Director’s Message: January 2015
Terry Graff is Director/CEO and Chief Curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. One of Canada’s foremost curators and respected senior administrators in the visual arts, he has also distinguished himself as a highly accomplished visual artist, art writer, educator, and gallery director.
RE-MASTERING the Beaverbrook art Gallery
Fasten your seat belts! We have entered a new year on a tidal wave of unprecedented optimism, inspiration, and rejuvenation. In 2015, our blockbuster exhibition Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery returns home for four months before continuing again on its North American tour. Its stopover in New Brunswick is perfectly timed for a special celebration of our founder’s birthday in May, for the inauguration of a new fundraising event called “Art: Fact or Fiction?,” and, most importantly, for a major public announcement and the highly anticipated unveiling of the exciting plans for the future of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
And so we have begun a new chapter in our illustrious history, one focused on a dramatic transformation and major physical expansion that will be a game-changer for advancing the visual arts and cultural developments in New Brunswick. With our campaign goal of $25 million for infrastructure, endowment, and programs firmly in sight, I am pleased to report that, at the time of this writing, we have secured over $22 million towards reaching it.
Indeed, our community leaders, volunteers, generous donors and loyal members are propelling us forward in our repositioned role as the “art gallery of New Brunswick”, a dynamic centre of excellence, one of Canada’s leading cultural resources, a living laboratory of contemporary ideas and creativity, and a world class destination. With their outstanding support, we are building on Lord Beaverbrook’s extraordinary legacy and great gift to the people of New Brunswick. The kind and level of engaging activity profiled in this issue of Tableau affirms our cultural purpose and indispensable place in community life. We are delivering access to our magnificent trove of internationally renowned masterworks, showcasing the distinctiveness and diversity of New Brunswick, Atlantic, and Canadian art, and providing multiple points of entry for visitors to experience the visual arts in stimulating and participatory ways.
Change is the order of the day and critical improvements are happening on all fronts simultaneously. Long-overdue upgrades to our building include refurbishment of the front steps and street sign, re-design of the gift shop, reclamation of the full space of the Canadian Gallery, a major repair of the roof, and the establishment of additional areas for permanent collection storage and security. Also, in the spring, watch for our bigger and bolder banners.
Meanwhile, there are also many changes occurring behind the scenes. Along with organizational and staff restructuring aimed at more efficient and responsible stewardship of resources, important new staff appointments will soon be announced. In addition, we are delighted to welcome the following members to the board of governors: Ann McCain Evans, Paul Simmonds, Norah Mallory, Stephen Smith, Lana Tingley LaCroix, Herménégilde Chiasson, Earl Brewer, and Maxwell Aitken. In 2014, three of our longest-serving volunteers – Judy Budovitch, Robert Neill, and Robert Benn – stepped down from the board and were honoured at a special tribute luncheon held at the Gallery. We are grateful for the commitment and many valued contributions provided by these individuals, as well as by the other members who also left the board last year: Ronald LeBreton, David Hawkins, Daniel O’Brien, and Charles Prescott.
This season’s schedule of exhibitions offers many thought-provoking encounters with artists’ personal visions. Touching the Sky: The Metaphysical Quest of John Clark, curated by Jeffrey Spalding, highlights the figurative painting of British-born John Clark, an artist and educator who lived and worked in both eastern and western Canada, and who passed away 25 years ago, but left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of the country. Dan Steeves: The Memory of Pain, curated by Tom Smart and organized by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, examines the universal relationship between art, pain, and hope through meditative black and white etchings based on a visit to the sobering site of the World War II concentration camp at Mauthausen, Austria, and a personal trauma that afflicted the Sackville-based artist’s family. And Tom Forrestall: A Car For All Seasons, curated by Nick Webb and supported by Mercedes-Benz Canada, showcases the veteran realist painter’s vintage 1980 Mercedes-Benz 300 SD, albeit transformed into a highly unique work of art. In addition, new permanent collection exhibitions include High Tide: Paintings from the Atlantic Collection, as selected by me, and Harold E. “Doc” Edgerton (1903-1990): Freezing Time, curated by adjunct curator Virgil Hammock. Finally, we are pleased to also present The New Brunswick College of Craft and Design Graduate Exhibition 2015. I encourage you to visit and explore all of these exhibitions. I look forward to seeing you at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery soon, and to sharing further our many new and exciting initiatives.
Director/CEO and Chief Curator