Portrait Gallery of Canada appoints first director and unveils exhibition plans

The Portrait Gallery is an independent, non-profit organization seeking to revive a Canadian institution dedicated to portraiture after the federal government in 2008 canceled plans to build a new national museum in the former Embassy of the United States building. United States in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

BLAIR GABLE / The Canadian Press

The Portrait Gallery of Canada is still homeless, but that does not prevent the virtual institution from appointing its first director and unveiling the exhibition plans.

The gallery announced Friday that it has appointed a retired federal public servant and communications specialist as director: Joanne Charette previously worked as official spokesperson for David Johnston when he was Governor General; as Director of Public Affairs at the National Gallery of Canada from 2001 to 2010, and more recently as Vice President of Strategy and Communications at the International Development Research Center.

The Portrait Gallery is an independent, non-profit organization seeking to revive a Canadian institution dedicated to portraiture after the federal government in 2008 canceled plans to build a new national museum in the former Embassy of the United States building. United States in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. The non-profit organization aims to build the institution as a public-private partnership with government support, but independent of federal control. Charette has been working with the Portrait Gallery since April.

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In August, the organization will unveil its first online exhibition, an exhibition curated by Darren Pottie and devoted to self-portraits. “In Keeping with Myself” will be published on the gallery’s website from August 19 to February 1, 2022. The exhibition will explore the artist’s sense of isolation and internal struggle, using photographic self-portraits of the artist. contemporary artists from across Canada. , including Seamus Gallagher, Laurence Philomène, Olivia Johnston, Dainesha Nugent-Palache and Rande Cook.

In 2022, the gallery will also unveil a solo exhibition dedicated to the work of Winnipeg Indigenous multimedia artist KC Adams.

“Our work to secure physical space in the National Capital Region continues,” Portrait Gallery board chair Lawson Hunter said in a statement. “We hope that these two remarkable online exhibitions will generate interest in our ongoing efforts and further stimulate public conversations about the importance of the portrait and its power to tell Canadian stories.” “

The portrait gallery project has a 20-year history as political football: in 2001, the then Liberal government announced that the former embassy building would house the portrait collection held by Library and Archives Canada. and immediately created this new online institution. However, curators cut the construction project in 2008 and then merged the gallery’s website with Library and Archives, eliminating its independent online presence and name.

In 2017, the Liberal government dashed hopes of a physical resurrection when it announced that the Wellington Street building would house a new Indigenous center. In response, the Portrait Gallery became a citizen-run nonprofit in 2019.

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