Monday, February 29, 2016

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

On this morning's pillow, last week's New Yorker. Inside it, a story entitled "The Golden Generation" by Jiayang Fan. Here we learn about the fuerdai, the children of post-Communist China's capitalist class, of which Vancouver's Weymi is one.

"Weymi's parents promised her a half a million dollars to launch a luxury-lifestyle magazine, which will be distributed to high-end stores, in order to foster a sense of exclusivity."

That last clause ("in order to foster a sense of exclusivity") appears without direct attribution or irony -- and is yet another reason why this article is worth reading

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Last Card in Marienbad

I know a game I always win.

If you can't lose, that's no game.

I can lose, but I always win.

Friday, February 26, 2016

"When does mastery of the game turn into mastery of the player by the game?"

A paragraph from Scott Watson's essay "Three Masks for Al Neil", first published in The Capilano Review 2.1 (Fall 1989):

Whenever he talked about “art” it was as an entrepreneur who stood outside a game that was already “fixed”. He understands the amorality and gangsterism of the art world and sees himself as a poor player. He realized that it would be through some sort of “construction” that related him to whoever – Rauschenberg, Wols, Bataille – that a context would be provided for the legitimization of the collages. The point was, was it worth it? When does mastery of the game turn into mastery of the player by the game? The works relied on a delicate mastery of energies. The look of them reflected this tension between a refined modulation of delicate distinctions and forces of wreckage, ruin and struggle. Another way to put it is that they relied on a balance between the real and the fake. The “context” of art history was “fake”, the autobiography “real”; aesthetic manipulation of the materials for effect was “fake”; registration of acceptance and resistance to “what’s going on” was “real”.

Al Neil, Player Piano, 1984, ink, water colour, photocopies, and collage on paper. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Scott Watson. Photograph: Teresa Healy

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Art of the Deal

The U.S. Republican Party's leading presidential candidate for 2017 is an artist whose practice includes development.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Artist-Run Centres

Yesterday, while mixed-metaphorically paddling my surf board into that ocean known as the Web, I came upon a story the Huffington Post picked up from the CBC. The headline reads:

"Vancouver's Western Front, Critical of Developers, Gets $1.5M From Developers"

While the words in this headline are true (the Western Front is a perfectly critical institution that applied to a City of Vancouver competition and received a share of a nearby development's cultural amenity money in order to buy its building), there is something about the headline's construction that prefigures what follows from it -- something beyond a contradiction and closer to a moral problem associated with doing business with those who, if the context were different, would like nothing more than to add your land to their next block assembly. But was the Western Front wrong to take this money? Are they "hypocrites," as one CBC post commentator described them?

The Western Front is not the first artist-run centre to buy its building. In 1973, a group of practicing artists purchased that same building to create an art-as-life palais in which to live, work, exhibit and distribute (some of these artists were the sellers of the current building to the Western Front Society). Other artist-run centres who own their spaces include the Grunt Gallery (recall those mid-1990s ads in the Western Front's now defunct Front magazine that featured the Grunt Gallery's Glenn Alteen shoelessly shilling for the development that houses the Grunt's current space) and Artspeak (whose mortgage was recently paid off through the extraordinary benevolence of an artist and a private gallerist). The Or Gallery, which does not own its space, has been trying for years to match a one-time government award to purchase an apartment for its residency program, while that sub-leasing juggernaut known as 221A is, at least for now, post-ownership.

The argument for owning the building in which one does business (be it private or public) is a sensible one, as it remains the best way to protect oneself from soaring land values (and the soaring rents that accompany them). While increased land values also bring with them increased property taxes, owning one's building allows its owner the freedom to modify the building in order to capitalize on aspects of it. Whether this results in the Western Front Society leasing out sections of its building as a hedge against property tax increases remains to be seen. But if that is a consequence of artist-run building acquisitions, where does it end, and at what point does an artist-run centre's capitalization schemes begin to stand in for what we once referred to as its art?

At bottom is a picture of the current VIVO space, located at what was once the unthinkably distant address of 2625 Kaslo. For years VIVO occupied the main floor of a building between 3rd and 4th Avenues on the west side of Main Street, and for many of these years had an opportunity to purchase the building from its artist-friendly landlord. Had VIVO done so, it would be the wealthiest artist-run centre in the country. But like Melville's "Bartleby", it ultimately preferred not to, and there is something to be said about the integrity of this gesture when compared to what can accompany ownership -- and the context in which we experience its art.

