Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Prairie Artsters: New Year Revelations 2011*

Last year around this time, I wrote a list of things I genuinely wanted to see and feel for this city. From better public art to less disappointment in the festival system, my wish list was not unreasonable, and therefore somewhat manageable to achieve, at least in part.

I also wrote a short list of goals for myself. Scrawled on a paper napkin after a midday New Year's Day brunch, the goals I set for myself included living healthier and applying for more international opportunities. And while the former goal has its fair share of demons to battle, I am pleased to report that in 2011 I will be taking a six-month sabbatical from Canada in the form of a Arts Writing and Curatorial Fellowship in Scotland. (Please note: this column will soon be going on an indefinite hiatus).

Believing in the power of putting your desires out there, here we go again for 2011: another list of things I would genuinely like to see or wish for this city's visual arts community in this coming year. In no particular order of importance:

10) More online exhibitions and art projects.

9) Artists who can give as much as they can take.

8) More arts writing from new voices. In print, online, to accompany exhibitions, to outcry against exhibitions, let's keep the words flowing.

7) For politicians on every level of government to stop hating or fearing the arts. Especially in regards to the politicians with arts and culture in their portfolio.

6) Raising the standards and expectations of our city's university galleries. Now that we have two universities offering BFAs—and intriguingly, both with very different approaches—each institution needs a gallery (or two) to engage with each other, and with the community at large. Gallery space for students will always remain important, but there is nothing in Edmonton to rival or even remotely compare to the programming happening in University-based art galleries across this country.

5) More curators working at the AGA. With the new building and expansion of gallery space, it's time to expand the curatorial responsibilities to address fields like the gallery's historical collection, new and interdisciplinary media and Indigenous arts.

4) Fewer canned shows (see above).

3) For Canadian art to matter more to Canadians and to the rest of the world.

2) A Canadian Biennial. I know, does the world really need another biennial? But for a country as big as Canada, a biennial actually makes sense to bring together the different regions into a single exhibition that focuses on cohesions and tensions across this vast land of ours.

1) Mentorship! Because mentorship exists in combination with succession planning, and if there's anything I would ask for in Edmonton, it's conscious momentum.

*First published on Vue Weekly

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