Picasso in Seattle!

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here is a better reason than outlet shopping for braving the three-hour drive from Vancouver to Seattle: Picasso! Over 150 works by the Spanish master will be shown at the Seattle Art Museum starting today and going through January 17th. The range of works includes pieces from virtually every phase of Picasso’s legendary career and all medium he dabbed on: paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculptures.

This unprecedented opportunity is possible at this time because the Musée Picasso has recently closed for renovations, allowing a global tour of this full-scale survey to travel for the first and, probably, the only time. The Musée Picasso’s holdings stand apart from any other collections of Picasso because they represent the artist’s personal collection—works that the highly self-aware artist kept for himself with the intent of shaping his own artistic legacy.

This is the first major survey of the long and productive career of Pablo Picasso to ever be seen in the Northwest. The exhibition is curated by Anne Baldassari, General Curator of the exhibition and Chief Curator of Collections and Chairman of the Musée National Picasso, Paris.

Tickets are $23 for adults and can be bought online.

Vancouver Art Gallery’s relocation – FAQ

October 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last night, the Vancouver Art Gallery held at the Museum of Vancouver its last-in-a-series of Public Information Sessions about its proposed relocation . I couldn’t participate but asked Greg Johnson, PR of the relocation program, to answer a few questions. Here is what he sent me:

An enthusiastic crowd left standing room only at the Museum of Vancouver. Despite what’s been reported recently by various media outlets, people were very obviously engaged and passionate about the future of the VAG.

Before opening the floor up to questions from the public, Lance Berelowitz, Principal, Urban Forum Associates moderated a panel that included:
• Kathleen Bartels , Director, Vancouver Art Gallery
• Michael Audain , Gallery Trustee and Chair, Relocation Committee
• Andrew Pask , Vancouver Public Space Network
• Landon Mackenzie, Artist and Professor, Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Why does the VAG want to relocate?

Kathleen Bartels, Director, Vancouver Art Gallery, put it best in her opening remarks:
The VAG is “bursting at the seams” and the former courthouse is an “aging and outdated” building. The Gallery has gone through 10 years of growth, and with success comes change.

Daily challenges faced by the Gallery:

•Only 3% of the permanent collection is on view at any given time. The vault is full to overflowing. The Gallery has had to resort to costly offsite storage for part of the permanent collection.

•Line-ups and overcrowding during exhibitions. The Vancouver Art Gallery’s permanent exhibition space is 10 times smaller than the average North American museum.

•There’s no dedicated space for educational and school programs. In fact, the VAG’s popular educational programs were booked full during the first week of school. 20,000 school kids will be turned away over the course of the year.

•There’s no theatre, lecture hall or gathering space. That means no room for family and adult programs, artist’s talks, lectures or special events.

Why can’t the VAG just expand its current site?

The Gallery’s first impulse was to look at renovating and expanding the current building. However, that option quickly proved more difficult and costly than building a new Gallery.

Here’s why:
• Higher costs. Expansion on the current site would actually cost more than constructing a new building on a new site.

• Heritage constraints on the current building. The former provincial courthouse is a designated federal National Historic Site and is an “A” listed heritage building, which would greatly limit renovation and expansion options.

• Expansion restrictions above and below the Georgia Plaza. Not everyone knows the VAG is already underground. Much of the Gallery’s archives and collections storage is below the Georgia Plaza and extends as far east as Howe Street.

• Major interruptions. Expanding the current Robson Square location would require closing the Vancouver Art Gallery for a period as long as three years. This would mean job losses for many Gallery staff as well as the costly relocation of the Gallery’s permanent collection.

Has a new location already been chosen?

No, but the Art Gallery has indicated its preference for the site at 150 Dunsmuir , otherwise known at Larwill Park (Georgia and Cambie). The site is owned by the City of Vancouver and currently a parking lot.

More than a dozen sites were carefully reviewed. Each was weighed against set criteria and the only site that was deemed suitable was 150 Dunsmuir.

Michael Audain heads up the VAG’s relocation committee. He had these words at last night’s public info session: “Yes, we considered the Post Office. Yes, the Sears Building, too. Even Deadman’s Island. Land in downtown Vancouver is among the most expensive anywhere in North America, except maybe San Francisco. I could find a site more easily in Manhattan than I could here in Vancouver.”

