January 18, 2005

Under 'A' for Art

The Vancouver Art Gallery, is one of my favourite places in the city, and has been in the news on two different occasions this month.

The first piece of news is all about waiting. Vancouverites will have to wait at least another 6 months before they find out if the VAG will expand into the adjoining space under Robson Square, or move location entirely. The expansion option has been extended to June 5th, 2005, which gives more time for the master planning committee to complete and present it's report.

I'm hoping they expand rather than move, as I can't picture anything else taking over the space. It fits so well, even though it wasn't intended as an art gallery.

Originally designed in 1907 by the same Francis Rattenbury who designed the BC Parliament buildings and Victoria's Empress Hotel, it was B.C.'s second provincial courthouse. It closed in August of 1979, and was extensively (and expensively) converted by Arthur Erickson and Associates for the express use of the VAG. If you're interested in getting background information about the courthouse, visit Aneil Manhas' excellent website. For more details on the expansion, check out this CBC posting.

The second piece of news is the one I'm REALLY excited about. The VAG has acquired a photo collection of 463 prints by 155 artists, with prints from some of my favourite photographers; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and Tina Modotti. Valued at $2 million dollars CDN, it's bound to be an amateur photographer's bliss. I'm sure there will be many a few photos that won't do anything for me - I expect that. But if I come away with something new, whether it be an image, idea or appreciation, that'll be enough. The exhibit will run from January 29 to May 26, 2005 and I suspect I'll go a few times...

Here's the blurb from the VAG:

From canonical figures in the history of photography Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, André Kertész, Nadar, William Henry Fox Talbot and Edward Weston to contemporary Vancouver artists such as Roy Arden, Stephen Waddell, Scott McFarland and Karin Bubas, this exhibition presents more than 300 photographic works from the outstanding collection of Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft. Assembled over three decades, the Beck/Gruft collection is notable for its emphasis on vintage prints and focuses on the descriptive power of photography. These images are both documents and fictions, evoking an ongoing fascination with photography’s compelling position in a realm between truth and artifice.

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