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News in Brief: New Money for PEI Artists and More

PEI’s provincial government will spend an additional $3.5 million on arts and culture under a new action plan. Plus: Remembering Ron Noganosh and mulling a new biennial

Our editors’ weekly roundup of art news.

The Government of Prince Edward Island has launched Cultivating Growth, a $3.5-million five-year action plan for cultural initiatives. According to the CBC, the strategy, released Monday, “lays out more than three dozen actions, including: Initiate a local Film Media Fund to support homegrown, independent film development. More purchases of Island-made art for the P.E.I. Art Bank. Develop a digital archive of the Prince Edward Island Heritage and Museum collection. Invest in a Craft Development Centre in partnership with the P.E.I. Crafts Council.” Also on the roster: “Establish an advisory council to identify and support affordable artist live-work spaces.” (CBC News)

Influential Anishinaabe artist Ron Noganosh has passed away. The artist died at home on November 15, according to the Ottawa Art Gallery, which wrote on its Facebook page of how the sculptor and installation creator “had a significant impact on the visual arts in Canada.” Noganosh was ​“a pioneer in assemblage work, his sculptures and installations of found-objects, paintings and drawings used humour to make poignant critiques of contemporary culture about issues faced by Indigenous peoples in Canada.” The post cited Lucy Lippard’s ​praise of Noganosh’s work in an exhibition text called ​Ron Noganosh: It Takes Time​, which won the Canadian Museum Association’s award for the best art book of 2002, and accompanied his travelling solo retrospective by the same name, which opened at the Ottawa Art Gallery and toured Canada. ​“[His] juxtaposition or fusion of humour and grief, which often adds up to anger, is at the core of much contemporary Native art, and Noganosh is one of its prime communicators,​”​ Lippard ​wrote. ​Born in 1949 on the Magnetawan First Nation on Georgian Bay, Noganosh studied fine arts at the University of Ottawa. His work has been exhibited at the National Gallery and the Museum of Civilization in Canada, the​ ​Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Ethnological Museum of Russia, and the Museo Nacional de Mexico amongst others. An artist statement on the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective website says ​that he ​“worked as a zoo keeper, a sign painter, a miner, a scrap dealer, an art professor and an alligator wrestler.​”​ (Ottawa Art Gallery Facebook Post)

North Vancouver’s new Polygon Gallery has opened to the public.  On November 18, a new stand-alone art gallery for the city of North Vancouver—grown from the legacy of Presentation House Gallery—opened to the public. “Now called The Polygon Gallery,” the Vancouver Sun reports “the sparkling new two-storey building designed by Patkau Architects at the foot of Lonsdale is part of a renewal of the surrounding waterfront neighbourhood on the North Shore.” (Vancouver Sun)

Toronto’s the latest city to get its own biennial, set to open in fall 2019. Though its location has yet to be announced, the biennial will run for 90 days and will showcase anywhere from dozens to hundreds of artists. “I feel like the city, and the art community, have been wanting a biennial for decades,” Patrizia Libralato, the biennial’s executive director​, told the Toronto Star​. She consulted Mayor John Tory and councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam in 2015, and city council motioned to support a feasibility study of the biennial’s budget and economic impact. The study was completed in 2016, gaining support from the city, from TD Bank and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. (Toronto Star)

Criticism is building over a Vancouver developer’s attempt to advance its cause with art.  “Art washing as a tool of developers is not limited to Westbank, as the scandal that attended the Vancouver Mural Festival this year amply demonstrated,” Dorothy Woodend writes in the Tyee. “Still, Westbank has built a reputation as a major supporter of public art in Vancouver. And as [Ian] Gillespie burbled away about Rodney Graham’s upcoming piece Spinning Chandelier replacing other Vancouver attractions such as the Lions Gate Bridge, it is difficult not to lose respect for the very idea of art itself. Especially when Westbank describes its developments as ‘real estate art.’” (The Tyee)

The Southern Alberta Art Gallery’s director and curator Ryan Doherty has stepped down. Doherty made the move after 10 years at SAAG, including four in that position. He began there as curator in 2008, and as director he contributed to the SAAG’s strategic vision, r​a​ising $1 million in a campaign called “Live Art. Love SAAG,” and $2.7 million in funding for a facility expansion of administrative, storage and programming space. (SAAG website)

And in case you missed it: Valérie Blass won the $50K Gershon Iskowitz Prize, millions of dollars traded hands at Canada’s big fall auctions, and a major fraud has been alleged at a Montreal arts institution.


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