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From the Archives

In celebration of its 30th Anniversary, the Contemporary Art Gallery presented an exhibition and project honoring its early years. On February 23, 1973, the Artists’ Gallery opened its doors at 555 Hamilton Street. Later to be renamed the Contemporary Art Gallery, the Artists’ Gallery was initiated by an arts advisory committee under the umbrella of the City of Vancouver. Central to its early mandate and philosophy was the promotion and creation of local visual arts.

During this time the City of Vancouver began a program, with assistance from the Federal Local Initiatives Program (LIP) to purchase works by local artists. In support of this ambitious project, the Artists’ Gallery was conceived as both a depository and exhibition space. The Contemporary Art Gallery continues to act as custodian for over 3000 collected works, many dating from the early to mid 1970s when the bulk of the collection was assembled.

The history of this important collection of art, of the Artists’ Gallery, and of the early years of the community that shaped what would become the Contemporary Art Gallery will be showcased this summer in an exhibition featuring works from the collection.

Project Organizers: Reid Shier and Shawn Preuss

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L.I.P. Service, CAG 30th Aniversary: The Collection 1973-1983


Ed Pien has gained recognition for his large-scale works that extend traditional notions about drawing. He achieves this by developing gallery installations that retain the intimacy of the drawing process. For Beyond Here, Pien presented a large installation approximately seventy-five feet in length and consisted of ink on layers of Chinese paper and Japanese silk tissue. The translucent quality of the paper allows the drawings that lie beneath the surface to read as shadows, which intermingle with the more legible images on the surface. The contrast in scale between the expanse of paper, the large drawings, the small drawings, and the vibrantly coloured tunnels creates a dynamic relationship between the viewer and the work. One can perceive the piece as one entity or as a series of individual drawings.

In his work, Pien explores the concepts of fear and vulnerability through referencing both historical and contemporary events as well as combining Eastern and Western mythologies. In Beyond Here his drawings depict strange, hydridized creatures that are engaged in an imaginary journey that reads from left to right across the gallery walls. While not a formal narrative, the figures suggest a dream-like transformation from a state of conflict to one of liberation and self-empowerment. Pien’s work is both seductive and unsettling. While the paper offers an impression of softness and warmth, it is extremely fragile. The figures project sensuality in the way they are rendered, but are ambiguous in their interpretation.

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Ed Pien - Beyond Here


Visual Stimulants presented three artists whose work had an intense visual impact and was seemingly abstract in appearance. Angela Leach, Ken Singer and Jeremy Stanbridge were part of a young generation of artists whose artwork directly or indirectly alluded to historical forms of abstraction – in this case modernist painting from the 1960s. Although the art from that period stressed the formal properties of colour and support, and avoided references to narrative or representation, the artists in Visual Stimulants in large part questioned the autonomy of abstract painting and return it to the realm of the everyday. Visual Stimulants presented the work of three artists: Angela Leach from Toronto, and Ken Singer and Jeremy Stanbridge from Vancouver and was curated by Keith Wallace.

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Visual Stimulants


The work in Pathology was concerned with domestic technologies as well as urban planning, and how the two relate to a desire for health, pleasure and the prolongation of life. The exhibition consisted of various works that were connected by their minimal aesthetic, architectural references, and everyday use-value. The centrepiece consisted of a cluster of more than sixty clean-mist humidifiers and negative-air ionizers. Theoretically, these machines created a “charged” atmosphere that improved the way we feel. Their clean, almost abstract, design was suggestively architectural, and Liu’s arrangement of these machines mimicked an architecture model of urban design. Humidifiers and ionizers are promoted as preventing everything from parched sinuses to furniture damage, and as most users lack an understanding of the technological principles, these “machines for improved living” have a psychological function as much as they have a physical one. Also in the exhibition were loosely-hung samples of wallpaper which Liu had imprinted with Rorschach-like patterns derived from an overhead view of Levittown, an early post-war example of ideal suburban planning. Pathology was An Te Liu’s first solo exhibition.

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An-Te Liu - Pathology


Documents and Lies was an exhibition organized and circulated by Optica in Montréal. The exhibition presented the work of artists living in the UK. Although not photographic, the works pointed towards a number of photographic notions about truth and reality. Their particular use of traces – reproduced, modified or simply invented – allowed for the transition from a universal history to another, more personal one. By generating doubt, these projects produced a displacement of what is commonly understood by “document.” The exhibition included drawing, painting, sculpture and an installation. Curated by artist André Martin, this exhibition provided an artist’s perspective.

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Documents & Lies


In this exhibition by Kelly Mark the fascination with the mundane was coupled with a desire to document and bring a sense of order to things. The work Broken Meter, for example, consisted of a grid of photographs documenting ideosyncratic notes left at broken parking meters. Placed presented photographs of objects, ranging from styrofoam cups to pieces of crumpled paper, that had been specifically “placed” or tucked into spots rather than simply being tossed away. Sniff was a video loop of the artist’s cat sniffing an array of objects placed in front of him. Origami Transfer was comprised of dozens of bus transfers that had been obsessively folded and shaped into miniature sculptures.

