Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, February 19, 2019


Vancouver artists stage protest, art show as tribute to disappearing gallery space There’s a small stretch of Great Northern Way that’s teeming with huge amounts of irony.  An old building constructed in the 1960s is the lone vestige of the area’s industrial past. Next to it is a 21st century, multi-million dollar building that houses tomorrow’s tech trendsetters and artists.   Less than 100 feet away from that urban dichotomy hangs four photos, placed there specifically because they have nowhere else to go in a city that’s losing art space at a frenetic pace.  Vancouver Courier, February 13, 2019


Vernon art gallery turns out the lights and throws a party.  Vernon is proving that art galleries are far from pretentious by opening the doors to a party Friday night.   Art After Dark is designed to cultivate the creative community in Vernon by offering a venue for art, food, drinks, music, interactive and collaborative art activities and the exhibitions all in one evening, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Vernon Public Art Gallery.  Vernon Morning Star, February 15, 2019


Place and politics inspired Metis artist Jason Baerg’s exhibition in Regina.  Thousands of kilometres removed from this place, Jason Baerg created artworks inspired and informed by his home province of Saskatchewan. Sesesiw/Yellow Legs is the result, and it’s on view now at Neutral Ground in Regina, in conjunction with the annual Sakewewak Storytellers Festival.  Regina Leader Post, February 15, 2019


AGO’s Impressionism in the Age of Industry has a strong concept, but some notable works are absent.  The Art Gallery of Ontario’s new Impressionism show begins in a train station. The exhibition designers have deftly evoked the vault of a 19th-century railway terminus by the simple means of an arched metal armature, a backlit clerestory and a soundtrack of bustling noises. At the back of this enticing entry hangs a small painting; Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare St. Lazare, an 1877 oil by Claude Monet, is on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago and serves as the exhibition’s signature image. It is the only one of Monet’s famed railway views in the show. Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and More is an art exhibition that is heavy on concept and light on famous paintings.  Globe & Mail, February 15, 2019

Inuit art’s renaissance is thawing cultural borders.  Amidst the bustle of a Toronto gallery preview of her new work, artist Shuvinai Ashoona takes a moment to recall how she started. It was about 30 years ago, at her younger sister’s house in Cape Dorset, the Nunavut community renowned for the prints produced by the local co-op. She had drawn a picture on a small sheet of paper and her sister seized on it… Today, Ashoona is a Canadian art star. She is the subject of a career retrospective at Toronto’s Power Plant gallery this winter; she recently won the $50,000 Gershon Iskowitz Prize for a mid-career Canadian artist, and she is recognized internationally. Canadian curators celebrate her idiosyncratic drawings combining images of contemporary Inuit life with phantasmagorical shamanic creatures and pop-culture elements.   Globe & Mail, February 15, 2019

Bad Faith in MOCA Toronto’s Inaugural Show, “Believe”. How do you approach a bad show by a museum you want to see thrive?” And, “how do you unbraid a curatorial misstep from the intentions of its institution?” Then, “How do you signal your support for the good artists involved in a thoughtless presentation?” I’ll cut to an early answer: MOCA Toronto’s first-show problems can be filed under poor curating, or curating-as-museum-marketing. But there are several factors that make this true.  Momus, January 31, 2019

Gatineau, Que.

National collection enriched by close to 1,000 works of Inuit art. The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., has been enriched by a donation of more than 900 works of Inuit sculpture, prints, drawings and other material.  The collection arrives from the estate of the late Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess, a prominent Calgary gallery owner, art historian, professor and business person. She had assembled the collection over decades of travel and research in Canada’s North.  CBC News, February 10, 2019

Nova Scotia

Folk artist Maud Lewis’ paintings of idyllic villages, sleds and seagulls a far cry from her dire reality   Nova Scotians will honour folk artist Maud Lewis this week, whose colourful, lively paintings of rural life gained her national and international recognition towards the end of her life and in the decades after her death.   Lewis is this year’s honouree for Heritage Day, a Nova Scotian holiday dedicated to recognizing a person, place or event that helped shape the province’s history and identity.  Vancouver sun, February 17, 2019

San Francisco

SFMOMA plans to sell a Rothko for $35 million or more to pursue diversity.  The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will announce Friday, Feb. 15, the sale at auction of a major work from its collection by the artist Mark Rothko. The untitled work from 1960 is expected to bring $35 million to $50 million.  The move, said director Neal Benezra, will “enhance (the museum’s) contemporary holdings, and address art historical gaps.” Significantly, he said, it will also address the need “to broadly diversify SFMOMA’s collection.”  San Francisco Chronicle, February 15, 2019


Jessica Campbell and the Ghost of Emily Carr.   Chicago Works: Jessica Campbell at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art is an astonishing number of things at once: dark yet upbeat; art historical yet populist; heavily political yet oblique and mysterious. It is also an homage to the Expressionist painter Emily Carr, an autobiography, an adaptation of comic book aesthetics, and the best use of industrial carpet fragments I have seen. That it achieves all this in two smallish rooms is impressive; that it achieves this with a strong sense of coherence is amazing.  Campbell, born in 1985, grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, walking the same streets and visiting the same beaches and forests where, a century earlier, Emily Carr painted the landscapes that made her an iconic figure in Canada’s art history. Hyperallergic, February 2019


Nan Goldin threatens London gallery boycott over £1m gift from Sackler fund.  US art photographer and activist Nan Goldin has declared she will refuse a prestigious retrospective of her work at Britain’s National Portrait Gallery if it accepts a gift of £1 million from a branch of the multibillionaire Sackler family made wealthy by addictive prescription painkillers.  The Guardian, February 17, 2019

Demonstrators take over British Museum in biggest-ever protest against oil sponsorships. On Saturday afternoon, the Great Court of the British Museum was taken over by a flood of protesters demonstrating against British Petroleum’s (BP) sponsorship of the temporary exhibition I Am Ashurbanipal: King of the World, King of Assyria (until 24 February). The event was organised by “BP or not BP?”, a grassroots climate justice group that draws from the world of theatre to craft protests against financial partnerships between fossil fuel corporations and the culture sector.  The Art Newspaper, February 18, 2019


‘We want Salvator Mundi’ for Leonardo blockbuster, Louvre says.  The Louvre museum in Paris has confirmed that it hopes to display the Salvator Mundi, a painting of Christ, which was sold for $450m at Christie’s in New York in 2017 as a work by Leonardo da Vinci.   The museum wants to include the wood-panel painting in its upcoming Leonardo show, which opens in October to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death.  The Art Newspaper, February 18, 2019


Forces of Nature  While no one who has spent time looking at Thomas Struth’s photographs would be surprised to learn that he studied painting (he was a student of Gerhard Richter’s at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf), his Stellarator Wendelstein 7-X Detail, Max Planck IPP, Greifswald, 2009, appears almost as if intended to advertise this fact.  [The work] is from the Thomas Struth’s series “Nature & Politics,” 2007–, currently on view in an exhibition at the Fondazione mast in Bologna, Italy. Beginning with shipyards and massive apartment districts, the series has expanded to include research labs, Disneyland, industrial production sites, and medical procedures and spaces: In all cases, environments and devices that have been built to ensure their individual parts produce a specific end effect, from mass housing and entertainment to carefully calibrated chemical reactions. Artforum, February 18, 2019



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