Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, February 26, 2019


ART SEEN: Catriona Jeffries talks about her “new opportunity” on East Cordova.   “I think as we question art history and those references, we acknowledge histories but we’re careful about the consideration or the enclosure of the local even though I’m very, very interested in the myriad of histories of this place. I’m also very interested to participate in an international dialogue about contemporary art and we’re part of that.”—Catriona Jeffries, interviewed by Kevin Griffin. Vancouver Sun, February 25, 2019


Can Words “Bounce”? A Complicated Resilience on Vancouver Island.  Against a black background, a green wave tracks a voice’s vibrations – one of a stream of vignettes, mainly monologues in response to questions we don’t need to hear to understand. Part of a group exhibition at Nanaimo Art Gallery on Vancouver Island, Susan Hiller’s Lost and Found (2016) summons a hypnotic procession of languages under duress: endangered, extinct, revived. Short recordings of a variety of speakers play across two-dozen languages… The exhibition in Nanaimo, athut / Words Bounce, marshals the work of three artists, Joi T. Arcand, Patrick Cruz, and Hiller, towards a celebration of language’s resiliency in the abstract.  If I’m apprehensive at the apparent hopefulness of curator Jesse Birch, I’m impressed by the gallery’s earnest efforts to make concrete good out of its intangible themes.  Momus, February 22, 2019


Suncor donates $10-million to Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.  A financial gift of historic proportions was made by the Suncor Energy Foundation to the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. At $10-million, the donation is the single largest endowment ever received by the Alberta institution nestled in the Rocky Mountains. The funds, which will be spread over five years, are intended to support the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Leadership and Social Innovation programs for a decade.  Globe & Mail, February 26, 2019


The artist at play: Calgary’s Chris Cran still ‘tampering with people’s perceptions’ in new Glenbow exhibition.   ‘The mind can’t entertain two things at the same time,’” says Chris Cran. “With all of the paintings, I think I’ve paid attention to that. If you give the viewer this to look at and that to look at, now they are travelling. Who is doing the work? They are. They are held. There’s that phenomena, so I’m really interested in that.”  It’s as concise an artist’s statement as we’re likely to get from Cran, whose Chris Cran: At Play is now on display at the Glenbow Museum as part of the One New Work series. Curated by former Calgary Herald arts critic Nancy Tousley, his One New Work is actually a series of new works.  The Calgary Herald, February 21, 2019


Art gallery turmoil shows why Saskatoon model is rare.  “Saskatoon’s Remai Modern art gallery is often cited as the only known institution of its kind that is run by a board appointed by a city council. Last week, we may have seen why the model is so rare.   This afternoon, city council will vote on installing five new board members on the 12-person panel that runs the Remai Modern.  We don’t know why. We know board chair Scott Verity will not be returning after guiding the gallery through an opening year that far surpassed expectations for visitors, revenue and memberships.”  – Phil Tank.   The Star Phoenix, February 25, 2019


Artist explores space where the rivers meet.  In her new solo show at Gallery 1C03, Métis artist Katherine Boyer explores her family’s connection to the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Water Meets Body opens at the University of Winnipeg’s on-campus gallery on Feb. 28 and runs until April 9.   The exhibit metaphorically invites gallery visitors inside Boyer’s family home, which is linked to land and water. It features wood, textile, bead, clay and video installations that reference her family’s history of arriving at and departing from the banks of the Winnipeg rivers over the last 200 years.  Winnipeg Free Press, February 25, 2019


In place of McLaughlin Planetarium, the University of Toronto plans for iconic golden architecture.   Next to the Crystal, Toronto could be getting a grand new golden box.  The University of Toronto has submitted plans to the city for a new building just south of the Royal Ontario Museum, where the old McLaughlin Planetarium now stands.  And while it’s a university building, containing a Tetris stack of classrooms and offices, the architecture by Diller Scofidio + Renfro will be bold and weird enough to put its mark on the city – and make a case for high architecture…If approved, the building would rise on a crowded site next to the museum, in front of the university’s main music building and next to its law school. It would contain a 250-seat recital hall, an “urban lab” for public events and more, all stacked up along a staircase that slices diagonally upward to the sky.   Globe & Mail, February 21, 2019

Take a walk on the gritty side of French Impressionism.  Monet didn’t paint only flowers. He also painted coal workers, factories and train stations, like the one depicted in his 1877 painting The Gare Saint-Lazare, here on loan from Paris’s Musée d’Orsay and the first image in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s new show Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and More.  Toronto Star, February 20, 2019


