Friday, May 27, 2016

The Ptarmigan Vase

The Ptarmigan Vase was made in New York City by Tiffany & Co. head jewellery designer George Paulding Farnham in 1906. The vase, which was reported on here and here, is made of metals (copper, silver and gold) from a Selkirk, BC mine that Farnham had a share in. Five years ago the National Gallery of Canada saw enough narrative suet on this bit of kitsch to pay Sotheby's over five times its asking price.

For those interested, you can visit the vase at the Audain Art Museum, where it is on loan for the next three years. Whoever thought to place it next to a Bill Reid, well, the unruly side of me gets the joke (if it was intended as such, which it wasn't, I'm sure), while the compliant part takes issue.

Question: Now that the importance of mining, forestry and fishing have receded somewhat in our provincial and municipal economies, why is no one making art with or about our current engine -- real estate? Where is the real estate stage-play? Where is the real estate feature film? The novel? The song cycle? The visual art exhibition? Are commissioning agents so far up the ass of this current "freak show" housing market as to put a kibosh anything that might draw further attention to it?

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