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Kelly Mark


Liz Magor is a Canadian artist who lives in Vancouver. She began exhibiting her work in 1973 and has been included in numerous prestigious international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennial, Sydney Biennial, Documenta VIII in Kassel, and inSITE in San Diego/Tijuana. While she is widely known across Canada and beyond, this was Magor’s first solo exhibition in a public gallery in Vancouver in a decade.

Magor is primarily recognized for her sculptural work – although she has developed significant projects in other mediums such as photography – which is expressed in various forms ranging from full-scale installations to individual pieces. Stores presented her most recent sculptural work and incorporated non-traditional materials such as silicone rubber and pigmented plaster and resin. With these materials, she made casts of objects with startlingly realistic results. However, while the large pile of rocks placed on the floor is convincingly real, the discovery of actual junk food stashed within its hollow cavity renders the mantle of reality questionable, bringing forward a focus on the work’s materiality.

Magor’s sculptures at first resemble literal, easily accessible representations, but the play between what is real and what is an illusion, and the curious combination of food with other unrelated objects, complicate their apparent simplicity. The minimal yet evocative presentation suggests narratives and the activity of unknown personae obsessed with squirreling things away as insurance  against anticipated disasters or shortages.  It also implies larger social/psychological issues about the relationship between the desire for security in the face of unidentifiable fears, and the fundamental question of what people store away and why.

 

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Liz Magor - Stores


Eleanor Bond is recognized internationally for her large-scale oil paintings of urban landscapes in which a labyrinth of forms include both the actual and the imaginary. Although Bond’s paintings do not represent a specific built environment, their starting point is a specific urban place, space and landscape. This exhibition presented 2 works produced from research undertaken in Vancouver during February of 1999. Bond spent ten days walking and driving throughout Vancouver and its environs making photographic and video documentation which influenced the painting of Glass City and Tent City. - Curator, Petra Watson.

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Eleanor Bond - Quick aging pivoting city


Button Wall was created for the CAG by Rethink Communications as the first step in the CAG’s first-ever public awareness media campaign. Fifty thousand buttons, each bearing a word that might describe your response to an artwork, were attached to the façade of our building. In less than 48 hours almost all of them have gone walking, attached to gallery visitors and now circulating among a vast potential audience for contemporary art in the city.

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CAG Button Wall


Words and phrases in the English language can function in many different ways. Certain words have multiple meanings depending on their context, while the context of a certain phrase can completely change how we understand it. Many contemporary artists have turned to the use of language and text in their practice for this reason; they allow the evocation of multivalent messages.

Currently, Stefan Brüggemann’s Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies covers the façade of the CAG. This piece, which has become a popular conversation topic around the city, takes found phrases and places them in a very different context than their origins. Looking at these Hollywood movie quotes and recent news headlines next to each other causes one to think about them in a completely new way. Their large size and bold colours impose them onto the viewer and into the built environment of the city, rather than their traditional positions as mere utterances or words on paper.

A short look back through the CAG archives brought me to another fascinating textual installation. There have been many over the years, including those by Meriç Algün Ringborg, Tim Etchells and Raymond Boisjoly among others. A particular piece by Nathan Coley, however, struck me.

As part of his wide-ranging practice, the Glasgow artist takes found phrases, enlarges, illuminates and erects them on scaffolding in specific locations. When I encountered his piece There Will Be No Miracles Here (2006) earlier this year in Edinburgh, Scotland, I was taken aback. Placed outside the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which holds many things that I personally consider “miraculous,” I was both offended and intrigued by this statement. At the time I was not familiar with his work, as I assume is the case with many people who stumble upon his pieces that are placed in public space.

Part of his CAG exhibition in 2012, Coley’s installation in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver featured the phrase We Must Cultivate Our Garden (2006), perched atop the roof of the Pennsylvania Hotel. This line, taken from Voltaire’s Candide, took on a new role in this context. The built environment used by Coley was altered by the introduction of this sculpture into the architecture of the neighbourhood. Similarly, the meaning of the phrase itself changed; many are aware of the ongoing and various issues in the Downtown East Side community, and this sculpture addressed the need to fix these in an almost forceful manner.

Nathan Coley’s outstanding monograph spanning the last 10 years, A Place Beyond Belief, can be purchased in the CAG book shop. Make sure you visit Bruggemann’s installation before it comes down on September 7th, and check out his publication in our book shop as well. Our summer book sale is happening now in the CAG book shop and online; use the coupon code CAGSUMMER on check out for a special discount of 40%!

