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News / May 23, 2019

News Roundup: Halifax Sculptor Wins Appeal against CRA, Artist Residency Launches at Eccentric Calgary Castle, and More

Established artist Steve Higgins successfully challenged a CRA designation that meant he owed thousands in taxes—what does this mean for working artists in Canada? Plus, mint-trimmed Maillot Castle opens to artists and a travelling Kenojuak Ashevak exhibition gets a funding boost
Steve Higgins, <em>Beyond the Terminating Vista (Rebuild)</em>, 2013. Building lumber, 60 x 20 x 20 ft. Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. Steve Higgins, Beyond the Terminating Vista (Rebuild), 2013. Building lumber, 60 x 20 x 20 ft. Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.

Along with this week’s roundup of the continuing flow of money, collections, protest and woe, consider reading Lindsay Nixon’s impressions of the Whitney Biennial, on until September 22, 2019.


A Halifax sculptor wins appeal of Canada Revenue Agency ruling that rejected his grant funding as business income. Steve Higgins, who has exhibited work since 1974, has won against a 2018 ruling that demoted him from a professional to hobby artist and ordered him to pay $14,500 in back taxes. He received grant funding—largely from Canada Council for the Arts—to create a 2013 sculpture installation at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. This funding was previously rejected as business income by the CRA, which also denied Higgins’s expense claims because the work was not sold for profit. Higgins and advocates like the Canadian Artists Representation hope that this will set a catalyst for the consistent treatment of artists’ expenses and cultural contributions by the CRA. (CBC)

Canada’s Steinberg art collection sells for more than $45-million at a New York auction. The collection of Arnold and Blema Steinberg includes leading modern American and colour-field paintings by the likes of Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler, and was formerly on display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. After the deaths of Arnold and Blema and their son within three years of each other, the collection was put up for sale by the family’s estate. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to McGill University programs, including the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning. (The Globe and Mail)

A Carleton researcher receives Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the use and influence of images in mass communication. Kathryn Desplanque has been awarded the prestigious fellowship valued at $70,000 per year over two years. Her project considers historical forms of consumerism related to mass media and their relation to the present. “Today, people interact with photos using apps like Instagram and Imgur,” says Desplanque. “These apps are paving the way for new forms of participatory consumerism that has its origin in 19th century scrap sheets.” (press release)


A Calgary castle has been given new life by opening its doors to artists and the public. In a two-year pilot project begun by Rob Ohlson and artist Desere Pressey, the unique cream-and-mint-coloured property will offer studio spaces for $400 or $450 a month. Pressey aims to answer a call for affordable artist and public programming spaces in the city and would like to see the location become a permanent cultural fixture. Applications for the Maillot Castle Artist Residency are currently available online. (CBC).


The Indigenous Womxn’s Collective calls for the removal of board member Warren Kanders at Whitney Biennial. In a public action held in solidarity with a series of protests by Decolonize This Place, Maria Hupfield and Regan de Loggans held a banner that urged “Demilitarize art, people over profit.” Kanders, a multimillionaire and board member of the Whitney Museum, is the majority owner of Safariland, a company that produces chemical munitions like tear gas used at the US-Mexico border. (Canadian Art)

The Toronto Outdoor Art Fair returns for its 58th year with the theme “Art: unwalled” and the “Budding Art Buyers” booth. The fair’s theme this year is a nod to the radical inclusion and welcoming of artists and art enthusiasts across backgrounds. Among free talks, tours and other programming, the Budding Art Buyers booth, launched in 2018, offers young art lovers (aged 14 and under) the opportunity to purchase works for $10-20. TOAF runs from July 12 to 14 at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. (emailed press release)

Art Vancouver 2019 celebrates a record number of attendees. Over 10,000 visitors were recorded this year at Western Canada’s largest art fair, the highest attendance since its launch five years ago. The next edition will run from April 16 to 19, 2020. (Galleries West)


Nationally touring Kenojuak Ashevak exhibition gets funding boost from Government of Canada. The Kinngait Arts Foundation, which supports the Inuit art of Cape Dorset, has announced a major partnership with Canadian Heritage to bring “Kenojuak Ashevak: Life and Legacy” to six regional centres beginning in early 2020. The show will comprise never-before-seen drawings from the pioneering Arctic creator, as well as emblematic prints. (emailed press release)