Written by: Holly Armishaw, Artist, CASV Board Member
It’s become an annual tradition in Vancouver, every spring the local visual arts community looks forward to the Canadian Art Foundation Gallery Hop Vancouver presented in partnership by the Canadian Art Foundation (CAF) and the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver (CASV). As the rain clouds begin to subside, we come out of hibernation early one morning in April and gather to watch, listen, exchange ideas and to celebrate all that Vancouver has to offer in its myriad of galleries and public installations. When I first heard about the Gallery Hop Vancouver years ago, I was thrilled by the idea! I really wanted to attend, but as an emerging artist couldn’t afford a ticket for the full day’s events. Thanks to the efforts of individuals that have acknowledged this issue and public need, corporate sponsorship is now sought each year so that the day’s events are available to everyone. This year we had lead sponsor BMO Harris Private Banking and supporting sponsor Chubb Insurance to thank for the opportunity to engage the public with our passion for contemporary art through the Gallery Hop.
What better way to connect Vancouverites to contemporary art than to begin with a panel discussion about alternative landscapes? Drawing on Canada’s international reputation for its vast and diverse landscapes, artists Charles Stankievech and Kara Uzelman and curator Cate Rimmer took Canadian landscape to new heights as they discussed their unique explorations of earth, air and sea. The thread of continuity between the works was an almost sublime look at the depths of which we rarely see in Canada, creating a sort of unearthly terrain through moonscape-like images of the Northern-most inhabited lands, electromagnetic sound waves from the earths surface, and visions of the vastly unknown deep sea and its tales of treachery.
Christine Shaw, Canadian Art Foundation Program and Outreach Manager, moderated the morning panel discussions, drawing the presentations together with both a natural charm and professionalism that showed her understanding, passion and appreciation of contemporary art. She and her colleagues from Toronto, Executive Director, Canadian Art Foundation and Publisher, Canadian Art magazine Ann Webb and Development Director Andrea Geddes Poole demonstrated similar enthusiasm and professionalism throughout the day that was nothing short of inspiring.
This year, while now not only a member of the CASV, but also a Board Member, I had the pleasure of working with the Canadian Art Foundation and the honour of leading a tour of my own. As some guests pointed out, this is the first year that South Granville, also known as Gallery Row, has been left off the map. Due to rising taxes and rent prices, many gallerists have opted for bigger spaces at less cost, making the move to East of Main. This new hotspot has become so populated with galleries spanning East 1st, 2nd Ave and Great Northern Way that we had to split the area between 2 tours. The new shift has proven to be very popular and drew fantastic crowds this past Saturday! Many people enjoyed Jennie Biltek’s Main Street tour and kept right on going afterwards, joining my tour of Great Northern Way galleries.
Our final destination on the Great Northern Way tour was the Monte Clark Gallery, where fortunately Clark’s new industrial scale space easily held a crowd that had swollen to 65 people. We were privileged to have one of our best young curators, Jordan Strom, give an insightful presentation of the works on display. Owen Kydd’s “durational photographs” transcend the traditional still photograph while simultaneously challenging typical notions of video. His subjects create further hybrids where analog traditions like collage and painting fuse with digital realms and presentation.
While some of us live with contemporary art every day of our lives, we forget that for others, entering the sanctity of a gallery can be a daunting experience. Making the Gallery Hop readily accessible to anyone from the public who wants to learn more allows the comfort of a crowded room to blend in, observe and ask questions if so compelled. It has been a wonderful opportunity for members of the CASV and CAF and the local art community to invite their friends, family and colleagues to an entry point into our world.
For those of you who may think that you are unfamiliar with the Canadian Art Foundation, chances are that you’ve encountered Canadian Art magazine, Canada’s definitive publication on contemporary art. We celebrated at the end of the day with a launch of their spring issue, a smart fortwo electric drive car painted by artist Jason McLean and a closing cocktail reception held at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The Gallery Hop Vancouver has become an important event not only for creating public access to contemporary art, but also for creating a bridge between Western and Eastern Canada as we continue to build a national identity in the world of contemporary art.