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Art Movements: Arrivals and Departures in 2015

This year has seen plenty of changes at art organizations throughout the country. Here, we highlight some of the major shifts.


We’ll begin on the East Coast. In the Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador were accepted into the Venice Biennale, Jeffrey Spalding was named senior curator at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and Penelope Smart became director of Eastern Edge Gallery.

Over in Quebec, at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Lesley Johnstone was promoted to curator and head of exhibitions and education, Philippe Pirotte was announced as curator of the 2016 Biennale de Montréal, Alexia Fabre was named curator of Manif d’art 8–Quebec City Biennial, Rebecca Taylor Duclos took over as dean of fine arts at Concordia University and SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art’s Pip Day joined the curatorial team of SITElines 2016.

Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art shut its doors and announced a slated reopening date in 2017 with Chantal Pontbriand as CEO. Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum also got a new director and CEO, Josh Basseches, and Christy Thompson was named chief of exhibitions and collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Frances Loeffler became curator of Oakville Galleries, Mandy Salter joined the Art Gallery of Mississauga as the new director-curator, Leila Timmins became curator of Gallery 44 and Stefan Hancherow was named director of the 2015 edition of Feature: Contemporary Art Fair. The University of Toronto’s Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and University of Toronto Art Centre incorporated to become the Art Museum at U of T. Rita Davies became chair of the Ontario Arts Council, Sally Lee became executive director of CARFAC Ontario, and the Canada Council for the Arts announced a new funding model. The National Gallery of Canada announced their new initiative, the Canadian Photography Institute.

Over in Manitoba, Dr. Julie Nagam became the first chair in the history of Indigenous arts at University of Winnipeg, and Becca Taylor began as curator-in-residence at Urban Shaman. In September, Jaimie Isaac became the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Aboriginal curatorial resident.

In Saskatchewan, where construction broke ground on the Remai Modern, Sandra Guimarães was appointed director of programs and chief curator, and Rose Bouthillier joined the curatorial team as curator (exhibitions). John Gormley was appointed to the Remai Modern’s board of trustees in a decision that was later contested, but at the time of writing he’s still on there. In summer 2015, Wendy Nelson joined CARFAC Saskatchewan Visual Artists as executive director.

In Alberta, Peta Rake was made curator of the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff and Edmonton had its inaugural Nuit Blanche, with Dave Dyment and Kim Nguyen as curators. Construction began on making a home for Contemporary Calgary in the city’s old planetarium.

In British Columbia, Lorna Brown was named associate director-curator at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, plans sped along for a new institution in Whistler, the Audain Art Museum, where Darrin Martens was appointed chief curator, and Herzog and de Meuron’s design for the new Vancouver Art Gallery was unveiled. 221A welcomed Jesse McKee as curator of projects and residencies (an appointment that should prove interesting in the new year as 221A reorients how they work—”we want to be less like an arts centre and more like a benevolent society,” noted McKee in a recent email).

Candice Hopkins, originally from Whitehorse, Yukon, was announced as a curatorial advisor at Documenta 14 (Monika Szewczyk is also on the curatorial team).


Moving backwards across the country, Vancouver lost a prominent institution when Lee Plested and Erik von Muller announced that the Apartment would be shuttering in August. Satellite Gallery also closed this summer after operating for five years.

In Alberta, Wayne Baerwaldt left the Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Calgary, where his director role was abruptly eliminated in a controversial move.

Jessica Bradley Gallery in Toronto closed after a decade. Ossington’s O’Born Contemporary also shuttered after five years in that location. Matthew Teitelbaum left his position as director and CEO at the Art Gallery of Ontario and headed for the MFA Boston. Scott Miller Berry stepped down as director of Images Festival, and Corinn Gerber left her role as executive director of Art Metropole. Richard Rhodes stepped down as editor at Canadian Art, where he had been for 20 years. Scotiabank withdrew sponsorship from Nuit Blanche Toronto after 10 years of support.

Dr. Victoria Dickenson parted ways with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, where she was executive director and CEO. Gabrielle Peacock moved on from her position as CEO of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Stuart Keeler departed the Art Gallery of Mississauga, where he was executive director and curator, to join the City of Mississauga as the chief curator of museums and tradition. And, after 27 years, Mary Misner retired from Idea Exchange in Cambridge.

Loto-Québec suspended its art-acquisition program, which has collected work for the past 35 years (spending around $350,000 annually), after Marie-Claude Rivet, spokesperson for the collection, cited a downturn in revenue. Stéphane Aquin left the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts at the beginning of the year to take up the post of chief curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.

Ray Cronin departed the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia after the board decided that the gallery needed to shift directions. The Sobey Art Award left the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to head to the National Gallery of Canada. sophia bartholomew announced she would be stepping down as associate director of Connexion ARC at the end of December.

2015 was also a year of significant loss. Canadian Art’s former editor Jocelyn Laurence died in June. Artist and activist Wendy Coburn also passed in June. Saskatoon artist Alicia Popoff died in March, while Ted Harrison, who illustrated the beloved poem The Cremation of Sam McGee, died in January.

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Jennifer Matotek says:

Michael Jones was appointed CEO of the Saskatchewan Arts Board –

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