Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, July 4, 2018


West Kelowna artist Laurie Ryan killed in explosion in Cabo San Lucas.  An Okanagan visual artist has not survived a blast at an oceanfront villa in Mexico.  Laurie Ryan, a resident of West Kelowna, was staying at the Montecristo Estates in Cabo San Lucas when a suspected gas leak caused the explosion.  Georgia Straight, July 2, 2018

Thunder Bay

Art to ‘save the world’: Uprising comes to Thunder Bay Art Gallery.  When people come to view her exhibit at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Christi Belcourt hopes they see part of themselves in her vibrant, colourful paintings of the natural world.   “I hope they feel beautiful and vibrant themselves,” she said.  “We want people to come out feeling just amazing. We want people to come out of here feeling empowered and feeling like they really are a part of this earth and that it’s worth fighting for.”  CBC News, July 2, 2018


Where I Be Is with the Image.  “These days I am learning from [Ramallah-based] multimedia artists Ruanne Abou-Rahme and Basel Abbas. With sound, film, video, installation and performance, the collaborative duo produces multilayered, immersive environments inspired by their research process. Their most recent work, And yet my mask is powerful (2016–18), is a two-part project consisting of a five-channel video projection and an installation of objects.”  — Nasrin Himada is a Palestinian writer and curator based in Tio’tia:ke (Montréal), in Kanien’kehá:ka territory.  Canadian Art, July 3, 2018

Balenciaga, Master of Couture, at the McCord Museum until Oct. 14.  The McCord Museum is presenting until October 14 a North American exclusive premiere — Balenciaga, Master of Couture, a major fashion exhibition organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) of London. Revered by his contemporaries, future generations of fashion designers, and fashion lovers alike, Cristóbal Balenciaga was recognized as the “master” of haute couture in the 1950s and 1960s. His exquisite craftsmanship, pioneering use of fabrics and innovative cutting set the tone for the modernity of late 20th century fashion.  The Suburban, July 2, 2018

Los Angeles

LACMA Pushes to Meet $600 Million Fundraising Goal  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is juggling new challenges in its goal to start breaking ground for a new Peter Zumthor–designed building by late 2019, reports the Los Angeles Times. With the project trailing about six months behind schedule, the museum is steadily on track to secure the $600 million it needs in order to continue with its plans for the renovated building, which would serve as a town square along Los Angeles’s Miracle Mile. But US tariffs on steel, inflation, and the city’s growing construction, among other factors, threaten to upset the project’s rhythm; its price tag has already leapt from $600 million to $650 million to allot for contingency costs. Artforum, July 3, 2018

New York

Art dealer sues Poland over its failed efforts to extradite him from the US.  As the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. A Russian-born art dealer in New York is suing the government of Poland in Washington, DC, for damages incurred when authorities there sought his extradition in 2015 over a Nazi-looted work of art. The painting, Girl with a Dove (1754) by Antoine Pesne, was seized in 1945 by Soviet soldiers from German troops who had taken it in 1943 from the National Museum in Poznan.  The Art Newspaper, June 29,  2018

Chinese Futures for American Eyes at the Guggenheim.  In China, the same future-focused rhetoric is amplified by the one-party government’s domestic propaganda. Ideological differences on issues such as fair political competition and freedom of speech may drive the axe deeper into the rift,but let us not forget that it was the Spartan’s fear of the rise of Athens that kindled their war. It was in this tense atmosphere that the future-focused exhibition One Hand Clapping opened at the Guggenheim in New York City in early May. With works by Mainland Chinese-born Duan Jianyu, Lin Yilin, Cao Fei, and Hong Kong-born artists Samson Young and Wong Ping, the show is the third and final installment of the Guggenheim’s Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative.   Momus, June 29, 2018