- Kelli Sturkenboom

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From the Archives | Text in Context


As someone who was born in the early 90′s and grew up as a teenager in the 2000’s, at times I forget what it was like before the age of the computer. While going through the Contemporary Art Gallery’s Auction archives dating back to 1989, it is fascinating to examine all the hand written documents, check lists and auction data transcribed on paper, instead of entered into Excel, Microsoft Word, or Raiser’s Edge.

It is amazing and a privilege to see how much the CAG and the Gala & Auction event has progressed over 25 years. I feel as if I am witnessing and contributing to its overall history and cultural significance – all the artists that have shaped the Vancouver arts scene, who have generously donated work to support a non-profit organization; an institution that strives to give back to the local, national, and international community, both arts and non-arts related.

It is intriguing to think of the initial Gala and Auction at Sophie’s Cosmic Café featuring works of artists who were both emerging and established at that time, and who have continued to significantly contribute to the art world in their own way. There were quite a few names that resurfaced over the 25 year span, as well as iconic names that represent historical transitions in the art world – such as artists of the 60s and 70s, like Mary Kelly and Nam June Paik who both donated work to the CAG’s Auction in 1993.

Nam June Paik was very influential in the art world during the 60s and is arguably considered the founder of video art. Paik and his wife Shigeko Kubota were involved in performance art during the Fluxus/Happening movement in the 60s – a key transition in the art world out of modernism into a postmodern mindset. Mary Kelly’s work is studied for its contribution to the Feminist dialogue that took form in the 70s – her piece, Post-Partum Document (1973-79), challenges the stereotype of pregnancy and what it means to be a mother.

Artists who donated work multiple times that are familiar in the Vancouver context are Landon Mackenzie, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Marian Penner Bancroft, Ken Lum, and others.

The rich history located in the Contemporary Art Gallery’s Auction archives gives a precursor of what will be presented at the Gala & Auction this year, yet another chapter will unfold adding to the constantly evolving dialogue of the art world.

- Olivia de Fleuriot, Development Assistant

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Into the CAG Auction Archives: How It All Began


CAG Curator Jenifer Papararo joins our series of CAG book recommendations with a short review of the popular 2004 publication SUPERNATURAL.

SUPERNATURAL: Neil Campbell & Beau Dick
Curated by Roy Arden
Exhibition: March 12 to April 25, 2004

When I began working at the CAG in late 2004 this exhibition catalogue was well under production, in its final stages of proofing and colour correction. Unfortunately, I missed the exhibition SUPERNATURAL curated by Roy Arden, but feel the catalogue captures the radical and reflective drive behind pairing the wall and collage work of abstract painter Neil Campbell next to the masks of master carver Beau Dick.

The slim hardcover book which respectively features an image of each artist’s work on the front and back covers, immediately sets a formal opposition between the two artists practices: Campbell’s as a cool white and Dick’s bathed in dramatic black. The numerous installation shots throughout the publication establishes this divide, showing Campbell’s work presented in the typical starkness of a white cube while Dick’s work is suspended in darkness.

The aligning of these two artists is mysterious, but also seems to make perfect sense. Arden states, “Supernatural aims … to entertain the similarities of intention, means, and effect in their work without losing sight of their significant differences.”

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SUPERNATURAL can be purchased, with a special discount of 40% during August, either online (click on the titles above – on check out use the coupon code CAGSUMMER) or in person at the CAG bookshop.

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Jenifer Papararo recommends…SUPERNATURAL


Continuing our Summer series of book recommendations from CAG staff, volunteers, interns and board members, CAG Director Nigel Prince highlights  three publications from the CAG’s thirty year publishing history:

 

Some Detached Houses
Robin Collyer, Todd A Davis, Dan Graham, Amy Jones, Bill Jones, Robert Linsley, Warren Murfitt, Margaret Naylor, Ed Ruscha, Nancy Shaw, Greg Snider
Contemporary Art Gallery
March 29 – April 1989

This was a crucial exhibition and publication linking West and East Coast conceptual practices, including a number of key artists. The photograph on the cover is an aerial view of the Eastside of Vancouver circa 1960. Included in the exhibition were Dan Graham’s New Balloon Houses, Surrey made in the then suburb of Vancouver. It was one of the first CAG publications I purchased on my initial visit to Vancouver in 2000.

 

Catalogue
Ron Terada
Contemporary Art Gallery
November 14, 2003 – January 4, 2004

Terada often uses the things normally thought of as ancillary to art itself as raw material for exhibitions, for example, by employing promotional and didactic material as the objects for display. Catalogue took the form of an exhibition publication but highlighted the patronage of those who collaborated with the artist in support of the show by their logos becoming the actual artwork on display on the gallery walls. The book itself becomes the exhibition representing everything that it encompasses.

 

For Example: Dix-Huit Leçons sur la Société Industrielle
Christopher Williams
Contemporary Art Gallery
January 14 – March 6, 2005

A key exhibition for the Contemporary Art Gallery and the artist, Christopher Williams’ work grows out of the history of conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s, which used language and photography to address issues related to painting and sculpture. The publication, beautifully designed and conceptually rigorous with the exhibition, was curated by Claudia Beck, an individual who along with husband Andrew Gruft has made a significant contribution to Vancouver’s artistic scene.

