Director’s message: June 2014
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.
The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is a place where local and global ideas about contemporary art and art history converge and cultural synergies are created. The strategic direction of our exhibition program focuses on linking the visual arts in New Brunswick to national and international contexts, on bringing to light forgotten histories, and on the importance of historical precedent for informing our experience of the art being made today.
Off the Grid: Abstract Painting in New Brunswick – the first major survey of abstract painting in the province – makes visible an authentic dimension of New Brunswick’s cultural history, one that has been repressed and missing from the national narrative of Canadian art for much too long. Exploration of this vital realm of creative expression has proven itself an astonishingly fertile area of research, and has resulted in the recovery of the little known work of R. D. Turnbull, New Brunswick’s first abstractionist and early contributor to the development of Abstract Expressionism in New York City in the 1930s.
It is also most fitting for the Gallery to organize and present Journeys through the Landscape, an important retrospective exhibition of the work of Eric Atkinson, a major Canadian abstract landscape painter, whose career as an artist and art educator straddles both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and is a direct link to Lord Beaverbrook’s collection of British modern art. Like Off the Grid, it speaks to a greater richness and diversity of creative activity and sophistication of global perspectives in Canadian art than what is typically reinforced.
Remembering the past, witnessing the present, and imagining the future are potent themes interwoven throughout Imagined Dialogues. Showcasing the vitality of the visual arts in New Brunswick’s Acadian community across generational lines through the work of fourteen artists, this monumental exhibition encourages reflection on the significance of intergenerational influences on individual art practice and on the potential of art for asserting cultural identity and inscribing an indelible mark on historical consciousness.
Four Turns of a Key: Metalwork by Elma Johnston McKay confirms the contemporary relevance of fine craft in New Brunswick through an exploration of the ubiquitous key as both art form and universal symbol in the cultural history of civilization. And major revelatory monographic exhibitions focused on the little-known art of Lucy Jarvis and of Bruno Bobak’s Vancouver years in the 1950s offer new knowledge and insight into the story of two of the province’s seminal artists. Lucy Jarvis: Even Stones Have Life includes a complementary installation of the artist’s sketchbooks at UNB Art Centre, and Modern in Nature: Bruno Bobak’s Vancouver Years (1947-1960) is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Ron Thom and the Allied Arts, an exhibition showcasing the paintings, furniture prototypes, and architectural drawings of one of Canada’s outstanding, but unsung, modernist architects, who was also a friend and colleague of the late Bruno and Molly Bobak.
To celebrate and promote the creative achievements of visual artists in New Brunswick, each year the Gallery presents the work of an emerging artist through its StudioWatch: Emerging Artist Series. Congratulations to Andrea Brewer, who is this year’s featured artist. At the same time, the Gallery also hosts an Annual Gala Fundraiser to honour one of New Brunswick’s most accomplished and treasured senior artists. This year we are pleased to recognize the extraordinary art of Claude Roussel – the first modern Acadian artist – and his significant contribution to elevating the cultural vibrancy of New Brunswick over a lifetime.
Finally, if you happen to be at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, during the summer, or the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the fall, you will have the opportunity to see Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery – 75 of our most valued works of art by world-renowned artists from the fifteenth to twentieth century – as our blockbuster exhibition travels across Canada on its North American tour.
On behalf of the board of governors and staff, we invite you to visit us soon and enjoy an inspiring visual arts experience, a wide variety of educational programming, activities, and events, and stimulating dialogue with artists, curators, and arts enthusiasts.
See you at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery!