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Influential curator championed Canadian art

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Jeffrey Spalding, president and CEO of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, July 21, 2008.

Todd Korol

In the Canadian art scene, where the top players often move from job to job and city to city to forge their careers, Jeffrey Spalding took the paradigm to the extreme. By the time Mr. Spalding died this month at the age of 67, he had worked and gained renown from coast to coast and internationally as an artist, curator, collector, historian, educator and critic – becoming a star in every field.

“I think of it all as the same thing,” Mr. Spalding once said of these nominally different roles in the art world. “I couldn’t be the artist I am, or the curator I am, or the writer I am, without all components of it.”

“Jeffrey cut a seismic swath across the country and through the art world,” says Terry Graff, an artist and the former director of Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery. “He developed this extensive network of artists, collectors, dealers and supporters, not just here but also in the States, Europe and Asia. Through his connections and friendships and paying attention, he was able to dramatically and indelibly shape and expand art collections at the many institutions where he has worked.”

Jeffrey John Spalding was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Nov. 5, 1951, to John and Dolores (née Hunt) Spalding. The family moved to Toronto six years later. According to family members, a high-school visit to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont., ignited his lifelong passion for art.

After studying fine art as an undergraduate at the University of Guelph, he headed to Ohio State University for a graduate degree in art education and then to Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (now NSCAD University) for his masters of fine art. Mr. Spalding’s own art made a significant impression when he was still a student, experimenting with colour theory while at NSCAD. Later on, he experimented with video installations; the Art Gallery of Ontario honoured him with a solo exhibition of his video art in 1997.

Mr. Spalding’s exalted career as a curator began in Calgary, where he took on a curatorial position at the Glenbow Museum in 1978. From there, he continued an upward progression of increasingly powerful positions. From 1981 to 1999, Mr. Spalding was director of the University of Lethbridge Gallery while continuing to create art. Among other works, his mid-1980s series of sublime panoramic paintings of Niagara Falls confirmed his status as a significant artist, independent of his other roles.

In 1985, he married artist Marianne Gerlinger, with whom he had five daughters.

After leaving Lethbridge, Mr. Spalding became director of the Appleton Art Museum in Florida until 2002, and from there moved to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, in Halifax, which he headed for the next five years. He relocated to Calgary in 2007 to assume the presidency of the Glenbow, also serving as an adjunct professor at University of Calgary. Two years later, he became artistic director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Calgary and stayed there until 2014.

Mr. Spalding’s own artworks now feature in the Glenbow and several other important collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Edmonton Art Gallery, Mendel Art Gallery, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Beaverbrook Art Gallery and other public art museums in Canada.

He also greatly expanded those institutions’ collections of other artists, particularly at the Glenbow Museum and the University of Lethbridge. “He vibrated with his boundless passion for art and left us energized and inspired,” recalls Donna Livingstone, the former Glenbow president and CEO and current director of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.

Although many of the acquisitions he stick-handled were donated, the cost in maintenance and wall space sometimes were too onerous for the taste of certain museum board members. “His high-octane creative energy and visionary sensibility didn’t always sit well with everybody,” Mr. Graff recalls. “He exasperated a lot of people.” Not all board members appreciated his rarefied choices, nor appreciated the logistics and expenditures required to procure and maintain them. Mr. Spalding made it his mission to convince the more conservative board members of the long-term value of certain acquisitions, spending whatever time and effort he felt was needed to enlighten them.

Mr. Spalding harnessed his encyclopedic knowledge of visual art and art history to deliver insightful lectures, critiques and essays. He wrote influential pieces for several publications and exhibition catalogues, and was a regular contributor and consulting editor for the Calgary-based art journal Galleries West. “One of Jeffrey’s challenges was that he was excellent at so many different things in the art world, including working behind the scenes,” says Tom Tait, publisher of Galleries West. “So he would work seemingly ungodly hours, and he’d just shrug and say: ‘Well, that’s what I do.’ He was working far too hard, but he found it a joy.”

