Skip to content

May we suggest

News / June 21, 2018

News in Brief: Big Steps for Calgary and Victoria Galleries, and More

Chagall's controversial Eiffel Tower goes on view at the National Gallery, the Remai board disagrees with Saskatoon city councillors, and an artist designs an emoji for National Indigenous History Month
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Photo: Facebook. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Photo: Facebook.

Museum Reno Moves

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is getting $6 million. The funds from the provincial government are in support of the gallery’s $30-million renovation project. The gallery plans to undertake technical upgrades, and provide more multi-purpose presentation space, a community auditorium and enhanced education facilities to serve the community. Overall it will build 1,850 square metres of new gallery space. (press release)

Contemporary Calgary has finally come to an agreement with the city to lease an old planetarium and make it into an art gallery. Talks toward an agreement broke off last year, but were reignited of late. “Under the agreement announced at City Hall on Tuesday, the city will spend $24.5 million on renovations to the building to bring it up to date with current building codes — to be complete by December — allowing the arts group to open the gallery in 2019,” CBC reports. The structure was originally due to open in 2018. (CBC)

National Indigenous (Art) History Month

In honour of Indigenous History Month, Anishinaabe artist Chief Lady Bird has created a custom emoji. The emoji, which depicts Turtle Island, will be used with select hashtags on Twitter throughout the month of June. The hashtags include #IndigenousHistoryMonth, #IndigenousPeoplesDay, #FirstNations, #Metis, #Métis and #Inuit. Chief Lady Bird is the first artist ever to work directly with Twitter Canada on an original emoji design. (Twitter)

OCAD University has hired five new permanent Indigenous faculty. The cluster hire is part of the art and design university’s commitment to decolonize. Suzanne Morrissette will join OCAD U’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies; Peter Morin will join the Faculty of Art; and James Miller, Howard Munroe and Melanie Printup Hope will join the Faculty of Design. (press release)

How Not to Repatriate

A number of Inuit remains and artifacts were left in a box on an Ottawa non-profit’s doorstep Tuesday morning, CBC reports. The box was accompanied by a note stating, “In the 1950’s, my father visited what was then Frobisher Bay. He found or perhaps was given these artefacts [sic] — but they are yours. Please accept them with my apologies for keeping them so long.” Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, where the box was left, says this is one example of how Canada’s lack of repatriation guidelines is deeply problematic: “Leaving it up to individuals gets us to this point, where those individuals don’t know what to do, don’t know how to follow any guideline or rule for repatriation,” he said. Dropping off an anonymous package of artifacts, he explains, “exacerbates problems, creates further trauma and doesn’t get us closer to reconciliation.” (CBC)

Remai Rumblings

Saskatoon City Council has turned down a board-structure change request from the Remai Modern. Instead, council affirmed that the gallery has to be run just like “other city-controlled non-profit corporations run by boards,” reports the Star-Phoenix. “The Remai Modern board had suggested a change to a 15-member board with just one representative from city council. The current gallery board has 14 members with two city councillors…Councillors suggested the board was too involved in operating the gallery and questioned the need for more board members to help with fundraising.” (Star-Phoenix)

And more disagreement evolved online about where Remai board members should come from. “The city currently bars people who don’t live in Saskatoon from sitting on the museum’s 14-person board of directors,” CBC News reported. It also reported that former Remai board chair Alain Gaucher stated that “the residency requirement also hurt our efforts to appoint First Nations candidates that may live on reserves outside the city.” To that, Willow Cree author Paul Seesequasis wrote on Twitter, “There are more than 40,000 Indigenous-identified people in a city of 300,000. Many active & respected in the arts. It’s time for Remai Modern to do actual outreach, practice inclusivity and address its own issues. Nonsense that ‘talent scouting’ has to look outside the city.” (CBC, Paul Seesequasis)

Back by Popular Demand

The Eiffel Tower by Marc Chagall is going back on view at the National Gallery of Canada. The much-debated painting, the subject of a national deaccessioning controversy this spring, will start being exhibited on June 23 in the European galleries on the second floor. Alongside it will be the National Gallery’s only other Chagall canvas: his earlier painting Memories of Childhood. Both paintings will remain on view until winter 2019 when the regularly scheduled maintenance program gets underway, and likely in collection display rotation thereafter. (press release)

