Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, May 30, 2018


‘Nature Transformed’ at Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver.  Gordon Wiens’ “Nature Transformed” features a collection of abstract acrylic works, each subtly different from the other. The exhibition opens on June 9 at Bau-Xi Gallery’s Vancouver venue.  Wiens creates contemporary abstract paintings in acrylic on canvas and paper. His most recent work reveals his interest in the transient and fragile nature of existence. “As part of my work I collect found objects and take photos of crumbling walls, faded signs, rotting flowers, and other debris in various states of erosion. These objects have been transformed by nature and imbued with a strange beauty.   Blouin Art Info, May 30, 2018


New Vernon art gallery and museum given $40M price tag.  The cost of a new cultural centre for Vernon’s museum and art gallery would cost an estimated $40 million.   The new facility has been in the works for years and would be built somewhere in Vernon’s city centre. Today, the Regional District of North Okanagan released a preliminary funding strategy for the building.  With a proposed facility size of 58,000 square feet, the total project budget is pegged at $40 million with construction starting in 2020.  The Regional District has agreed to go to referendum for up to $25 million for the project, which is $1.2 million more than the $23.8 million in debt that will come off of the books from the construction of Kal Tire Place and the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre by 2022, the district says.  Kelowna Info News, May 23, 2018


New sculpture making a statement at MacKenzie Art Gallery. A sculpture by internationally renowned Canadian artist Duane Linklater is expected to spark conversation.  The sculpture is being constructed on the exterior of the T.C. Douglas Building, which houses the MacKenzie Art Gallery, facing Albert Street. The Gallery started construction Thursday morning and when finished, the piece will be around 30 metres long.  The piece, called Kâkikê / Forever, is made up of large letters that read “As long as the sun shines, the river flows, and the grass grows,” which were Indigenous words spoken during treaty negotiations with the British crown.  Regina Leader Post, May 26, 2018


Putting the curator into context. At this month’s First Fridays’ Art Talk/Art Walk we’ll be chatting with Jennifer Smith, an arts administrator and Indigenous curator-in-residence at aceart, and Collin Zipp, an artist-curator and director of Platform Centre, about their multiple roles in an increasingly complex and controversial art world.  For Smith, throwing around the term “curator” can be problematic.  “It can take away some of the weight of responsibility of that role,” she says. “For example, Indigenous curators are bringing our heritage and our culture and social and political issues into our curatorial practice.  “That’s a really different thing from ‘curating’ an Instagram feed.” Winnipeg Free Press, May 29, 2018

Portage La Prairie

Portage museum staff resigns to support ousted curator. The curator credited with turning around the fortunes of a Portage la Prairie museum, taking it from 2,500 visitors per year to more than 15,000, has been let go, triggering local outcry and staff resignations. Tracey Turner was told just days before she was to resume her eighth season as the curator-executive director at Fort la Reine Museum that her contract would not be renewed. The museum board has given few details about the decision except to say it wants to go “in a different direction.”  Winnipeg Free Press, May 25, 2018


Yoko Ono invited Gardiner Museum visitors to make a mess. Now you’re invited to clean it up.  Yoko Ono’s The Riverbed has been an evolving mess in the Gardiner Museum’s special exhibition space since it opened in February, as visitors pounded nails into the wall, strung a thick web of twine, rearranged three tons of river rocks and rebuilt broken china into bizarre, spontaneous forms, all with the artist’s — and the museum’s — blessing.  After all that, she’s asking you to clean it up (minus the rocks, of course). For the final day of the show, on Sunday, June 3, the museum asked Ono to come up with a parting gesture. Her idea: invite the public to drop in and take apart everything that’s been built.  Toronto Star, May 29, 2018

At the ROM, change comes with a little humour in the Daphne Cockwell Gallery. When the Royal Ontario Museum reopened its Daphne Cockwell Gallery devoted to First Peoples culture and art last month, it was with appropriate gravitas. Peace offerings were the order of the day: a smudging ceremony, performances, a promise of inclusion from both sides…The ROM has remade the Cockwell Gallery less as a dust-gathering history lesson than a dynamically fluid collaborative space. And, in a change as radical as any here, there’s room for a little humour. Toronto Star, May 29, 2018