Mash Up

Last week the VAG opened its all-hands-on-deck, four-floor Mash Up: the Birth of Modern Culture. I have not yet seen this massive exhibition, but my heart is with the gallery's indefatigable preparitors, who, if this were Soviet Russia fifty years ago, would be rewarded for their work with a week at a dacha on the Kavkazskaya Riviera.

Speaking of mash ups, below are three images.

The first is an architectural rendering of the new Polygon Art Gallery in North Vancouver:

The second is the design concept for the new Vancouver Art Gallery:

And the third is a mash up (completed in 2013) of the first and second images -- the current Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Unfurnished Apartments For Rent (2003)

Back in 2003, when a visit to Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery was still a reminder that you were living in a particular city at a particular moment in time, then-CAG-curator Reid Shier organized an exhibition by artist Isabelle Pauwels entitled Unfurnished Apartments For Rent, a "book-sculpture," as it is described on the gallery website, "written as a mock screenplay and comprised of seven scenarios."

Rather than attempt a synthesis of what is already a rather compact exhibition description, I will leave it to the reader to click here for what remains of a story that has the characters in Pauwels's screenplay so tapped out from the rents they are paying that they have to mine the walls of their lodgings so that they can afford (to make) their furniture.

Monday, February 22, 2016

What Are We Paying For If Staying More Means Paying More?

Given the numbers in yesterday's post, and in light of recent increases in City of Vancouver property assessments (up 30% in my East Vancouver neighbourhood), it would not be unreasonable to expect an increase in property transfer tax revenues, as many Vancouverites unable to manage these relatively steep property tax increases (and who are still too young to defer their taxes) will have no choice but to sell their homes.

Hard to feel sympathy for this lot, given the equity many of them have in these homes. Some will adapt by creating rental suites in their basements, which the City relaxed restrictions on years ago as the housing market began to ramp up. But then, what are those in need of housing getting in exchange for the $1,000+ a month in rent they are paying to live in a below-ground one bedroom? And where do those who have a stake in this city go if they sell their homes because they can no longer afford their taxes?

The above questions invariably arrive at the bigger question: Why would anyone want to live in a city that has forsaken liveability for unlimited growth? Although some might cite children, grandchildren, friends and jobs as a reason for staying, others might speak of intangibles that are not linked to blood, affinity or finance. The mountains and the ocean are beautiful things to look at while hiking along their trails or walking along its beaches. But after a while, even Nature looks ugly when the Culture of this city has money as its lingua franca.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


A May 16 2014 Georgia Straight profile on real estate marketeer Bob Rennie states that "there are more than 284, 000 households in the [Greater Vancouver] region with people between 55 to 74 years old." (The source is the Urban Futures Institute.) Of that group, 128, 000 have clear-title. The combined value of these titles is 113.4 billion dollars.

That's a lot of money.

Here's another princely sum: in the past fiscal year, the BC provincial government received 1.15 billion dollars in property transfer tax, with 25% of that coming from taxes collected by the City of Vancouver. (The source here is the Vancouver Sun, by way of a freedom of information request.) Between April 1, 2014-March 31, 2015 there were 16, 635 transactions in Vancouver proper. The fiscal year that ends next month is rumoured to be 20% higher than last year.

What to make of these numbers?

On the topic of the Vancouver housing market, macroeconomic researcher David Madani had this to say:

Prices in that market...have been completely detached from incomes for a number of years.

On speculation and "shadow flipping", Madani and his colleagues at Capital Economics are not surprised:

We think it's all just a credit-driven asset bubble…part of it due to foreign investors…a reflection of easy credit [and] low interest rates…not driven by market fundamentals…an irrational market.

On property price-to-income ratios:

It's over 12 now…affordability is a major problem.

On the role of foreign investors:

No one knows how strong it is because there is no data on it…yes, it's happening, but…it's not the main driver…it's happening all over.

(Note what Rennie said in his Georgia Straight profile: "I believe we have to start admitting that we no longer live in Vancouver, we live on the planet.")

On the role of government as both a property transfer tax collector and an ostensible advocate for affordable home buying options, the question was not asked. However, questions pertinent to government's role (tax breaks for home buyers and builders; an increase in higher-end property transfer taxation; and demographic data collection on property buyers/investors) are addressed in the most recent provincial budget.

