Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, November 23, 2017


Obituary: Vancouver underground artistic legend Al Neil dies at 93. Most Vancouverites have never heard of him. But in the Vancouver art world he was a giant of the avant-garde, a triple threat equally adept at music, art and writing.  “He was experimental, and he was always pushing the envelope, trying to expand the concept of art beyond the regular gallery art kind of situation,” said artist Michael De Courcy.   “He was passionate, he was driven. Not so much by the need for monetary success, but to satisfy his own level of quality, individual, idiosyncratic.”   Vancouver Sun, November 22, 2017

Arts Umbrella to move into Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s former South Building on Granville Island. Arts Umbrella will be moving into the South Building of the former Emily Carr University of Art + Design campus on Granville Island, B.C.’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture announced today.  The not-for-profit arts-education organization will take over the four-storey, 50,000-square-foot space in 2018. Emily Carr University, meanwhile, has moved to a brand new facility on Great Northern Way.   Georgia Straight, November 17, 2017

Vancouver artist Pnina Granirer delves into her memoir, Light Within the Shadows, at Jewish Book Festival.  Veteran Vancouver painter Pnina Granirer invited visitors into her art and her fascinating life at the Jewish Book Festival on Nov. 16.  The author gave a talk on Light Within the Shadows: a painter’s memoir, the story of her career that spans about six decades. Conceived as a play in three acts, it begins in her hometown on the Danube River in Romania during the Second World War and the Communist takeover, then travels with her to art school in Jerusalem, followed by three years in the U.S. and finally arriving in Vancouver in 1965. Georgia Straight, November 16, 2017


Inaugural director leaves Audain Art Museum. The Audain Art Museum’s executive director Suzanne Greening is leaving the museum she has helped get off the ground for the past three-and-a-half years.  Greening’s four-year contract was due to end in March 2018, and the board of trustees notified her this month that they would be going in another direction after her tenure was up. Greening chose not to finish the remainder of her contract, according to the board. The Pique, November 16, 2017


Our History: Emily Carr’s family homes live on. The evolution of residential architecture on Canada’s West Coast, from pioneer log cabin to modernist mansion, is surprisingly short and direct, and is amazingly well represented in the city of Victoria. In Glorious Victorian Homes, local author Nick Russell, an impassioned champion of the city’s architectural heritage, showcases a cross-section of our most handsome homes, including the four historic houses in the Carr Compound. Times Colonist, November 19, 2017

Victoria’s Indigenous artist-in-residence fosters healing through art. Growing up on a Mohawk reserve just outside Montreal, Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde always knew who she was and where she came from.“You don’t question your sense of belonging in that environment. Everybody mirrors who you are, where you came from and your family’s connections,” said Delaronde, 33, who was named Victoria’s inaugural Indigenous artist-in-residence this year — which city council declared as a year of reconciliation with First Nations… A graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Delaronde also has masters degrees in fine arts and Indigenous Communities Counseling Psychology from the University of Victoria.  Delaronde will facilitate and take part in Performance as Medicine, a one-day symposium of workshops, performance art and a panel, at the Royal B.C. Museum this weekend with a range of Indigenous artists.    Times Colonist, November 23, 2017


Wildlife: Latitude 53’s The Fine Art of Schmoozy turns 20 Saturday.  Being in the Goldilocks Zone — not too big, not too small — has its advantages, but then again, there’s Middle Child Syndrome.  Latitude 53’s executive director Todd Janes notes the gallery’s in an interesting spot between the Art Gallery of Alberta and smaller artist-run centres and commercial galleries, and says, in not so many words, that at almost 45 years old, Latitude has a dependability about it that isn’t necessarily as flashy as fast-burn initiatives — be they limited-run festivals or short-lived attempts at creating “art spaces” that vanish as soon as the heating bills start rolling in.  Edmonton Journal, November 22, 2017


Lawren Harris painting sells for more than $3 million at Heffel auction.  A painting by Group of Seven founding member Lawren Harris sold for just over $3 million Wednesday night, in line with presale expectations.  The 1925 oil canvas “Mountains East of Maligne Lake” had a pre-sale estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million, according to the Heffel Fine Art Auction House, and sold for $3,001,250.  The painting was one of eight works by Harris that were up for sale.  Harris paintings have smashed expectations at recent auctions.  Vancouver Sun, November 22, 2017

French dressing.  One of the most meaningful post-show bows ever taken at a fashion presentation was when the entire Christian Dior atelier came out on stage at the end of its 2011 fall/winter Haute Couture collection. Fifteen-year creative head John Galliano had just been infamously dismissed, and the full team’s appearance was a gesture that highlighted the fact that a designer for a brand is only one cog in the creative execution wheel.  It’s that awareness that Royal Ontario Museum fashion curator Dr. Alexandra Palmer wants to impart to those who visit the museum’s Christian Dior exhibit, which opens Nov. 25, and focuses on the first decade of the house from 1947 to 1957. Many of the garments that will be on display are from the ROM’s own archives, donated over the years by Toronto’s society set.  Globe & Mail, November 22, 2017