Toronto is Infinity Mirrors’ most popular tour stop so far, says AGO.  The exhibit drew in over 165,000 people,” said the AGO’s Carly Maga. “That’s the most that the exhibition has seen so far on the tour,” which has travelled to Washington, D.C., Seattle and Los Angeles.  Demand for Infinity Mirrors “was beyond anything we have seen to date. We are still calculating final attendance figures,” said Herman Lo, AGO director of visitor experience in an email. Lo added that on the second-to-last day, around 1,200 visitors tried to join the same-day ticket queue outside of the gallery. Toronto Star, May 29, 2018

Borduas, Kurelek among postwar Canadian artists to headline auctions.  Works by Canadian postwar artists Paul-Émile Borduas and William Kurelek are among the highlights at auctions being held in Toronto this week.  A 1972 painting by Kurelek will hit the auction block Tuesday with an estimated value of $150,000 and $200,000.  The evocative and joyful painting Hot Day in Kensington Market is one of 21 works in Kurelek’s Toronto series, says Rob Cowley, president of Consignor Canadian Fine Art.  CBC News, May 29, 2018

Painting by Canadian artist Kurelek sells in auction for $442,000, more than doubling estimate.  A painting by Canadian artist William Kurelek sold in a Toronto auction for $472,000 — the second highest on record for the artist and more than double its estimated value of $150,000 and $200,000.  Consignor Canadian Fine Art says the 1972 paining, titled Hot Day in Kensington Market, is one of 21 works in Kurelek’s “Toronto” series depicting life in the city where the Alberta-born artist found commercial success and raised a family.  Toronto Star, May 30, 2018


Spotlight: Ottawa artist captures texture of Chinatown with storefront illustrations.  Bruce Deachman talks with  Ottawa artist Colin White, who has been documenting numerous storefronts in his Chinatown neighbourhood. Ottawa Citizen, May 25, 2018


A Conversation with Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. On the occasion of his new Canadian survey, the Montreal-based interactive-art pioneer talks about his love of Agnes Martin, his melding of bytes with Bach, his grapplings with public-art censorship and more.  A survey of his prescient practice—in fact, his largest-ever solo show in the US and Canada—just opened at the Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal.  Called “Unstable Presence,” the new show includes past works like Call on Water, which unspools his uncle Octavio Paz’s poetry in evanescent water vapour, as well as challenging new works, too.  Canadian Art, May 29, 2018


Schaum/Shieh covers Houston art gallery in sculptural white panels  Sculptural white stucco panels and small triangular windows define the facades of this gallery by US studio Schaum/Shieh, which is meant to appear like it could “blow away in the wind”.  Run by an independent curator, the Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology is located in Houston’s museum district, near buildings such as the Renzo Piano-designed Menil Collection.   The goal of the foundation is to provide “a space for the critical intersection between art and anthropology” and to foster community dialogue about art’s role in everyday life.   Dezeen, May 29, 2018

New York

The Future of the Frick Museum Is Delayed Yet Again, Despite a Marathon Public Hearing.  This morning, dozens of museum patrons, neighborhood advocates, and architectural enthusiasts turned up for a public hearing of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee  to discuss the controversial future home of the Frick Collection.  The meeting, which included a presentation by architect Annabelle Selldorf and public testimonials both for and against a planned renovation and update, was expected to last just two hours. But not only did it last for close to seven hours—it also did not result in a decision on whether to grant the plan its “certificate of appropriateness.” Art News, May 29, 2018

Are We Being Preached To? Adrian Piper’s Prompts at the MoMA.  drian Piper’s artistic statements reject a moralizing approach. “I try for simplicity, not simplification. I don’t want to make prescriptions about what people should do. I just want to penetrate the layers of illusion and self-deception as far as possible and to do it clearly without losing any of the mind-bending complexity of the issues.” Irreducible complexity is fertile soil for the artist, who is currently the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art that surveys a wide body of work: from early sculptures and drawings redolent of 1960s Minimalist aesthetics, to early performance pieces that explore metaphysical concerns and grapple with race, femininity, and sexuality. Momus, May  24, 2018

