Friday, April 29, 2011

Marc Mayer acting silly


I don't know which Marc Mayer (one and two) wrote this article in Macleans, but no matter how hard you try to convince me that Winnipeg is the new black, I won't fall for it.

"[A] decent school of art," "a centenary art museum now new and improved," "a one-time artist-run centre now pushing 40... with fancy new digs" and one art magazine do not make for an "art scene." Not even if you name drop Marcel Dzama, Jon Pylypchuk, Karel Funk and Sarah Anne Johnson.

If it was the National Gallery's Marc Mayer that wrote the article, in the exhibit of recent acquisitions by the National Gallery ten of the 54 artists could be considered Montreal Artists. While I'm not as up to date with who the Winnipeg artists are I sure ass shootin' don't count ten in that list.

And if it was Art21's Marc Mayer who wrote the article, in the exhibit of recent acquisitions by the National Gallery ten of the 54 artists could be considered Montreal Artists. While I'm not as up to date with who the Winnipeg artists are I sure ass shootin' don't count ten in that list.

The Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal continues it's slide


Over at Marc Gauthier's blog he makes some quick comparisons between the expansion projects of the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. The one that jumps out at me is that the private sector contributed only $900,000 to the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, while the private sector contributed $22,600,000 to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

First they exhibit dildos, then they get a fundraiser to curate a show, and then they use their own press releases to puff up their collection of reviews, and now this. Man, the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal needs help in a big way. Quickly.

[Edit May 2: According to this tweet by the head of the Membership Office at the museum, Marc Gauthier's figures are wrong.]

[Edit May 5: Marc Gauthier clarifies things and points out that the numbers come from the third paragraph of a press release published by the museum themselves.]

Gotta find me an hour and a half to listen to David Morris talk about Paterson Ewen


Right here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More reasons to tread very carefully in the art world


The New York Times reports on the Wildenstein Gallery and its lawsuits.

Press Coverage of stuff we can't see


I don't get it... Why would the museum have a press conference about a building that can't be seen by the public, yet. And on top of it, not a single one of the newspapers has an architecture critic. The Gazette, The Gazette's Pictures, La Presse, Journal de Montreal (who makes a humongous blunder).

Will Le Devoir cover this show?


Last week Le Devoir got Annie Cohen-Solal to cover and 'review' Marc Séguin's exhibit at the Mike Weiss Gallery (in between he other more 'important' gigs, what?! Is her book not selling well? And that's why she needs to get freelance gigs?). The day before the New York Sun mentioned the Sam Borenstein exhibit at the Yeshiva University Museum.

Somehow I don't think the Borenstein exhibit is going to get covered in Le Devoir...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Richard J Evans on the Spoils of War


A timely (and good) piece of writing by Richard J. Evans on looting, given the recent news that Litzlberg am Attersee by Gustav Klimt is being taken down from a museum's walls and being put up for auction so that Georges Jorisch and his heirs can get richer.

Litzlberg am Attersee by Gustav Klimt

Now this is VERY Cool!


The Inuit Art Foundation has started something called Nunavik Art Alive. I could spend hours checking things out.

Almost as cool (but not quite) are the conversations with Inuit Modern artists hosted by the AGO.

The problems with a civic art collection


This article from the New York Times, about the San Francisco Public Art Collection, points out some of the difficulties in having a civic art collection. But what I found most interesting is "the Art Enrichment Ordinance. Enacted in 1969, it mandated that 2 percent of civic construction costs go toward acquiring public art." Or double what is the law in Quebec.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Les Sphères Polaires by Lucion Média get recycled


I what seems like another lifetime I wrote a rather long screed declaiming Les Sphères Polaires, the ubiquitous orbs that graced Place des Festivals by Bernard Duguay, Pierre Gagnon and Lucion Média this winter.

Well I would guess that Win Butler and co. were in town during the winter, because for their recent gig at Coachella they took them (actually to be fair, the ones that they used were smaller and more numerous) and had them thrown from the top of the stage, much to the joy of the crowd.

and a third viewpoint (to be honest, my favorite).

And if you are interested, there are lots more.

