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Art gallery, indoor sports facility make city's strategic plan – Tbnewswatch.com

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THUNDER BAY – City council has approved a new strategic plan for Thunder Bay, despite concerns over two major projects included in the document: an indoor sports facility and a new waterfront home for the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.

At a Monday council meeting, Coun. Brian Hamilton suggested removing specific references to the indoor turf facility from the plan, which sets out council’s priorities through the end of its term in 2022. The document includes a goal to “develop key city infrastructure… such as a new multi-use indoor sports facility.”

Hamilton pointed out council has not voted to support the project, estimated to cost around $30 million. It has, however, set aside around $17 million in possible funding, as the city seeks additional investment from other levels of government.

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If those investments don’t come through, “that will be a very different conversation,” Hamilton said. The McKellar ward councillor added he agrees the city needs more indoor sports venues, but didn’t want council tied to a specific project it has not formally approved.

“I would rather have a more broad [statement] where we build capacity for indoor sports,” he said. “That gives us a couple of different options – it doesn’t take us into a corner.”

A trio of councillors – Hamilton, Rebecca Johnson, and Mark Bentz – raised similar concerns about a new building for the art gallery. The strategic plan includes a goal supporting its construction in order to grow a “vibrant cultural scene” at the waterfront.

The previous city council voted to allocate $5 million for construction of the new building in 2017, contingent on other levels of government funding the rest. If built, the city is also expected to face several million in costs to build a road, parking, and walkway – as well as funding a larger annual operating budget for the gallery, currently located at Confederation College.

Hamilton said he supports the project, but still didn’t think the strategic plan should include it.

But other councillors said it was far past time to approve the strategic plan and move on. The document covers the years 2019 to 2022, and has been in development for around a year. Northwood councillor Shelby Ch’ng said her colleagues had missed earlier chances to suggest changes.

“We’ve had plenty, plenty of opportunity for input, meetings that went on and on – to varying degrees of participation from this council,” she said. “I’m very disappointed changes are still being made tonight on a document that should have been passed a long time ago.”

Current River councillor Andrew Foulds pointed out the plan won’t tie any councillor’s hands when it comes time to vote on the issues.

“We have 13 people [on council],” he said. “We couldn’t possibly all love everything in this document. When I look at it, I don’t love everything that’s in here, but there is a lot to like – and I do see my priorities reflected in this plan.”

A motion to remove references to the indoor turf facility from the plan failed, with only Hamilton, Johnson, and Bentz supporting it.

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Diplo ‘Wins’ Art Basel Miami by Topping ATM’s Leaderboard

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Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams/Getty Images for Ocean Drive

Diplo has about $3 mil in the bank, FYI. The celebrity DJ who once streamed Sophie Turner’s wedding to Joe Jonas (remember that?) claimed to have “won” Miami Art Basel this year. One of the most talked-about pieces at the annual art fair is an ATM that posts your picture and bank balance if you use it. The ATM has a leaderboard, which Diplo topped on December 2. At the time he posted his “high score” on social media, Diplo had $3,004,913.06 in his account. So we know his cash assets, but do we know if he’s in on the joke? This piece is from Brooklyn art collective MSCHF, who are known for their trolly stunt art. “ATM Leaderboard is an extremely literal distillation of wealth-flaunting impulses,” MSCHF co-founder Daniel Greenberg said on NPR. “From its conception, we had mentally earmarked this work for a location like Miami Basel, a place where there is a dense concentration of people renting Lamborghinis and wearing Rolexes.” The piece is goofing on ostentatious displays of wealth, Diplo. Having the most ostentatious display isn’t the flex you think it is. The ATM was a collab between MSCHF and the gallery Perrotin. They had the banana duct taped to the wall, to give some more context on where everyone involved stands on the art vs. prank spectrum.

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Free Press celebrates launch of art exhibit

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The Winnipeg Art Gallery has opened its doors to an exhibition focusing on the Winnipeg Free Press and its 150th anniversary.

Headlines: The Art of the News Cycle, which includes works from seven artists from across North America as well as archival material from the Free Press and the gallery’s permanent collection, looks at the many changes that have taken place in how the Free Press and other news organizations let their readers know what’s going on in the world around them.

The exhibit runs through to May 21, 2023 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

— with files from Alan Small

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Inuk art scholar makes leap to National Gallery of Canada

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The National Gallery of Canada is home to a rich contemporary Indigenous international art collection, as well as important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian and European Art from the 14th to 21st centuries. (Photo by Christine Mastroianni)

Jocelyn Piirainen, from Cambridge Bay, will help the gallery curate its Indigenous and Inuit art collection

Jocelyn Piirainen is bringing an Inuk voice to the way the National Gallery of Canada acquires and exhibits Inuit and Indigenous artwork.

The arts scholar and former Cambridge Bay resident was appointed in early November to the role of associate curator for the gallery.

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Piirainen brings experience from her previous role as associate curator of Inuit art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Qaumajuq museum, which she has held since March 2019. Qaumajuq is a collection of almost 14,000 contemporary Inuit art pieces, making up the largest collection of its kind in the world.

Curators organize and set up exhibits, said Piirainen in an interview from her home in Winnipeg.

Jocelyn Piirainen is an urban Inuk artist and curator originally from Cambridge Bay. She was recently appointed to the role of associate curator at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. (Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Piirainen)

“The curator is really there to allow artists to tell their stories,” she said.

“If there’s a specific carving that has a story or legend associated with it, you know, you want to tell the public about it.”

Piirainen joins the national gallery’s recently formed Indigenous Ways and Decolonization department. It has a mandate to amplify the voices of Indigenous artists, curators and scholars.

In an email, Michelle LaVallee, director of the department of Indigenous Ways and Decolonization, recognized Piirainen’s skill as a collaborator in her work with arts and culture professionals and Indigenous communities to highlight Inuit artistic and cultural practices.

“I am excited about her lived and professional experience as an Inuk curator which she brings to the national gallery,” she said.

Piirainen is joining the gallery as some controversial changes are taking place there. The Globe and Mail and other national media reported last month the departure of four curators from the gallery’s Indigenous Ways and Decolonization department. A former senior curator, Greg A. Hill, tweeted he was fired because he disagreed with the “colonial and anti-Indigenous ways” the department was being run, the Globe reported.

Piirainen said the Canadian art world needs more Inuit curators and art professionals. She credits a government-funding initiative, called Inuit Futures, for leading the way in that respect.

Inuit Futures in Arts Leadership: The Pilimmaksarniq/Pijariuqsarniq Project supports Inuit and Inuvialuit by giving them access to the training, mentorship and professional opportunities necessary to find success in the arts industry.

Piirainen was invited to be a mentor in the Inuit Futures program in 2019, where she was paired with mixed-media artist Aghalingiak (Zoe Ohokannoak). Aghalingiak, who identifies as they/them, is in their fifth year of study of fine arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

Aghalingiak said in an interview that being a participant in the Inuit Futures program as a research intern and mentee has been both challenging and a confidence boost, accelerating their development as an artist.

Multimedia artist Aghalingiak is grateful to the Inuit Futures Leadership in Arts initiative for boosting their confidence and helping to launch their career in the arts. (Photo by Jonas Henderson)

In April 2022, they curated their first exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Qaumajuq Museum under the mentorship of Piirainen. The exhibition is called Kakiniit Hivonighijotaa: Inuit Embodied Practices & Meanings.

“I didn’t think that I would ever be curating exhibitions at this point,” Aghalingiak said, reflecting on their recent solo exhibition and their experience with Inuit Futures.

As Piirainen prepares to move to Ottawa in January, she acknowledges that although this appointment provides an opportunity to be part of the national gallery’s efforts to ensure Inuit art and culture are appropriately represented, her hiring is not a solution in and of itself.

“There is also a lot of pressure that comes to that, to be kind of representing all Inuit, but I am aware that I can’t do that either,” she said.

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