Mountainville, NY

Artists on climate change: the exhibition tackling a global crisis.  The week before the Storm King Art Center opened its public art exhibition on the 500-acre premises in Mountainville, New York, there was a tornado.  It was fitting considering the topic of the exhibition, Indicators: Artists on Climate Change, which features over a dozen artists who tap into climate change “and hopefully, take action to help curb its advances”, explains the curator, Nora Lawrence.  While Storm King started out as an environmental initiative in 1960, this exhibition feels as timely as ever considering the state of the world: temperatures rising, arctic ice melting and polluted air affecting millions around the globe. The Guardian, May 30, 2018


An Early 19th-Century Flower Painter’s Guide to Identifying Colors of the Natural World.  Like other Western naturalists working before the dawn of photography, Darwin relied on one particular guide to identify colors he observed and record them for posterity. Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, published in 1814 by the Scottish painter Syme, was a slim book filled with color descriptions and charts. It represents one of the earliest efforts to systematically classify and describe colors that commonly appear in nature, from pearl grey to broccoli brown. Syme identified a total of 110 tints, divided into color families; for each tint, he also provided examples of animals, vegetables, and minerals that exhibited that particular shade.  Recently, Smithsonian Books published a facsimile of Syme’s guide, presenting an opportunity to revisit its author’s vivid, neatly handwritten descriptions of color over two centuries later.  Hyperallergic, May 27, 2018


Belgium’s Biggest Art Prize Faces Important and Difficult Questions.  On April 17, the BelgianArtPrize announced its four shortlisted candidates for the 2019 edition of the Prize: Sven Augustijnen, Koenraad Dedobbeleer, Gabriel Kuri, and artist duo Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys — all of them white men. The winner of the prize would not be announced until April 2019, when an exhibition with new work was slated to happen at the Palais des Beaux-Arts.  Hyperallergic, May 29, 2018


Cosmic chapels and an estate agent’s nightmare – Venice Architecture Biennale review. It seems fitting for a biennale curated by Irish architects that the pope should loom large. As Ireland went to the ballot box last weekend to vote overwhelmingly in favour of legalising abortion, red-sashed cardinals sauntered between bijou chapels on a wooded island in Venice, launching the Vatican’s first ever contribution to the architecture biennale.  It is a path for all who wish to rediscover beauty, silence, the interior and transcendent voices,” said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. Fresh from posing for photos with Donatella Versace and Anna Wintour at the Met Museum’s Heavenly Bodies fashion exhibition in New York, Ravasi has commissioned 10 architects to build small chapels, so that visitors to the biennale might find space to pause in “the loneliness of the woodland, where one can experience the rustle of nature, which is like a cosmic temple.”  The Guardian, May 28, 2018


20 Books Every Artist Needs on Their Bookshelf.  While there are no shortage of articles online to help—including our own section of creative career advice—sometimes you just need to pick up a good book. Luckily, there are fantastic resources out there to help you with all aspects of the art business. From learning how to set prices to techniques on how to keep you inspired and productive, there are endless books to help your career survive, and thrive. My Modern Met, May 29, 2018

8 Famous Artists Who Were Self-Taught.  Outside of the Western canon, the idea of being self-taught can mean something quite different. Indeed, in some regions of the world, artists who operate outside of any prescribed system are seen as more advanced than professional artists, and the rules and formalities implied by the latter category are seen to stifle creativity altogether. Joanna Williams, professor emerita of Indian and Southeast Asian art at the University of California–Berkeley, has written that the Western concept of a self-taught artist “would sound very odd in China, where the amateur painter, of high social status, [has been] regarded as the model of the ‘genius,’ superior to the mere professional.” Artsy, May 24, 2018



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s