 

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All three of these publications can be purchased, with a special discount of 40% during August, either online (click on the titles above – on check out use the coupon code CAGSUMMER) or in person at the CAG bookshop.

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Nigel Prince recommends…three CAG publications


This past Saturday, the CAG held its monthly Family Day. Participants crafted landscape collages in response to Kelly Richardson’s Legion. A few of the volunteers and I decided to have a little fun and create our own! From the beginning of my piece’s construction, I had a vague idea of what I wanted my collage to look like. Halfway through, however, I realized it had completely changed as I sorted through the materials we had and gained new inspiration.

Experiencing this process myself got me thinking about the art-making process in general. Artists may start with a certain idea about how they want a piece to look, but the finished product is often very different from the initial plan.

On looking through the CAG exhibition archives, an exhibition in 2010 by artist Elizabeth McIntosh, Violet’s Hair, explicitly seems to address the artistic process. Vancouver based, McIntosh is known for her abstract paintings. When one looks closely at many of her canvasses, faint clues to how the paintings have evolved can be seen. As well as a selection of paintings McIntosh also transformed a gallery room into a collage itself. Colours From a Story (2010) overlaid large, colourful pieces of paper in various sizes creating a sculptural representation of her art-making process. This piece addressed how McIntosh approaches painting; various colours overlapping creating new shapes and the painting itself revealing process and change.

This idea can also be applied to how we view art ourselves. Approaching art that we have never before seen, we often do so with uncertainty. One can never know how the experience will be until we are in front of it and letting our imagination run wild. Sometimes it is useful to wait to read about an exhibition until after you go through it for the first time, allowing yourself to creatively contemplate what it means to you at first glance.

We hope that you will visit us at the CAG for the next family day on Saturday, August, 30 (12-3pm) to enjoy the making and the experience of art.

- Kelli Sturkenboom, Communications intern

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From the Archives | Art-Making & Artistic Process


Looking back on past CAG exhibitions, a particular performative piece caught my eye; one that seemed to involve a simple, wooden chair. Max Dean’s 2008 exhibition Robotic Chair took a familiar household object and transformed it into a shocking and thought-provoking piece. With the help of robotic technology, the chair would move, fall apart—and then pull itself back together.

It is exciting how technological developments have allowed artists to create pieces that express ideas in completely new ways. The great thing about this exhibition, for me, was the fact that the meaning behind this piece was left for the spectator to contemplate. A common theme drawn from it was the idea of hope and picking oneself up after a tragedy. However, as the curator suggested, it also pointed to our human attraction to failure.

I couldn’t help but draw a similarity between this exhibition and Kelly Richardson’s current exhibition at the CAG, Legion.  Through the use of technology, Richardson is able to create extraordinary moving images that transform real, photographed landscapes into completely different worlds; Orion Tide (2013) and Leviathan (2011). These images are presented in a way that invites visitors to sit down and become immersed in the landscapes, drawing their own meaning from their personal experience with them.

I have led several friends through this exhibition and all have had completely different responses; some seeing the projections as beautiful and enchanting, and others experiencing an uncomfortable and suspenseful sensation.

Stop by the CAG to encounter Kelly Richardson’s Legion for yourself, and tweet us @CAGVancouver with your thoughts! Also—snag a copy of her publication The Last Frontier, for sale in our bookshop for a special exhibition price of $40.

- Kelly Sturkenboom, Communications intern

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From the Archives | Technology & Landscape


A few months ago, the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were announced, and several of the eight winners had previously exhibited at the CAG. Jayce Salloum, one of the recipients, is a successful Canadian-born media artist who has lived and worked in a variety of locations in Canada, the US, and elsewhere. Continuing to move around and experience new spaces and environments, his “nomadic practice” significantly informs his work, which raises questions of identity and historical, social, and cultural contexts of place.

I came across untitled in our library archives. This book was co-published by the CAG and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on the occasion of the exhibitions NEUTRAL/BRAKE/STEERING at the latter institution from November 12 to December 24, 1998 and 22 OZ. THUNDERBOLT which was presented here from March 27 to May 8, 1999. These photo-installations by Salloum consisted of an archive of street photography featuring images of storefront displays in what the curators called the “overlooked corners” of the urban environment. The installations drew their names from phrases on various items and signs in these displays.

Salloum’s photographs took otherwise banal scenes and transformed them into an intriguing subjective record of his travels; augmenting their meaning by arranging them in certain ways. He challenged the conventional ordering of photographs in a documentary format; presenting an appropriation of these images which forces the viewer to create their own narrative. Looking through some of his images as they were arranged in the book, I was left wondering whether they were taken in the same locale, whether these stores were even open for business, and if there was any human activity occurring around these scenes.

