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ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Vancouver Art Gallery’s biannual Summer Gala soirée recently raised $750,000. Fronted by party chairs Megan Martin and Rosy Shang, with support from board chair David Calabrigo and interim director Daina Augaitis, this year’s event drew some 400 patrons to the gallery grounds for the outdoor tented dinner and auction.
Noticeably absent was Kathleen Bartels. Director of the VAG for 18 years, Bartels was reportedly punted as the head of the arts organization she led since 2000. Credited with growing the gallery’s size and stature, attracting acclaimed exhibitions to the city as well as generating record attendance during her tenure, the still-yet-to-be-realized $350 million Vancouver Art Gallery at Georgia and Hamilton, personal relations with several key arts patrons and recent labour strife may have led to her sudden dismissal.
Still the CBC-sponsored gala went on with Calabrigo tipping his hat to Bartels in his welcome remarks. As always, an impressive group made the scene; a crowd that included past event chairs Pamela Richardson and Priscilla Lam, artists Ian Wallace, Paul Wong, Robert Davidson and Dana Claxton, and arts benefactors Bruce Munro Wright, Gerald McGavin, Jane Irwin, Ross Hill, Lisa Turner and Christian Chan, whose family gift of $40 million to the VAG this year reignited the stalled campaign for the proposed new art gallery.
Also spotted returning to the VAG fold was collector Michael Audain. The philanthropist and Polygon titan and his wife Yoshi took in the formal fundraiser that included an exclusive preview of VAG’s newest exhibition, the North American premiere of works by sculptor, painter and designer Alberto Giacometti: A Line Through Time.
Proceeds from the merrymaker will support future exhibitions, education outreach initiatives and public programs at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Bill Reid Gallery Raven’s Feast Gala
SHOW OF HART: The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, another cultural gem just down the street from the VAG, hosted its marquee fundraiser. The atmosphere was equally celebratory as a capacity crowd filled the Hornby Street space for the firm’s sixth annual Raven’s Feast dinner and auction. Sponsored by the Audain Foundation and led once again by HSBS’s Lisa Seed, the event brought together artists, donors, and business and community leaders who share a love for Indigenous Northwest Coast Art and Bill Reid, the influential Haida artist.
This year’s fete also celebrated one of Reid’s mentees, Chief James Hart. Named honorary Patron of the Bill Reid Gallery, Hart was praised for his time, talent and resources to make the gallery the priceless treasure it is today — the only public gallery dedicated to Northwest Coast art in the world. Having the privilege of working alongside Reid, the renowned master Haida carver now carries on the traditions and important work.
Hart figured prominently in the evening’s fundraising activities led by CBC’s Stephen Quinn and yours truly. Hart and his wife Rosemary served up a Haida Gwaii getaway and studio tour in the live auction. He along with fellow arts patrons also bid up works by Indigenous artists Cory Bulpitt, Phil Gray, Preston Singletary and Rod Smith. Auction proceeds along with ticket sales and sponsorships would ultimately contribute to a new fundraising standard for the gallery with $168,000 reportedly raised, more than $68,000 from last year’s record-setting haul.
Notables spotted included arts patrons Fei Wong, Scott Hean, Marnie Carter, Herb Auerbach, and Jane and George Hungerford; SFU president Andrew Petter; gallery owner Douglas Reynolds, Bill Reid’s wife Martine Reid, and the gallery’s newly minted executive director Allison Andrachuk.
Indian Summer Festival Dinner by Starlight Casino
GLOBAL ORDER: The Future is Asian author Parag Khanna headlined the Indian Summer Festival’s pre-festival fundraiser at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. Observing what many attendees already believe, that the world’s largest continent increasingly blended into one political, cultural and economic unit is poised to overtake a waning West, the Singapore-based global strategy adviser’s rambling held a captivated audience as he delivered remarks at ISF’s yearly Dinner by Starlight soirée.
Several hundred guests — festival supporters and donors — convened to hear from Khanna and enjoy a Vikram Vij-curated dinner while supporting creators Sirish Rao and Laura Byspalko’s ever-growing little-cultural-festival-that-could. Luminaries included SFU president Andrew Petter, UBC vice-president Robin Ciceri, Nature’s Path’s Ratana and Arran Stephens and Fasken’s Robin Dhir. They and others would contribute to a $100,000 night, with proceeds earmarked for the festival’s 9th edition, themed Tricksters, Magicians and Oracles, which runs from July 4 to 14.
“What we need more than ever today is a way out of the tumult that seems to surround us,” says Rao. “Tricksters play tricks with our senses. We give them the right to offend, and in exchange they give us new perspectives. Magicians conjures up, out of nothing, beautiful works of art, or new realities to strive for. Oracles light the path toward futures unknown to us, but they have already envisioned. We’ve invited an incredible range of artists who are either tricksters, magicians or oracles in their own way, he shared, speaking to supporters in the candlelit ballroom.”
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