Signs of the Times: Aiming to Install 50 Politically Incisive Billboards in 50 States, For Freedoms Group Sets Up Shop in New York.  In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election in the United States, a billboard cropped up in Pearl, Mississippi along Interstate 80 that read, “Make America Great Again.” That was a fairly ubiquitous slogan in the state by that point, but in this instance it overlaid a famous image from the civil rights movement: activists John Lewis and Hosea Williams standing with a group of fellow activists in Selma, Albama, just before state troopers and others attacked them.  Last week, the group opened a temporary headquarters in conjunction with New York gallery Fort Gansevoort in the Meatpacking District. It also launched a Kickstarter initiative to fund 50 billboards in all 50 states (aptly titled “50 Billboards, 50 States”)—an effort that its founders hope will amount to “the largest creative collaboration on a public art project in the history of the country,” Thomas said, speaking to ARTnews at the headquarters, where phone-banking for the cause was underway.  Artsnews, July 2, 2018

Making the Transformative Power of Words Concrete.  There is something utterly majestic about block letters — even more so at a staggering height of 12 feet. Such is the case of the letters ‘IM’ in the painting “Invisible Man (after Ralph Ellison)” (2008) by Tim Rollins & K.O.S. With its canvas left unstretched, resembling a colossal banner, it is hard not to feel the assertiveness of its message: to be unequivocally present.  Hyperallergic, July 3, 2018 


Why does it take so long for memorials to be built in Washington?  A memorial’s journey from concept to reality can be painfully slow in this historical city. After securing congressional authorization — itself a challenging process — a memorial committee must get approval for its location, create a design that passes muster with two commissions and raise 110 percent of the construction budget. And these steps must be completed before construction begins.  Washington Post, July 2, 2018

United States

This Independence Day, See How 15 Artists Have Reinterpreted the American Flag Throughout History.  There are few symbols as potent and provocative as the American flag, which countless artists have appropriated and reinterpreted in their work. There’s Dread Scott’s (literally) incendiary work What Is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?, which incited national outrage in 1989, followed by a Supreme Court case and landmark legislation. More recently, artists including Tania Bruguera, Alex Da Corte, Marilyn Minter, and Vik Muniz have contributed to the non-profit Creative Time’s ongoing project “Pledges of Allegience,” which features 16 commissioned works responding to the US flag.  Artnet News, July 4, 2018


Click, click, click, I never wait’: the everyday genius of Sabine Weiss.  The largest exhibition of  Sabine Weiss’s street photography to date – entitled Les Villes, La Rue, L’Autre – has just opened at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. It consists of images Weiss made mostly for her own enjoyment. “They are my secret garden, my spiritual nest egg, my personal intimate memory.” The Guardian, July 3, 2018


Theaster Gates: ‘The male, Caucasian world as we’ve known it is over’  It is often hard to get a sense of scale with Theaster Gates’s work. At college, he studied urban planning and ceramics, and his work covers all points in between. He made his name a decade ago with an exhibition of pottery supposedly crafted by a Japanese master, “Shoji Yamaguchi”, who came to Mississippi and married a black civil rights activist.  At the other end of the scale, there’s his Rebuild Foundation, which has spent the last six years buying up condemned buildings (including a neoclassical 1920s bank building) in the infamously deprived, predominantly African American South Side district of his native Chicago…In between, Gates has made art out of everyday materials, often salvaged from his buildings. He has become a collector and custodian of archives, including the image libraries of the influential African American magazines Ebony and Jet, and the record collection of Chicago house DJ Frankie Knuckles, who died in 2014. He lectures to town planners and is a professor at the University of Chicago.  The Guardian, July 3, 2018


Understanding the Architecture of the Moscow Metro.  The vast Moscow Metro, one of the largest and busiest subway systems in the world, is in the middle of a rapid expansion: Between 2015 and 2020, the system is adding dozens of stations. For the historians of the 83-year-old transit network, it’s a lot to keep track of. Thankfully, Nikolai Vassiliev has it covered.   The recently released Moscow Metro Architecture & Design Map (Blue Crow Media) is curated by Vassiliev, an architecture historian; it provides descriptions and photos of a little more than 40 of the system’s most architecturally notable stations. Citylab, July 2, 2018



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