This idea of ordering and configuring is important in contemporary art; the way in which an artist organizes components or pieces in an installation has implications for how the audience derives meaning from and experiences them. Our current façade installation by Stefan Brüggemann, Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies, exemplifies this as well. The phrases painted here can be interpreted in very distinct ways when contemplated next to each other rather than alone, or next to a different phrase. For me, it is essential to think about the way exhibitions and installations are presented by their artists and curators when we encounter them.

Jayce Salloum was also part of a group exhibition at the CAG in 2010, The Triumphant Carrot: The Persistence of Still Life, which explored the practice of the traditional still life genre in the context of contemporary art. More of his work can be found here.

Check out untitled in the CAG Bookshop to find out more, and keep these ideas in mind when you come to see the current shows at the CAG and elsewhere! Tweet us @CAGVancouver with your thoughts on the exhibitions to join the conversation.

- Kelli Sturkenboom

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From the Archives | Jayce Salloum, untitled


As you may have noticed, the CAG is currently closed in preparation for Kelly Richardson’sLegion, exciting new installations which open next Thursday. I have really been looking forward to this one! Flipping through Richardson’s recent publication The Last Frontier, I’ve begun to get an idea of what this exhibition has in store. For her projection and photographic works, Richardson digitally alters her own photographs and video to create environments which raise questions about our relationship with the natural world. As an art history student, I have definitely studied my fair share of landscape-themed pieces, mainly traditional oil paintings from earlier centuries. Looking through past exhibitions and CAG publications, I have found it interesting how this theme of “landscape” has been tackled in other exhibitions here at the CAG in very unique and innovative ways.

In 2000, the CAG published Quick aging pivoting city to accompany artist Eleanor Bond’s exhibition. Bond’s paintings approached a different type of environment; the urban landscape. These large-scale paintings were not meant to represent existing and specific places, rather, they incorporated both actual and imaginary forms. Exploring Vancouver for ten days, the artist took photographs and made videos, and used these as the source to create her own constructed environments on canvas. For me, the knowledge of this process creates uncertainty when looking at these pieces about what is “actual” and what is not.

Cai Guo Qiang’s Performing Chinese Ink Painting was a performance made at the CAG in 2001 involving three different artists, each rendering their own versions of the same site in the same medium. Not only did this bring together the Eastern tradition of ink drawing with the more recent rise of Western performance art, it also posed questions about the “reality” of landscape painting. Although the artists were using the same specific landscape as inspiration, they each constructed their own distinct interpretations. Like Richardson’s installations which feature modified landscapes, the artists used this single landscape as a starting point to create works with augmented and altered meaning.

Sentimental Journey at the CAG in 2009 invited a group of artists from British Columbia to engage with ideas of the personal journey based on eighteenth and nineteenth century Romanticism. In this exhibition, it was not necessarily “landscapes” that were put on view. Instead, the artists went on their own expeditions, gathering information from the spaces they experienced to create their own individual pieces. The resulting works did not necessarily picture the landscapes themselves. While much of the work produced would be seen by many as completely different to the traditional idea of landscape in art history, when you think about it, both these and more conventional styles of landscape painting are based on an artist’s own experience looking at, or journeying through, a specific space.

The CAG’s LANDSCAPE publication examines even more of this subject and is available in our bookshop. Come check out Kelly Richardson’s Legion next week to experience for yourself her awesome and immersive pieces—the opening is on Thursday July 10 from 7-10pm and the exhibition is on until August 31!

- Kelli Sturkenboom

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From the Archives | Exploring the Landscapes of the CAG


This post written by Kelli Sturkenboom is the first in a series titled ‘From the Archives’ which will highlight and explore moments in CAG history related to current programming and events. Look for new posts every Thursday.

I was looking through publications from past CAG exhibitions and stumbled upon a catalogue for Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City, an exhibition displayed here in 1996. Guest curated by Rubén Gallo and Terence Gower, this exhibition featured eight artists from Mexico and touched on notions of the difficulty of explicitly defining “Mexican culture” and “Mexican identity.” The artists were; Rodrigo Aldana, Marco Arce, Aurora Boreal, Eduardo Cervantes, Silvia Gruner, Yishai Jusidman, Daniela Rossell and Saúl Villa. Gallo discussed how, rather than being an exhibition of “Mexican art,” this collection challenges us to think about the limitations of categorizing these works as such.

Currently, the CAG is presenting an installation by Mexican artist Stefan Brüggemann; Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies and the CAG Shop has copies of his limited edition bookwork of the same name.  Although Brüggemann’s first language is Spanish, the installation features a collection of news story headlines and quotes from movies spray-painted in English on the gallery’s boarded-up façade. The headlines are collected from both local and global sources; some even referencing Vancouver.

