Vancouver Art Gallery forming artist advisory group on relocation plan

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      The Vancouver Art Gallery says it is establishing a special advisory group to hear what artists have to say as plans for a new replacement gallery in downtown Vancouver move forward.

      The VAG wants to relocate from its Robson Street home to a city-owned block at West Georgia Street and Cambie Street. The gallery is seeking for the city to set aside the site for development of a purpose-built gallery. A report about the future of the site, a former bus depot, is expected to come before city council in February.

      VAG officials today (December 13) announced the plan to create an artist advisory group to offer feedback and recommendations as the plan for the new gallery is developed. A statement to media from the gallery did not include any details about who would be involved in the group. The gallery could not be reached immediately for comment.

      “It is critical to us that the voices of those who work in the visual arts are heard through this process,” VAG director Kathleen Bartels said in the statement. “Over the summer, the gallery reached out to an even wider array of arts stakeholders and institutions to continue the discussion about what the needs of the community are, and this new advisory group will ensure the needs of those who will most benefit from a new gallery will be well represented.”

      The VAG’s proposal for a new gallery has already generated widespread support from the local arts community. Hundreds of people involved with the visual arts have added their names to an online letter in support of the plan.

      Gallery officials argue the current gallery in the courthouse building on Robson Street is too small and the new space is needed to properly house and display the collection.

      The announcement about the new advisory group comes shortly after Vancouver condo marketer Bob Rennie pitched his own idea for the future of the gallery. Rennie has proposed creating a decentralized system with several separate gallery spaces. He said his plan would cost around half as much as a new $300-million gallery.

      VAG officials are also expected to release information about their business plan for the new gallery in the coming weeks.


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      Dec 13, 2012 at 12:54pm

      The usual suspects among the artists on this laughable advisory panel risk being regarded as the Elton Johns of the visual art world. Fat, rich and tilting towards right wing dementia.

      The VAG is all but a lost cause unless it sheds all the dead weight among the executives and curators.

      For art lovers in Vancouver the smart move is to seek out the little known independent artists and the art collectives and grass roots artist's orgs.

      joe blow

      Dec 13, 2012 at 2:17pm

      Rennie's idea is solid, and it includes a contemporary photography space and a building for historical works. Much gets left out though, which is why as an artist I believe the collection should be further divided into something I would call the 'open air west hastings contemporary practices collection' This requires no further capital for my idea.


      Dec 13, 2012 at 11:55pm

      It is interesting to hear "it is critical to hear from those working in the visual arts" since the VAG has never considered local artists worthy unless fostered by a tiny group of gallery and artistic elitists. There has never been any relationship between vancouver galleries and vancouver artists (but for the few, all from one or two galleries selected) and the VAG. Over the years I have seen a huge amount of expertise and talent thrown aside and ignored with cronyism and nepotism installed in its place. The VAG is more like a bunch of rich friends trying to impress each other and ignoring some truly brilliant local talent that have all but been physically kicked in the ass by the VAG. It is commonly understood that a number of very good ideas have been presented to the VAG and a few of them could have generated several more million dollars in revenue and further involvement with local artists and have been rejected largely because the "status Quo" is the most important thing going on there and any new and fresh idea are viewed as threats to their status. The VAG only works with a select few galleries and thumbs their noses up to all the others (a very sizeable community which long ago stopped trying to contribute anything to the VAG because of their constant rejection of everything that didn't fit into their form of "fine art").
      I believe Mr Rennie's idea to be brilliant (or another would have been to build a skywalk over to at least 25-50,000 square feet in the old Sears building costing less than 300 million dollars) but the fact is the politics and safeguards preserving the status Quo are so entrenched in this community I'm afraid any good idea will be rejected and the self aggrandizing proposal of the current director will likely win out.
      There are so many talented people in this city that have been burned and insulted by the VAG and its policies that I doubt if there ever will be any productive bridge between the talent of the city and the politics as usual of the VAG. So this statement of "hearing from the artists" is simply a useful political statement that has no meaning other than preserving the status Quo.

      out at night

      Dec 14, 2012 at 12:27pm

      It would be great to have a cultural installation like an art gallery at Cambie and Georgia. That corner of the downtown is always in danger of sliding off the map as it is currently made up of two arenas that are only activated when there's an event on, the Queen Elizabeth (ditto, and whose giant plaza is a great if under-utilized space), the post office, the library and the CBC. See, there's definitely some potential there, but what is needed is a substantive anchor that is accessible for hours a day/night, active, engaging and will encourage much more fun goings on in that section of town. It could have a very pleasant, synergistic effect with the theatre complex, library, even the big stadiums so I hope this goes ahead. Wouldn't it be nice to lose that dead zone that currently exists between downtown and Chinatown/Gastown? With things heating up in that 'hood development-wise (a mixed blessing, I know, but seemingly inevitable), having something like the VAG in there will be essential to keeping that area from becoming a de facto gated community of condo-dwellers and snooty boutiques.


      Dec 16, 2012 at 11:35am

      I agree with pavlik that hearing from the artists is probably a sham, but for good reason I think. The VAG is NOT in the business of promoting local art--that is a job for commercial galleries. (The VAG is supposed to be a museum and not a gallery in the commercial sense.) However, to pavlik et. al. the gallery does seem to be obsessed with recent and purely local art--so you should be happy. The problem is the local and recent art produced in Vancouver isn't very good by historical standards (even if the critics like it and the audience doesn't know better). I'm not saying we should abandon this art--there may be things to be learned. But the primary area of weakness in the collection is the lack of any sort of global historical focus. Have you ever seen a 15th century European painting in the VAG's permanent collection? Or how about an African mask? Silkscreens from Japan? A Pre-Columbian figurine? The VAG may possess such things, but we've never seen them, and either way, that's our loss. No offense intended, but input from local artists is irrelevant. What IS relevant is that the VAG has a public educational mission (like every other self-respecting museum in the world) and is getting an F for the moment. A large and beautiful space with architectural details from long ago and far away would be the first step in fulfilling this mission.

      Wayne Buhler/Pop-up art show Larwill Park, Mon Dec 17, 1PM

      Dec 16, 2012 at 7:51pm

      I think would be interest to you.

      A "Pop-up" art show will be on Monday Dec 17 at Larwill Park, possible site of the future VAG. Specifically the EasyPark Lot 21-688 Cambie St. on Mon Dec 17., immediately next to the entrance on Georgia Street.

      This show is important for two reasons:
      1. Location: Larwill Park.
      This will be a "pop-up" show, which I like to think of this as the first show in the new VAG.

      2. When: Monday Dec 17, at 1:00 PM, concurrently with the release of the Missing Women Commission of Enquiry report.

      3. What: There will be a showing of large oil paintings. Please refer to the website:

      4. Who: I am a visual artist, son of a First Nations mother and Western European father. I studied art history and philosophy, at UBC,
      and have had practical training. My resume is available upon request.

      After the show, I will be looking for a gallery to show these, and additional works.
      You may contact me at any time.

      Wayne Buhler