Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, August 9, 2017


Rejected Siksika artist weighs in on controversial Bowfort Towers sculpture. Two years ago, artist Adrian Stimson was intrigued by a public art proposal.  He applied to the City of Calgary to make a bid for his own creative submission to the permanent public art project at the new Trans-Canada Highway and Bowfort Road N.W. interchange. But his application was rejected – his proposal apparently missed the deadline. Stimson lives on the Siksika Nation and is Blackfoot.  The winning submission went to New York artists Del Geist and Patricia Leighton. The artwork is still unfinished but its early reveal is getting a lot of criticism.   Global News, August &, 2017  See also Artist behind controversial artwork says he’s ‘sorry if anyone feels offended’  Calgary Herald, August 6, 2017

A painful gallery of Calgary’s public art stumbles. The best art is generally seen as something that can spark a conversation.  If that’s the case, the city has arguably spent millions on some breathtaking conversation starters — many of them for all the wrong reasons.  Here are some of Calgary’s more infamous examples of public art that didn’t quite hit the mark… Calgary Herald, August 7, 2017


Two Canadian Art Legends, Reframed.  When an exhibition focuses on two artists, it often indicates some link between them: for example, because they were collaborators (as in “Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne and Pissarro 1865–1885” at the Museum of Modern Art) or because they had shared a source of inspiration (as in “I Had an Interesting French Artist to See Me This Summer: Emily Carr and Wolfgang Paalen in British Columbia” at the Vancouver Art Gallery).   In “Passion Over Reason: Tom Thomson and Joyce Wieland”—which opened on Canada Day at the McMichael—there is a thematic link, even though these two artists belonged to different generations.  Canadian Art, August 8, 2017


Canadian Catholics Outraged by Giant Robot Spider Climbing on Cathedral  It may be an enchanting feat of engineering to many people, but for several Catholics in Ottawa, the giant robotic spider that recently sat on their city’s Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica represented a demonic presence that desecrated a holy space. Known as Kumo, the machine was installed by French street theater company La Machine as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations last Thursday, and had spent the weekend walking around the neighborhood.  Hyperallergic, August 2, 2017


50 Years of Aislin: Montreal’s McCord Museum.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had a special way to be remembered by future generations? In Quebec, we have just the institution to preserve and remind us of our history: Montreal’s McCord Museum.  Under the motto “Notre Monde, Nos Histoires – Our People, Our Stories,” the McCord has amassed a wonderful selection of period costumes and textiles, some 450,000 photographs from the Notman studio, and a First Peoples collection of over 16,450 archaeological and historic artefacts. Especially important to caricaturists, the McCord has acquired 45,000 original cartoons that tell the story of changing populist attitudes and opinions in the province.  Montreal Gazette, August 7, 2017


Art Along the Autoroute  The uncanny mythology of a stretch of highway between Montreal and Quebec City is the inspiration for an intriguing art show on the road.  Canadian Art, August 3, 2017


Keep It in the Ground!  Pipeline resistance is sustained by the bold voices of grassroots organizations like the Onaman Collective. The collaborative activism of youth mural–making, canoe building, traditional food camps, birch-bark harvesting, community art builds, screenprinting workshops and protest-banner templates available online give life to movements and to change.   Anti-pipeline art brings together entire communities of often-unlikely comrades and resonates across diverse cultures. It is these very ways of knowing and living that are humanity’s best—if not only—chance at preventing the oncoming environmental crisis.  Canadian Art, August 7, 2017


August brings extravagance at Seattle art galleries.  Forget minimalism. Forget abstraction. Sometimes what you need is something opulent, extravagant, even downright baroque. Three Seattle art galleries deliver the goods this month, [including]  “Einar & Jamex de la Torre: Borders and Other Imaginary Fractals”  Visual delirium doesn’t come much better than this.  Seattle Times, August 8, 2017


Cleveland Museum of Art’s bold goal: 1 million attendance with William Griswold leadership in place.  Four years after completing a sweeping $320 million expansion and renovation, the Cleveland Museum of Art is finally ready to answer the biggest question it faces: What next?  William Griswold, the museum’s ebullient and well-liked director and president since August, 2014, says his goal is to engage a larger and more diverse audience.  Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 6, 2017


National Academy artists including Marina Abramovic, Chuck Close and Kara Walker condemn calls to cancel Dana Schutz show.  Around 80 National Academy of Art members in the US have written a letter in support of Dana Schutz, whose painting based on a photograph of Emmett Till’s open-casket funeral sparked condemnation when it went on show at the Whitney Biennial earlier this year.  In response to this work, a group of Boston artists and activists recently called for the cancellation of Schutz’s exhibition which opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston last month.  The Art Newspaper, August 7, 2017

New York

The Met Python’s flying circus: A museum, a vase and the kingpin of stolen antiquities.  Noah Charney, co-editor of the Journal of Art Crime, fills us in on the tombaroli (Italian tomb looters who emerged in the 1970s), how they get their looted antiquities onto the market (the story has a villain named Medici), and how museums do (or don’t) check the objects’ provenance.  Salon, August 6, 2017


The Marble of Michelangelo’s Dreams  High in the Apuan Alps of Tuscany sits Monte Altissimo, a 5,213-foot mountain, climbed in 1517 by the Italian artist Michelangelo in pursuit of fine marble for his sculptures. There, according to Reuters, he “found the marble of his dreams.” After receiving the blessing of Pope Leo X, Michelangelo worked for years to open a functional quarry, but was unsuccessful, and the project faltered. Today, five quarries operate on the mountain, using heavy machinery and modern techniques to carve up the hillside and extract the stone.  The Atlantic, August 3, 2017


This Taiwanese Museum Just Digitized Its Massive Collection of Chinese Art. Taiwan’s National Palace Museum, which houses one of the world’s largest collection of Chinese artifacts and artworks, is opening its (digital) doors to a new audience. BBC’s Kerry Allen reports that 70,000 high-resolution images of items ranging from paintings to antiquities are available in a new digital archive. It’s free to download the images, as well as accompanying background information about artifacts.  Smithsonian, August 7, 2017


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