We have our own Art of the Streets exhibit here in Montreal


While the one in Los Angeles might be getting all the press, we have our own Art de la rue exhibit right here in Montreal.

I want a postcard!


Congratulations are due to Véronique La Perrière M. She (along with Elizabeth Cardell and Thomas Arnatt) are going to Gwaii Haanaas to be artists-in-residence this June. Pretty Cool.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rebecca Hiscott on Art dans la rue


Nice article by Ms. Hiscott on Art Alley.

Mat Gleason on "Art In The Streets"


Allan Gregg talks to Ross King about the Group of Seven


I don't think I would call Ross King's book"a fresh look at the iconic Canadian artists." It might have something to do with Allan Gregg's questioning. But you can decide for yourself. Thanks to Frederick Winston for the head's up.

Then if you're really keen there's this bonus material, Wow!

And upon doing a little more research I came across this video from The McMicheal, where Mr. King goes into a little more detail, but as far as I can tell doesn't come up with anything new.

And this is the Tom Thomson painting that gets his knickers in a knot.

Tom Thomson: The Pointers

Friday, April 22, 2011

Maybe I should learn to speak Dutch?


And I'm not certain who I like more, Lernert & Sander or Arno Coenen's dad.

I might have to go get me a tattoo


Yann does some pretty cool tattoos.

More Jim Evans


Last year I posted the trailer. Now there's more... (unfortunately it can't be embedded)

Thursday, April 21, 2011



I ran into Leah Sandals' analysis of Papier11 after I wrote my piece. But I can always add more. First off, congrats to Ms. Sandals, hers is the first I've seen of anyone asking questions about Papier11.

Secondly, while it's nice to think that Papier11 was 'curated,' I think I might have a slightly used bridge to sell whomever gave her that quote. Given some of the galleries that were missing, I can only presume that they took whomever gave them the cash.

Third, if her figures are correct, then AGAC made more than $100,000 from fees received from dealers and probably another $30,000 from tickets to the VIP event. I can't imagine a tent and a catalogue (and while we're at it, a coat check) costing $130,000 for a weekend. So yes, while culture in Quebec is subsidized more than it is in Ontario Papier11 wasn't completely funded by the Quebec (or the Montreal) government. And a quick check of the logos at the back of the catalogue shows that in fact, The Quartier des Spectacles, Tourism Montreal, The Montreal Arts Council, and three parts of the Quebec government were among 33 organizations that helped. I would guess that total government funding was in the low five figures.

Actually, $28,500 from the Quebec government as Mme Christine St-Pierre announced here. And I also find it particularly intriguing that they decided to give as much money to the administrators and organizers as they decided to give to the artists. Do you really and truly believe that the people who run art galleries are as important and the artists?

Next, Galerie Graff, who participated in Papier11 is in fact an artist run centre. And Headbones Gallery made it all the way from BC.

But it definitely shows that Ms. Sandals consumes her culture from a completely different perspective than I do.



Over the weekend I went to see Papier11 (notice that there is no space in between the words 'papier' and the number '11.' A lot of people got it wrong) and was pleasantly surprised. There were a fair number of folk milling about. I saw a bunch of red dots on pieces and even saw some bigshots.

According to the press folderol (and here, and here too) pushed out by AGAC, they got almost 9,000 people. When I was there on Sunday I was told that 4,000 people had been there on Saturday, and somewhere, someone mentioned that they got 500 people for the swanky opening night do (although I strongly doubt that all 500 paid $125 to see it on Thursday night). Which means that, if my math is correct on Friday and Sunday they got about 2,250 each. Somehow, somewhere I have a strong suspicion that someone is fudging the numbers (especially since there was no turnstile, no one counting at the door, no piece of paper with chicken scratches on it - and now come to think of it, I went in and out three times on Sunday, does that mean I counted as three people?).

Also, at some point in my long storied career in the Montreal Arts world, I was told that about 4,000 people show up at the Belgo Building on a given Saturday (which is why I never go to the Belgo on a Saturday). So your guess is as good as mine if the Belgo was as full as it normally is on a Saturday, or if it would have been possible to look at the art because it was like a ghost town.

And if attendance increased by 45% from last year, why did sales only increase 39%? Was stuff cheaper? And speaking of sales, if my long division is good, each gallery grossed $18,289.47. Which if you presume a 50% commission means they net $9,144.74. Or slightly more than $3,000/day. I don't know how much AGAC charged for a booth, but that would cost some coin, and I'm certain that there were other incidental costs as well. My guess would be that the average gallery made about a $4,000 profit from the fair. If anyone has more concrete figures they would like to share, by all means don't let me stop you.

And then I am also stuck by the paucity of coverage of the fair. Most of it is hype, and that which isn't hype doesn't say a gosh darn thing. Listening to Jean-François Belisle talking about how 38 galleries come together to make a "common window" you'd think he had never been inside the Belgo Building in his life.

And while I'm at it, where were the booths for AKA, ARPRIM, Articule, David Astroff, de Bellefeuille, Bielik, CEIM, Atelier Circulaire, Clark, Han Art, Samuel Lallouz, Michel-Ange, MX, Alain Piroir, Plein Sud, Quartier Libre, Liliane Rodriguez, and Jean Pierre Valentin?

Overall Papier11 seems alright, but there's something inside me that is repelled by the crass commercialization and the hordes of consumers descending like locusts on "Art" because of the quote; special occasion unquote. I'd much prefer to see Art be a regular part of people's lives.

- Rant Off.

Gotta love that local TV!


Last week over at CTV Montreal Todd van der Heyden interviewed Denise Buisman-Pilger because she has a show up at the Mile End Gallery, until the end of the week. But someone really should mention to him that he could ask some less fluffy questions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Raji Sohal takes on Thomas Hirschhorn


Gotta love Ms. Sohal. Over at the Art21 blog, she's got a gig doing something called Calling from Canada, where she talks about things arty and Canadian. Last week she wrote about going down the 401 to see the latest exhibit at the Power Plant.

Apparently she didn't like it much. But all was not lost, she also got to see a BYOB at Gallery TPW which she liked a bunch.

Two completely different paths to the same job


Last week David Moos announced he was ditching the AGO to go into private practice. Last year Alain Lacoursière announced he was ditching the police force and going into private practice.

In both cases, said "private practice" is in fact being an independent art adviser. Hmmm, as Leah Sandals points out, Jessica Bradley did something similar, by opening an art gallery. And on this side of the border, I've been told that René Blouin, Pierre-François Ouellette also opened art galleries after working for the government.

But only Alain Lacoursière got his own TV show. Take that! Ontario independent art adviser!!

Armand Vaillancourt not getting the love


Earlier this month over at Curbed San Francisco the took a poll of their readers for the Least Favorite Piece of Public Art in San Francisco. And "Quebec Libre" by Armand Vaillancourt (which is also on Bullit, a kick ass movie if their ever was one) came in second.

"Legs" at Embarcadero station. 473.400 votes
"Vaillancourt Fountain" at Justin Herman Plaza, aka "Quebec Libre." 409.275 votes
"Cupid's Span," along the Embarcadero. 211.650 votes
The United Nations Plaza Fountain. 103.275 votes
"Transcendence," aka "The Banker's Heart" at 555 California. 76.500 votes

(Don't ask me how you can get .275 of a vote, but all I did was multiply the percentages against 1,275. The number of votes. And then copy/pasted the results.)

Vaillancourt Fountain by klong35
Vaillancourt Fountain, a photo by klong35 on Flickr.
Via Flickr:
Québec libre ! is a concrete fountain sculpture by Quebecois artist Armand Vaillancourt, installed in the Embarcadero Center in 1971.

C'mon guys what gives? There's no need to be haters.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

L'art pour briser l'indifférence in two minutes and fifteen seconds


I'm kinda annoyed at myself that I missed this exhibit. Especially the two paintings in the corner at the 0:21 mark.

The Window by Henri Matisse in two minutes and twenty seconds


I hope in my heart of hearts that Detroit Institute of Arts Director Graham Beal can actually talk for more that 2:20 on The Window by Henri Matisse.

Heck, I could talk for more than 2:20 on The Window by Henri Matisse.