Mr. Graff hired Mr. Spalding as senior curator at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in 2014. He later became chief curator but left the Beaverbrook in 2017, after enriching the gallery’s permanent collection with more than 1,000 significant works of contemporary art. “That was quite a challenge, especially in conservative New Brunswick, where you have the old guard still thinking it’s 1950-something and clinging on to the old favourites,” Mr. Graff says. “But in fact Jeffrey was fulfilling Lord Beaverbrook’s dream of a gallery that is thriving and pertinent.”

It was both symbolic and logical that Mr. Spalding would often attend formal receptions dressed in a suit and running shoes – the better to dash to the next room and connect to the next group of people.

Throughout it all, he maintained his hands-on art practice. From 2012 to 2015, he collaborated with printmaker Gordan Novak, a long-time close personal friend, on the Ghosts and Angels series of prints, in which they gleaned off-cast printmaking materials and colours from other artists to create a series of new abstract works. The series, which exhibited at the Art Gallery of Swift Current in 2015 and the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery last year, drew national acclaim.

His association with Mr. Novak occasionally brought him to the hamlet of Admiral, Sask., where he worked with Mr. Novak in his studio, a decommissioned school building. Most recently, Mr. Novak invited Mr. Spalding to work in China at the Tao Hua Tan Creative Co., where he had begun a new position as a resident artist and art consultant. Mr. Spalding had recently returned to Canada to deal with his visa renewal and other personal business. He succumbed to a massive stroke on Oct. 14, while travelling to Toronto from Fredericton.

Mr. Spalding was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2007 for his long-standing work as an advocate, curator, educator and practitioner of the visual arts. “He was an artist first, and believed strongly in the transformative power of art,” Mr. Graff says. “From there, he wanted to share his love and passion for art and make our cultural heritage accessible to everyone.”

Along with many friends, colleagues and extended family members, Mr. Spalding leaves his daughters, Jennifer Lake, Yvonne Smith, Raila Duda, Isa Spalding, Lauren Spalding; wife, Marianne Gerlinger; and six grandchildren.

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Penticton arts, culture and sports programs get boost of over $500,000 thanks to provincial grant – Vernon Morning Star

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Penticton’s arts, cultural and athletic programs are getting a boost of over $500,000 thanks to this year’s round of B.C. Community Gaming Grants.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced on Nov. 7 that 700 non-profits throughout the province would receive $18.3 million in funding to “deliver opportunities for people of all ages to participate in visual and performing arts, literature and festivals, as well as Indigenous and cultural programs.” An additional $27 million will be provided to more than 800 sports sector organizations in B.C. through the program.

READ MORE: Nearly $2M in provincial grants going to Central Okanagan arts, sports programs

Six arts-related non-profits in the Penticton area will be splitting $158,500 and 12 sports organizations will be splitting $347,400 through the program. Notably, the Penticton Art Gallery Society will receive $56,000, the Penticton & District Minor Hockey Association will receive $86,500 and the Pinnacles Football Club Association will get $90,000.

“These programs bring people together, fostering community connections through art, cultural programming and athletic activities for all ages and abilities,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in the release. “Our government is proud to support organizations contributing to vibrant, healthy communities across B.C.”

“These art, culture and sport programs provide opportunities for people to build community, foster artistic expression and engage in healthy activities,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in the release. “Our government is proud to support these organizations to deliver programs that support inclusion and benefit people of all ages and backgrounds in communities across B.C.”

To view the full list of recipients of this year’s B.C. Community Gaming Grants in arts and culture, click here, and for the full list of sports organization recipients, click here.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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Penticton arts, culture and sports programs get boost of over $500,000 thanks to provincial grant – Pentiction Western News

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Penticton’s arts, cultural and athletic programs are getting a boost of over $500,000 thanks to this year’s round of B.C. Community Gaming Grants.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced on Nov. 7 that 700 non-profits throughout the province would receive $18.3 million in funding to “deliver opportunities for people of all ages to participate in visual and performing arts, literature and festivals, as well as Indigenous and cultural programs.” An additional $27 million will be provided to more than 800 sports sector organizations in B.C. through the program.

READ MORE: Nearly $2M in provincial grants going to Central Okanagan arts, sports programs

Six arts-related non-profits in the Penticton area will be splitting $158,500 and 12 sports organizations will be splitting $347,400 through the program. Notably, the Penticton Art Gallery Society will receive $56,000, the Penticton & District Minor Hockey Association will receive $86,500 and the Pinnacles Football Club Association will get $90,000.

“These programs bring people together, fostering community connections through art, cultural programming and athletic activities for all ages and abilities,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in the release. “Our government is proud to support organizations contributing to vibrant, healthy communities across B.C.”

“These art, culture and sport programs provide opportunities for people to build community, foster artistic expression and engage in healthy activities,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in the release. “Our government is proud to support these organizations to deliver programs that support inclusion and benefit people of all ages and backgrounds in communities across B.C.”

To view the full list of recipients of this year’s B.C. Community Gaming Grants in arts and culture, click here, and for the full list of sports organization recipients, click here.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
JordynThomson 
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Like the Western News on Facebook.
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Time to get creative with the Okanagan School of the Arts – Pentiction Western News

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The Okanagan School of the Arts (OSA) has some upcoming classes to keep your creative juices flowing this winter.

Try your hand at the Oil Painting Portrait Class, which runs on four consecutive Thursdays beginning Nov. 21 to Dec. 12. The class takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and participants “will learn the craft of portait painting by applying classic methods,” according to the OSA website.

“The course will include the basics in drawing skills, design, learning to discern values, chroma and how to model form. The class will work on paint application and will discuss warm-cool colour balance and gaining clarity on the intended message,” states the online class description. “The controlled pallet method will be demonstrated. There will be lots of critique for those who are interested in learning how to paint representationally.”

If painting isn’t your cup of tea, you can instead create your own unique roll-on perfume at the Scent Journey class on Nov. 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. The workshop teaches about the “properties of essential oils and how to blend them” and will allow participants to select from 20 essential oils to “create a unique scente that resonates with them – body, mind and soul.”

After the class, those that want to recreate their signature scent can bring their roller bottle and perfume recipe card back to Stellar Ground to be refilled for $20.

READ MORE: Okanagan School of the Arts seems to be back on track

For kids looking to get crafty, there is the Kids Herbal Holiday Crafting session on Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. to noon. Kids from six to 12 years of age will learn about the “healing properties of plants” and make “handmade gifts for the holidays in this hands-on learning experience.”

“Using organic ingredients and organically-grown herbs, your child will create unique gifts with handmade labels their friends and family will love,” states the OSA website. “We will create a 100 per cent natural essential oil aftershave; a herbal lip balm; a body/bath oil infused with crystals, essential oils, and flowers; and a herbal tea blend (choose from recipes provided).”

The Adults Herbal Holiday Crafting session will follow that same day from 1 to 3 p.m. where participants will “create a herbal syrup for holiday drink mixing, a herbal-infused culinary salt blend, a herbal jelly and a holiday-inspired herbal tea blend.”

The OSA will also be hosting a Long Pose Session on Jan. 18 where participants will have the chance to paint from a live, costumed model. All levels are welcome at this class, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is instructed by Barbara Ward.

Ward is a “seasoned oil painter who has painted for over 40 years” and “looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm and knowledge with her students.”

READ MORE: Video: New Penticton studio is a playground for creative types

There will also be the Art of Food Christmas Market at the school on Nov. 30 from noon to 4 p.m. The school, which is located in the Shatford Centre at 760 Main St., is also home to the Ideaforge Maker Studio where residents can access workshop space and specialized equipment and tools for their own projects.

The Ideaforge is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

For more information about upcoming classes and events at the Okanagan School of the Arts, visit www.shatfordcentre.com or call 250-770-7668.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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