Of Art and Illness

Canadians seek out art to heal anxiety and stress, says a new study. The new study Culture Track: Canada, commissioned by Business / Arts, has found that “71 per cent of respondents cited culture’s unique ability to relieve stress a motivator to participation,” and that “nearly 40 per cent of Canadians prefer an analog experience to a digital one when it comes to cultural activities.” The Globe and Mail also reported on the study, highlighting that “allophones—that is Canadians for whom neither English nor French is a first language—are more culturally engaged than anglophones or francophones.” (Business / Arts, Globe and Mail)

A new Toronto play is taking on the 20-year-old story of Otto Vass, a man with mental illness killed by police. “Writer and actor Liza Balkan watched from a fifth-floor apartment that sticky summer night as officers swarmed Mr. Vass,” the Globe reports. “While writing Out the Window, Ms. Balkan gathered transcripts and other records from the trial and a 2006 coroner’s inquest.” The production is part of the Luminato festival, with Toronto artist Syrus Marcus Ware “creating large-scale portraits of Mr. Vass and other victims of police violence on stage as the action unfurls around him.” (Globe and Mail)


Take a look at the just-announced SITE Santa Fe lineup. The upcoming SITElines.2018 Biennial, opening in August, features Inuit artists Victoria Mamnguqsualuk and Jamasee Pitseolak; Emily Carr University alumnus Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa; Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, who is based in Vancouver; and Curtis Talwst Santiago, a former apprentice of Yuxweluptun’s now based in the United States. The exhibition is co-curated by Candice Hopkins, who formerly did curatorial work at the National Gallery of Canada. (e-flux)

Vancouver-based artist Raymond Boisjoly is to be featured in Rennes. Shortlisted last year for the Sobey Art Award, Boisjoly has been announced as one of 32 international participants in Les Ateliers de Rennes – Contemporary Art Biennale. The biennale opens September 29 in France. (e-flux)

Public Arty

Saudi Arabian artist Ajlan Gharem launches the 2018–2020 Vancouver Biennale this week. Paradise Has Many Gates—which takes the form of a mosque made out of chain-link fence will be unveiled in Vanier Park on June 26. A series of collaborative events and activities are being organized around the artwork with partners such as the Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies, The Sisters Project, Voices of Muslim Women, and Indian Summer Festival. (press release)

Crowdfunding project hopes to bring a street-art icon to Edmonton. “If two Edmonton art lovers get their way, a homely brick facade near Whyte Avenue will become a blank canvas for renowned Spanish street artist Okuda San Miguel,” CBC reports. “Michael Maxxis and Fish Griwkowsky have launched a $40,000 crowdfunding campaign for a six-storey mural in Old Strathcona.” It would be the biggest mural in Edmonton (CBC)


The 2018 Barnett and Annalee Newman Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Robert Murray. Born in Vancouver in 1936 and now residing between Pennsylvania and Georgian Bay, Murray is known for large metal outdoor sculptures, many of which were fabricated at the Lippincott Foundry in Connecticut. (Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and Robert Indiana, among others, have also produced work at Lippincott.) His work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum, Storm King and Walker Art Center. He will open his first Nova Scotia solo show on July 7 at Studio 21. (press release)


On the legacy of Jack Sures. Winner of the national Saidye Bronfman Award in April, Regina artist Jack Sures died on May 12, just weeks after receiving that prize. He was 83. “In addition to being a ceramics artist of renown, Jack Sures helped teach two generations of Saskatchewan ceramic artists,” notes the Saskatchewan Craft Council. “He joined the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus (later the University of Regina) in 1965 to establish the ceramics and printmaking department. In 1969, he became the Chair of the Department of Visual Arts. Under his leadership, the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan established a world reputation for excellence in ceramics.” Donations are now being collected for a legacy fund in his name at the University of Regina. (CBC, Saskatchewan Craft Council)

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