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News / January 4, 2018

News in Brief: Vancouver Artists Protest Real Estate Developer and More

Vancouver artists call out a real estate developer's attempt to rebrand as a “cultural company.” Plus: a National Gallery closure and a poet's $40,000 award
The organizers of the Fight For Affordability action at a recent Vancouver protest. Photo: Melody Ma. The organizers of the Fight For Affordability action at a recent Vancouver protest. Photo: Melody Ma.

Our editors’ weekly news roundup.

Artists from across Canada have organized to protest real estate developer Westbank Corp., which is rebranding as a “cultural company” with an exhibition called “Fight for Beauty” at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver. The group, consisting of Governor General Award–winning artists and culture workers, has issued an open letter declaring their countering “Fight for Affordability” action, urging solidarity with the marginalized communities that the developer will be displacing. “Westbank is not a cultural producer. Gentrification is not an art practice,” the letter asserts. (open letter)

Canadian poet Lisa Robertson has won a $40,000 grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. The organization was established in 1963 by John Cage and Jasper Johns to fund new work with donations from prominent artists like Philip Guston, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella and others. Robertson’s award, the C.D. Wright Award for Poetry, was endowed by the estates of Ellsworth Kelly and his partner Jack Shear. Robertson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Emily Carr University of Art and Design in spring 2017. She lived in Vancouver for many years, where she ran an independent bookstore, was a collective member of the Kootenay School of Writing and was on Artspeak’s board of directors. She has been living in France since 2004. Her subject matter has addressed gender and nation, and she has written works “that explore literary forms such as the pastoral, epic, and weather forecast.” The two other awards went to Missouri-based poet Anne Boyer, who wrote the Keynote feature in our current “Care and Wellness” issue, and to New York–based poet and critic Fred Moten. (New York Times)

The National Gallery announced it will be closed to the public from January 8 to January 22. The closure is to install scaffolding for the replacement the windows and roof of its main entrance and colonnade. The window replacement will begin in the spring and conclude in the fall. (press release)

A quartzite arrowhead discovered by a Toronto woman in Fort York 80 years ago turns out to be an ancient Indigenous artifact. It sat on Jeanne Carter’s coffee table for 80 years until she donated it to the city’s Museums and Heritage Department. When historian and archaeologist Richard Gerrard researched its history, he traced it back to the first Indigenous peoples in Toronto. He believes it might be somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 years old, and might be the oldest item in the city’s collection. (CBC)