What I like most about this work is the fact that it creates conversation. I’ve seen many people posting on social media questioning whether it is “for real” or vandalism, identifying their favourite phrases, and guessing what sources some of the lines come from. Like Tendencies, it also addresses the idea of the artist’s identity and whether Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies, with references to Canadian news stories and Hollywood films, can be described as “Mexican art.”

Join the conversation–come visit us at 555 Nelson Street before September 7 to see Brüggemann’s installation and check out Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City and Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies in the CAG bookshop!

Visit the CAG then tweet or post your pics of the mural to @CAGVancouver  #headlinesandlastlines

- Kelli Sturkenboom

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From the Archives | Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City


We are very pleased to welcome Sofia and Eva as Curatorial Interns at the gallery, please read on as they introduce themselves:

Hi, my name is Eva Tweedie, the UBC CCST Curatorial Intern. I am halfway through my first year in the Curatorial and Critical Studies (CCST) program at the University of British Columbia and am looking forward to getting some hands-on gallery experience this summer. So far during my time at the CAG I have been working with artists in our upcoming summer exhibition The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes to prepare for the installation of their works. I have also been doing research on other artists who will be exhibiting here at the CAG later this year, and in 2015.

My name is Sofia Stalner and I am a Curatorial Intern and recent graduate from the Critical and Curatorial Studies Program at the University of British Columbia. I have been working on the collection which helped establish the CAG and is owned by the City of Vancouver, updating the database and registry, as well as receiving artworks from the collection that have been displayed throughout Vancouver, primarily on office walls. I am currently compiling information as research toward a hopeful and necessary move of the collection to a larger storage facility.  Here is a little bit of a background on the unique collection we have:

Established in 1971 as the Greater Vancouver Artist’s Gallery, through federal employment programs for artists, the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG) was incorporated as a non-profit charitable society in 1976. From 1971 to 1978, artists were hired for six month periods to produce art for exhibition which was then accessioned into the City of Vancouver Art Collection. The City of Vancouver Art Collection of 3,000 works of art which are circulated in public spaces throughout City buildings and loaned for exhibition to museums and galleries.

- Stay tuned to the CAG blog for updates from Eva and Sofia on their projects and upcoming exhibitions.

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A big hello from Sofia and Eva – CAG Curatorial Interns


“Hello & welcome to the Contemporary Art Gallery!”

Have you been by in the last few months? There are 3 great exhibits showing right now, and you should make time to come visit! When you’re by & chatting with the friendly front desk volunteer, you might spy a few Artist Edition prints behind them. Don’t forget to look behind you as well, because there is another print hanging to the left of the BC Binning Gallery entrance. Let me tell you about these pieces that we have displayed in the entrance foyer. For even more information, visit the publication page at www.contemporaryartgallery.ca

Thomas Bewick, Limited Edition Print, Apr 2009
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, Edition of 75.
$150, unframed

A limited edition printed on a hand press by Iain Bain from the original wood-blocks. Of the 3 subjects, the Bulldog was engraved for the 1790 edition of the Quadrupeds; the Lesser Redpole, and the tail-piece of the man relieving himself beside a fragment of ruined wall were made for the first 1797 volume of the British Birds. What is amazing about Thomas Bewick’s work is both the delicate and intricate marks he was able to make with the tools of the time, and the witty narrative that Bewick injected into his work. To quote the exhibition notes:

Intended as illustrations of ‘some truth or point of some moral’ they provide an invaluable insight into social history while also demonstrating the artist’s imagination and wit. As such these narrative works will provide an interesting counterpoint to the work of many internationally established artists in Vancouver, engaging in image making which critically examines and reflects on the city and conditions which surround them.

Robert Orchardson, Study for Endless Façade ,Limited Edition Giclée print, Nov 17, 2011
Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver / Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, Edition of 50.
$150, unframed

This limited edition print, 13″ x 18.5″, was produced to coincide with the exhibition Robert Orchardson Endless façade which ran from November 2011 until January 2012. The show transformed half of the gallery into another world as visitors walked through a giant triangular entrance way into a science-fiction-like set featuring Robert’s work. I quite liked the following quote from the exhibit notes:

He also sees this sense of possibility inherent in stage sets, where a narrative exists between the material character of the set itself, and the ‘other’ identity it adopts within the context of a play.

His installation partially revisited stage sets designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1955 for a Royal Shakespeare Company production of King Lear.

Rodney Graham Jacob Grimm’s Study in Berlin/Wilhelm Grimm’s Study in Berlin (1960), Etchings, 1992
Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, 2 prints unframed.
$2,000 (pair), unframed

Perhaps you’re stopping by the gallery after having spent some time checking out Rodney Graham’s new exhibition over at the Vancouver Art Gallery? Remember, the CAG is only 5 blocks away from the VAG so you can continue your gallery-viewing excursion all afternoon!

