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A farewell gala for Marc Mayer, Ottawa

Canada’s National Gallery in Ottawa gave a swish dinner on Dec. 5 in honour of Marc Mayer, set to depart the gallery after 10 years at its helm. The evening began in the upper contemporary galleries, wherein a selection of acquisitions made during Mayer’s tenure as director and chief executive – including works by Alex Janvier and Jonathan Lasker – were exhibited in the Rennie Gallery. Cocktails flowed as guests from across Canada and beyond streamed in to toast Meyer. Among those congregating under a pair of works by sculptor Brian Jungen was Bruce Heyman, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, and his wife, Vicki; French ambassador Kareen Rispal; Future Shop founder Hassan Khosrowshahi and his wife, Nezhat; Anne-Marie Applin, vice-chair of the gallery’s board of trustees, of Toronto; and former prime minister Joe Clark and his wife, Maureen McTeer. Downstairs, below the soaring windows of the cathedral-like Scotiabank Great Hall, dinner was served alongside an ample helping of farewell tributes. These included remarks by Ottawa businessman Thomas d’Aquino, who chairs the gallery’s foundation and served as chair of the event; as well as Françoise Lyon, chair of the gallery’s board of trustees; and Michael Audain, her predecessor. Mayer’s many triumphs, notably the integration of the Indigenous and Canadian galleries and efforts to revitalize Canada’s place within the Venice Biennale, were highlighted. The evening culminated in the announcement of a few substantial donations to the gallery, which together totalled $3-million. The funds will be directed to national and international outreach efforts.

A tribute to James Fleck, Toronto

On Dec 18, Toronto’s Integral House – a private residence designed by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, with music and performance at its core – was the place for a dinner thrown in honour of philanthropist Jim Fleck. The gathering, hosted by Business / Arts, a national not-for-profit that works to bridge those two sectors, was to mark Fleck stepping down from the board after serving for 13 years. The gregarious Fleck, a mainstay at arts and culture fundraisers and happenings across the country (he was at the Meyer soirée as well), can boast a lengthy list of accomplishments, such as chairing the Ontario Minister’s Advisory Council on Arts and Culture, serving as a president of the Art Gallery of Ontario and as founding president of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (respective directors of those institutions, Stephan Jost and Gaëtane Verna, were both on hand). Plenty of speeches, a video tribute and a slew of performances filled the evening, including recitals by members of the Cleveland Orchestra, TSO concertmaster Jonathan Crow and pianist Philip Chiu, by Fleck’s kin Chris and RJ (son David was on emcee duties), and by Nichole Anderson Bergeron, Business / Arts president and CEO, who picked up a violin and joined a musical group tribute. The evening raised funds to support the organization’s Canadian Arts Summit.

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