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The CAG presented the first exhibition in North America devoted entirely to the vignettes of British wood engraver, artist and naturalist Thomas Bewick. Born in Cherryburn, near Mickley, Northumberland in 1753, Bewick worked in Newcastle until his death in 1828. Clearly influenced by his childhood on a small farm on the banks of the river Tyne, Bewick’s love of the countryside is reflected in his detailed woodcuts of animals, birds and rural scenes. Amongst his most ambitious projects were illustrations for General History of Quadrupeds (1790) and History of British Birds (two volumes, 1797 and 1804), both of which also included a great number of vignettes. Bewick referred to these as ‘tale-pieces’. 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 provided 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. The presentation of historical work is intended to challenge our understanding of what a contemporary art space should show and as such reinforces the notion that everything was once contemporary, retaining meaning for future generations, just as much as what is contemporary now will inevitably become historical.

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Thomas Bewick - Tale-pieces


Clip/Stamp/Fold was the first exhibition of independent architectural magazines produced in the 1960s and 1970s. It was curated by renowned architectural theorist Beatriz Colomina and a group of PhD students at the Princeton University, School of Architecture. The exhibition was first presented in New York at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2006. It has since met great critical acclaim especially for remaining geographically specific to each city where it is presented. While the concept and presentation elements are portable, the archival magazines vary, being sourced from local collections. Since its debut in New York, it has traveled to the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; Documenta 12, Kassel; AA, London; and Norsk Form, Oslo with plans to go to Madrid and Barcelona.

With the help of architectural critic and curator Adele Weder, the CAG researched and assembled from local collections architectural magazines for exhibition. Clip/Stamp/Fold also included custom wallpaper featuring images of the magazines, facsimiles of historical magazines for viewers to peruse, and a historical timeline examining the social and political contexts behind many of the collected magazines.

For Clip/Stamp/Fold 6, the CAG organized a comprehensive program of talks, inviting architects, writers and publishers from the region to respond to the exhibition. Beatriz Colomina gave public a lecture on the exhibition on October 14.

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Clip/Stamp/Fold 6: THE RADICAL ARCHITECTURE OF LITTLE MAGAZINES 196X-197X


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


Burrard Marina Field House artist-in-residence Raymond Boisjoly hosts a talk and discussion with Nathan Crompton.

Nathan Crompton co-editor of The Mainlander, will speak about the history of the land where Vanier Park and the Burrard Marina Field House are located, previously the Kitsilano Reserve. 2013 marks the 100 year anniversary of the dispossession and displacement of the reserve.

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Field House Talk | Nathan Crompton hosted by Raymond Boisjoly


William Wood is an art historian and critic concentrating on the history of conceptual art and contemporary Canadian and international work in photography, moving pictures and installation. Starting as a critic and editor with C Magazine, Vanguard, Parachute and Public, Wood went on to a doctorate at the University of Sussex and has taught at universities in the United Kingdom, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. Recent publications include essays for Ian Wallace: At the Intersection of Painting and Photography and Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965–1980. Forthcoming are writings on The Piano, an exhibition held at the Art Gallery of Alberta this past summer, and Michael Morris: Letters for the Helen and Morris Belkin Art Gallery. For his Feedback talk Wood addressed his remarks to the theme of the para-photographic as it related to the James Welling exhibition and other artists working with photography.

This series invites cultural and critical producers to present thoughts and ideas rooted in their own interests and practices, and invites audiences to join in the conversations that will explore relevant contemporary issues, theories, ideas and culture.

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William Wood


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


Broken City Lab (BCL) are currently artists-in-residence at the Burrard Marina Field House. Their four month project, Flagged for Review examines the surrounding site and its relation to current perceptions of the city through a series of initiated conversations. Every Tuesday until the end of April, the collective will host public games, temporary installations and conversations concerning social and political issues present in Vancouver. These will culminate in the production of a series of flags to be installed at the Field House and throughout the city during the last two months of their residency.

For the first two Tuesday night events, BCL are inviting participants to contemplate and define the use of flags in the urban setting, with the  aim of highlighting a range of curious and challenging ideas that inform the ways we experience, imagine and historicize the city of Vancouver.

