Connect with us


Sustaining Art in the Midst of Venezuela's Humanitarian Crisis – Hyperallergic



Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Armando Reverón, Caracas (photo by Juan Manuel Díaz Guevara, October 2019)

CARACAS — It seems incongruous that Venezuela, the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, is undergoing the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in the hemisphere. Most Venezuelans currently survive day by day: collecting water, saving food, and trying to stave off illness due to the lack of medicine. Yet they can still go to museums for free. As a Venezuelan, I am often asked about how the art scene operates in the midst of the national crisis. It is hard to think about the cultural sector when the devastating situation — characterized by violence, hyperinflation, censorship, and massive migration — deprives people, including artists, of basic needs.

Regardless of media reports and political interests, what is going on in Venezuela is essentially a matter of right versus wrong; the violations of human rights by the so-called Bolivarian Revolution, started by Hugo Chávez in 1999 and presided over by Nicolás Maduro since 2013, are endless. In 2019, the United Nations presented a human rights report on Venezuela that urged the Venezuelan government to take immediate measures to halt and rectify the infractions: as of mid-2019 there were more than 900 political prisoners and by early 2020 there will be more than 5.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants, inflation is projected to grow to 10 million percent, food and health care are not guaranteed to citizens, and there have been hundreds of national blackouts, sometimes for weeks at a time. Venezuelans have no alternative but to continue their daily activities despite the difficulties. During one of the first blackouts, on Sunday, March 10, 2019, curator, author, and photography researcher Sagrario Berti launched her outstanding publication Printed Photography in Venezuela at the GBG gallery in Caracas. An Instagram post ahead of the event read that “with light or without light” the book would be presented.

Museum of Fine Arts, Caracas (photo by Juan Manuel Díaz Guevara, October 2019)

The national museums were established as part of the modern plan for the country under the oil boom, but they were also in the purview of the Bolivarian Revolution. Throughout the 20th century the promising public art museums included the Museum of Fine Art (MBA), the National Art Gallery (GAN), the Contemporary Art Museum (MAC), and the Alejandro Otero Museum; all were dedicated to free thinking. Significant exhibitions as well as acquisition programs for modern and postwar art reflected the country’s prosperity. International artists such as Henry Moore and Lucio Fontana had major retrospectives in Caracas, and 1985 saw the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (ROCI) at the MAC, consisting of a large-scale international traveling exhibition organized by the artist that doubled as a cultural exchange program in Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, China, Tibet, Japan, Cuba, the Soviet Union, East Germany, and Malaysia.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

Hugo Chávez arrived in 1999, first modifying budgets. In 2001 he fired museum directors such as Sofía Imber on his Sunday radio and television talk show, Aló Presidente, and in 2005 he placed museums under the control of the organization Fundación de Museos Nacionales. Curators and staff members who remained adapted their programming to the Bolivarian Revolution; they argued that they were preserving the artworks, but at the same time they collaborated with Manuel Espinoza and Farruco Sesto, ministers of culture and key supporters of Chávez who imposed their own  program. The cultural revolution turned the national museums into ideological voiceboxes for the regime and its accomplices.

The Venezuelan Pavilion in the Venice Giardini, designed by Carlos Scarpa

After 20 years of revolution, a few artworks are still on view, but the national museums are deserted. In a recent walkthrough at the MBA, GAN, and MAC, some of the galleries were closed — at the MBA, only three of the 18 galleries were open — there were leaks and bat droppings on the walls, the exhibition spaces were not air conditioned, and people were touching the art. Some of the employees who were at the national museums during the cultural revolution have voluntarily departed, opting to work at private institutions or leaving the country entirely. Many artists have refused to show at these institutions on moral grounds. In 2012, art historian and critic Roldán Esteva-Grillet said, “Only revolutionary artists have the right to exhibit at the National Art Gallery.” Many important artists from the recent past (pre-Chávez) have not had retrospective exhibitions at the national museums, such as Eugenio Espinoza, Nela Ochoa, Jorge Pizzani, Rolando Peña, Miguel Von Dangel, Alfred Wenemoser, Antonieta Sosa, Héctor Fuenmayor, and Carlos Zerpa.

The Venezuelan Pavilion in the Venice Giardini, designed by Carlos Scarpa and built in 1959 as one of the spoils of the oil boom, is an extension of the cultural revolution, exclusively presenting artists and curators who are complicit with its campaign of corruption, torture, and humanitarian violations. It is no coincidence that these artists and curators also judge and receive the national art prizes again and again. One of the most significant gestures near the beginning of dissent was when artist Javier Téllez declined the official invitation to represent Venezuela in the 50th Venice Biennial; in an open letter he stated, “This decision is a fundamentally ethical one and I have taken it as a Venezuelan and as an artist responsible and aware of our reality.” Téllez had radically opposed the regime, undertaking a social media campaign denouncing writers and artists who support and benefit from it. His most recent film, Los Caminantes (2019), commissioned by the Aichi Triennale 2019 in Nagoya, Japan, is about the forced displacement of Venezuelans.

Marisol (Marisol Escobar), “El avión” [The Airplane] (1983), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Armando Reverón (photo by Juan Manuel Díaz Guevara, October 2019)

There is a long tradition of private collections in Venezuela, and in the recent past you could find anything from masterpieces by Caravaggio to the largest collection in the world of works by Giorgio Morandi. Throughout the country’s 40 years of democracy (1958–98), Venezuelans developed an interest in contemporary art, and philanthropists and collectors funded private institutions such as Sala Mendoza, Espacio Mercantil, and Fundación Calara. These supported artists through salons, grants, residencies, and partnerships with international institutions, including MoMA PS1 in New York City and Gasworks in London.

Since the regime dismantled private industry, some of these initiatives no longer exist due to lack of funding, and others have precarious budgets and can no longer undertake ambitious projects. The prestigious collection of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros no longer operates in Caracas, and most of the artworks were given to MoMA and other museums outside of Venezuela, while the celebrated Cisneros seminar, which began in Caracas in 2011 and featured international speakers, is now defunct. These changes coincide with increasing difficulties traveling to Venezuela. There are no longer direct flights from the United States to Venezuela as airlines are afraid to go there.

Currently, the most active private space in Caracas is probably Sala TAC, which produces relevant and well-researched exhibitions such as Enmarcando a Gerd Leufert: Listonados, Tramas Andinas: Tradición e Innovación de textieles de Barbara Brandli, and Tito Caula: El registro inagotable in collaboration with the private collection Archivo de la Fotografía Urbana. Sala TAC has also hosted a series of exhibitions on architecture in Caracas designed by Italian and Spanish architects, organized by the nonprofit Docomomo Venezuela (for instance, Las Italias de Caracas and Suite Iberia: La arquitectura de influencia española en Caracas). In 2009 Periférico Caracas at Centro de Arte los Galpones held exhibitions such as Meyer Vaisman / 6:1 and Carlos Cruz- Diez: La Experiencia Sensorial del Color. To a certain extent, these private initiatives have picked up where national museums left off.

Erika Ordosgoitti, “Me abro la cabeza” (2013), video 4:39 (image courtesy of the artist)

Independent initiatives play an essential role in promoting contemporary art in Venezuela. Since 2012, the artist-run space La Organización Nelson Garrido (ONG) has focused on photography exhibitions and workshops that have been fundamental to many artists working in the medium. ONG now operates in Caracas, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, and Madrid. Oficina #1 (which ran from 2005 to 2015) was an artist-run gallery founded by Luis Romero and Suwon Lee that showcased emerging artists. Abra Caracas, founded in 2016 by Romero with Melina Fernández Temes exhibits emerging artists and personal archives of artists from the 1970s including Maruja Rolando, Pedro Terán, and Carlos ZerpaOther artist-run spaces, such as Al Borde, are no longer operational as all the artists have left the country. Yet some artist residencies (for example, La Macolla Creativa, El Avispero, and Terra Gráfica) have persevered by partnering with international universities and institutions. Tráfico Visual began in 2009 as an independent digital platform on contemporary art, producing news and screenings, and has become a trustworthy source on the Venezuelan art scene; in addition it has organized programs in partnership with other initiatives like Cruzando la linea for the 45 Salón Nacional de Artistas de Colombia. Tráfico Visual has also been included in the traveling exhibition Publishing Against the Grain, organized by Independent Curators International (ICI).

There are few Venezuelan contemporary artists with whom the global art world is familiar, and many significant artists, like Margarita D’Amico and Claudio Perna, are yet to be discovered. Both Venezuelan state institutions and private collectors have failed to bring visibility to national artists. The post-Chávez generation of artists is most affected by the Bolivarian Revolution. Most of them have immigrated to areas where there are more opportunities, while some are in exile to escape persecution, and the ones still in Venezuela survive day to day. Yet artists continue to produce engaging work, both regarding and apart from the Venezuelan political drama. Erika Ordosgoitti performs in public spaces, using her body to question what else the government is going to take from the Venezuelans. She was persecuted for her artwork and today is in exile. Marco Montiel Soto, currently in Berlin, addresses the precariousness of life in the Venezuelan Caribbean and rainforest mostly through conceptual videos and installations that also refer to history and current reality. Still in Venezuela, Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe is an indigenous artist living in the remote Yanomami community of Pori Pori in the Amazon. His drawings on artisanal paper are firmly grounded in the Yanomami cosmogony as well as the ancestral traditions of his community.

Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe, “Thari Keki [Protection shield]” (2018), acrylic on mulberry paper. 70 x 50 cm. Colección del Museo de Arte de Lima, Perú (photo by Julio Osorio, image courtesy of Abra Caracas Gallery)

If Nicolás Maduro ever leaves Venezuela and the country can recover, art and culture must be priorities. For now, we can only encourage and support Venezuelan artists — and it is now that any support from philanthropists, collectors, and Venezuelan curators with international stature is most needed. Simón Rodríguez, the pioneer of mass education in Latin America, in 1826 said, “Teach, and you will have who knows; educate, and you will have whoever does.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


‘Amazing’ art, dance program a hit for local seniors (3 photos)



The Orillia and District Arts Council (ODAC) has married dance, visual art, and art history in a comprehensive new arts program created specifically for local seniors.

The HeARTS (Helping Elders with ARTS) program is held every Tuesday and Thursday at St. James’ Anglican Church; the goal is to get participants’ bodies moving before trying their hand at various disciplines of art.

The 26-week program began in September after ODAC secured federal government funding earlier this year, and each lesson includes a dance component, supplementary lectures on the session’s artistic theme, and — of course — the opportunity to create art.

Organizers offer a wide-ranging variety of programming and artistic styles for the participants to learn about, ranging from Picasso-inspired self portraits, to re-creations of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, Japanese Suminigashi marbling, and more.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

An “intelligent” approach was brought to the program, organizers say, adding they hope to give seniors legitimate opportunities to explore their artistic sides, as well as the opportunity to self-reflect.

“It (isn’t) juvenile, like arts and crafts. We wanted to do something intelligent and fresh, and have something that seniors could be excited to come to weekly,” said HeARTS art facilitator Sukhi Kaur.

“They’re taken on a journey of self-reflection that they get to explore through different art techniques, and different artists and activities,” Kaur said. “By the end, they’ll hopefully create a small body of work that represents their time here, as well as connecting to the memories that the art prompts are supposed to bring up, and they have the opportunity to share that with new people.”

Each session’s programming is designed to tie into a specific theme, Kaur said, noting those themes are guided by participant feedback. For example, a dance session based in mirroring was included with a lecture on Picasso before participants painted their own self portraits.

A variety of guest artists — and even a harp player during the Vincent Van Gogh session — have been brought to the program to enrich its sessions.

Above all, however, the program offers the opportunity for seniors to have fun and socialize.

“We were hoping that it would be an opportunity post-COVID for seniors to socialize,” Kaur said. “They come here for art, and they come here for dance, but they get to talk about their week. There’s been some new friendships made here that I’ve got to watch flourish over the weeks.”

The idea is catching on.

“Our board made a decision some time back that we wanted to be more socially involved with vulnerable or underrepresented groups, and we thought seniors would be a good fit,” said ODAC board secretary Christine Hager.

“It was a slow start … but now it’s catching people by word of mouth. They are telling other people what’s going on here, and they’re having a lot of fun — that’s the main thing.”

So far, the program has been a success, with one participant celebrating it as “an amazing get together for seniors” that got her out of a rut through COVID-19.

“It gives us something to look forward to, shows us our cognitive abilities, and motivates us to do better than we thought we could do,” said Donna Howlett.

“I love the dance class — just hearing the music has brought me back to my childhood, and the art class is so interesting. I did not know that I had some talent there,” said Maryann Van Arem.

Miriam Goldberger, the program’s dance instructor, said she enthusiastically joined the program when she learned it would incorporate multiple styles of art, and highlighted the importance of movement for both physical health and creating the right mindset to engage with art.

“Movement and physical activity prevent serious physical and mental and emotional decline of seniors,” she explained. “It also really lubricates all the creativity and the social goals that happen with the other part of the program.”

“They’re relaxed, they’re comfortable with themselves, they’re feeling positive,” she said. “They’re open to new things.”

Beyond offering arts programming to seniors, the HeARTS program also serves as a placement opportunity for Georgian College Social Service Worker students.

Program volunteer Joan Berndt said the addition of these students is “incredibly beneficial” to breaking down stigma surrounding seniors.

“The addition of social work students is incredibly beneficial because they don’t get frontline experience when they’re in school,” Berndt said. “They learn about seniors, (and) there is a discrimination in some younger people, that they don’t want to work for seniors, but they’re meeting some fabulous seniors, and it’s working.”

The HeARTS program is offered to local seniors free of charge. It takes place at St. James’ Anglican Church, every Tuesday and Thursday, with a drop-in session from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with dance and arts programming taking place from 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Organizers are hoping to secure funding to continue the program following its current 26-week run.

Source link

Continue Reading


Christmas-themed “One Man Art Show” at Evergreen Park



This will be his second show in the Chuckwagon room at the TARA Centre, which he thoroughly enjoys, having fallen in love with it during his last show in the fall.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

” It’s so perfect (Evergreen Park) has so much room there to park and the room is just the perfect size, and like you said the light shows out there and stuff, the whole thing has such a nice Christmas feel to it, they’ve had so many events over there lately here with the Christmas theme. It just fits in perfectly, again, with my niche and stuff I couldn’t imagine a better location to do this,” said McCaffrey.

He does expect a bigger crowd for this time round after his last “One Man Art Show” took place at the start of hunting season, which is a big chunk of his target demographic.

“They’ll be a little bit of new stuff, but mostly stuff that was already there in September, but there were a lot of people that didn’t get a chance to come to the show in September because of hunting season and different stuff like that, and I thought Christmas would be another opportunity for those people to come out.”

McCaffrey says among the stuff he’s bringing back from the September show is a piece not for sale. It is a portrait of his granddaughter that he enjoys and just likes to show off to the community.

McCaffrey’s “One Man Art Show” runs December 7, and 8, starting at noon until 9 p.m. both days, at Evergreen Park in the TARA Centre, inside of the Chuckwagon Room.

If you want to browse McCaffrey’s collection online, click here.

Source link

Continue Reading


The Ottawa Art Gallery and The Ottawa Hospital select winners of the TRIAS Art Prize – The Ottawa Hospital





The winning artwork will be displayed at The Ottawa Hospital campuses as a way of enhancing wellness through art.

OTTAWA – December 6, 2022 – The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) and The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) have selected the winners of the 2022 TRIAS Art Prize. This included five prizes in three categories.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated
  • Art and Science Residency winner: Svetlana Swinimer
  • Indigenous and Inuit Healing Art Award winner: Koomuatuk (Kuzy) Curley, Sikusilingmiut
    • Honourable Mention: Christine Toulouse, Courage
  • Art as Healing winner: Andrew Morrow, Neither Brightly Lit Nor Completely Enlightened
    • Honourable Mention: Jovita Akahome, Soul

TRIAS Art Prize is a juried art competition that intersects art, science, medicine, and community. All winning artwork will be displayed at The Ottawa Hospital with the aim of enhancing care through restorative art, engaging the community, and supporting artists from Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, and Nunavut.

“They say all good things come in threes and the TRIAS Art Prize program is no exception, bringing together Art, Health and Community, through three great prize categories, that demonstrate the power of working together to bring about positive change. We are appreciative of the artists who submitted and of the jury who were challenged to choose from over 130 applications!” expressed Alexandra Badzak, Director and Chief Executive Officer at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

“We are grateful to our partners at the OAG for the opportunity to combine art, science, and medicine to help us create a hospital environment that is reflective of the diverse community we serve while showcasing TOH’s core values of research, medical care, and healing,” said Joanne Read, Chief Planning and Development Officer at The Ottawa Hospital. “Congratulations to the winners of this year’s TRIAS Art Prize.”

TRIAS Art Award is part of the Creative Wellbeing program, a city-building initiative connecting artists and communities with hospital researchers and clinicians to create original works of art to enhance hospital spaces. Creative Wellbeing aims to increase awareness of patient care at The Ottawa Hospital, incorporate art as part of the patient experience, and further develop art as therapy programming.

Ottawa residents Jennifer Toby and Dr. François Auclair, who have been integral to Creative Wellbeing since its inception, have provided the inaugural funding for the awards. The Indigenous and Inuit Healing Art Honourable Mention prize is provided by The Lawson Foundation.

For media inquiries or to book an interview:

Ottawa Art Gallery:

Véronique Couillard
Officer, Media, Public and Francophone Relations
613-233-8699 +244

The Ottawa Hospital:

Rebecca Abelson

Media Relations Officer


About the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)

The Ottawa Art Gallery is situated on traditional Anishinābe Aki and is Ottawa’s municipal art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.

About The Ottawa Hospital (TOH)

The Ottawa Hospital is committed to providing each patient with the world-class care, exceptional service and compassion that they would want for their loved ones. Over their three campuses, they serve tens of thousands of patients in Ottawa and the surrounding area each year. They rank 5th in Canada for total research funding and published over 2,200 research papers in 2019. As one of the largest research hospitals throughout the country, they are constantly innovating and providing new insight into the healthcare sector.

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading