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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

The birds and the beasts:
If it’s made of bronze, it might last forever

By ANN ROSENBERG

Crystal Schenk, Have and Have Not

Myfanwy MacLeod, The Birds (2010), one of two sculptures made from polystyrene over a steel frame and coated with polyurea and paint, 4.5 metres high, installed on Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza in Vancouver, BC. Photo: Karin Bubas

Joe Fafard, Royal Sweet Diamond

Joe Fafard, Royal Sweet Diamond (2000), life-size bronze, in front of BC Turf Building, Vancouver, BC

David Robinson, Equestrian Monument

David Robinson, Equestrian Monument (2009), bronze, 4 metres high, next to the Yaletown/Roundhouse Canada Line station, Vancouver, BC

This commonly held opinion in no way disparages Myfanwy MacLeod‘s The Birds, a beautiful 4.5-metre-tall sparrow couple now perched daintily in the Southeast end of False Creek as the last permanent installation of the City of Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic and Paralymic Public Art Program.

These new-tech avians are composed of polystyrene attached to interior steel structures. The birds might last forever, but because the technique is untested, it is uncertain how long they will fare outdoors. Unlike metal sculptures that were melted down by Chairman Mao and other leaders throughout history, who put having tools, weaponry and money ahead of the preservation of cultural objects, MacLeod’s sculptures cannot be recycled into useful items.

The title above reflects the mystique bronze sculpture has had since the lost-wax bronze casting method was developed thousands of years ago. Memorable still-extant examples of ancient bronzes include: the small figure of the over 4,500- year-old Dancing Girl from Mohenjo-daro, India; the 1400 BC figurine of a Cretan vaulting over a charging bull; and the 179 AD over-life size Equestrian Monument of Marcus Aurelius in Rome. Everywhere, the tradition is alive with few modifications to the original method.

The sturdy bronze bull, in the plaza of 475 West Georgia, stares at the viewer with mean, beady eyes, as though a wrong move would make him charge. He stands in front of a high-rise office building that was owned by the late Jack Diamond, a local businessman and philanthropist of high repute. Ever since it was installed in 2000, Joe Fafard’s Royal Sweet Diamond has been lord of the business district, as he formerly was king of the pasture – juxtaposition being a recurring Fafard theme.

I wish there was room to show Richard Loffler’s 2010 enormous bronze of Calgary’s most famous bucking bronco Outlaw, who was ridden only once out of 71 attempts and was the only bull ever to “ring” the closing bell in the New York Stock Exchange. George Brookman (past president of the Calgary Stampede) said in a May 28, 2010 Calgary Herald article that Outlaw embodied Calgary’s “western spirit" and that Calgarians are "bullish on Calgary.”

The most moving bronze in Vancouver is David Robinson’s Equestrian Monument, a public art installation for the 2010 Olympics on display at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Skytrain Station until at least late October. The thin horse hangs his head as if exhausted, and his thwarted Marino Marini-style rider is immobilized within a ball of twine. The work symbolizes the pathos of humankind’s contemporary estrangement from other creatures, and is also an almostapocalyptic vision of the inertia to save them.

Ann Rosenberg is a freelance curator, critic

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