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BC Scene & The Vancouver Gallery Hop: West Coast Nation

Rebecca Belmore Victorious 2008 Performance still

Last week, Seattle critic Jen Graves stirred up regional controversy with an article, “The Vancouver Problem,” that ponders Vancouver’s strong international profile compared to that of her hometown. Whatever the consequences for its west coast neighbours, it’s clearer than ever that British Columbia is a creative powerhouse.

It’s with excellent timing, then, that two events this week—one in the west and one in the east—are set to celebrate BC’s artistic acumen.

In Ottawa, the BC Scene festival features 60 west-coast artists at 11 exhibitions across the city. The easiest way to take all (or most) of them in just might be the festival’s Swarm event on Tuesday, April 21. Based on a Vancouver event coordinated by the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres, Swarm in Ottawa consists of a gallery crawl from 6 to 9 p.m., with a free shuttle provided to bridge various venues. The event continues with performances—including one by Rebecca Belmore—at the National Arts Centre lobby from 9 to 11 p.m. A party at Saw Gallery caps off the evening.

Fortunately, should late-night Tuesday partying not prove convenient, many BC Scene exhibitions are open to the end of the month and beyond. “Nomads,” a group exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, features Gareth Moore, Geoffrey Farmer and Althea Thauberger, among others, while a concurrent exhibition of now-Torontonian Scott McFarland also looks promising. “Blue Like an Orange” at the Ottawa Art Gallery features BC artists working in sculpture and installation, including Samuel Roy-Bois, Brendan Tang, Lucy Pullen and Rhonda Weppler, among others, while the gallery’s “Dynamic Rhythm” exhibition pulls together classic abstract works from Jack Shadbolt, Takao Tanabe and others. Also intriguing are several exhibits featuring contemporary First Nations art, like “Beat Nation: Hip Hop as an Indigenous Culture” at Saw Gallery, Marianne Nicholson’s nightly projected-light interventions at the Government Conference Centre, and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ converted Bill Reid canoe at the National Arts Centre.

Closer to the Pacific, the Vancouver Gallery Hop, taking place Saturday, April 18, offers a daylong program with many highlights. In addition to a lecture by Sarah Thornton, author of Seven Days in the Art World, and a screening of Herb and Dorothy, an acclaimed film about two unique New York collectors, there’s an afternoon gallery guide covering 52 venues and a dozen talks. Events include a talk by photographer Christos Dikeakos at Catriona Jeffries Gallery, a conversation with artist Gathie Falk at Equinox Gallery and presentations by curator Makiko Hara and artist Paul de Guzman at Centre A. All events are co-presented by the Canadian Art Foundation and the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver.

So whether you find yourself to the left or to the right of the continental divide this week, there’s lots of the west coast to celebrate.

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