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News / October 16, 2013

New ED Named for Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation

The Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for Young Artists—an arts education organization co-founded by one of BC’s most respected painters—has hired Astrid Heyerdahl as its new executive director.

The announcement comes a year after the opening of the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art in North Vancouver, touted as the only gallery in Canada dedicated to young audiences.

Heyerdahl was most recently visual arts manager at Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre. There, she initiated a variety of exhibitions and programs including a group show on expanded forms of drawing, a permanent art collection, and a survey of the art of Georgia Straight co-founder Pierre Coupey created with the West Vancouver Museum.

Heyerdahl, who holds a master’s of education in gallery pedagogy from York University, says her first goal at the Smith Foundation will be assessing what the local community wants.

“I’m a resident of North Vancouver, so it’s really wonderful to work in my community,” Heyerdahl said in a phone interview. “The first step is gathering a collective vision, meeting with all of the board members and stakeholders and community members to create a focus.”

Heyerdahl says that one program on the horizon for the Smith Foundation and the gallery it co-manages is an exhibition of art by Vancouver-based Chinese artist Gu Xiong in the summer of 2014.

“We are planning on having a symposium with scholars from mainland China as well as Ontario and BC” in relation to the Xiong show, Heyerdahl says. “They will be coming together to discuss political activism in art and other topics.”

There is also an interest in getting parents and grandparents, as well as young children, to the gallery, Heyerdahl says. Seeking an improved national gallery designation is also a priority.

“We are recognizing now that this gallery space can be used as a further tool to engage with the broader community,” she noted.

Heyerdahl also says that possibilities for community programming in the gallery include life drawing classes, yoga sessions and music performances, though final decisions are contingent on community consultation.

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is a writer and editor based in Toronto. Her arts journalism has appeared in the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications, and her creative work has been published in Prism, Room and Freefall. She can be reached via