(photo: West End from Burrard Bridge [1957] by Fred Herzog)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Vancouver Building Design

Recently I was invited by an architectural firm to contribute a "concept" toward a building design that "reflects Vancouver's present -- with an eye to the future." I submitted the above, and they said they were "intrigued" and would get back to me.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Habitat 76

It is not that I prefer Vancouver as it once was -- a smoggy foggy resource port run by white racist dads and their sons, from Boundary Road to UBC -- it is the path it has taken from that past that ails me.

People often talk of Expo (1986) and the Olympics (2010) as signposts in the history of this city. Another event worth mentioning -- one that focused on liveability over the promotion of neo-liberal space -- is Habitat (1976).

This summer author Lindsay Brown and Black Dog Publishing will release Habitat 76, a book that tells the story of the "Habitat process" and its presence in Vancouver.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Stolen Property

A lot was made recently of a run-down house on Vancouver's west side that was listed at 2.4 million dollars. Why the Vancouver media continues its fascination with stories like this says less about our real-estate driven economy than our media's refusal to inform the public of what is really going on. And no, I don't mean that the price of real estate reflects the land, and not the house on top of it. Nor the un-illegal practice of "shadow flipping". I am speaking here of those who hold title on properties who believe that the land belongs to them (and their bank), when in fact it doesn't belong to them (or their bank), it belongs to the Coast Salish people -- who never sold it in the first place! When are Vancouver journalists going to start reporting the facts and finish their real estate reports correctly, with lines like, "All of which is moot, as the land referred to in this story is stolen"?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Development Strategies

My understanding of capitalism is that the price of a commodity is never so high that no one can afford it. But that is not so with certain commercial real estate properties in this city, which just sit there mute, unfriendly, to say nothing of their unaffordability.

What is the advantage of keeping these spaces unleased? Are these spaces like those at the base of new buildings, street level spaces that are mandated as “retail” by those who grant development permits, but once completed are deliberately advertised at above-market rates so that the losses in potential revenue can be written off against profits made on the residential condominiums above, where the big money is?

How many times I have I walked past a new building that has people living upstairs, only to find the street level retail spaces sitting empty -- for what, the three years the developer-owner is allowed to write off the losses these spaces “generate”? Sometimes the owners have blackened out the windows, and the effect is like that of an obsidian mirror reflecting a figure that stands somewhere between despair and disbelief. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Weathering Vancouver

A foggy morning, like the one in Fred Herzog's CPR Pier & Marine Building (1953).

Once lifted, a view of Robson Street, where retail rents have become so high that no one in his or her right mind would pay them.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Friend - to M.F. (1978)

An artist like any other, but as a painter can get anxious. Fraught with nos and won’ts, nots and don’ts. To pass on the street unacknowledged (by mistake) is to sometimes feel the eyes.

Did Feldman feel Guston’s eyes on him? Did Feldman know Guston was there? We know Guston felt snubbed and that Feldman was prone to his own nos and won’ts, nots and don’ts (and shouldn'ts).

Feldman was a composer, first, but what was his instrument, besides his ear? (A cigarette?) To say that Guston made of Feldman’s ear the kind of painting he quit making is a no, for it is a return, this ear, and that’s a passage anguish makes.

At some point a painter stops being an artist, a pianist a musician, a novelist a writer. Not all the time, or forever, but at some point it is felt and the medium is in danger of being exchanged for the lock on the door that is style.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Insistent Collective Member

But we’re not party-throwers! one of the collective members kept insisting. But everyone knew this, including the curator, who finally stopped the tour to say, Yes, we know you are not party throwers. But given that you are also known for your parties, and before we invite Björk to sing at the opening, we thought we would give you the chance to make something more of it, and at this everyone laughed, including the insistent collective member.

Friday, February 12, 2016


A valentine from the artist Hadley+Maxwell.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Who Am I?