Follow up on Margareth Christopoulos and whatshisname.


Last month I posted about my favorite Quebecois art thieves. Well it appears that Jean-François Talbot, Sylvie Dubuc and Alain Dumouchel not only got their man thieves, but they recovered the stolen art as well. Although in the interim it looks like Mzabab Bennani aged three years and became Aissam Freidji.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Papirmasse getting good press


Earlier this month Kirsten McCrea, the brains behind Papirmasse got a great writeup in Seven Days.

Ummm, does Rishard Rhodes time travel?


I caught this fanboy piece on Dessin à dessein last Friday. But what really caught my eye was the opening line "Here’s the perfect complement to Papier 11, the not-to-be-missed works-on-paper fair happening in Montreal from April 14 to 17."

As you can tell from the URL ( - thanks WordPress!) it was published on April 14. Which means he wrote that line before Papier11 happened. Hmmm. How do you know a show is "not-to-be-missed" if you haven't seen it? Or how did he see it before it happened? And while I'm at it he also he misspells the name of the fair as well, too.

Roald Nasgaard asks some questions


The dude who curated the exhibit The Automatiste Revolution: Montreal 1941–1960 two years ago writes a hefty essay in the most recent issue of Canadian Art magazine that wanders all over the place asking why Quebecois (and by extension Canadian) art gets such short shrift in every other country in the world except Canada.

Unfortunately he doesn't have any answers, and in certain places it sounds like he's complaining that his show didn't have a more significant impact.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Old Personal Canadian Art Discovery


I think I've know about Gordon Young's work for something like seven or eight years. I even have one of his paintings. But I was really pleased (for a variety of reasons) to discover that that he is now represented by Galerie de Bellefeuille.

Irresistible Treats, Oil on canvas, 18½ x 17" image courtesy Galerie de Bellefeuille

But if I was his dealer I'd strongly suggest adding a middle initial to his professional name.

Gotta Like the Bureau d'art public Montréal


They seem to be getting their feet wet over at Facebook. Posting something once/day, and hey sometimes it's even interesting, kind of like this set of pictures from a Cooke-Sasseville studio visit.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Set aside an hour


Peter Schjeldahl, the New Yorker's Art Critic gave a talk at the School of Visual Arts sometime in the past. And it made it onto iTunesU.

Three words: He is awesome. Click here to download it and watch it.

New Personal Canadian Art Discovery - Walter J. Phillips rocks my world


Somewhere about two weeks ago I was in Ottawa, and I ended up at the other art gallery there - the Ottawa Art Gallery - not quite as well known as The National Gallery, but thankfully it doesn't have any insecurities.

While I was there I saw their exhibit Of Earth and Sky: Prairie Artists in the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art. And it was the first time in my life that I had ever seen any paintings by Walter J. Phillips (why do I always want to write J. Walter Phillips?)

I had only known him as the name behind some gallery out west, but it had never occurred to me to ask who was Phillip J. Walter. And boy do I feel stupid. After seeing his work, all I can say is I want more, more, more.

Thankfully Canadian Art magazine came through in a pinch.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Does this mean that Jaince Nadeau drinks while she draws?


Over at Drink n' Draw Montreal, they have a very nice bilingual interview with award winning chilren's illustrator Janice Nadeau.

Last Chance on Jacques Hurtubuise


In case you haven't heard, there's a tremendously spectacular and thoroughly amazing exhibit up at the Maison de la Culture Frontenac. It's called Entre la soie et l'encre, cinq décennies d'impression, and it features a bunch of prints by Jacques Hurtubise. [And don't even get me started on Jacques Hurtubise's wikipedia pages...]

The Maison de la Culture Frontenac is at 2550 Ontario E, and it is open from 13h to 19h on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 13h to 17h on Friday and Saturday. And this week is your last chance to see it. Run don't walk, ok?

Some cool old photos


Canadian Art Magazine publishes some pretty cool pictures from 63 years ago. I am particularly fascinated by this one, of a 23 year-old Françoise Sullivan. [And as an aside, why doesn't Ms. Sullivan have an English Wikipedia page?]

Photo by Maurice Perron. Jean Paul Riopelle et Françoise Sullivan 1948; printed 1998 Collection Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec Gift of the Maurice Perron family

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ethics? We don't need no stinkin' ethics!


file this one under "S" for strange. In my normal course of business I came across this reprint of a press release over at who pretty much only reprint press releases. It was submitted by Bertrand Breuque, who clearly states that he is a communications professional. And then I discovered this one over at Le Vadrouilleur urbain, who also pretty much only reprints press releases.

Now I was particularly intrigued by the content. The Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal going all out and sponsoring an artist. Pretty gosh darn sweet (at least for the artist). So I started looking around for more information. You know stuff like how the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal decided to sponsor an artist, how the artist was chosen, how much the sponsorship was worth, you know stuff like that which would make the whole process transparent. Instead of immediately causing me to think that there were some back room deals going down that quite possibly involved brown envelopes filled with cash.

So I went to the museum's website and looked for a press release from them. No dice. The only press release that they have produced this year is on the Jean Paul Gaultier show coming up, and you all know how I feel about that.

So I try to dig a little deeper, and check out the Darling Foundry's website. And sure enough the press release comes from them [word document alert]. And as I expected there is nary a word about how the artist was chosen, how much the sponsorship was worth, you know stuff like that which would make the whole process transparent.

"OK, whatever," I hear you say. "Minor details. If you really want to know what's up, give 'em a call, send 'em an email." But to be honest, I have much better things to do with my time than try and track down nonsense like this.

But this is where it really gets weird. The museum pays someone good cash money to track all the reviews of stuff that happens at the museum. And after each exhibit they print up these big fat thick bricks of a binder to show how important they must be since their shows get all these reviews.

In looking for the information about how the artist was chosen, how much the sponsorship was worth, you know stuff like that which would make the whole process transparent. I actually came across the Press Review / Revue de Presse [pdf alert] for the first three weeks in March. And guess what, they include the press release from right on page 53. (Another version is here).

The idea that they are puffing up their importance by trying to pass off press releases as reviews is ridiculous.

Good idea


But is there anyway to quantify if it is successful?

Or to back up slightly, last week Sarah Leavitt wrote in the West Island Chronicle about an exhibit at John Rennie High School designed to "educate the students about the possibility of a career in visual arts."

Basically they got two people who use cameras, one person who uses a computer and one person who uses needles to make a living to mount examples of their work in the Roxanna Robins Gallery. And that's where I end up disagreeing.

A tattoo artist (needles), a photo journalist (camera one), a fashion photographer (camera two) and a graphic designer (computer) aren't exactly what I would call "visual artists." While I know that all visual artists aren't fine artists, I'd call this particular collection more like the applied arts.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Congrats to Ross Racine


Last week the Globe and Mail wrote that he won a "prestigious Belgian art award." And while in fact Mr. Racine did win a Belgian art award, if I haven't heard of any of the other 57 artists participating, I'm not so certain I would call it prestigious.

The National Gallery almost getting it


The French version

The English version

Personally, I get a kick out of how the English version is 16% shorter than the French version. And the National Gallery should invest in some lavalier microphones, it would get rid of the echo-like effect in the audio.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ruining Comme si le temps... de la rue


As part of the renovation of the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, Place des Arts went and made some major changes to the sculpture by Pierre Granche. Unfortunately, whomever is doing their website didn't get the memo. They're using whatever artspeak folderol that's been on file since 1992.

Making reference to the waterfall (that's no longer part of it) and being able to view it from above (now that it has a roof) is just plain silly.

I Paint What I See [A Ballad of Artistic Integrity]


I came across this fabulous poem by E.B. White, here. Which is also where you can get the back story.
I Paint What I See
[A Ballad of Artistic Integrity]

“What do you paint, when you paint on a wall?”
Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
“Do you paint just anything there at all?
“Will there be any doves, or a tree in fall?
“Or a hunting scene, like an English hall?”

“I paint what I see,” said Rivera

“What are the colors you use when you paint?”
Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
“Do you use any red in the beard of a saint?
“If you do, is it terribly red, or faint?
“Do you use any blue? Is it Prussian?”

