also looks at the development of his serial approach – where Monet would paint the same subject at different times of the day in different lights. The final gallery in particular is a stunner – installed with four Weeping Willow oils on one side, and on the other, three versions of The Path Under the Rose Arches. Globe & Mail, July 7, 2017

Making an impression. The picturesque Claude Monet’s Secret Garden opened recently at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and included in the show are nearly 40 splendid works that span the lush career of Monet, a founder of French Impressionist painting… Ahead of its public debut, on June 16, 400 art enthusiasts gathered to raise funds for the beloved B.C. gallery, the only North American stop for the exhibition.  Globe & Mail, July 10, 2017


Fifty years of footsteps through the gallery.  To some, the Burnaby Art Gallery is a mystery. Perched near Deer Lake and surrounded by lush gardens, the heritage home known as Ceperley House – originally Fairacres – has always been the subject of much interest. But it is not a mystery to Polly Svangtun, one of the early members of the Burnaby Art Society.  “We kept pushing for an art gallery and finally we got the place where we are now, Ceperley House,” she says of the society.  Burnaby Now, July 11, 2017

City won’t support a new art gallery.  It’s not the answer the Burnaby Arts Council was hoping for.  The City of Burnaby won’t support a new art gallery, according to a recent staff report. The city’s parks director says the need for the project isn’t widely accepted by the community.  The arts council disagrees.  Burnaby Now, July 7, 2017

Skidegate, B.C.

For Haida, this wooden chest holds the promise of reunion with Indigenous treasures.  After more than a century away from home, the mountain goat moon chest was allowed to live again. Liberated from museum storage in a foreign land, the iconic chest was wheeled out to the middle of a packed rec centre gym in Skidegate, B.C., on remote Haida Gwaii, as hundreds watched.  “It was absolutely magical and transformative,” says Nika Collison, who belongs to the Ts’aahl clan of the Haida Nation. “The chest itself wasn’t only transformed from being in a basement for 100 years to being back in use, it was transformed into being everything it always was. And that transformed all of us in the room.” Globe & Mail, July 8, 2017


Victoria’s premier Paint-In brings art to the masses.  The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s summer celebration of local art and artists runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday. Artists will line 10 blocks of Moss Street, from the gallery’s location near Fort Street to Dallas Road, demonstrating techniques and engaging with the public. Sooke News Mirror, July 11, 2017


Métis artist Destiny Swiderski transforms back alley into award-winning ‘connector’  Destiny Swiderski lives to create whether it’s tending to an acres of blueberries on Vancouver Island or designing and installing massive public art projects.  The 36-year-old Métis artist’s latest work occupies a previously bare wall connecting the relatively new Michael Phair Park with Beaver Hills House Park.  CBC News, July 8, 2017

Edmonton artist turns to public for help after carload of paintings stolen. Chris Riley was coming off a successful Whyte Avenue Art Walk on Sunday evening when she parked her car on the driveway of her rural property south of Spruce Grove.  She planned to restock an exhibit at Edmonton’s Highlevel Diner the next morning, and decided to leave her pop-up gallery, paintings and prints in her silver 2010 Ford Flex. But when she went to find her car just before noon Monday, it was gone.    Edmonton Journal, July 11, 2017


Rita Letendre: Against the dying of the light.  At 89, Letendre’s sight is all but gone. Two years ago, she had to give up painting because of it, perhaps the only defeat of her remarkable, decades-spanning career. The Art Gallery of Ontario just opened Fire & Light, a survey of almost 70 years of her work, and it unlocks both the oeuvre of one of the country’s great painters and a flood of memories for the artist herself.  Toronto Star, July 8, 2017


Nation to Nation.  When I met with Ryan Rice and Skawennati to talk about Nation to Nation, an Indigenous art collective they formed with Eric Robertson in 1994, it felt fitting that we gathered together at Skawennati’s house not far from the Montreal building (now the Nordelec Condos, in Pointe-Sainte-Charles) where Nation to Nation held the first installation of their landmark “Native Love” exhibition in 1995.  Canadian Art, July 10, 2017

Kahnawake, Que.,

With justice elusive, art serves as vigil for missing and murdered.  The exhibition, Walking With Our Sisters,  which was first seen in Edmonton in 2013, can be considered a vigil in material form. It consists of more than 1,800 decorated moccasin vamps, or uppers, all contributed by women. The vamps are made of felt, animal skins, birch bark and even stone. Most are beaded, but some have been worked with porcupine quills, pine-needle weaving and traditional birch-bark biting. All the pieces have been carefully laid out along broad, linked avenues of fabric, as if the women who will never wear these vamps in completed moccasins were lined up in procession. Visitors to the show literally walk in the direction in which the vamps are headed.  Globe & Mail, July 10, 2017


Halifax Report: Not for a Long Time. A recent visit from New York– and Toronto-based artist Brendan Fernandes marked the historic reopening of the NSCAD Lithography Workshop, known for having hosted artists such as John Baldessari and Sol LeWitt in the “golden years.” More than 35 years after it hosted its last visiting artist, the Lithography Workshop has been reinvigorated though the efforts of the Anna Leonowens Gallery, which of late applied for, and received, Canada Council New Chapter funding to revitalize the project. An ambitious roster of eight high-calibre artists has been assembled to visit in the next few years, including Kwakwaka’wakw artist Sonny Assu and Toronto-based artist Ed Pien, both of whom work primarily outside of traditional printmaking.  Canadian Art, July 11, 2017


Will preservationists again change the course of Albright-Knox expansion?  While Buffalo’s preservation community sometimes plays the role of vocal minority on major projects such as this, criticism of the plan is also mounting from national experts who consider Bunshaft’s 1962 building to be one of the architect’s greatest achievements.  Buffalo News, July 7, 2017

A Modernist Masterpiece, Under Fire in Buffalo. In 1962, the famed architect Gordon Bunshaft was asked to explain his approach to the expansion of Buffalo’s Albright Art Gallery, a 1905 Beaux-Arts structure designed by beloved local architect E.B. Green. He said it was to simply “leave it alone.”  The Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) was chosen last year to head the expansion project. Late last month, the firm unveiled their conceptual drawings.  The plan, which is still its early phases, would see Bunshaft’s tranquil gap between his black box and the 1905 building filled in with a new, glass-enclosed space; Bunshaft’s galleries and courtyard would be demolished.   CityLab, July 7, 2017

New York

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Names 2017 ‘Artist as Activist’ Fellows  The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in New York has named the 2017 grantees for its Artist as Activist fellowship, which recognizes individuals and collectives whose work is politically engaged. Grantees will now receive up to $100,000 over a two-year period.   A list of the 2017 fellows follows.   Artnews, July 11, 2017

The Women who Built the New York Art World  Over the course of 10 years, between 1929 and 1939, four of New York City’s most iconic museums emerged in Manhattan: the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, The Frick Collection, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. These institutions are now world-famous. But their founders—predominantly women—are relatively unknown. Artsy, July 6, 2017

Meet the artist behind Jeff Koons’s controversial ballerinas.  After widespread accusations of cultural appropriation and an enquiry by The Art Newspaper, Jeff Koons’s studio released a statement to us on 25 May acknowledging Oksana Zhnikrup and further revealing that Koons has a licence to use her work.  Elena Korus, a Ukrainian art historian based in Kiev who is writing a book on Zhnikrup, told us that Koons also bought rights from the heirs of the Kiev Experimental Art Ceramics Factory, which shut down in 2006. (Koons’s studio declined to confirm this.) Zhnikrup and her ex-husband, Vladislav Shcherbina, Ukraine’s most famous ceramics artist in the Soviet era, both worked at the factory for decades.   The Art Newspaper, July 10, 2017

Falling in Love with a Felix Gonzalez-Torres Go-Go Dancer. Gonzalez-Torres often talked about the important role of the public in his work. “I need the viewer … I need public interaction,” he told Tim Rollins in a 1993 interview. “Without the public, these works are nothing. I need the public to complete the work … to help me out, to take responsibility, to become part of my work, to join in.”   As I talked with Ben Davis, I realized the piece was just as much for him, if not more so, than it was for me and the other viewers shuffling through the gallery. By design, Gonzalez-Torres’s work gives more the more that people experience it, literally being refilled in the case of the candy piles or paper stacks; there’s always more than enough.  Hyperallergic, July 7, 2017


Photographer Gregory Crewdson captures the dark side of rural America.  A profound and eerie silence pervades the work of American photographer Gregory Crewdson. Nobody talks, nobody ever seems to laugh or smile. There’s beauty but also sadness. Alone or in pairs, everyone is lost in their own thoughts or asleep.  I met Crewdson in an upstairs office at London’s Photographers’ Gallery. For the first time, the entire gallery has been given over to the work of a single artist.  CNN, July 8, 2017


Why ‘boring museums’ are out and everything from porn to instant ramen museums are in. Instead of going the way of the dinosaurs, museums have become one of 2017’s top travel trends. But it’s not due to the Louvre’s overcrowded and overrated Mona Lisa (give me croissants and champagne in the park over hours-long lines any day) or the fine art galleries of Europe topping sightseers’ bucket lists; it’s quirky and unexpected institutions dedicated to the study of instant ramen, vampires, pigs, garbage, broken relationships, burnt food, lunch boxes and bad art that is capturing the hearts and minds of tourists.  National Post, July 11, 2017


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