I went to art school, where I gravitated towards design. Upon graduation I opened a design studio, but I did not abandon contemporary art and its systems, its ideas and its materials, but rather sought its integration through what I do as a businessperson and as an artist. After securing a studio space, I came to know the building's owner, but also those who own the buildings around it. From this knowledge, another system, an older one based not on private ownership for material gain, as in speculation, accumulation, but on bettering the conditions of those marginalized by those for whom accumulation is the object; buildings owned and operated by communities that formed societies whose stated purpose is benevolence, the greater good, instigated by those who came to this country, who in fact paid a tax to work here, to help build its infrastructure, and after that brought their families, whose children produced new families in a part of town that was now their own, a ghetto, as some have called it, whose parents and grandparents began their lives there, as I began my business there, a part of town that was soon patronized by those who lived outside of it, who ate its food, bought its pots and pans, its souvenirs, took in its colours, its differences. I could go on, but the point is that those who started these societies and purchased these buildings have grown older and are in fact dying, and with no one to replace them, with fewer people moving in from where they, their parents, their grandparents and their great grandparents came from, well, that’s where I come in, because I see parallels between these benevolent societies and the artist-run centres that are so important to this city’s cultural ecology, so much so that I decided to make a space for a new artist-run centre in the very space where I started my business, and have since expanded my interests to include other buildings, picking up leases and subdividing their spaces to house older artist-run centres and provide studio spaces for artists who are in need of them, eventually expanding to other parts of the city through contacts made with those who own the building I first leased space in, to the point where some might think of what I am doing as an addiction, this amassing of leases and subdividing of spaces, but hey, I am not the enemy, because I have helped those before me, those who started these benevolent societies and artist-run centres, and yes, my desire to take on more spaces has created conflicts with artists and designers who have told me about spaces available in the buildings where they hold leases, where their landlords, who have accepted my higher-than-what-they-were-getting bids on available spaces, have now raised their rates on those who told me about them, forcing them out, which has allowed me to take over their spaces, their former spaces, which I have plans for, to continue my work, which I must say I have a knack for, am good at, and why stop at that, why stop at what I am good at if I am making things happen for those with whom I have something in common? I am not an agent of real estate, but one of change, and change is good, because the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Study in Petulance

At the bottom of this post is a recent piece. Like last week's "Criticism In Search of Its Critics", it is drawn from expeditions in the Art World.

I am posting the piece here because the publication in which it is to appear did a messy job of assigning quotation marks to its speaking parts. As well, the publisher supplied a sub-header that compromises the gender-neutrality of the piece (to say nothing of the publisher's insertion of the masculine pronoun "He" in what is now the second sentence of the third paragraph) -- and in doing so revealed the very assumptions that inspired the piece's gender-neutral attribution strategy.

For those interested in seeing the piece in its hard copy form, with excellent illustrations by Walter Scott, you can find it in the next issue of Mousse (#52). 

Thank you to Mousse Editor-in-Chief Edoardo Bonaspetti for allowing me to post the piece in advance of its hard copy publication and to artist Carolee Schneemann, whose Interior Scroll (1975) photo-documentation appears up top.



The artist’s assistant, who makes the artist’s rebus-filled thought balloons, says to the artist, Can I surprise you with a work of yours, for fun? and the artist says, By all means. With this agreement in place, the artist’s assistant then asks the artist when would it be a convenient time to use the artist’s studio to make the work, and the artist says, Never, and the artist’s assistant says, But you said, By all means, and the artist says, Figure of speech, and walks off.

The follow day, with the artist in the studio reading Kant, the artist’s assistant strolls in with a rebus-filled thought balloon, the sight of which causes the artist to sit up and say, Hey, that is so something I would do! and the artist’s assistant says, It’s yours. But is it something you can sell? and the artist says, No way – it’s a gift -- I love it! Great, says the artist’s assistant, but it’s not really a gift because I would like to recoup the cost of my materials.

The artist looks puzzled, looks back at the work, then back at the artist’s assistant. There’s, like, five dollars worth of materials here, says the artist, and the artist’s assistant says, Up the street they make the best pho tai for five dollars, and that’s what I’d like more than anything else in the world right now – a bowl of their pho tai. O-kay, says the artist, now more incredulous than puzzled, but the studio pays for your lunch, so I don’t see why you would want to pay for it when you’re getting it for free. I don’t know, shrugs the artist’s assistant. You pay me for my labour, but just once I’d like to get paid for my materials.

