ARTperspective

The Art Perspective blog is a collection of thoughts, musings, and reflections on art, artists, and current happenings in the art world. 

Why Canada Needs A Second Major Art Fair

Map of Canada, with Provinces and Capital Cities

Over the last several months promoting ARTperspective 2017 we have been asked the same series of questions over and over again, first, "Why Edmonton?" and secondly "Why Edmonton?". You may think that the answer to the first question would sufficiently answer the second, but that is seemingly not the case.

Canada is nearly 10 million square kilometres in size, it is one of the largest countries in the world based on geography alone. In fact the other countries that are similar in size have nearly ten times the increased population density of Canada, countries like Russia, China and the United States. So the one thing we have going for us in Canada is space, we have lots of it. Which then begs the question in a country as large as Canada, how do we support art and artists? Visual art has a long rich history in many of the other countries we have mentioned, and it does in Canada as well, except that our history is not nearly as long, in fact 2017 we will be celebrating only our 150th anniversary as a nation. 

Art is one of those rare pieces of culture that is increasingly appreciated over time, and adds value to the country and culture in immeasurable ways. Internationally art is viewed as an industry, as an asset class. When you work in the art world internationally it is a distinguished role in an industry that generates billions towards the global economy. The United States alone, averages approximately $650 million a year, while China is estimated to contribute $560 million annually and Europe is estimated at another $625 million per year.

In Canada we continue to view art as philanthropy. A charitable, if not noble cause, worthy of supporting, but not yet established enough to stand firm as an industry on it's own. The answer is to make art matter. To make it a priority and to attract collectors, dealers, and artists to Canada to view it as a viable and largely untapped market for emerging talent. Increasingly galleries and dealers from other countries are looking at Canadian artists and are representing their work. It is now incumbent upon us to build our art market and give collectors and dealers more reasons to look at Canadian art. 

Having just spent 3 days at Art Toronto, we can tell you it was an exceptional experience. A fantastic event that does much to raise the profile of art in this country. But Toronto cannot shoulder this entire responsibility on their own. Nearly 3000 kms away the art landscape looks very different. From Vancouver, to the prairies, we need a forum for those artists and those stories to be told as well. So when we are asked - "Why Edmonton?" it is a simple answer. Edmonton is in the centre of western Canada. It is easily accessible whether you live in Vancouver or Regina or anywhere in the north, mid or west coast United States. Edmonton also is known for being an entrepreneurial city, a city that embraces change, a city that sees an opportunity to make something or support something and rallies behind to make it a reality. Why Edmonton? Because when we asked the city, economic development, arts councils and tourism all said yes to supporting a major art fair. And finally why Edmonton? We have incredible people here in the west, people who are art collectors, and are quiet with their money and their collections but believe in supporting the arts.

New York City has 38 art fairs in any given year. 38. In Canada, we think we can support 2.

Art fairs bring together artists, dealers, collectors, and patrons from all over to share exciting new works, to have an open dialogue about art, and to share ideas and thoughts, and oh yeah, and to buy art!!

We couldn't be more excited about the partners, and programming concepts and the editorial works and all of the incredible ideas that are going to make ARTperspective 2017 such a unique event. So for those galleries who have already applied, thank you for your confidence, thank you for being brave and thank you for being first, we know it isn't always easy, and we won't forget your early support! And for those of you out there who haven't applied yet, or who are waiting until closer to the deadline, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We are customizing ways to make the fair work for everyone and we welcome your thoughts and ideas!

Thank you for supporting visual art, not just in Canada, but in the world.

Bearclaw Gallery's Continuing Legacy & the Importance of Art

Founded in 1975, as First Nations art was really starting to emerge in Canada, the Bearclaw Gallery has been the preeminent Canadian gallery supporting and showcasing First Nations and Inuit art. Over the last several decades the gallery has made significant contributions to the ongoing promotion and development of First Nations art.

It should also come as no surprise, that the visionary behind the gallery all of those years ago was Agnes Bugera, whom has been a leading gallerist in Edmonton for decades. Proving art does indeed run in the family, the Bearclaw Gallery is now run by Bugera's daughter Jackie, who is continuing the proud legacy set forth by her mother. 

When Trudeau's office set forth to find the perfect gift to represent Canada, they contact the Bearclaw Gallery and inquired about numerous works, eventually acquiring one of Cree artist, Leo Arcand's soapstone carvings entitled 'Courage' as the perfect gift for the Obama's during the Trudeau's state visit to Washington, DC this week.

There are few gifts that can be as impactful as receiving a work of art. Particularly when we think about the cultural relevance, the work of the artist, and of course the meaning behind the work. Few gifts can continue to be appreciated long after they are given, and evoke new emotions and discovery the more time you spend with them. Art truly does have that power and that impact. When people ask me about art as an investment, I will be the first to tell them that it is one of the few investments that will appreciate over time if you have purchased original work from a recognized artist, but the real investment is in your own edification about art, and the story of the artist and their journey. Art is meant to be experienced, and much like music, creates and enhances the fabric of our lives every day. So next time you are thinking about what the perfect gift might be for that special someone in your life, follow the lead of our Prime Minister and think about giving a work of art. 

