Oh, Canada, the acclaimed landmark survey of Canadian contemporary art that drew more than 130,000 visitors to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in 2012-13, is coming to … Canada.
But not to just one venue in one city, as happened with the original show, subtitled Contemporary Art from North North America, that ran for some 10 months at MASS MoCA’s mammoth space in North Adams, Mass. It’s coming to multiple venues across the country, its riches – more than 100 works in a plethora of media by more than 60 artists – to be spread among four galleries in Atlantic Canada and four in Calgary.
Survey organizers announced Thursday that the first multivenue showcase will occur June 27 this year through Sept. 21, the second Jan. 31, 2015 through Apr. 26 that same year. In an impressive feat of logistics and inter-gallery co-operation, the inaugural show will be split among the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, Owens Art Gallery in Sackville, N.B., Reuben Cohen Art Gallery at the University of Moncton and Galerie Sans Nom, Moncton. The second, Calgary leg will split the works among the Glenbow Museum, Illingworth Kerr Gallery at the Alberta College of Art + Design, The Esker Foundation and Nickel Galleries, University of Calgary.
If other cities are going to be included in the tour, which is being sponsored by TD Bank Group, well … survey organizers weren’t saying. When talk of a planned Canadian circuit for Oh, Canada surfaced in spring 2013, Toronto was floated as a possible berth. But Thursday Jodi Joseph, MASS MoCA’s director of communications, was declaring: “Nothing else is in the works at this time. These are the confirmed venues.”
Denise Markonish, Oh, Canada’s curator, began working on the idea of a Canadian exhibition even before its close at MASS MoCA in April last year. “At first when I was pitching the [Canadian] tour, I was pitching an abbreviated version,” she told The Globe and Mail. “Then the more I thought about it, the more I thought, I don’t want to do that. I think the mass of the show is really important, so what I started to do was pitch it to multiple venues in one city to form partnerships …”
Said Markonish in a statement Thursday: “We’re thrilled that, in many cases, the show is allowing these galleries to collaborate for the first time, as so many people wanted to come together to celebrate these artists.”
Markonish began working on the survey more than six years ago, famously visiting some 400 artist studios beginning in mid-2008, only missing Labrador, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories in her grand tour. The announced Canadian leg will feature pretty much all the works by all the artists presented at MASS MoCA. Among the artists: Shary Boyle, Canada’s representative at the 2013 Venice Biennale; Annie Pootoogook, winner of the 2006 Sobey Art Award; Kim Adams, 2012 winner of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize; Rebecca Belmore, 2005 Venice Biennale laureate; Wanda Koop; Douglas Coupland; Michel de Broin; Kent Monkman and Marcel Dzama.