Fine, says the artist hurriedly, let’s sell it then, but I’ll add the material costs on top of the usual price. But that will look stupid, protests the artist’s assistant; none of your dealers will go for it. That’s the point, says the artist, I want it to look stupid, so when collectors ask the dealer, Why is it twenty-thousand-and-five dollars? the dealer will tell them it’s for material costs. And when they say, Don’t you usually include those costs in the price of the work, then round it off, I’ll get the dealer to say, Yeah, but the artist’s artist’s assistant wanted it that way, and that’s when things will get interesting.

The artist’s assistant understood what the artist meant by things getting interesting, that whoever asks about the price could then say to the dealer, Does the artist always take instruction from the artist’s assistant? to which the dealer could say any number of things, variations of which would position the artist closer to dog-rolled-over vulnerability, a humble position, but ultimately a phony position because whoever is asking will no doubt challenge the artist’s sincerity, after which the artist, as the artist’s assistant knows the artist all too well, will get pissy and back off, insisting that this is the artist’s true nature -- fearless, top dog, dominant – like those who line up to collect the artist’s work.

Which of your dealers do you trust to make things as interesting as you think they will get? asks the artist’s assistant, knowing full well how little the artist thinks of the dealers who represent the artist’s work, to which the artist says, Well, I could script it, with different responses based on the predictability of the questions it’ll generate. Sound’s complicated, says the artist’s assistant adding, Not really your style, is it, to be complicated? And what is that supposed to mean? asks the artist, more than a little perturbed. Well, says the artist’s assistant, when I started working here, you said anything that requires too much thinking is not worth finishing, and because that seems to have worked for you all these years, why mess with it? Because it’s time to change things up, that’s why, says the artist, slamming the door on the way out.

The artist’s scheme and how it unfolded continues to be talked about today, not only among those who asked about the price of the work, but among those to whom it had spread; all of whom – other collectors, gallerists, artists, curators and directors – have added their own tonal flourishes. But for all its variations, for all its speculations and moral judgements, one thing is agreed upon: that the artist’s attempt to make something more of this work (not just five dollars more) did nothing to make it more desirable. In fact, the opposite held true. But it gets worse, because not only did no one want the work, they wanted nothing more to do with the artist. Soon, the talk was not of the artist but of how poorly the artist’s work was selling at the auction houses – until not even the auction houses wanted it. As for public institutions that hold the artist’s work in their collections, none have shown any of it since.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The support on which my latest reading materials sit is a stack of 1970s artscanada magazines I picked up at a garage sale a couple weeks back. The quality of writing in artscanada is higher than what passes for a lot of art criticism today (better sentences, though at its worst it is equally connoisseurial), while the artscanada writer I take delight in, more than all others, is Joan Lowndes.

In her 1972 introduction to the work of Haida artist Robert Davidson (whose work debuted at Vancouver's Galerie Allen earlier that year), Lowndes describes the artist as: "… a spiritual grandson of Max Ernst, who paints monster birds in a sinister no-place lit by pale suns." Such poetry!

Funny our tendency to describe those in relation to others. Just the other day I described Kwakwaka'wakw artist Beau Dick to an Austrian art historian as "our Joseph Beuys." I did the same in an upcoming catalogue essay on Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, where I spoke of the artist's more recent painting phases in relation to modernists like Lorser Feitelson and Robert Ryman.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Claire Bishop and Joan Lowndes

Apropos of yesterday's post, Chris wrote in with Claire Bishop. Indeed, who among us has not read Bishop's 2004 October magazine critique of "Relational Aesthetics"? Bishop's latest book is Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012), where we are reminded more than once of Sartre's oft-quoted line about "other people."

Another critic not on's list is Joan Lowndes, who, like me, was curious enough about Vancouver to remain here, watch it grow and fester. Lowndes was a long-serving art critic at the Vancouver Sun, and through her writing gave us not only an aesthetic history of the city, but a social one as well. Thank you Reid for reminding me of Joan Lowndes.

At bottom is a 1972 piece that Lowndes contributed to the country's largest visual art publication, artscanada (what later became Canadian Art). Up top is a picture of Jytte Allen, a gallerist mentioned in Lowndes's article (thank you to arts reporter Kevin Griffin at the Vancouver Sun for posting Allen's picture and its accompanying text).


Joan Lowndes

New Galleries in Vancouver (1972)

artscanada, early autumn 1972 pg.101.

