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The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first Canadian solo presentation of work by Swedish artist Gunilla Klingberg, two new interrelated large-scale commissions across the gallery façade and off-site, both challenging and exploiting the opportunities presented at each location.

 

Klingberg’s practice is characterized by the intersection of received knowledge, folk beliefs, popular culture and divergent cultural activities. Her work draws our attention to how complicated the connections between these systems are, but it also plays with the things that arise in this encounter, a pivotal feature being an interest in what is produced by the hybridization of distinct cultures, traditions and geographies. The disparate and heterogeneous are interwoven creating meanings that mutate to form a new context.

 

At the gallery and the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, two murals of seemingly quasi-oriental pattern appear to evoke cosmic mandalas, transforming the individual spaces and enveloping the viewer in light and colour, shifting patterns and reflections. Klingberg’s work surrounds us. We are seduced, made part of a special atmosphere, immersed within the work rather than just looking at it. Her interest in using patterns and movement to manipulate our seeing, to influence our state of consciousness and our sensory impressions, has links with Op Art and the psychedelic movement of the late sixties, appropriate touchstones in the recent history of the counter culture in this part of the world.

 

However, what at first glance appears to recall a certain set of values and moments in time has another dimension, a different shared experience. If we look more closely we see that the intricate ornamentation, the symmetrically repeated symbols of these murals, is made up of something much more mainstream, corporate logos from Canadian low cost and high street stores. Concepts are intertwined: while science might appropriate metaphors from mythologies or New-Age ideas borrow from the language of the natural sciences, here spirituality merges with everyday consumer culture. Klingberg suggests that they are analogous, that both seem to promise the same thing: a state in which nothing is uncomfortable or threatening – the possibility of total, rapid satisfaction of our needs and desires, accessible to everyone. The images are so familiar that we no longer think about them, yet they present a subconscious influence uniting us in a no-man’s land between the public and the private. She evokes a spirit of community, or of communality, and poses questions regarding what it would be to have something in common.

 

Amid the proliferation of progressively similar goods it is the small, meaningful differences that count. The world around us is increasingly transformed into a surface filled with signs—computer screens, urban space, advertisements, the pages of newspapers— the most tangible properties being disposability and change. It is these surfaces that concern Klingberg. Our urban environment, its dwindling public places increasingly invaded by homogenous architecture and development, the objects we own, all constitute an intricate system of codes, messages and ideologies, our choices and participation tantamount to consuming. The boundary between art and design is often drawn along the line of utility and usefulness. But the edge becomes increasingly elastic when the difference between the values of these forms depends not so much on their functionality as on their seductiveness or power of rhetorical persuasion. Thus Klingberg’s work moves further than a mere critique of brand fetishism, the lure of contemporary global labels, beyond just pointing things out and rejecting them. It poses the awkward question of whether being alternative to a mainstream or on the “outside” is any longer possible. Might a more critical and appropriate assessment lie in revealing and acknowledging the subtle and insidious way in which we are all drawn into a sense of fascination with the things that surround us. Through her work we find ourselves in a situation in which we feel the power of images and beliefs being examined. We are all complicit.

 

The exhibition is supported by Iaspis, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists.

 

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Gunilla Klingberg - Brand New View (Vancouver)


Headlines & Last Lines in the Movies transforms the façade of the Contemporary Art Gallery, wooden cladding covering its frontage and south east corner. Resembling a construction site, the structure becomes the ground for the work; the title a precise description of itself.

In this new mural, Brüggemann writes headlines from current newspapers, from local to global, in combination with excerpts of last lines from popular films. “Forget it Jake, its Chinatown” could be spray-painted next to “Enbridge Pipeline Rejected”, the juxtaposition of appropriated texts creating both a familiarity and an oddly appropriate pairing suggestive of narratives that may exist to connect current news items with scripted dialogue.  With one text residing in the real, the other in the fictive, in combination they create a barrage of information that Brüggemann unifies into a totality of black text. The overlay forms a graphic field that is only partly legible, language creating an immersive installation that draws colloquial phrases into dense cacophonic arenas. The work seems declaratory, but what it is trying to communicate is drowned out by volume, intensity and opacity.

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Stefan Brüggemann - Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies


At the Contemporary Art Gallery we present a solo exhibition by Turkish artist Meriç Algün Ringborg, her first in a museum in North America, comprising a new large-scale commission sited across the façade of our building. Visitors are invited to ‘read’ the gallery, the work wrapping around the outside as individual phrases envelope the physical structure.