We are showcasing a set of etchings by Graham that was published by the Contemporary Art Gallery in 1992, and was conceived in relation to Five Interior Proposals for the Grimm Brother’s Studies in Berlin (1992), the project Graham exhibited at Documenta in Kassel, Germany. The images are variations on the studies occupied by the Brothers Grimm in the 1860s in Berlin, based on period watercolours.

Scott Massey, Via Lactea (above Glacier Lake) – Limited Edition Print, Feb 2012
Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, Archival inkjet print, edition of 15, unframed.
$150, unframed

There is still time to see Via Lactea (above Glacier Lake) at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station (Canada-Line), co-presented Contemporary Art Gallery and Translink for the Canada Line Public Art Program.To coincide with the exhibition, Massey has produced a limited edition, Via Lactea (above Glacier Lake) (2012), an archival inkjet print, edition of 15, 20 x 20 inches.

In Via Lactea (above Glacier Lake), Massey combined 170+ photographs of the night sky on the same strip of film. I like that I can walk down to Davie street and not only see the night sky in the middle of the city, but I also get to see it during the day time. For more information about this exhibition, please see: http://www.thecanadaline.com/

Interested in buying one of these editions? Come down to the Contemporary Art Gallery Tuesday – Sunday, Noon-6PM and speak to someone at the front desk, or email info@contemporaryartgallery.ca.

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Artist editions for sale!


Installation – behind the scenes – images from the exhibition by Kirsten Pieroth,  I don’t know if Thomas Edison invented the excuse in 2004.

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BRICKS BRICKS BRICKS


It is always exciting to retrace the path of an artist you admire.

Today, the gracefulness and lightness of Elspeth Pratt’s work adorns the urban Offsite exhibition space of the VAG. It looks novel and contemporary, seemingly hand-made and whimsical but rendered in a scale that is normally out of proportion to the material.

In this blog entry, I’d like to consider Pratt’s journey towards becoming an important figure in the Vancouver art scene in relation to the CAG.

In several ways the CAG played an important role in her artistic career, being the site of her first solo exhibition. In 1985, Pratt  reflected on social commentary, urban issues, art, architecture and man-made environment through her formal sculptures.

In 1988, Robert Linsley, with assistance from the CAG, curated an exhibition of three Canadian sculptors held at Sala 1 gallery in Rome.  Among them, Elspeth Pratt would travel to Italy to present her abstract yet gestural sculptures to a European audience in an exhibition entitled “Architettura: Astrazione”.

These are not the only instances Pratt has shown work at the CAG. She also exhibited  Bluff in the gallery’s street front windows in 2007. This site-specific work commented on the lack of foresight that characterises downtown Vancouver’s residential-highrise industry.

Currently Pratt’s name is listed among 1000 others in  the windows as a reminder of the gallery’s artistic legacy and in commemoration of their 40th anniversary.

To view a short video of the artist commenting on her work, please follow this link:

http://www.contemporaryartgallery.ca/_content/uploads/f6387c4a-4921-102c-a8fe-25f148930a79/1276800597_elpseth_final_weLg_Prog001.mov

To read a recent article on Elspeth Pratt’s work at the VAG Offsite location, please refer to:

http://www.straight.com/article-404561/vancouver/two-galleries-head-outdoors

Ksenia Cheinman

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From the Archives – Spotlight on Elspeth Pratt: from “Bluff” to “Second Date”


As a student entering the Library and Information Studies program at UBC, managing, categorizing and organizing information is a common and enjoyable task. However, even for someone who seeks to impose rationality and logic, a dollop of semi-orderly chaos always makes the day more exciting.

Beyond the gallery walls, down a long hallway, past numerous doors, in an unusually bright and clean room is the location of CAG’s archive. While tidy in appearance, with boxes dedicated to various years in the life of the gallery, the content of these time capsules is rather muddled and heterogeneous, making it quite an adventure to sift through folders of its history.

Having been given the responsibility of going through the archive in the anticipation of the CAG’s 40th Anniversary, it became part of my weekly routine; as if a participant in a bingo game, I scanned through the numerous pieces of paper, dates, newspaper articles and rare images to find a winning combination, a highlight of some sort, an informational jackpot.

“BINGO?”, echoed in my mind when I got to the box labeled “1986” and its folders dedicated to the 10th Anniversary of the CAG which was inaugurated with an exhibition entitled “Ten Years Later”, showcasing the work of seven mature artists who were intertwined with the gallery from its inception.  By 1976 the former Greater Vancouver Artists Gallery (present day CAG) had become incorporated as a  non profit charitable society from its beginnings in 1971 obtained the Local Initiatives Project (LIP) grant with which it was able to fund artists Marian Penner Bancroft, Judith Lodge,Liz Magor, Al McWiliams, Richard Prince, Judy Williams, and Robert Young (amongst many, many others) in their production of nearly 3,000 artworks over the ten year period and which became part of the City of Vancouver Collection.

