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News / October 25, 2018

News in Brief: A Vancouver Museum Readies for the Big One

The Museum of Anthropology preps for earthquakes. Plus: Remai Modern tops its first-year attendance targets, significant fall auction items are revealed, and more.
The Museum of Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver. Photo: Facebook. The Museum of Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver. Photo: Facebook.
The Museum of Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver. Photo: Facebook. The Museum of Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver. Photo: Facebook.

Seismic Shifts

The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver is going public with its earthquake prep. An $8.8-million project this fall oat MOA’s Great Hall “represents only the second seismic engineering upgrade of its kind in Vancouver,” says a release. In conjunction, MOA will mount a new exhibition, “Shake Up: Preserving What We Value” from December 2, 2018 to Fall 2019. The show focuses on “the convergence of earthquake science and technology with the rich Indigenous knowledge and oral history of the living cultures represented in MOA’s Northwest Coast collection,” says the museum. “Later in December, following the opening, an earthquake mask by John Davis (Kwakwaka’wakw) from MOA’s collection will be on display, as well as contemporary artworks by Kwiaahwah Jones (Haida) and Tim Paul (Hesquiaht) that demonstrate Indigenous cultural knowledge of earthquakes.” (emailed press release, Museum of Anthropology)

The upgrades come none too soon—a series of three large earthquakes struck 300 kilometres west of the BC coast on Sunday and Monday. “The first quake, reported as a magnitude 6.5, was followed by another, with a magnitude of 6.8, around 40 minutes later,” CBC reports. “The third quake was reported at magnitude 6.5 just before midnight, near the same area as the previous two.” CBC seismologist Joanna Wagstaffe added, “If any one of these quakes had hit closer to land, there would have been devastating consequences.” (CBC BC)

The Royal BC Museum in Victoria already did some earthquake work in 2014. At that time, each museum staffer was given a survival kit with enough food to last 72 hours. “Things that fit on shelves and in storage units are stored in ways to minimize damage,” reported the Times-Colonist. “Jars, for example, are stored on shelves secured to walls and in cases secured with a large lip to prevent any spillage from spreading. Conservation staff are also trained to recover archives, artifacts and documentation.” (Times-Colonist)

Museums and Public Galleries

The Remai Modern in Saskatoon has surpassed first-year attendance and revenue estimates. “The once-controversial project, which marks a year of operation on Sunday, attracted more than double the visitors it expected, hosting 453,176 when 190,000 were anticipated,” reports the Star-Phoenix. It adds, “the new Saskatoon attraction beat its revenue goals for admissions and memberships in its first year.” Writing for the CBC, scholar Jen Budney urged caution, however: “The first twelve months of all new art museums are a honeymoon period. The numbers we’ve seen so far are not necessarily predictive.” In a different op-ed, Phil Tank of the Star-Phoenix opined, “To judge the gallery’s impact on Saskatoon solely by its internal finances would be short-sighted.” (Star-Phoenix, CBC, Star-Phoenix)

Dior is coming to the Glenbow in Calgary, and new galleries too.  The exhibition “Christian Dior,” organized by the Royal Ontario Museum, will run February 3 to June 2, 2019, and is being dubbed as by the Glenbow as “Calgary’s first major international fashion exhibition.” Four newly renovated gallery spaces also open in February, featuring the following exhibitions: “Antoni Tàpies: Prints, 1948–1976,” based on works acquired in 2010 and never publicly exhibited at the Glenbow before; “On Location: Artists Explore a Sense of Place,” with works from the collection by Lawren Harris, Eleanor Bond, Edward Burtynsky and Faye Heavyshield, among others; “Artist In Residence: Albertine Crow Shoe,” featuring jewellery that uses traditional Blackfoot materials such as elk and bison horn as well as non-traditional materials like silver and brass; and “Kent Monkman: The Rise and Fall of Civilization,” a room-filling installation with “Miss Chief Eagle Testickle standing atop a nine-foot-high replica of a rock-face buffalo jump as sculptural bison run through the gallery,” says a release. (press release)

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian journalist, filmmaker and political activist who was poisoned in 2015, is speaking soon at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Kara-Murza, now a Washington Post columnist, was poisoned “three months after his close friend, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin. In 2017, Kara-Murza was poisoned again,” says a museum release. He helped lobby for “the 2017 Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act in Canada and the 2012 Magnitsky Act in the United States.” He speaks on the evening of October 30. (press release)

The Museum in Kitchener can’t give free admission to voters. Last week, the Museum offered free October 24 admission to anyone who said they voted in the October 22 municipal election. But then Kitchener clerk Christine Tarling “noted the offer violated section 90, subsection three, of the [Municipal Election] act, which states: ‘No person shall, directly or indirectly, (a) Offer, give, lend, or promise or agree to give or lend any valuable consideration, in connection with the exercise or non-exercise of an elector’s vote,’” the CBC reports. The Museum modified the event so that anyone who said “please vote” could get in free to the facility on Wednesday. (CBC Kitchener-Waterloo)