During the evening on Tuesday March 18, a series of 12 questions were asked  to the attendees. Questions included conceptions of Vancouver as a place and an how individuals engage with politics. It was very interesting to talk about how we perceive the city in positives or negatives and to share with strangers our political thoughts. The evening finished with a game of ‘spin the bottle’ with participants answering the questions one on one with each other and with Broken City Lab members, Hiba and Justin. Above are a selection of images taken by Caitlin Carr from the evening.

UP NEXT:  

Tuesday April 1, 7-8.30pm
Projecting Forward

This Tuesday’s, Flagged For Review gathering with Broken City Lab will imagine what the future holds for the city of Vancouver, with a series of short declarations created and projected onto the Burrard Bridge. These declarations will be our hopes, doubts and dreams for the future of Vancouver.

Broken City Lab (BCL) are currently artists-in-residence at the Burrard Marina Field House. Their four month project, Flagged for Review examines the surrounding site and its relation to current perceptions of the city through a series of initiated conversations. Every Tuesday until the end of April, the collective will host public games, temporary installations and conversations concerning social and political issues present in Vancouver. These will culminate in the production of a series of flags to be installed at the Field House and throughout the city during the last two months of their residency.

The Field House Studio Residency Program is generously supported by the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver.

For this residency we gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the BC Creative Communities Award.

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Flagged For Review with Broken City Lab – Tue April 1


Today at the Burrard Marina Field House! (Saturday September 28th at 4 pm)

Nathan Crompton co-editor of The Mainlander will be speaking  about the history of the land where Vanier Park and Burrard Marina Field House are located, previously the Kitsilano Reserve (Crompton co-wrote an article about the reserve here).   This year marks 100 years since the dispossession of the Kitsilano Reserve, a year the city of Vancouver has also declared  the Year of Reconciliation .

Our Field House Intern (Jaclyn Bruneau) interviewed Crompton about the article and his upcoming talk this past week. Here is an excerpt where Crompton draws out the analogus connection between the history of the dispossessed land and current situations in the city. We will be posting the rest of the interview in the coming days.

Jaclyn Bruneau: Your article in The Mainlander draws attention to the linkage between the kinds of aggressive colonialist displacement and dispossession that took place 100 years ago in 1913, and the accelerating gentrification happening in Gastown, the DTES, and extending as far as Grandview-Woodlands. What kinds of excuses or justifications are people making for these new developments that render such a seemingly obvious linkage invisible? You cite a The Province editorial is titled, “The sooner the Downtown Eastside is cleaned up the better” which touches on this.

Nathan Crompton: I think that “cleaned up” is a telling choice of words in this case. What the editors of the Province want today is what they have always wanted as they lean in on the benefits of a capitalist, colonial society while disavowing the consequences of displacement, exclusion, endemic unemployment in the cities, etc. Our article tries to draw on old Province editorials. There is a 1903 editorial calling for the displacement of the Kits reserve, which describes the First Nations settlement in familiar terms, as an “eyesore” that should be removed because it does not maximize the financial value of the land.

It is important to read those old articles, because despite the passage of time they resonate with our troubled present. What the Province wants to “clean up” is of course the same communities that have been resisting and surviving since the beginning of colonial settlement. This is why the proposed cleaning is so deeply political and social. The cleansing of Vancouver’s low-income neighborhoods is a social cleansing, and we need to look beyond the realm of ideology and discourse to identify the process. The “proposals” being put forward by the Province already being acted upon by the real-estate developers and the police, so we have the white press, the State and capital, each forming their own part of the eternal recurrence of colonialism.

Be sure not to miss Nathan’s talk today at 4pm at the Burrard Marina Field House.

Nathan was invited to speak by our current CAG Field House at Burrard Marina artist-in-residence Raymond Boisjoly. The Field House Studio Residency Program is generously supported by the Vancouver Park Board and the City of Vancouver. The inaugural residency with Raymond Boisjoly is supported by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology.

More of Jaclyn’s writing can be found here, and her tweets over here.

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Interview with Nathan Crompton (Part 1)


$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


$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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