Through the appropriation of methodologies that include collecting, systematizing, and list making, much of Algün Ringborg’s practice centres on notions of cultural identity, language, belonging, and the adjoining bureaucracies. In 2012 Billboards were made for the exhibition Show Off that took place in Malmö and Nicosia respectively. The questions presented derive from The Concise Book of Visa Application Forms, 2009, the work inserting queries for private information into the public realm. At a time when immigration is at the forefront of topical news stories, the project gained significant resonance. Line No.1 (Holy Bible) (2010) was first realized at Index in Stockholm, the complete contents of the Bible running as a single line of text at eye level around the gallery room. A second version in the larger space at Witte de With, Rotterdam incorporated different versions and translations aside from the King James Version of 1611 first used in Sweden, to create a topography of vertical lines mapping across the space.

The new work at the Contemporary Art Gallery has the English dictionary as its starting point and using only selected definitions of specific words, this ambitious commission appears as a series of inter-related sentences which compose mini-narratives, realized in a way that seems to incorporate different voices and characters. As such the work evolves out of the dictionary akin to a fragmentary novel or short story, a series of episodes branching out into a loose meta-narrative concerning writing as a creative act as implied through the use of this ‘found’ language.

Vancouver, a city renowned internationally for the significance of its visual arts practice that conceptually re-pictures space and assigns meaning of the global in the local, provides a stimulating and challenging context for this piece by Algün Ringborg. Shown outside, the work intervenes in the urban fabric, addressing the narratives implicit in everyday routine and our daily lives. Furthermore its siting on the external surface of the gallery incites an evocation of the porosity of meaning that may emerge from such a public institution, through a contemplation of and dissemination of ideas seeping into the public domain. One might anticipate visitors and viewers are prompted into a personal reflection on reading the text based on recollection of previous encounters and exhibitions.

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Meriç Algün Ringborg - Metatext


American Leg was Josephine Meckseper’s first exhibition in Canada. For the site-specific work, Meckseper created eight self-contained window treatments in the Contemporary Art Gallery’s street-front vitrines. Originally intended for retail, these window spaces served as ready-made structures for Meckseper’s ongoing investigation into consumer society and archaeology of the present.

Meckseper’s work unites modernism with the formal language of commercial display, combining mass-produced objects with images and artifacts of recent historical and political events. Consumerism as an unrelenting presence in our daily lives is reflected in the artist’s highly polished sculptural installations which offer a critique of capitalist economy and lay bare some of its contradictions.

In her installation for the CAG, she refined each window into austere compositions of single sculptures centred against a black background. A repeated vertical text graphically set in a typeface referencing German Jugendstil added a further critical dimension as well as carried a personal resonance for Meckseper. The text’s aesthetic was appropriated from elements of early 20th Jugendstil architecture in Worpswede, Germany where her great great uncle, Heinrich Vogeler lead a utopian artist movement. Meckseper’s connection of contemporary consumer culture to Jugendstil is its development as a form of aesthetic and political resistance to the mainstream.

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Josephine Meckseper - American Leg


The Contemporary Art Gallery presented the first major exhibition of Vancouver artist Scott Massey. With the discrete work Aurorae sited in the windows and Via Lactea (above Glacier Lake) at the Canada Line station, Massey linked both locations through two new pieces dealing with shifts in notions of time and place and the mutable connections between them. Typically Massey’s work often accentuates and amplifies natural phenomena, often heightened through artificial means or via slight manipulations. His interest in challenging our perception of the natural world or urban landscape is exemplified in a series of photographic and light works.

 

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Scott Massey - Aurorae


Federico Herrero is well-known as an abstract painter who uses unconventional locations and surfaces as a context for his large scale graphic murals. While Herrero at times works inside galleries, he often works with difficult sites whether it is the horizontal expanse of an exposed rooftop or the narrow corner of the custodian’s closet. His work, through form, colour and context directly addresses the division between art and social life, attempting to build a bridge between art as a specialized commodity and its larger place in the community. To address these concerns and extending our exhibition programme into the streets, the Contemporary Art Gallery commissioned Herrero to design a mural for our windows, using his formal vocabulary as a visual membrane, bringing our presence directly into the city. Also working with Autobox Media, the CAG designed a program, using Layar Reality Browser to create a virtual mural to be applied on selected sites throughout Vancouver. The artwork is accessible through any smartphone. Please go to http://offsite.contemporaryartgallery.ca for full details.

