Home » 2008 – The year in Canadian Art

2008 – The year in Canadian Art

1. Prime Minister Stephen Harper ignores the arts. Consequently, art becomes a political issue across the country as Quebec gives Harper the hairy eyeball.

2. The new AGO opens – Frank Gehry’s renovation of Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario is deemed an unqualified success, perhaps partly due to the budgetary constraints he was under. It’s simple in material, but opulent in design.

3. Mark Mayer is named new director at the National Gallery in Ottawa. The youthful 52-year-old brings considerable experience and, hopefully, a flush of new energy to the National Gallery.

4. Feminist art in Vancouver. The WACK show at the VAG is a much-needed survey. As VoCA has long believed, and Holland Cotter observed recently in the NYT, “art emerging from early feminism was and is The Source.” Stay tuned for a comprehensive review of the show next week.

5. The National Portrait Gallery in…Calgary?. With major new public sculptures in the works and murmurs of the National Portrait Gallery moving there, the wealthiest province in Canada vies for cultural dominance.

6. Rumors circulate that Cambridge, Ontario will host the Venice Biennale in years to come, courtesy of R.I.M. (Both art and architecture, possibly…)

7. Mercer Union, Toronto’s oldest artist-run centre, moves into a new neighbourhood at Bloor and Lansdowne, signaling the death knell for the ‘art district’ of Queen Street West West.

8. David Hoffos is about to be discovered. The brilliant, under-the-radar Lethbridge artist prepares for his massive solo show at the National Gallery next fall. Scenes from a House Dream is his Cremaster Cycle.

9. The VAG announces move to larger premises. The Vancouver Art Gallery will move into a new building near the former Expo grounds in Vancouver and will double its size to 320,000 square feet. It’s expected to open in 2013.

10. The Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Musee d’art Contemporain in Montreal Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (click HERE) was the best-designed, most comprehensive and charming exhibition we have seen in a Canadian museum. Ever.

9 Responses to “2008 – The year in Canadian Art”

  1. Open Space in Victoria was founded seven years prior to Mercer Union

  2. Also A Space was founded in 1971 – Western Front was founded in 1973

  3. I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure there was arc activity even before A Space in Toronto…

  4. JD says:

    VOCA never claimed that Mercer Union was the first in the country, just first in Toronto. But, as you point out, this is patently false, also. Here is a short list of Toronto and Canadian centres that precede Mercer Union:

    CFMDC, Toronto, was founded in 1967
    Véhicule Art Inc, Montreal, 1972
    Art Metropole, Toronto, was founded in 1974
    Calgary’s New Gallery (then called Clouds and Water Gallery) was founded in 1975.
    Modern Fuel, Kingston, was founded in 1977
    YYZ was founded in 1979, the same year as Mercer Union.

  5. I do realize what VOCA claimed. As I said, my response is not that of an expert on the subject, but more like that of someone with a martini and a Christmas cracker in my hand. Tis the season and all. Happy New Year and thanks for the info!

  6. AA Bronson says:

    As you can find in my book “From Sea to Shining Sea” (Power Plan, Toronto), the first artist-run space in Toronto was 456 Gallery at 456 Queen Street West (or maybe it was 345 Gallery at 345 Queen Street West, my memory is a little shaky), opened in 1968 or 1969 (I don’t have a copy of my book with me to check the dates). The first space in Canada that I was able to locate was begun in the late forties in Montreal. Other early contenders include Intermedia in Vancouver (1967?) and Forest City in London (not sure of the date, but sixties).

  7. Adam says:

    The first artist-run centre in Canada was Region Gallery founded in London by Greg Curnoe and company in 1962.
    It lasted only a year or two. The Forest City Gallery another London ARC was founded in 1973.

  8. The YSL retrospective was exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and not the MAC.

  9. Andrea says:

    Oops, yes thanks Jeanie..

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