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News in Brief: Controversy Over National Gallery Speaker, Artists Compete to Design Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Beaverbrook Art Gallery Director to Step Down

Our editors’ weekly roundup of Canadian art news.

The National Gallery of Canada is under pressure to cancel a talk by University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson, who has argued against using the preferred pronouns of transgender and non-binary students. “The Gallery invited him to speak about his specific research interest in the psychology of creativity, a subject he has spoken about at scientific conferences across North America and about which he has co-authored over 10 scientific papers,” said the NGC in a statement. A number of social-media users argue that facilitating Peterson offers an endorsement of his views: as artist Olivia Johnston wrote in an open letter to the NGC, “The gallery’s decision to host this man is tacit endorsement of Peterson’s disdain for marginalized groups.” The NGC has closed comments on the Facebook page for the event.

The competition to design the controversial Memorial to the Victims of Communism has announced a group of finalists, which includes artists Ken Lum, Jordan Söderberg Mills, Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier. The monument, which was championed by the last Conservative government, will be installed in Ottawa at the Garden of the Provinces and Territories. Lum has partnered with landscape architect Jeff Cutler for a submission, and Söderberg Mills, Phaophanit and Oboussier are working with public-art consultants Karen and Ben Mills and landscape architects Silvano Tardella and Robert M. S. Ng. The jury for the prize includes Quebec artist and Sobey Art Award winner Nadia Myre.

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton announced on Friday that director/CEO Terry Graff would be departing the institution after nine years. Graff first joined as deputy director and chief curator of the gallery in 2008, and during his time has curated a range of exhibitions and overseen a capital fundraising campaign for the gallery’s expansion. “It is simply the perfect time for me to pursue another creative professional goal in my life,” said Graff in a press release. “The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is one of Canada’s great cultural institutions with an extraordinary art collection and impressive history, and it has been a genuine honour and rewarding experience to serve as its Director/CEO and Chief Curator.”

The Government of Canada announced on Wednesday that Saskatoon’s Remai Modern, Art Gallery of Saskatchewan, has been granted $3 million from the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The fund, organized by the Department of Canadian Heritage, focuses on cultural infrastructure, and other recipients include the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada. The Remai Modern is currently under construction, and is slated to open in 2017. The federal government has contributed more than $16 million to the institution.

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