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CURRENT COLUMN

Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers
September 2013
Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers

Audain Art Museum
June 2013
Siting an Art Museum in a Forest

Gordon Smith Gallery
November 2012
Boosting the Profile of Artists for Kids

Equinox
September 2012
From glacial meltwater to contemporary art

Morris & Helen Belkin Gallery
June 2012
Professional curators of contemporary art were once as scarce as hen's teeth

Equinox Gallery
April 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Equinox Gallery
February 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

Jacana Gallery
November 2011
Nothing is certain but death and taxes

Satellite Gallery
September 2011
Hope springs eternal


June 2011
The Hotel Waldorf
reimagined


April 2011
Education for the eye,
soul and mind


February 2011
Fine art inkjet prints
are here to stay


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SAAG endows the old
with new possibilities

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Gallery Views

By ANN ROSENBERG

If you can't visit the AGGV in person,
check it out in cyberspace

Westbank Projects Corporation's revised proposal to include new premises for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria within the Crystal Court condominium complex (near The Fairmont Empress Hotel), was regretfully declined by the AGGV. In a November 2007 press release, AGGV board president, Peter Maddaugh, stated that the gallery, as redesigned, would not have been “the stand-alone facility that the institution deemed essential.” In a telephone interview, Shirley Madill (AGGV Director/CEO) said that “…the search for an ideal downtown location will go on.”

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, at 1040 Moss Street in Victoria

Although a long-time Vancouver resident, I confess that, despite knowing of the importance of certain aspects of the collection, I have seldom visited the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Now that I no longer have a car, getting to 1040 Moss Street on foot or by bus, would be impossible on a one-day excursion. If the AGGV was as conveniently located as is the Royal Museum of B.C., the gallery profile would be greatly enhanced and visiting it would be much easier.

I suspect that few people in the province know that this 57-year-old institution has a collection of some 1,700 works, which is almost twice that of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The AGGV has impressive holdings in the area of Asian art, and their Asian Garden features North America's only authentic Shinto shrine. The gallery opened in the 1889 Spencer Mansion when the mansion along with extensive grounds, was gifted to the city in 1951. The seven modern galleries added in 1955 and 1978, were subsequently renovated from 2001-2003 to bring the AGGV up to international museum standards.

When visiting any gallery, one only sees the tip of the collection iceberg, as what is in storage, is often always in storage. If an institution boasts of its strength in, for example, Asian art, one would like to see enough examples to have that claim validated. Similarly, if there is a declaration of an on-going interest in the acquisition of contemporary Canadian art, it would be good to have substantive proof of that statement.

In addition to having access to a very well-designed, complex, information-filled site when googling the gallery's whole name (or by entering: www.aggv.bc.ca), one comes upon quite a surprise. During the last four years, the AGGV has been building a Web production that already contains over 15,000 images with documents pertaining to its collection that are yours to browse through when you click on ARTBase.

The site still contains many visual blanks (probably because the institution is still working on the necessary photography) and there are quite a few images which cannot be shown because of copyright reasons. All titles, dates, etc., are indicated to allow the searcher to learn a good deal of useful information about the works and about the blend of art pieces in the collection. The Asian holdings (which I've always been very curious about) are “virtually” (if you'll pardon the pun) manifested in ARTBase. Through this tool, a substantial chunk of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria's acquisitions iceberg, is revealed.

Ann Rosenberg is a freelance curator, critic and author.

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