Artist and Emily Carr professor Langdon Mackenzie said this: “Other cities had to tear down rows and blocks of housing to create their galleries. We just want a parking lot. Our parking lot. A lot we already own.”

What is going to happen to the current site?

The old courthouse building isn’t going anywhere. It’s a cherished, historic building and well protected by heritage legislation.

The former courthouse is owned by the Province of BC and leased to the City of Vancouver. The City of Vancouver in turn leases it to the Vancouver Art Gallery.

That means the Vancouver Art Gallery has no say in who becomes the next tenant.

Some organizations have stepped forward to express an interest in moving into the former courthouse. These include the Museum of Vancouver, the University of British Columbia and the law courts.

How much will a new Gallery cost? Who will pay?

First things first, the Gallery needs to secure a site. Only once that’s done can the cost of a new Gallery be accurately estimated.

But, by looking at similar new galleries recently built across North America, the current estimate is approximately $350 million.

Once the site has been secured, the VAG will launch a fundraising campaign. Currently, even before a site has been chosen, an architect selected or a design drafted, the Gallery has already raised more than $90 million.

$50 million has come from the Province of British Columbia for the building of a new gallery. $42 million has been pledged by private donors.

Does a new, bigger gallery mean more art?

In a word, yes. How, exactly, remains to be seen once designs are put forward.

Among the ideas and possibilities floated by VAG Director Kathleen Bartels and others at the public info sessions:
• Permanent collection on permanent display
• Sculpture garden
• Free public access to the permanent collection
• A gallery dedicated to Emily Carr

VIFF Brings a Great Line-Up of Arts Movies To Town

September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

This year’s Vancouver International Film Festival brings to town an extraordinary collection of documentaries on the world of visual arts. I had the opportunity to preview some of them and there is something for every art lover. From Emily Carr to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The latter is brought to us by American director Tamra Davis who put this definitive documentary on the dread-locked artist out of hundreds of hours of footage taken in the 80s. It’s a pleasure to see so many of the artists compelling paintings at full frame on the large screen. The Radiant Child is an unique opportunity of having a very intimate glimpse at the artist’s life and creative process.

Waste Land made me review my opinion on Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. His work seemed somehow easy to me – a great idea well-executed but more on the realm of brilliant illustration than actual contemporary art. Muniz is the most recognized Brazilian artist abroad, with exhibitions attracting thousands of people and photographs selling for thousands of dollars. The movie, directed by Lucy Walker, follows Vik in an art project where he creates large-scale portraits of a group of “catadores” (pickers), who collect recyclable material from Brazil’s largest landfill, using material found in the trash. The human component makes the difference and I followed each individual story with interest until the final outcome, when the works are showed in an exhibition at Rio’s Museum of Modern Art in 2008.

This link for the full Fine Arts Series.

More VIFF soon, here in The Art Monitor.

Kerry James Marshall at the VAG

September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

The grandiose and touching exhibition of Kerry James Marshall at the VAG makes it to the pages of Art Forum. Kudos to Kathleen Bartels (and our Jeff Wall) for putting together one of the most beautiful exhibitions of the year so far and for her overall brilliant work as the head of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Kerry James Marshall

Through January 3 2011
Curated by Kathleen Bartels and Jeff Wall

Kerry James Marshall’s 1993 canvas De Style, a vibrant, large-scale, multifigure painting of an African-American barbershop, was a breakthrough for the artist and set the basic parameters of his ensuing practice. In the years since, he has updated the ostensibly moribund genre of history painting with an important corpus of visually complex narrative tableaux. For the Chicago-based painter’s first solo show in Canada, De Style will join some twenty more recent works, including examples from his iconic series “Garden Project,” 1995, which richly reimagines the representation of public housing projects.(read more)

The Games are Open

September 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

August 5, The Games Are Open

Photo by Vancouver Sun

wheatboard announcement

Now that the Games are over The Games are Open can be viewed from Friday, September 10th.

A project by German artists Folke Kobberling and Martins Kaltwasser, this massive sculpture representing a bulldozer is made of 1,000 wheat board panels liberated from the neighbouring 2010 Olympic and Paralympic

Presented by Other Sights for Artists’ Projects. The Games are Open is curated by Barbara Cole and is the second project of When the Hosts Come Home, a series of artists’ works that address issues of sustainability in the development of South East False Creek and will deteriorate gradually, becoming fodder to be offered to the gardens throughout the neighbouring development.

The constructing crew is formed by students of UBC, Emily Carr and Langara.