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Federico Herrero - Vibrantes


“Please Do Not Touch the Artwork,” is a familiar museum rule. Danish artist Jeppe Hein rendered it glowing red neon. Placed in one of the Contemporary Art Gallery’s street front windows, it confronted the gallery visitor before they had entered the space, and set the tone for what was to come.

For Jeppe Hein’s first exhibition in Canada, he presented three works that physically addressed the viewer’s relation to the art object. Hein’s work has been situated within an extended lineage of Minimalism. It is defined by its close examination of the formal and spatial concerns of the Minimalists as a sincere attempt to develop their concerns and reinvigorate a discourse, not for its historical relevance, but as a still vital energy for contemporary sculptural thought. His two works for the gallery space challenged the convention of the sculpture as a static object. Each offered an opportunity for viewers to experience art outside of the traditional passive role of the art viewer. Both pieces sat still and silent until they were engaged by audiences who, in viewing the artwork, triggered outbursts off sound and movement.

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Jeppe Hein - Please Please Please


Letter to the Editor was a poster project by Allison Hrabluik that was in part an exercise in distribution. Only fifty identical posters were produced with the goal of slowly and subtly dispersing them through Vancouver in somewhat unexpected places. What started in one of the Contemporary Art Gallery’s street front windows slowly spread out over the course of two months. In this time frame, the artist personally approached selected common use businesses, asking them to hang a poster from inside their windows. The poster format was a break from Hrabluik’s animation and video work, but retained a narrative format typical to her early work. The poster was a collage of images of small animals, dolls, twigs and bugs, some of which she reproduced as watercolour paintings while others she left in photographic form. The content at first appeared sweet, but turned foreboding as one began to notice that all the animals are dead and the dolls glare unblinkingly.

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Allison Hrabluik - Letter to the Editor


Derek Brunen’s project for the gallery’s street front windows was recognition of and an invitation to the casual passersby who might not take notice of the Contemporary Art Gallery and its many activities. For Blind, Brunen tailored an array of secondhand curtains. Windows are a logical place for curtains, but they are out of place on the CAG’s uniform retail-like vitrines, under the cement tower and in the still developing neighbourhood. Curtains are an outdated mode of window dressing and not common to urban condos where blinds and shutters are more often pulled closed than drapes drawn. In Yaletown, in the densely populated downtown core of Vancouver, Brunen faced the curtains out, aesthetically arranging them into a united composition that took both texture and colour into consideration. By covering the windows he concealed what was behind them, but by creating a considered composition and directing the colour-field toward the street he asked the accidental spectator to investigate what is behind the curtain. Blind was an invitation to look.

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Derek Brunen - Blind


Andrew Reyes is an artist who lives and works in Toronto. He was included in the show News From Nowhere, curated by Derek Sullivan at the Susan Hobbs Gallery in June 2005 and included in the inaugural show at Diaz Contemporary in September 2005, Toronto. For display in the CAG’s street front windows, Andrew Reyes produced 120 photographic posters. In general, Reyes’ photographic work plays with the aesthetics of advertising, using visual effects to enhance or clean up otherwise mundane or dreary scenes. His series Day Place/Spray Palace (2002) is composed of nondescript generic images from his work place. With a few simple gestures, the careful addition of a couple of flares and sparkles, and by saturating the image with colours, Reyes transforms his ordinary work place into an ideal setting.

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Andrew Reyes - Posters


The Spiders are comprised of Vancouver artist Damian Moppett and Toronto artist Zin Taylor. A collaborative outfit, The Spiders have adopted the sub-cultural administration of fashion in order to operate and produce work. For this exhibition, the street-front windows of the CAG contained a variety of ephemera (posters, buttons, stickers, displays, recordings) documenting The Spiders output over the last couple of years. For this special occasion, a limited edition necklace reading “The Spiders” was made from bent silver wire in a spider-like font and was available for purchase at the time of the exhibition.

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Damian Moppett & Zin Taylor - The Spiders


Ian Skedd is an artist interested in the dynamics of light as they intersect with architectural space. For the Contemporary Art Gallery’s window vitrines, Skedd built large wooden enclosures, with lateral incisions at intervals that mimic window slats. The light from the gallery’s fluorescent fixtures illuminated and animated these structures. Skedd’s work explored distinctions between its appearance during evening hours, when light spilled from within the enclosures through the slats, and the more imposing structural qualities evident during the day; when it may appear as a hoarding around a building under construction.