The Age of Creativity. My father, Tony Urquhart  is a remarkable painter, and this was clear even from an early age. At twenty-three, he’d already had his first one-man show at Toronto’s famed Isaacs Gallery; in Painting in Canada: A History, published in 1966, he was referred to as a “child prodigy.” But as we stood in front of The Earth Returns to Life that September day, he had his own choice words about his painting: it was immature. He told me that he’d rather see one of his later pieces displayed in the AGO, to better represent the peak of his painted work. He even had one in mind: Allegory…We have been conditioned to think that age is a barrier to creativity. But, in reality, it is ageism that can be stifling. As legions of baby boomers tilt toward their third act, the old artist will become less of an outlier. It’s time to rethink creativity as the realm of the young and embrace Carl Jung’s statement that “the afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning.” Our lifespans elastic, our twilights are stretching. For some artists, the finale will be the best part of the show.  The Walrus, November 17, 2017


A Surrealist in the Gaspésie.  In 1944, while Canadian troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, André Breton retreated to the Gaspé Peninsula, where the French Surrealist would write Arcanum 17—his bracing meditation on love, war, resistance and resurrection.   Canadian Art, November 20, 2017

New Orleans

The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp.  When four Confederate monuments came down in New Orleans this spring, some worried history was being irrevocably and physically erased from the landscape. Never mind, one supposes, the inescapable embeddedness of the Confederacy elsewhere in the names of schools, a major highway, even the neighbouring community of Jefferson Parish. The monument’s supporters—championed by President Donald Trump—heralded the statues as public art.  And now that a stories-high NOLA podium that once carried the figure of Confederate general Robert E. Lee is, instead, conspicuously empty—and amid the omnipresence of America’s extraordinary political moment and its volatile president—it happens to be a highly auspicious time to explore the implications of history and art, of race and colonialism, cultural synthesis, nationalism and the land upon which New Orleans was built 300 years ago.  Canadian Art, November 23, 2017

New York

Former Met director sparks Instagram spat over $450m Leonardo da Vinci.  Following the $450.3m sale of the Salvator Mundi at Christie’s New York last week, Thomas Campbell, the former director and chief executive of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, has sparked controversy after posting an image on Instagram of the painting before restoration. The Arts Newspaper, November 23, 2017

New Website Aims to Connect Unrepresented Artists with Gallerists and Curators. Last winter, Adam Yokell was looking to expand the scope of his fledgling Brooklyn gallery. But he was hard-pressed to find emerging, unrepresented artists outside of New York—and he was intent on developing a diverse and expansive program. Then an idea hit him.   “What if there was a tool that helped artists become more visible to an interested base of curators, gallerists, and academics?”  Two weeks ago, he launched a website that serves to connect artists with curators and gallerists. After signing up, users are given two options: “Find Artists” or “View Artwork.” Both buttons are portals into a searchable database of primarily emerging, unrepresented artists and their work. Artsy, November 22, 2017


Unity Spencer obituary. Unity Spencer, who has died aged 87, was perhaps best known for being the daughter of the artist Stanley Spencer, but she was also a talented painter in her own right, a skillful realist with a powerful imaginative vision. Two of her best and most memorable works, which reveal her father’s influence, are a striking self-portrait from 1954, and a 1957 portrait of Stanley himself. She had three solo shows of her paintings in London, and contributed to many mixed exhibitions, from the London Group to the Royal Academy shows.   The Guardian, November 23, 2017


Everybody Knows: Prada Foundation’s Stylish Cynicism. On the first floor of The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied. at the Prada Foundation’s centuries-old exhibition space in Venice, Leonard Cohen’s voice resounds, a cappella, from a small side room…Playing here, as part of an exhibition that has occupied all four floors of this regal space since the Venice Biennale opened in May, the song feels less jadedly self-righteous than it might coming from, say, a car radio… Instead it feels like rebellious, frustrated global commentary, as does the exhibition title it inspired: what’s there to do now that we see the cards are politically and economically stacked? Momus, November 23, 2017


Swedish Design Museum Launches Digitally Sweden has taken a leap into the digital future in launching a virtual compendium of its rich design, past, present, and future.  Spearheaded by the nation’s touristic arm, Visit Sweden, the museum celebrates the Nordic country as a design destination, focusing on the ubiquity of its contributions to the fields of architecture, design, and fashion.   Architectural Digest, November 22, 2017

Beijing and Rome

China and Vatican to exchange artworks in bid to boost relations.   The Vatican is to send 40 works of art to China in a cultural exchange amid signs that attempts at rapprochement between the two powers are faltering.  The Vatican museums, home to the Sistine chapel and countless other works of importance, and the China Culture Industrial Investment Fund (CCIIF) announced the exchange initiative in Rome this week. Simultaneous exhibitions will open in March in the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Vatican’s Anima Mundi Museum.  The Guardian, November 22, 2017


11 Artists Using Embroidery in Radical Ways. Today, fiber arts like embroidery are a growing presence in museums and galleries, and artists use their needles to investigate a dizzying variety of concerns, exploring gender, sexual and ethnic identity, cultural history, memory, and pop culture, among other themes. We talk to 11 artists who are continuing to expand this potent medium…    Artsy, November 21, 2017


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