Director's Welcome

from Kathleen Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery

Photo: Pardeep Singh

"It is incredibly important to me and our curatorial team that we continually strive to match the ambitions of the artists who call Vancouver home."

Over the past two decades, I have seen Vancouver transform into a vibrant, international hub for contemporary art—with our artists shaping art practices, not only here in Vancouver, but around the world. I was reminded of this again in April when the Gallery was privileged, once again, to be the presenting organization for the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, the VIVA Award and the Alvin Balkind Curator’s Prize. The three prizes are now internationally recognized as the top honours awarded to artists and curators in British Columbia. Congratulations to Carole Itter (Audain), Lyse Lemieux (VIVA), and the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Grant Arnold (Alvin Balkind), for your tremendous contribution to the city’s thriving artistic community.

This season, we have seven outstanding exhibitions premiering. In May, we explore the local as it relates to the global. Pictures From Here traces the rise of photo-conceptualism in Vancouver with the works that show how artists such as Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham and Stan Douglas developed a rigorous lens-based art practice that purposed new ways of representing the city. Also in May, Hong Kong artist Tsang Kin-Wah critically addresses issues of migration and cultural identity with works for the Gallery’s Howe Street façade and our public art space Offsite. As well, Emily Carr: Into the Forest showcases the artist’s explorations of the natural environment—from the formative days of her career to the final stages of her life.

In June, we celebrate the past and the present. Organized collaboratively with the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, Claude Monet’s Secret Garden presents thirty-eight paintings—each an extraordinary record of the socio-economic upheavals of the early 20th century and the artist’s determination to provide an escape from the modern world. From the Collection, Stephen Shore: The Giverny Portfolio offers a contemporary perspective to Monet with photographs that document the restorations to Monet’s famed gardens. Also opening in June is a survey of work by critically acclaimed Los Angeles-based artist Elad Lassry, which showcases the artist’s highly complex still lifes and vivid portraits. As well, Persistence presents three installations from our Collection that reflect on technology and forgotten narratives, each uniquely highlighting, not only what we have lost, but what continues to endure.

We have some very exciting programs and events taking place this summer. First, in May we are holding Deconstructing Diaspora, our inaugural symposium where members of the International Asian Art Council, along with local artists and curators will be discussing ideas around identity and nationhood, focusing on Asia-Canada relations. In June, we are delighted to be hosting our annual fundraising event, Monet's Secret Garden Summer Gala, where guests will experience Monet’s Giverny Garden with an evening of art, music and performance. And our renowned Heller Lecture also takes place in June with esteemed author and historian Ross King delving further into the life and art of Claude Monet.

As recently announced, after twenty years, our Chief Curator/Associate Director Daina Augaitis will be stepping down later this year. With Daina’s extraordinary vision, intellect and determination, she has been instrumental to many of the Gallery’s successes over the past two decades. Under her leadership, the Gallery’s exhibitions, publications and public programs have been significantly enhanced. We are extremely grateful for the important foundation she has built as we create a new purpose-built museum, and I am so pleased that Daina will continue to work on curatorial plans for the new Vancouver Art Gallery.

It is incredibly important to me, along with Daina and the rest of the curatorial team that we continually strive to match the ambitions of the artists who call Vancouver home. It is with this in mind that we work to complete the final design for our new building. This will include 40,000 square feet of galleries dedicated to our Collection, which will allow us to showcase, on an ongoing basis, the remarkable art making taking place across British Columbia. We’re tremendously encouraged by all the support we’re getting from across the province, country and all levels of government. I look forward to sharing the progress we’ve made with you later this year.

And finally, I’d like to sincerely thank you, our valued members, donors and sponsors, for joining us on this thrilling journey. We look forward to welcoming you to the Vancouver Art Gallery this summer.

Kathleen S. Bartels