“I paint what I paint,” said Rivera

“Whose is that head that I see on my wall?”
Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
“Is it anyone’s head whom we know at all?
“A Rensselaer or a Saltonstall?
“Is it Franklin D.? Is it Mordaunt Hall?
“Or is it the head of a Russian?”

“I paint what I think,” said Rivera.

“I paint what I paint, I paint what I see,
“I paint what I think,” said Rivera
“And the thing that is dearest in life to me
“In a bourgeois hall is integrity;
“I’ll take out a couple of people drinkin’
“And put in a picture of Abraham Lincoln.
“I could even give you McCormick’s reaper
“And still not make my art much cheaper.
“But the head of Lenin has got to stay
“Or my friends will give me the bird today,
“The bird, the bird, forever.”

“It’s not good taste in a man like me,”
Said John D.s grandson Nelson,
“To question an artist’s integrity
“Or mention a practical thing like a fee.
“But I know what I like to a large degree.
“Though art I hate to hamper,
“For twenty-one thousand conservative bucks
“You painted a radical. I say shucks,
“I never could rent the offices—
“The capitalistic offices.
“For this, as you know, is a public hall,
“And people want doves, or a tree in fall,
“And though your art I dislike to hamper,
“I owe a little to God and Gramper.
“And after all,
“It’s my wall.”

“We’ll see if it is,” said Rivera.
Mine is not reprinted with permission from the White Literary LLC.

Personally, if I were Judy Taylor I'd be pleased as punch that Garry Wills compared my work to Diego Rivera.

Le Vadrouilleur urbain on three galleries in the Belgo Building


Gotta give the boys over at Le Vadrouilleur urbain props for trying.

But I know in my heart of heart's that they can do better. Much better. The artists and galleries deserve it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dallas to New York to Montreal


Apparently there was some sort of swanky do in Dallas, recently, where Thierry-Maxime Loriot said "We molded the head of Jean Paul [Gaultier] in plaster and we will have [film] projections right onto the face." It got picked up by Women's Wear Daily, which then got picked up by New York Magazine, to here.

Oh, oh, oh count me as one of the folk breathlessly waiting to see this!

PS: If you weren't aware, The Musée des beaux-arts de tout-ce-qui-peut-être-placé-dans-nos-galeries de Montréal is having a Jean Paul Gaultier show this summer. It then goes down to the Dallas Museum of Art in the fall. And I don't quite understand why a museum would have their Head of Development curate a exhibit (actually I do, sigh).

Getting some priorities straight


Here's a promo video for a gallery that's opening in the heart of tourist country here in town.

18 seconds for the title, and 3 seconds for each painting (along with some other nonsense added so that it obscures the image). Why would anyone buy art from a gallery that respected the art so little?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Le Musée de Lachine gives away catalogues


Now this is an initiative that I really like. Le Musée de Lachine just recently published a catalogue called The Art of Bill Vazan in the Musée de Lachine Collection: Land Art in Montréal an English version and a French version, and you can get pdf copies right here for free! (English / French) Woo-Hoo!

Gotta love the propaganda for art


And I won't even bother guessing how much it cost to produce, and what better purpose the money could have been put to...

Proof Positive that there are Multiple Art Worlds in Montreal


So much for coordinating schedules... Tomorrow at 17h30 Scotiabank is announcing the top three Art Souterrain artists and presenting the People's Choice Award. As they write, light refreshments will be served.

At the very same time, just down the street BMO is sponsoring a talk by Dan Graham at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

Go figure.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Canadian Art catfight


I have no idea why I missed this the first time it went around, nor do I have any idea why it suddenly popped up now. But it appears that there is no love lost between Deco Dawson and Marcel Dzama.

More here.

More on Shelley Miller


More on Ms. Miller's piece "Stained." This time from the Victoria Times Colonist.

737 words, while not great is better


In case you've been under a rock recently, there is a spectacular and wonderful exhibit going on at the Maison de la Culture Frontenac until April 17. Jacques Hurtubuise's Entre la soie et l'encre. Last weekend René Viau wrote a very nice review of it in La Presse.