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Vancouver Biennale 2009 – 2011

The second Vancouver Biennale is winding down. Begun in the 1998 by Buschlen Mowatt Galleries, as an initiative with the Vancouver Parks Board, the event has become a celebrated addition to the Vancouver arts scene. It is an exhibition of discrete artworks placed in various locations around Vancouver so that the general public can enjoy them in an outdoor museum setting. Further interaction is achieved through a lectures series, school presentations and publicity events. The artists are those celebrated in the international sphere, such as Botero and Oppenheimer. The event is free to the public and is funded through the sale of the artworks at the end of each exhibit, and from private and corporate sponsors.

I applaud the efforts of Buschlen Mowatt Galleries, as they have recognized how Public Art in Vancouver has lost its focus on discrete art, that is to say art that is stand alone and does not necessarily have a history lesson attached to it. Through the Biennale, that sensibility is being brought back. As an artist who creates emotion-evoking original stone sculpture, I feel it is important that this kind of major public art exhibition exists in my city to expose the public to accessible fine art.

While I, like most people, do not like every one of the art works in this year’s exhibition, the point is that they are discrete art works that are not the industrial design or conceptual solutions that have resulted from the Vancouver Public Art Program in the last 20 years. Interestingly, this Biennale’s art works are all created from man-made materials – no natural materials have been included.

This Biennale’s theme is “in-TRANSIT-ion” focusing on “the physical movement of people in our mobile society.” The Vancouver Biennale Foundation is committed to purchasing two pieces each exhibit that it then loans out to Greater Vancouver communities for public display. These are decided by Curator’s Choice and People’s Choice.

If you haven’t noticed some of the pieces around town, and would like to know more, go to the Vancouver Biennale website.

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