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Italian art gallery becomes a COVID-19 vaccine centre – The Globe and Mail



Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is director of the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art​, which is turning into a vaccination centre in March, 2021.


The Castello di Rivoli, near Turin, has been a marvel of reinvention over its thousand-year history. It has been a castle – castello in Italian – royal palace, military barracks, refugee centre and, lately, a UNESCO World Heritage site and art gallery.

In March or April, it will assume another role, COVID-19 vaccination centre, when the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, the site’s main tenant, opens its galleries to visitors who fancy combining a bit of culture with their inoculations.

The idea of turning one of Europe’s best-known contemporary art museums into a temporary health clinic was conceived by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, 63, the museum’s American-Italian director. “Art has always helped and healed,” she said. “It provides an experience that includes and involves others and can be a form of therapy to treat trauma.”

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While vaccinations are normally not considered traumatic experiences, getting one in an airy gallery might take the edge off any lingering jab anxiety. Polls suggest there is vaccine hesitancy among significant minorities of Europeans.

Coronavirus vaccinations will be administered in the third floor gallery of Castello di Rivoli, near Turin, Italy, which has been reinvented over the centuries as a castle, royal palace, military barracks, and a refugee centre.


The vaccines will be administered in the third-floor gallery of the museum, where the walls are lined with the creations of Claudia Comte, a Swiss artist whose work, according to museum literature, comprises “large scale environmental installations … of a form of consciousness primarily shaped through the digital experience.”

While Ms. Comte’s art may not be to everyone’s taste, the gallery no doubt beats a sterile, windowless hospital room as a vaccination centre. Ms. Comte is also working on what Ms. Christov-Bakargiev called a “soothing, calming” soundtrack that will be played while medics administer the vaccines.

After they get their jabs, the newly inoculated will be allowed to wander the lower galleries (assuming Italian pandemic restrictions allow them to open), where one of the new installations will include Sex, by German visual artist Anne Imhof. Works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Amadeo Modigliani are also on display.

The vaccinations will be done by the local health authority, which will have to ensure that the proper safety protocols are in place. Ms. Christov-Bakargiev said the museum should be ideal for the inoculation effort, since it is already equipped with thermal scanners and a climate-control system and has ample space for physical distancing, waiting rooms and vaccination booths. The third floor covers 10,000 square feet.

Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art​ is joining the drive that has led to administration of more than 1.2 million vaccine doses in Italy by Jan. 19, 2021.

Paolo Pellion/Handout

She said the idea of turning the museum into a vaccination centre came to her months ago but took on new urgency on Dec. 13, when museum chairman Fiorenzo Alfieri died of COVID-19 after a month-long illness. He was 77.

“The day after he died, I thought that I needed to do something more than close the museum during the pandemic and wait,” she said. “We had to do something more.”

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Many museums and art galleries in Europe began as hospitals, including Les Invalides in Paris and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, home of Picasso’s Guernica. Castello di Rivoli is just doing it in reverse order – a museum that is becoming, in effect, a hospital.

According to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, Italy, which has seen 83,000 pandemic deaths, had administered more than 1.2 million vaccine does by Jan. 19. Ranked by doses per 100 people, the tally puts it well ahead of the European Union average.

Italian health authorities are planning to open vaccination sites in public spaces across the country, including city squares. Cultura Italiae, a group of cultural leaders, has proposed that other museums and cultural centres copy the Castello di Rivoli vaccination model. After all, “public museums are committed to creating an accessible, pluralistic space to serve our community,” Ms. Christov-Bakargiev said.

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Kootenay sculptor Lou Lynn wins $25,000 national art award –



Lou Lynn, artist and sculptor based in the Slocan Valley of B.C.’s West Kootenay region, has won the Saidye Bronfman Award, as part of this year’s Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

The $25,000 Saidye Bronfman Award was created in 1977 by Canada’s Bronfman Family and became a Governor General’s award in 2007.

Lynn lives and runs a studio in Winlaw, a small community of 400 residents about a 40-minute drive northwest of Nelson, B.C.  

Educated in the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, the Kootenay-based artist enjoys combining glass and metals in her artwork. In 2016, she held a two-month exhibition at Nelson’s Touchstones Museum of Art and History, showcasing artworks made of bronze and glass inspired by buttons and kitchen utensils.

Using glass and bronze, Lynn also casts kitchen and home utensils that, once found in all homes, are now obscure. (Lou Lynn)

“It makes us think about our histories as makers and about the hand, mind and body working in concert to create beautiful and functional objects that enrich our world,” say Craft Council of British Columbia’s executive director Raine Mckay and artist Amy Gogarty — who jointly nominated Lynn for the award —  in a written statement Tuesday.

Lynn says the COVID-19 pandemic has posed tremendous challenges to artists.

“I slowly saw myself and then a number of my peers’ opportunities started drying up,” she said Wednesday to Chris Walker, the host of CBC’s Daybreak South. “It was a difficult time to be productive [as an artist] because this pandemic is all consuming.”

Lynn previously taught professional practices in the art industry with the Kootenay School of Arts in Nelson for 14 years.  She has delivered over 80 workshops across Canada teaching artists how to sell their works.

“Artists actually can do business and they need to do business,” she said.

Lou Lynn said she enjoys combining glass and metals in her artwork. In 2016, she held a two-month exhibition at Nelson’s Touchstones Museum of Art and History, showcasing artworks of bronze and glass inspired by buttons and kitchen utensils. (Lou Lynn)

Lynn says she hopes artists could receive more support from local communities during the pandemic.

“People are going out of the way to try and support the small businesses, and I would hope that it’s the case with artists as well,” she said.

Besides the Saidye Bronfman Award, the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts include six Artistic Achievement Awards and an Outstanding Contribution Award.

Tahltan-Tlingit master carver Dempsey Bob, based in Terrace, is one of the two B.C. recipients of the Governor General’s awards. He won the Artistic Achievement Award.

The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were created in 1999 by then governor general Adrienne Clarkson and the Canada Council for the Arts. Each winner will receive a $25,000 prize.

Tap the link below to hear Lou Lynn’s interview on Daybreak South:

Daybreak South6:01Winlaw artist Lou Lynn is this year’s recipient of the Saidye Bronfman Award from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Winlaw artist Lou Lynn is this year’s recipient of the Saidye Bronfman Award from the Canada Council for the Arts. 6:01

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Black Reflections Art Gallery 2021 features Sydney Academy graduate for virtual show –




The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Black Reflections Art Gallery to move to an online format this year.

The virtual event hasn’t stopped the many talented students within the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education from creating beautiful artwork for the annual show which marks African Heritage Month.

“The students really enjoy doing it and the students are really proud of themselves and the art they exhibit,” said school support worker Dionne Romard, who has been overseeing the art gallery for four years.

“We don’t want the students to miss a year. They really love doing it.”

Launched on Feb. 24, the virtual gallery features the artwork of dozens of students from across the centre for education in a video slide underneath the 11 pieces done by this year’s featured artist Serena Delaney.

Serena Delaney, 17, with her painting which is on display at the Black Reflections Art Gallery’s virtual show. The Grade 12 Sydney Academy student is the featured artist this year and is displaying 11 pieces of her work. CONTRIBUTED



A Grade 12 student at Sydney Academy, Delaney took an interest in drawing in elementary school. It was the first time the Whitney Pier teenager took art classes and the piece she created specifically for the Black Reflections Art Gallery was the first time Delaney had painted on canvas.

“I felt like I didn’t want to go too big or crazy,” Delaney said about her painting of a silhouette of a woman carrying a basket on her head with the blazing sun as a backdrop.

“I felt it fit the bill pretty good (for the Black Reflections Art Gallery) … I looked on Google for inspiration. There were a lot of images like that, with the sun and the bright colours. I wanted warm tones for my painting.”

The other 10 pieces Delaney is exhibiting are done in pencil crayons or watercolours and were completed throughout the school year in her art class.

“I was really happy (when I was chosen as featured artist). I was surprised. I felt honoured,” said Delaney, who graduates in the spring and eventually hopes to have a career in social services.

“My mom was really happy. She said she was proud.”

Delaney hopes other people will look at her art and be inspired to create their own.

“Anyone can do art,” she said. “I know my friends and I do art a lot and not all of us are really good at it but we are still enjoying ourselves … That’s the most important part.”

Nicole Sullivan is an immigration/diversity and education reporter for the Cape Breton Post. 


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Art Beat: 2021 writers' festival looking up – Coast Reporter



The cancellation of the 2020 Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts (SCFWA) left a big cultural gap in a year full of them, and this year is still littered with question marks about local arts and entertainment. But word is that the festival looks more likely to happen than not, depending. (That d-word seems mandatory in 2021.) “The ground we walk upon is not quite settled as we await vaccines and keep an eye on the COVID-19 variants,” festival producer Jane Davidson wrote in the SCFWA February newsletter. “Our plan for the summer of 2021 is based on our ability to gather in groups of up to 50. We are hopeful that restrictions will relax enough to allow us to do at least that and we hope they relax even more to allow us to increase that number,” Davidson said. “Compliance with public health guidelines and safety will lead our way forward.”

The extra good news is that festival events would not be confined to a weekend in August. “Our plan is to produce a summertime Sunday afternoon series of readings from July 4 to August 8. On Festival weekend, we will have 7 p.m. events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (August 13, 14, and 15) and 2 p.m. events on the Saturday and Sunday. That’s 11 events in total with capacity for an audience of 42-44,” the newsletter said. Also, “[e]very event will be recorded by a professional videographer and the entire series (July 4 to Aug. 15) will be posted online as a virtual Festival for the last two weeks of August.” Fingers crossed. Davidson provides several more details about the current 2021 plans at

Shout Out

It soon will be time again for the annual youth arts show at Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG). The show, Shout Out! 2021, is open to all Sunshine Coast residents age two to 18. “Participating youth may submit up to two pieces of artwork in any medium (drawings, painting, prints, mixed media, photography, animation, video, sculpture, etc.),” gallery manager Christina Symons said in a release. Submission forms and artwork may be dropped off at the gallery at 431 Marine Drive in Gibsons starting March 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The deadline is 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 7. More information and submission forms can be found at The show runs from March 11 to April 4.

Space is limited in Art Beat but please let us know about your events at

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