The Royal Alberta Museum 48 Hour Goodbye Party

Goodbye, hello. It is with mixed emotions for many that the Royal Alberta Museum will close its doors this coming weekend for nearly 2 full years before reopening in their 375.5 million new downtown Edmonton location.

The existing museum was originally conceived in 1950 as part of the Federal Government's Memorial Centennial Program, but really took shape in 1962 when Raymond Harrison was given 5 million dollars by the Government of Alberta, and tasked with making it a reality. The museum opened as the Provincial Museum of Alberta in 1967, and in 2005 changed its name to the Royal Alberta Museum after being visited by Queen Elizabeth, II, who bestowed royal patronage.

The 48 Hour Goodbye Party is themed for every year the museum has been open, and will begin on Friday December 4th at 5pm and run until Sunday December 6th at 5pm when the museum will officially close until it reopens in late 2017/early 2018 in the new downtown location. 

The party will feature around the clock exhibits, live performances, dancing, movies, pop-up shops, and a special exhibit about the museums history. Admission to the party is free, with the goal of encouraging as many people as possible to come and enjoy the space one last time. 

For more information on the Royal Alberta Museum, the 48 Hour Goodbye Party, or their new location, please visit www.royalalbertamuseum.ca

Art Preview: 'Moon Dazed' by Ally McIntyre at Jealous Gallery

Edmonton born artist, Ally McIntyre has been busy making a name for herself across the pond in London, UK. The University of Alberta, BFA graduate, was involved in a few select shows in her home town before deciding to pursue her passion at Goldsmiths in residency at the University of London. McIntyre's work has stood out due to her rebellion against the limitations typically imposed or expected of  a painting. Not only has her work stood out, she was personally awarded the Jealous Prize in 2014/2105 as well as the HIX Award in 2015. Both considered top honours for any recent graduate.

McIntyre's unconventional use of bold colour, large scale and mixed media styles gives her work an assertiveness not often found in female artists. Her show listing describes her technique as using "confident brush strokes enveloping fragments of realism, and dissolving faces in playful combinations of dream-like colour, line and glitter". An apt description, and one that captures part of the charm and magic of McIntyre's works. 

Having now graduated from Goldsmiths McIntyre's work is in high demand. Numerous galleries have expressed interest in representing her work and her selection of the Jealous Gallery speaks to that inner rebellion and looking for something a little more unorthodox. Undoubtedly, McIntyre will continue on her trajectory, and we look forward to seeing her grow and develop as an artist.

'Moon Dazed' opens with a private preview on Thursday November 12th, 2015 and closes on Wednesday November 25th, 2015. For more information on the Jealous Gallery please visit www.jealousgallery.com

Behind the Canvas: Preview of the Remai Modern

Following the tremendous impact the Art Gallery of Alberta had on Edmonton's downtown revitalization, it should be no surprise that one province over in Saskatchewan, a quiet but monumental change was happening to the arts scene in Edmonton's sister city, Saskatoon. On the west bank of the South Saskatchewan River, located at River Landing, the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan is set to open in 2017. Originally scheduled for 2016, the 11,582 square-metre public art museum boasts award winning architecture designed by the Canadian firm KPMB (Kuwabara, Payne, McKenna & Blumberg).

Recognizing an opportunity, lead patron, Ellen Remai donated $30 million to kick start the project. She also ensured the permanent collection of the gallery would sustain for years to come, by donating the most comprehensive collection of Picasso linocuts known in the world, and valued at an estimated $20 million. Such philanthropic gifts rarely go unmatched, and so Saskatchewan born, London, UK based art dealer and print-making specialist Dr. Frederick Mulder donated an additional 23 Picasso ceramics, also valued at nearly $20 million.

The generous donations aside, the vision and design of the gallery would surely have been enough to launch Saskatoon as venerable player in the Canadian art scene, but they did not stop there. Enter Gregory Burke as the director and new CEO for the project. Those unfamiliar with Burke's work as a curator needn't look far. Burke has worked across Canada and as far as New Zealand curating over 90 world class shows and publishing over 100 texts on contemporary art. To say the new Remai Modern is in good hands with its leadership would be an understatement.

With all of this excitement does come some disappointment for those more acquainted with the Mendel Art Gallery and its founder Frederick Salomon Mendel and his family. The Mendel Art Gallery was founded in 1964, and its collection of over 7,700 artworks will find a home as part of the permanent collection of the Remai Modern. Additionally, one of the galleries in the new building will be named in honour of the Mendel as well as a potential international lecture series. 

It is a season of change in Saskatoon, as the community will be without the Mendel and without the new Remai under early 2017. CEO, Burke has been quoted saying that the time will be used to develop new programs, assess potential membership options, and prepare for the opening. Expectations are certainly high, after the opening of the AGA in Edmonton, the gallery saw an influx of patrons in the tens of thousands. Those numbers have tapered off over the months and years the gallery has been open, but it remains an iconic piece of architecture in a city not known for its design. Similarly in Saskatoon, the Remai is sure to join the status of the Bessborough hotel as part of the city's growing history and unique architecture.