A mild form of future shock is affecting the citizens of Vancouver. Pleasant homes are suddenly knocked down and carted away in trucks, to be replaced by high rises. Boutiques and cafés open continuously in Gastown, the former Skid Road now purged and prettified by real estate interests. There is a sense of bustle. Money is available for the superfluous or for a new kind of investment, as word has got around that art, THINGS maybe, are safer than stocks.

On this cresting affluence galleries, too, have proliferated. But they know the score. The money is for established artists: prints by Picasso, Mirô, Chagall or a big glowing painting by Shadbolt. Risk capital is scarce. It is in the hands of a few professional people, like chartered accountants or architects, not business tycoons. Even the most idealistic galleries realize that to pay their rent they must sell names. Only then can they afford to support young unknowns.

This is not to denigrate the expanding scene, which makes for welcome variety, but simply to state an economic fact. The opening of the new Bau-Xi Gallery — the most important still — in premises on South Granville Street at the edge of a wealthy residential district, is a symbol of the thrust to capture the non-connoisseur. The original Bau-Xi has an atmosphere of discreet luxury with its golden wall-to-wall carpeting and white walls, but the informality generated by Paul and Xisa Wong and the Bau-Xi babies remains.

Another new gallery of extreme elegance, though small, is Elizabeth Nichol's Equinox, strategically located on busy Robson Street. It has entered the field with a determined professionalism and money for advertising. It handles the work of around 35 artists including such prestigious figures as Albers and Soto, top Canadians like Jack Bush, and a smattering of B.C. artists. So far its emphasis has been on graphics but it also shows paintings and sculpture. Its Summer Stock, featuring serigraphs by Segal, Trova and Bayer, is stunning.

The Galerie Allen, in spacious quarters in Gastown, opened two years ago but only recently achieved any prominence. Jytte Allen, who ran a gallery for eight years in Copenhagen, tried at first without success to introduce lesser known Europeans. However, through international contacts, she has since organized some handsome shows, such as that of Vasarely's silkscreens and multiples. At the same time the drop in level to her local stable can be brutal. An exception was the one-man show by Robert Davidson, a spiritual grandson of Max Ernst, who paints monster birds in a sinister no-place lit by pale suns.

Forced out of fashionable Gastown by rising rents, the Mido Gallery, directed by sculptor Werner True, and Marion Fuller, took itself to Main Street. It is located in a former warehouse for scrap metal, with high ceilings and brick walls. Trucks rumble by and a cement factory is nearly opposite. But many people come in off the street in what is another rapidly changing part of the city. The Mido's initial show was Victoria Perspectives, from which Pat Martin Bates easily emerged as the most impressive artist. Work dating back to 1962 formed a retrospective in miniature of unfailingly imaginative élan. Her latest manifestation, a wall piece in vacuum-formed plastic (Arctic Castle Circle #5), constitutes her first big scale attack on sculpture as opposed to her bibelot-like Plexiglas cubes. The Mido Gallery also intends to carry tapestries by local artists.

Pioneering in the field of photography are the Mind's Eye in Gastown and the Gallery of Photography in North Vancouver. Mind's Eye, upstairs in an old awning factory, is run by two young couples: Randy Thomas, photographer and filmmaker with his wife Kathy and photographer Art Grice with his wife Emily. They combine with the gallery a bookstore on photography and are also screening films made by Canadians on both coasts. In their loft situation they can display well over 100 photos, as they did for the one-man show by Robert Minden, an ex-sociologist now tenderly exploring people from behind the camera.

The Gallery of Photography, more modest in setting, has nevertheless shown work of quality, such as Image 3, in the series put out by the Still Photography Division of the NFB.

Perhaps one should end this ramble at what is the focal point of our loose West Coast system: the Vancouver Art Gallery. Because private galleries must exercise caution and also charge some sort of exhibition fee, there remains an uneasy feeling that many promising artists are barred. The VAG has therefore set aside two small rooms called Exploratory Space and Free Space. The former is designed 'to reflect the advancing edge of sensibility and discovery' in month-long shows screened by the Gallery. Free Space, on the other hand, is pot luck: 25 artists whose names were literally drawn out of a pot by the president of the VAG Council. They may use their space for one week only but they do get exposure. The first show was an unassuming one, mainly of photos, by Norm Silwanowicz.

artscanada, early autumn 1972 pg.101.

Text: © Joan Lowndes. All rights reserved.

The Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art
The Canadian Art Database: Canadian Writers Files