RootsXDouglas Coupland Pop-Up Store Launch in Vancouver

July 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

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“I want people to get in here and say: Is this an art gallery or what is this?” said Douglas Coupland of the Roots pop-up store last night. The cocktail party was pretty much like any gallery opening. I saw many of the faces I usually see at art events around town, there were art and colours everywhere and wine was served ( Unoaked Chardonay from No99 Wayne Gretzky Estates). Kris Krug was my ‘plus one’ for the evening and took a great shot of me against a background of colourful targets.

The store will be open through the 28th  – “or longer” added Laura Simpson, PR of the brand.

With that I am done with local celebrities I wanted to meet in person. The list was Arthur Erickson (who I had the luck to meet before he passed), David Suzuki, Mayor Gregor Robertson and Douglas Coupland.

Canada Goes Electric – Roots x Coupland

July 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

Roots had a good reason for giving the design of a clothing and accessories collection to an outside designer for the first time: they got renowned Canadian  writer and visual artist Douglas Coupland to do it. Coupland’s first novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, popularized the title term, which refers to Americans and Canadians who reached adulthood in the late 1980s. Coupland is a prolific artist and his work comments on Canada and pop culture.

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“For more than 10 years I’ve been intimately exploring what it means to be Canadian,” says Coupland. “This partnership with Roots is an amazing opportunity to keep that dialogue going with an even wider, more diverse audience.”

The collection, called Canada Goes Electric, hits selected stores July 8th. I bought a tote through the Facebook pre-sale page, and you can see that and other images in the slide show above. This alliance makes perfect sense to me, as Coupland’s blend of national inquiry and commercial instinct is in just the right balance here. The effect is playful, provocative, and most importantly, the clothes look terrific.

The Cheaper Show No9 Preview

June 24, 2010 § 3 Comments

I just got back from the preview of The Cheaper Show No9. Exciting stuff! Over 400 works from 200 artists will be sold for $200 each this Saturday. The preview attracted artists and supporters to the W2 Storyeum, a very comfortably sized venue that will accommodate the expected 3,000 people on the day of the show. Last year 1,770 art lovers lined up to get in the exhibition. Tonight I could see people taking notes hoping to fetch the best works in a couple of days. Rumour has it that some collectors pay good bucks to have someone standing in line for them.

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The Cheaper Show 2010

June 19, 2010 § 1 Comment

Cheaper 8 - The Art-Buying Crowd

Cheaper than a One Night Stand was started in 2001 by Vancouver-based artists Graeme Berglund, Steve “Breadman” Cole and Syx Langeman (known then as the collective Fracture Industries) as a new format to promote talented and underexposed artists. The concept was very simple: to have a one night art show with dozens of artists and with over a hundred pieces of art, all for sale at one affordable price.

On June 26th, The Cheaper Show No. 9 will have 200 artists (chosen from the original 950 submissions) and 400 pieces of work – all selling for $200 per piece. The new space is twice the size as last year’s,  now at W2 151 West Cordova Street. The show became so big and relevant that Mayor Gregor Robertson is going to declare June 26th The Cheaper Show Day for the city of Vancouver.

Just on a side note, last year the line had 1770 people when the doors opened at 7pm. So plan your strategy carefully.

I will be at the preview on the 24th and hopefully get some good shots for the readers of the Art Monitor. Stay tuned.

Max Beckmann, Art on Stage

June 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

With words by Sally Stubbs and direction by Touchstone’s Artistic Director Katrina Dunn, Her Beckmann’s People runs at the Playwrights Theatre Centre studio in Vancouver June 10-19.

The story follows Anna (Dawn Petten), who, returning to the city she ran from decades ago, confronts her family with tough questions about their past. Over the course of the plays she paints the final panel of a triptych about her family and their transformation as a result of their actions during the Nazi regime.

Anna’s greatest influence is German expressionist artist Max Beckmann.

Director Dunn explains that local visual artist Jonathan Sutton has been coaching Petten on painting techniques so that the actor can weave a realistic relationship to her craft into the action of the play.She also sketches live onstage and Jonathan is creating those sketches, which are then lightly photocopied onto sketch paper for the actor to follow, providing the onstage illusion.”

Affiliated with the production, Touchstone is raffling off a painting by Victoria artist Christine Reimer.

Max Beckmann, Self-portrait with Red Scarf, 1917

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