Besides the general interest with regard to what the gallery and its anniversary exhibition were like almost 30 years ago, I found particularly fascinating and differing reviews of ‘Ten Years Later’.

The real “BINGO!” happened when I came across a short, time-stained and hastily cut-out article entitled “Gallery Bingo” by Douglas Coupland. Written when he was 25, this review was already marked by the witty and informal tone he was to become known for later on. Rather than describing the show, Coupland commented on the effect of this anniversary on the institution, on the transformation of the gallery’s image over the years:

“I sensed amongst the crowd an undercurrent of discomfort at their now having become the art establishment, condemned to dressing seriously and playing the role of adults regardless of whether or not they actually feel it.”

Interestingly enough, it seems that by its 40th Anniversary, instead of growing into a more conservative and staid establishment, the gallery has maintained its playful vitality.

Ksenia Cheinman, CAG Library and Archive Volunteer

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From the Archives…Douglas Coupland and ‘ten years later’


The Contemporary Art Gallery is celebrating its 40th Anniversary, and as part of commemorating the occasion we’ve been reflecting on our past, searching through the archives and discovering some random mementos.

We found the above poster in the ‘best of the ’80′s file’, did  you or do you know someone who might have attended any of the advertised talks? If so, we would love to hear your recollections of what must have been some memorable Summer of ’84 Vancouver nights.

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Do you remember the Summer of 1984?


$40.00

Published:
45 pages

This book was published on the occasion of the launch of the Time Top Project public art work created by Jerry Pethick in October 2006 which was commissioned by Concord Pacific Group Inc. The publication contains a pull out booklet with a text by Margaret Pethick and a comic strip drawn by Neil Wedman. The publication contains an essay by Scott Watson and a forward by Jack Jeffrey.

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Jerry Pethick - Time Top Project


$10.00

Published: 01/2000
22 pages

This book was produced on the occasion of the exhibition Quick aging pivoting city, curated by Petra Watson for the Contemporary Art Gallery at January 8 to February 19, 2000. It contains the essay Imaginary Displacement and the Facts of Metaphor by Petra Watson.

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Eleanor Bond - Quick aging pivoting city


$8.00

Published:
14 pages

This booklet was published on the occasion of the exhibition Susan Schuppli: Slow Pressure held at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver from September 6th to October 18, 1997. The publication contains a foreword by director and curator Keith Wallace and an essay by Susan Best.

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Susan Schuppli - Slow Pressure


$10.00

Published:
32 pages

This publication was produced on the occasion of the exhibition Nations in Urban Landscapes held at the Contemporary Art Gallery, October 28 to December 9, 1995 and at Oboro, Montreal in 1994. It includes texts by Marcia Crosby "Nations in Urban Landscapes" and "Lines, Lineage and Lies, or Borders, Boundaries and Bullshit" and Paul Chaat Smith "From Lake Geneva to the Finland Station" and includes a preface by Keith Wallace.

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Nations in Urban Landscapes


$10.00

Published:
12 pages

In this brochure, curator Rubén Gallo introduces the Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City exhibition which took place at the CAG from May 18 to June 29, 1996.

This exhibition was guest curated by Rubén Gallo of Mexico City and Terence Gower of Vancouver. It included eight young artists based in Mexico City. The exhibition was conceived as a response to the stereotypes that circulate about Mexican art being in the tradition of figurative painting or based in folk art. It included painting, sculpture, installation and photography. This exhibition complemented an exploration by the CAG of work by Latin American artists which included Fernando Arias and an exhibition of Cuban art planned in collaboration with the Belkin Gallery for 1997. Tendencies: New Art from Mexico City was presented at the San Francisco Art Institute before coming to Vancouver.

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Tendencies: New Art From Mexico City


$0.00

Published:
22 pages

This catalogue was published on the occasion of the exhibition Lorna Brown: Once Removed held at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver from December 5th, 1992 to January 16th, 1993. The publication contains a text contribution by Monika Kin Gagnon.

Out of stock. Please email contact@contemporaryartgallery.ca if you would like to view this publication in the CAG library or for a pdf of the essay by Monika Kin Gagnon.

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Lorna Brown - ONCE Removed


$10.00

Published:
35 pages

This book was published on the occasion of the exhibition Alan Dunning/Elision held at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver from September 12th to October 17th, 1992. The publication contains essays by Helga Pakasaar and Nancy Tousley.

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Alan Dunning: Elision


$6.00

Published:
14 pages

This catalogue was published on the occasion of the exhibition Judy Davis: BEING PLACED held at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver from September 2nd to September 27th, 1986. The publication contains an essay by curator Christine Elving.

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Judy Davis - BEING PLACED


$6.00

Published:
12 pages

This book was published on the occasion of the first one-person exhibition of Allyson Clay in Canada which was presented by the CAG from April 30 to May 25, 1985. Included is a foreword by curator Christine Elving and a catalogue essay by Russell Keziere.

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Allyson Clay


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