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Ian Skedd - Wood Slat Screen


Geoffrey Farmer’s installation The Blacking Factory was comprised of three interrelated works: a prop newspaper box, a sculptural installation in the form of a large truck trailer and a film work depicting a window of the Contemporary Art Gallery shattering from an explosive concussion. With these works Farmer utilized the technological expertise of the film industry to create analogies between increasingly sophisticated mechanics of display and the artifice behind the social production of meaning and value. The truck trailer was fabricated in mimicry of those used by movie production companies—an increasingly common sight on the streets of Vancouver—and alluded to the transportation of such necessities as props, lighting systems and costumes necessary to the creation of illusions. The film work rehearsed a set piece found in a wide spectrum of Hollywood films—from action-adventure to thriller—and utilized the unexpectedness of this violent genre staple within and about the gallery to prompt reflection about the context of our perception.

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Geoffrey Farmer - The Blacking Factory


Judy Radul’s performance works engage and investigate the nuances of public life, in particular the broad etiquette of social interaction. Radul installed a series of costumes based on her observation of Vancouver street fashions in the windows of the Contemporary Art Gallery. The project stemmed from Radul’s extensive research into the methods actors use to ‘get into character’ while preparing for a particular performance. Vancouver Costume synthesized the idea of the ‘theatrical rehearsal’ with the artist’s development of characters drawn from local observation. Accompanying the clothing arrayed in the gallery’s street front display was a video drawn from Radul’s voyeuristic public interrogation.

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Judy Radul - Vancouver Costume


In both over-sized wall-drawings and miniature sculptures, Scottish-born, New York-based artist Jill Henderson’s funky bog creatures ooze through the seams of ordinary architectural space. Her installation in the gallery’s street level windows, Highwideshallow, both described the physical dimensions of the windows and repopulated the neighborhood with her colorful homunculi.

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Jill Henderson - Highwideshallow


Brian Jungen transforms everyday commodities into convincing sculptural objects, often with references to First Nations art and culture. At the CAG, Jungen created two new works: One recast the lowly and ubiquitous shipping palette in precious and symbol-rich polished red cedar. Jungen also erected a construction hoarding outside the gallery, with cut-outs looking out to the city skyline and toward the city’s rapid re-development.

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Brian Jungen


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


Please join us to celebrate the opening of exhibitions by James Welling and Meriç Algün Ringborg, Thursday November 14, 7-10 pm.

The Contemporary Art Gallery presents a major solo exhibition of early work by American artist James Welling. Welling emerged as a seminal figure in the “Pictures Generation”, an influential group of artists including Sherrie Levine, Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince. Working in New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s, they were acclaimed for their pioneering use of photography and for opening up a new set of questions about art and the nature of representation. This exhibition, and the publication that accompanies it, are titled The Mind on Fire to evoke a febrile time of energy, thought and production from that period.

At the Contemporary Art Gallery we present a solo exhibition by Turkish artist Meriç Algün Ringborg, her first in a museum in North America, comprising a new large-scale commission sited across the façade of our building. Visitors are invited to ‘read’ the gallery, the work wrapping around the outside as individual phrases envelope the physical structure.

 

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Exhibition Opening | James Welling and Meriç Algün Ringborg


Artist Stefan Bruggemann discusses his exhibtiion, ‘Headlines and Last Lines in the Movies’ at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver. June 13 to September 7, 2014. Video by Brian Lye.

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Video | Stefan Bruggemann


Artist Josephine Meckseper discusses her work and her exhbition American Leg at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, May 2012.

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Video | Josephine Meckseper


Federico Herrero discusses his CAG exhibition “Vibrantes”, September 9, 2011 to January 15, 2012.
Video production by Adrian Buitenhuis.

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Video | Federico Herrero


Aritst Elizabeth Zvonar talks about her work and her exhibition On Time at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, November 2009.

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Video | Elizabeth Zvonar


On Thursday, October 10th a Brand New View (Vancouver) is coming to Vancouver courtesy of the Swedish artist Gunilla Klingberg.

Klingberg uses familiar corporate logos to create quasi-oriental installations that take the cold and corporate and transforms it into warm and inviting art.

A former graphic designer, her work considers how these public icons come into our “private spheres.” She calls her art “craft work” that creates a feeling similar to embroidery.

Klingberg’s exhibition will consist of two murals – one at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line and one on the façade of the Gallery at Nelson and Richards.

It’s the first exhibit of her work in Canada and I’m particularly happy it will be shown outside for people to enjoy as the soggy winter season settles in. Check out this short video to learn more about Klingberg’s work and what motivates her.

