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TORONTO, May 28, 2004 - At a ceremony held at Oakville Town Hall tonight, the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) presented thirty 2004 Juried Awards of Merit to curators, educators, designers, volunteers, community partners and public art galleries all across Ontario.

The 2004 OAAG Awards, in their 27th year, are annual juried awards that distinguish prominent achievement in the visual arts in seven categories: exhibitions, writing, book design, exhibition design and installation, education programs, partnerships and volunteers.

This year, public art galleries in Barrie, Kingston, Kleinburg, London, Mississauga, Oakville, Oshawa, Ottawa, Owen Sound, and Toronto were recognized with 2004 OAAG Awards.

Notably, six major exhibition, education project and art book awards went to projects exploring the intersection of sound and visual art. These included exhibition of the year (Soundtracks); book (Double-Cross: The Hollywood Films of Douglas Gordon); multimedia publications design and individual partner (Fig Trees); and education project (mindscaping kingston mills). The artist book award was presented to a publication containing an audiowork on CD (AA Bronson: The Quick and the Dead).

In keeping with the multi-disciplinary approach of many of this year’s award-winners, invited presenters for the one-hour ceremony included poet and writer Di Brandt, shortlisted for this year’s Griffin Prize, and sound poet Gerry Shikitani.

Jurors recognized several significant re-investigations by public art galleries of some of Canada’s formative art movements and histories including:

• Historical aboriginal art from the Great Lakes region (Meeting Ground);
• Amateur photography in everyday and personal objects from 1842 to 1969 (Pop Photographica);
• The first exhibition by Toronto-based Painters Eleven (1953);
• Canadian artists’ collaborations and exchange in the 1970s (Golden Streams);
• Major new books on the work of contemporary visual artists no longer with us (Susan Kealey: Ordinary Marvel and General Idea Editions 1967-1995).

Demetra Christakos, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, commented:

• “We are extremely proud to be able to acknowledge and reward the recipients of the 2004 OAAG Awards and to shine a spotlight on their significant achievements in the visual arts.”

• ”The Awards are an exciting time for us. Public art galleries really are a dynamic part of our cultural life. Overall, the quality of visual art exhibition and art book publication in Ontario is world-class.”

• “As an observer of the jury process, I am thoroughly impressed by the clear thinking behind the jurors’ deliberations, their care and patience. They see and appreciate the scope, intelligence, and ambition behind the nominated visual art projects and collaborations.”

• “More than 3 million people in Ontario visit public art galleries annually and we see that number growing every year.”

2004 OAAG AWARDS HIGHLIGHTS

Contemporary visual art curator Philip Monk won this year’s major writing prize for his 272-page book Double-Cross: The Hollywood Films of Douglas Gordon, a co-publication by the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of York University that is distributed internationally by Distributed Art Publishers Inc.

• Colleague curator and visual artist Emelie Chhangur accepted the award on his behalf.

• Three years in the writing, Philip Monk’s important and original analysis of British artist Douglas Gordon’s video projection installations based on appropriations of Hollywood film noir or Hitchcock films (and their related language works) was deemed by the jury “surgically precise and enthralling writing.” