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Vancouver Art Gallery receives $1.5 million donation for new building

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With the latest donation, the VAG now has raised $86.5 million from the private sector for the new building. It’s the most money ever raised by arts and culture organization in BC.

The campaign to build a new Vancouver Art Gallery continues to grow with the donation of $1.5 million by a long-time supporter.

The donation is from Donald Ellis, a Canadian art dealer whose gallery is based in New York. The Donald Ellis Gallery specializes in Northwest Coast art and other historical Indigenous North America art.

Including the Ellis donation, the Vancouver Art Gallery has raised $86.5 million from the private sector to build a new gallery in downtown Vancouver. That figure represents the most money ever raised by an arts and culture organization in B.C.

The VAG announced the Ellis donation Monday.

Ellis said he was “stepping out on a limb a little bit” by making the donation and publicly supporting the capital campaign for a new building.

“It’s the right thing to do and it’s an extension of what I have been doing my whole career,” he said in a video about his VAG donation.

He said the VAG is first among art museums in Canada, and possibly in North America, in the way it has exhibited and showcased Indigenous art.

He cited the seminal exhibition Arts of the Raven exhibition at the VAG in 1967. Curated by Doris Shadbolt, the exhibition marked a fundamental shift in the way a Canadian art institution displayed Indigenous works of the Northwest Coast as art rather than anthropology.

A more recent example took place in 2013 in an exhibition of the work of Charles Edenshaw, the great Haida artist considered one of the most important 19th century Indigenous artists in North America.

Ellis recently donated five of Edenshaw’s works to the VAG: two bracelets (one gold, one silver) three silver spoons.

Because of his appearances on the U.S. version of the Antiques Roadshow, Ellis is one of the rare art dealers with a public presence. In one episode, he appraised a Navajo blanket for $350,000 to $500,000.

“The older man who brought it in starts to tear up, and it became one of the most famous appraisals in the show’s history,” John Mackie said in a story in The Vancouver Sun.

Originally from Ontario, Ellis has spent most of his time in B.C. for the past eight years.

The Donald Ellis Gallery client list includes The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Musee de Quai Branly in Paris.


Donald Ellis.

PNG

In the video, Ellis spoke passionately about the importance of a new VAG for the city.

“We need a new Vancouver Art Gallery now because Vancouver needs to decide what it wants to be,” he said.

Ellis said a new VAG building won’t only be a place for artists and collectors but also for children, youngsters and adults so they can have the kind of transformative experiences that come from being exposed to different kinds of art.

“We need this,” he said. “The community needs this.”

Ellis acknowledged the importance of Indigenous people to the history of the country. In a VAG news release, he said he’s committed to the new VAG building and the potential it has to promote reconciliation through art.

Daina Augaitis, the VAG’s interim director, said Ellis’ generosity brings the gallery “one step closer” to raising enough to build a new downtown art gallery.

“I’m thrilled that he is making such a remarkable commitment to showcase historical Indigenous art in the new gallery building,” she said in a gallery news release.

Including a $50 million donation from the government of B.C. in 2008, the VAG has raised a total of $136.5 million from public and private sources. The VAG is looking for $100 million from the federal government and another $50 million from Victoria.

The building designed by Herzog & de Meuron includes 80,000 sq. ft of exhibition space — more than double what the VAG has at 750 Hornby — a 300-seat theatre, and two free-access galleries.

The new gallery will be located on a site donated by the city of Vancouver at West Georgia and Cambie.


A silver bracelet by Haida carver Charles Edenshaw (1839-1920). The bracelet of one of five Edenshaw works donated by art dealer Donald Ellis to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Photo: Ian Lefebvre/Vancouver Art Gallery

Ian Lefebvre Vancouver Art Galle /

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The LA Art Show Returns With an Environmental Focus – Surface Magazine

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Environmental issues have taken on a particular urgency in the past year. Climate scientists have warned that if nations fail to immediately pivot from fossil fuels, catastrophic consequences await. Artists frequently reckon with this grim reality, with many expressing skepticism—if not outright anger—at climate inaction, which has resulted in the destruction of coral reefs, intense wildfires, rising sea levels, and the extinction of beloved animal species. The issues surrounding climate change have become top of mind for The LA Art Show, which is kicking off the city’s eagerly anticipated 2022 art season with a newfound ecological lens thanks to the return of DIVERSEartLA.