Human Resources

Ingrid Jenkner is retiring from MSVU Art Gallery in Halifax. After a 24-year-long career at MSVU Art Gallery, director Ingrid Jenkner is retiring on November 2. Prior to her time at MSVU, she was a curator at Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina and at Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph. Jenkner also taught the university’s Cultural Studies seminar Censorship and Art for at least 13 years. The gallery will hold a public reception with her on the morning of October 31. (emailed press release, MSVU)

Market Updates

Canada’s largest modern and contemporary art fair happens this weekend in Toronto. This year’s fair will include 102 exhibitors from seven countries and 28 cities. There will also be a FOCUS: California exhibition curated by Kim Nguyen and Glen Helfand, as well as an Art Dealers Association of Canada panel on a recent federal court decision that has pit some market forces against public museums. (Art Toronto)

Paul Petro Contemporary Art is celebrating 25 years. Petro will celebrate, in part, by showing works by Joyce Wieland, Wendy Coburn, Robert Flack and Will Munro at his Art Toronto booth this weekend. For a quarter-century, his gallery has been active in the West Queen West neighbourhood in Toronto. Though many galleries have left that area in recent years for more affordable spaces in Bloordale, Paul Petro says via email, “The roots run deep on Queen Street West. Deep enough to withstand and pretty much roll with the rapid changes happening in this district all around us.” (Paul Petro Contemporary Art)

Abbozzo Gallery is also celebrating 25 years. Director Ineke Zigrossi first opened the doors on May 3, 1993, in downtown Oakville. In May 2013, the gallery moved to 401 Richmond in Toronto. In November, to celebrate, the gallery will be opening a group exhibition featuring a selection of longtime gallery artists and newcomers. Longstanding artists include Dan Steeves and Naoko Matsubara, while newer gallery artists include Michael Pittman and Niam Jain. (Abozzo Gallery)

Auction Lots

A rare painting by insulin co-discoverer Frederick Banting is going to auction in Toronto. That’s the headline on a CTV News story about the newly announced Heffel fall auction lots. “Entitled The Lab, the rare still life depicts the University of Toronto research laboratory where Banting made his breakthrough discovery with fellow Canadian Dr. Charles Best,” CTV reports. “The piece was created two years after Banting won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1923 for the insulin discovery.” (CTV News)

There’s interesting stories behind some of the other fall auction lots too.Sybil Andrews‘s Boats at Dock was picked up by its current owner at a BC thrift store,” says a Heffel release. “The rare canvas was purchased for a mere $69.95 less a 30% seniors’ discount.” It is now estimated at $20,000 to 30,000. Jean-Paul Riopelle’s 1953 drip painting Jouet leads the auction overall with an estimate of $1,200,000 to 1,600,000. (press release)

Public Art

A 40-metre-high ladder is part of a new Vancouver public art installation. 108 Steps, by Vancouver artist Khan Lee, is currently being installed near Kingsway and Nanaimo Street. The piece is funded by condo developer Westbank as part of a deal to build in the area. And there is a defence against climbers built into the piece. “I realize that whoever really wants to get up there will probably find a way to get up there anyway,” Lee told the CBC BC. “Hopefully people will have some kind of respect [for it] as an artwork.” (CBC BC)

Through posters and prints, an artist is taking on condo development pressures in Vancouver. Titled Coming Soon!, the project by Diyan Achadi is funded by the city, and is due to run September 2018 to September 2019. The posters and prints will be wheatpasted onto construction hoardings in Vancouver, Canada’s least affordable housing market. (Galleries West, Coming Soon!)

A public sculpture by British artist Lynn Chadwick has been donated to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The sculpture Cloaked Figure IX, which stands outside the museum’s entrance, was donated by the Peress family in honour of their parents, Montrealers Simha and Maurice S. Peress. Chadwick lived from 1914 to 2003, and “of the six existing editions of the original, the [Cloaked Figure IX] sculpture given to the MMFA is the only one in Canada,” says a release.  (press release)

Two artists are lighting up the Mackenzie King Bridge in Ottawa. The light installation Ascension, commissioned by the Ottawa Art Gallery from The Latest Artists (locals Andrew and Deborah O’Malley) debuts on Sunday. It is two years in the making, and 150 feet long, taking the form of an LED wave graph that leads to the gallery entrance. (emailed press release)

A new interactive public work in Vancouver will play off of fitness and exercise. Chinese contemporary art collective Polit-Sheer-Form Office will have its first Canadian exhibition, “Fitness for All (Vancouver)” beginning November 3 at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite public art space. The installation will consist of “a five-piece set of exercise equipment specially designed for the Vancouver public, which will appear against the vinyl text proclamation ‘We’ is the Distinction of ‘I’” The installation “appropriates the publicly funded workout equipment found in city squares and residential compounds throughout China.” (press release)


Artist Jaan Poldaas has died. Known mainly for his paintings, Jaan Poldaas died late on October 17 “from complications of pneumonia following recent cancer treatments,” says a statement from Birch Contemporary, which represented his work. Poldaas was born in Sweden in 1948. Before becoming an artist, he studied architecture at the University of Toronto in the late 1960s. He was a founding member of Mercer Union in 1979 and has works in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada, among others. Condolences can be sent to Birch Contemporary, which will forward them to Poldaas’s family, as family have requested privacy at this time. (Birch Contemporary)

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