- Don Millar, CAG Board of Directors

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A ‘Brand New View (Vancouver)’ arrives…by Don Millar


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


Hi everyone, my name is Sojin. I’m a recent Visual Arts graduate from Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECUAD). During my studies at ECUAD I began to develop my interest in curatorial practice. I’m particularly interested in the idea of space both in its physical and metaphysical (re)presentation. Creating unity out of fractured pieces and coming up with a narrative of my own is what I enjoy the most about curating. Besides my curatorial interest, I also paint and sculpt! For the past two years, I’ve worked with Vancouver’s experimental galleries and artist run centres to study how galleries function. For this year I’ll be working at the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG) as Program Assistant, assisting the CAG team with the highly anticipated public programs and further learning about galleries in depth.

My first week of work was action-packed. For the first couple of days, I studied the two current exhibitions—Aurélien Froment Fröbel Fröbeled and Tim Etchells Who Knows. I had an opportunity to glimpse at how the exhibitions are organized from scratch by being involved in the process, you will be surprised to know the amount of time and effort it takes to actualize an exhibition. In the last few days of the week I helped staff and volunteers with the packing of Mungo Thomson and Erin Shirreff publications for them to be shipped to the Los Angeles Art Book Fair, which the CAG is participating in.

There always is a bitter emptiness when art works are taken down from gallery walls. The spatial emptiness was particularly evident in the de-install of James Welling’s show since the exhibition itself was quite bodily in its presentation. As you can see from the pictures above, Welling’s works were packed up into crates, leaving only the skeletal structure of the walls that once embodied the energetic volume and rhythm of the corpus. The memory lingered on me for a while.

In no time at all the new crates arrived, walls were painted white, but more importantly, the artist Aurélien Froment arrived. During the conversation I had with Nigel Prince, the Director of the CAG, I was able to imagine the new exhibitions viscerally. For Fröbel Fröbeled, the gallery is divided into two different spaces, one for adults and the other for children; Fröbel’s Gifts will also be displayed on plinths for public interaction. Fröbel, a founder of kindergarten and an inventor of the Play Gifts, will be introduced with photographs. When you come see the show, it is important to understand that these Gifts are not just cylinders, spheres, square blocks and strings, but are creative tools to (re)imagine oneself in relation to the Universe or to something much more expansive. Meanwhile, the building’s façade features a new neon commission by British artist Tim Etchells. The façade is set up with twenty-two phrases of single line block neon letters stating ‘I KNOW, ‘YOU KNOW’, ‘WE KNOW’, ‘THEY KNOW’. The short sinister statements along with vibrant neon colours makes it seem like you are standing in front of someone who is looking deep inside you. Full of character and attitude, Etchell’s neon works bring out an eerie but comical atmosphere to the neighborhood. The display sparks with theatricality in the text with the very act of reading and further investigates the idea of surveillance with humor and wit. The works of both Aurélien Froment and Tim Etchells suggest new ways of understanding identity formation through various interactive approaches.

For this partnership with PuSh International Performing Art Festival, Etchell’s Sight Is The Sense That Dying People Tend to Lose First and The Quiet Volume was also available for public viewing.

I am thrilled to work on these multi-faceted exhibitions, exciting off-site programs and performances. I am sure that the dialogue they create with the public will disseminate well beyond the walls of the gallery.

I look forward to meeting you all!

Sojin

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First week on the job!


$10.00

Published:
40 pages

This catalouge has been published on the occasion of the installation Wheel of Everyday Life by artist Gunilla Klingberg at Rice Gallery from January 31st to March 13th, 2013. Through covering up entire architectural spaces with ornate, circular patterns that were constructed from everyday logos and brands and resemble sacred mandalas, the artist explores her interest in consumerism and forms of Eastern spirituality. The publication contains a foreword by director Kimberly Davenport and an article by Houston-based arts writer Kelly Klaasmeyer.

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Gunilla Klingberg - Wheel of Everyday Life


$40.00

Published:
232 pages

Picturing 100 works made between 1969 and 2009, this publication categorizes Kay Rosen’s language works according to six conceptual and formal strategies that the artist has regularly employed: colour, sound, “anti-grammar,” letters, systems and patterns, and graphics.

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AKAK - Kay Rosen


$35.00

Published: 10/2010
114 pages

Edited by Rachel Hooper, Gail Kirkpatrick, Heike Munder. Text by Sylvère Lotringer.
In her photography, videos and installations, Josephine Meckseper (born 1964) sets images of political activism—photographs of demonstrations, newspaper cuttings—against twinkling consumer goods and advertising motifs. This publication concentrates on a new series of works, such as the installation Ten High (2007) in which silver mannequins bear anti-war slogans.

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Josephine Meckseper


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