This year’s edition, which kicks off today at the Los Angeles Convention Center, sheds light not only on how artists represent the environment in their work, but how humanity’s role factors into the equation. “DIVERSEartLA 2022 will encourage visitors to confront the complex challenges of our global climate crisis and imagine potential solutions,” says Marisa Caichiolo, the show’s curator, who encouraged participating art museums to partner with science and environmental institutions. “This topic is at the heart of a growing number of art narratives, including exhibitions built with high-tech innovations designed to inspire artistic appreciation and the desire to respond to environmental challenges, reinforcing the value of translating environmental advocacy into art.” 

Among the programming highlights is “Our turn to change,” a worry-inducing video installation by Andrea Juan and Gabriel Penedo Diego and presented by the Museum of Nature of Cantabria Spain that awakens viewers to melting polar ice caps that are causing sea levels to rise drop by drop. The Torrance Art Museum, meanwhile, presents “Memorial to the Future,” a collaborative piece curated by Max Presneill that centers Brutalist architecture as a failed model of idealism while highlighting the immediate need for environmental action. And in “The Earth’s Fruits” by Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi, waste unexpectedly takes on a dignified second life. 

The LA Art Show opens at the Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall, from Jan. 19–23. 

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300-pound local art heist took 4 minutes | News | pentictonherald.ca – pentictonherald.ca

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300-pound local art heist took 4 minutes | News | pentictonherald.ca  pentictonherald.ca



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At Art Basel, FLUF Haus Breaks Barrier Between Metaverse And Physical World – Forbes

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Last month, while the cultural elite wrapped up Art Basel with the usual lavish purchases of Keith Herring paintings and Daniel Arsham decayed sculptures, a different crowd had gathered just a couple blocks down the South Beach coastline. The world’s first “Metaverse star” was about to perform.

FLUF Haus, the first in-person gathering for a community of virtual 3D Rabbits (known as Flufs), was hosting a concert for the music star known as “Angelbaby”—a large tattooed pink rabbit whose identity, appearance, and music had been created entirely on the metaverse.

Despite Angelbaby’s entirely virtual existence, some 600 people—largely stakeholders in the NFT community, FLUF World—had flown from across the globe to witness the in-person debut. A projection screen overlooked the dance floor where guests including Trinidad James and Boyz Noise commingled amidst fire breathers and models. Screens scattered throughout the venue displayed various Fluf avatars, broken up by animated scenes from FLUF World.

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The event—which felt like a bit of a coming out party for newly created FLUF World—underscored a crucial, often overlooked detail of the booming NFT space: community.

“The most important thing to me with FLUF World was the Discord.” said Robert Hellauer, a 33-year old financial analyst who became a Fluf holder in September.  “I went to all the Discords, and all the metaverses have a different vibe…And you could just feel the energy with this one.”

Like the notorious Bored Apes or CryptoPunks, the value of a Fluf isn’t just as a piece of digital art, but as a digital identity. Much like how Supreme or Thrasher did for skaters, NFTs codify culture into appearance, branding one’s allegiance to virtual clans and online subcultures. Buying into a community, literally, helps carve out one’s metaverse identity. FLUF World recognized this early on, and decided to intentionally avoid the toxicity present in many virtual worlds, instead focusing on creating a dynamic and inclusive world to house their digital animal characters.

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This appeal of intentional community has seemingly paid off, as many at Fluf World expressed having previous interest in the metaverse, but hadn’t yet found a space that appealed to them.

“These guys think about things other guys don’t,” says Tom Soler, a software manager attending the event. “Decentraland launched way ahead but it feels very empty. These guys have thought through what is the most engaging way to create a community for people who want to hang together.”

This engagement is reflected in Fluf World’s 42,000 member Discord where “#new-fluffers are greeted with a reminder to “treat each other with respect”, and after searching through the Fluf Radio and sales channels can navigate to the “Above Ground” section, to find channels such as #health-and-wellness, and #time-to-talk.

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That’s not to overlook the draw of Fluf World’s impressive technology and artistic detail. Rather than use 8-bit images or 2D cartoons, Fluf World features fully 3D characters designed by animators who’ve worked on projects including Avatar and the Lord of The Rings trilogy.  Characters hover over customizable, multi-dimensional environments—which include both personalized character music and location based-backgrounds that range from a desert to futuristic city (collectively known as “scenes and sounds”). 

Along with the 10,000 original rabbit ‘Flufs’, FLUF World introduced their second line of characters —known as Party Bears— of which all 10,000 sold out in under 10 minutes. Beyond avatars, stakeholders can also purchase virtual real estate known as “burrows”, and even AI-brained spiders (known as “thingies”) which use pattern recognition to create and mint their own new virtual art. All of Fluf World’s characters constantly evolve, and often contain hidden attributes that develop and reveal themselves over time.  

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Together, this technology, art, and community channels weave together a digital world that shows promise of true depth; an online space with the potential to create a self-perpetuating cycle of growth based on bottom-up user participation. 

“When it comes to other [metaverse] platforms, it’s all about roadmaps,” says FLUF World superfan Nick Synodis, (who goes by the handle Knux). “Fluf is in a league of its own. Its competitor is Spotify. It’s Facebook.”

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A Record Label For The Metaverse

One of the most promising examples of FLUF World’s potential to be a truly dynamic multi-channel world is their partnership with NFT music collective, Hume. 

Described by co-founders Jay Stolar and David Beiner as the “Web3 version of a record label,” Hume is the NFT music minting service that allows Flufs to commercially own and display exclusive music snippets in their character environment. With a tagline of “we are hume. we are many,” Hume has the most active twitter following in the Fluf World community, acting as both differentiator and hype builder for the virtual world.  

“We’re creating music-driven Metastars,” says record producer Gino the Ghost, the event’s emcee and Hume evangelist. “The next Billie Eilish or Drake is gonna be in the metaverse.” 

Asked what made him interested in migrating his experience from the traditional music realm, Gino (who has composed music for the likes of rapper Saweetie) expressed both an ardent fascination with FLUF World, as well as sharing a commonly held frustration with the revenue structure of the music industry.

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​​”What I primarily do, I work with the pop side, the rap side, the dance side —and they all want to know,  ‘How do I get into NFTs?’ All these creatives are so tired of the labels and the royalties—and music NFTs are a way out that isn’t cash-grabby.”

With the creation of their metaverse star Angelbaby, Gino and the founders at Hume are optimistic that Web3 could create a paradigm shift not just in how artists generate revenue, but how fans can benefit from their artist loyalty. In this case for instance, by financially supporting Angelbaby’s origin story (which involved being lost in the desert after being transported 1000 years back in time), fans received some of Angelbaby’s original minted music. This music in turn grows in value as Angelbaby’s popularity rises. 

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“People who helped Angelbaby in the desert, now they all own a piece of their song that is worth $400-500. Over time this increases the value of their own NFT,” says Beiner.  

Gino explains the relationship a bit more simply: “It a way for fans to make fucking money supporting their favorite artists.”

World Competition, or Synergy?

As Gino’s introduction wraps up and Angelbaby’s giant character is projected onto a screen in front of a sea of cellphone recordings, one aspect of FLUF Haus becomes immediately clear: it’s surprisingly normal. 

For all the talk of Web3 and NFTs the metaverse, the event feels much like any other concert—with people dancing in close quarters, and having a good time with people they know. Save for the fact that the performing artist is a 13-foot tall pink rabbit with no known human identity, you’d be hard pressed to know this was an NFT event. 

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And in a way, that’s kind of the point. As virtual representations of ourselves continue to grow—and the metaverse becomes increasingly populated—so too inevitably will our online identities. But that doesn’t mean we will forgo our personalities in the physical world. Like gamertags, or bitmojis or animal crossing islands, spaces like FLUF World will add another layer onto our beings that enhance, not replace our existing lives. FLUF Haus was trying to demonstrate that connection to the world. 

“The meta verse is going to be this amazing digital space,” says Knux. “But the ultimate goal of it is to live in both worlds.”

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