Director's Welcome

from Kathleen Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery

Photo: Pardeep Singh

ART MAKES US THRIVE. The Vancouver Art Gallery’s 85th anniversary year has been an extraordinary one, the latest leap in a history of incredible growth and successes. The summer and fall programs have seen a series of impressive exhibitions with record-breaking attendance and engaging public events. Our winter and spring schedule promises to be equally as exciting with an extraordinary mix of contemporary and historical exhibitions from the region and well beyond.

Among the many accomplishments of the last months are the important milestones achieved on the Vancouver Art Gallery new building project. This is an enormous undertaking by any measure and there is much work still to do. The completion of the schematic design in June 2016 puts us on track to reach our goal of breaking ground in late 2017. We have been tremendously energized by the strong backing we’ve received from across the community, country and from all levels of government.

We are currently presenting an outstanding public art installation at the future site of the Gallery. Ovoidism, by Vancouver artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, speaks to the past and the present uses of Larwill Park. Marking this place with a watchful eye, this work reminds us as we pass by and through the site that we live, work and interact on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish people.

Leading our fall exhibition season is Walker Evans: Depth of Field, showcasing more than 200 photographs by one of the most influential artists of the last century, in the most comprehensive museum exploration of his career. Another fall highlight is Juxtapoz x Superflat, a project co-curated by renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and Evan Pricco, the Editor-in-Chief of San Francisco magazine Juxtapoz. This exhibition offers insights into twenty-first century visual art with an emphasis on boundary-pushing artists who often work outside the realm of traditional art, by referencing and expanding on sub-cultures like skate, surf, tattoo, punk, graffiti, comic, design and illustration. The Offsite public art location features artist Khan Lee’s Red, Green and Blue, a dynamic time-based sculptural installation that uses light and colour to animate nature.

Beginning in December and running through 2017, we are proud to present a year-long program of exhibitions and activities that will tell unique stories as part of celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. This program will include outstanding presentations on distinctive artistic practices within Canada’s visual art communities and will explore aspects of this country’s cultural identity with a special focus on the West Coast.

The first is Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures, the inaugural event in a new triennial exhibition series that examines today’s complex world through the city’s contemporary art scene. This 40-artist exhibition is a multigenerational project that offers a myriad of styles, approaches and practices. Also opening in December, We Come to Witness: Sonny Assu in Dialogue with Emily Carr pairs modernist BC icon Emily Carr with overlays by Sonny Assu, a Vancouver-based artist who is Ligwilda'xw of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nations.

In March, we will be honoured to present the first comprehensive exhibition of acclaimed Musqueam artist Susan Point. Through her remarkable work, she has forcefully asserted the vitality of Coast Salish culture, both past and present. Also opening in the spring, Pacific Crossings: Hong Kong Artists of Vancouver, NEXT Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy and Tsang Kin-Wah will each tell a uniquely Canadian west coast story, primarily focusing on the historical events and pacific crossings leading up to and following the Hong Kong handover to China, a phenomenon that has contributed enormously to the richly diverse cultural character of present-day Vancouver and British Columbia.

Reflecting on all the remarkable achievements in the last year, and looking ahead to a promising new year, I sincerely thank you, our valued Members, for joining us on this rewarding journey. Your ongoing support is vital to the Gallery’s continued progress and success.

Best wishes for an art-filled 2017!

Kathleen S. Bartels