The Seductive Branding of Phoebe Greenberg.  Phoebe Greenberg occupies a unique position in Montreal’s art community, as well as in Canada – and she’s made sure of it…. The heir to, and co-owner of the Minto Group, a major Canadian real estate company, Greenberg had the means and desire to found two leading art and culture centers in Old Montreal: DHC/ART Foundation (2007), and Centre Phi (2012). The first is a private (and free to the public) museum that breaks with tradition: instead of focusing on its founder’s collection (Greenberg doesn’t see herself as much of one), and with no mandate to collect, DHC is rather committed to world-class exhibition-making.   The second is run as a business, and focuses on “high-tech and interdisciplinary approaches to creation.” It recently exhibited Spheres, a virtual reality experience directed by Eliza McNitt that will, for the first time in Phi’s history, tour. It’s headed to the Rockefeller Center in New York. Momus, February 20, 2019

Kim Kardashian walks the red carpet in Montreal for MMFA’s Mugler show.  There was no shortage of star power in Montreal for Monday night’s preview event for the Montreal Museum of Fine Art’s Thierry Mugler: Couturissime exhibit.  Kim Kardashian West and Tyra Banks joined designer Manfred Thierry Mugler on the Sherbrooke St. red carpet . The exhibit, which opens to the public March 2, will involve 140 of the designer’s creations, his sketches, and about 100 images captured by fashion photographers.   It will run through Sept. 8, 2019.  Nine local designers, including Philippe Dubuc, Denis Gagnon and Marie Saint Pierre, also attended Monday night’s event. They will be part of a side-exhibit called Montreal Couture.  Montreal Gazette, February 26, 2019

New York

2019 Whitney Biennial Announces Participating Artists  The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York announced today that seventy-five artists have been selected to present work in the Seventy-Ninth Whitney Biennial, which will be curated by Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley and will run from May 17 through September 22. Nicole Eisenman, Jeffrey Gibson, Barbara Hammer, and Simone Leigh are among the participating artists.  Artforum, February 25, 2019.  See also: Whitney Museum Announces 2019 Biennial Participants, But One Artist WithdrawsHyperallergic, February 25, 2019

Sotheby’s Will Transform Its New York Headquarters, Adding a Museum’s Worth of Exhibition Space.  Undeterred by projections from art experts—and even its own chief executive—about a looming downturn in the art market, Sotheby’s unveiled plans for a major expansion and overhaul of its New York headquarters. Details of the project, which has an estimated budget of around $55 million spread over 2018 and 2019, were kept under wraps for the past ten months as plans took shape, a Sotheby’s representative confirms. The renovated headquarters are set to open to the public on May 3, just in time for the major spring auctions, including the biannual sales of Impressionist, modern, and contemporary art.  Artnet News, February 22, 2019


An Attempt to Redefine Feminist Art Has Some Surprises The Brooklyn Museum’s Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection pushes beyond circumscribed notions of feminist art. The introductory wall text explains that “artists included here … represent a plurality of voices advocating for their communities, their beliefs, and their hopes for equality across and between race, class, disability, and gender.” The exhibition, therefore, looks not to the artist’s gender identification but to the content of the artwork. This interpretation of feminist art makes space for artists as varied as Barbara Kruger, Dread Scott, Andy Warhol, and Vito Acconci.   Hyperallergic, February 25, 2019


Photographer Graciela Iturbide: ‘I notice the pain as well as the beauty’ “The camera for me is a pretext for exploring life and culture around the world, and what usually guides me is what surprises me as I look at things,” she says. “If I am not surprised, I cannot take photographs, because it is missing that emotional dimension.”  Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico, a new book that accompanies an exhibition of the same name currently at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, explores those surprises in her native country and includes her best-known work from the extended periods she spent in indigenous communities 40-odd years ago.   The Guardian, February 23, 2019


Museums in the changing world order: a question of ethics.  It is an incontrovertible fact, and hardly a revelatory observation, that we are in a period of rapid and accelerating change…This new series looks at some of the ways in which museums are affected by the changing world order. This first article explores the increased public scrutiny of museum boards in the social arena, the growing attention paid to the moral and legal standing of public and semi-public figures, and the implications for the character of museum governance and the business model on which that governance is premised.  The Art Newspaper, February 22, 2019



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