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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


November 2010
SAAG endows the old
with new possibilities

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Gallery Views

Audain Art Museum

By MICHAEL TURNER

Photo: Bob Frid / Courtesy: Audain Art Museum

Photo: Bob Frid / Courtesy: Audain Art Museum

The March 6 opening of the Audain Art Museum at Whistler was a much-ballyhooed affair. Celebrated by locals and visitors alike, the $30 million Patkau Architects-designed building, located on a wooded flood plain beside the village townsite, had its ribbon cut barely 40 months after developer Michael Audain announced his intention to “build a home” for his and his wife Yoshiko Karasawa’s predominantly British Columbian art collection. But with that home now built, are people coming?

“May is a quiet month, a transition from skiing to summer activities,” says Executive Director Suzanne Greening as we move quickly through the spacious but otherwise empty hemlock-scented lobby toward the museum’s BC galleries. When asked how many memberships the Audain has sold, Greening confesses she does not have an exact figure, but in the museum’s first 32 days, 8,000 people have walked through its doors. Not bad for a town of 10,000.

Although the building is praised for its thoughtful, environmentally sensitive design, more experienced gallery-goers have grumbled that its walls are too cluttered – this despite the museum doubling its original exhibition space to 56,000 square feet (the Vancouver Art Gallery, by comparison, has 41,000 square feet). While true that the BC galleries would benefit from an edit (why not open with just one work by each of the photo-conceptualists?), the path that links them – from 19th century carvers to interdisciplinarians like Raymond Boisjoly – rarely departs from parallel, if at times interweaving, indigenous and settler narratives. This, most would agree, is an achievement.

“Culture is the third leg of the stool,” Greening says over her shoulder as we leave the sparer Mexican Modernists exhibition for the building’s just-opened second floor. Asked to elaborate on the metaphor, Greening recalls a Tourism Whistler report that has organizations like the Audain closing the gap between outdoor sporting seasons, while at the same time providing a year-round “complement” to both. Will the museum be partnering with other cultural organizations? Greening mentions a recent conversation with the Whistler Film Festival – a complementary choice given that none of the works on display is a film or a video.

After a rundown on the second floor’s upcoming Masterworks of the Beaverbrook Art Collection (June 18-September 11, 2016), Greening excuses herself to lead “yet another tour.” I take a final look around, my eyes lingering on the Emily Carr-like thicket of trees outside the second floor’s magnificent trapezoid window. As I return down the long glass-walled hallway, I can hear Greening once again describe the museum’s knotless hemlock-panelled interior, only this time the lobby is packed.

Photo: Bob Frid / Courtesy: Audain Art Museum

Photo: Bob Frid / Courtesy: Audain Art Museum

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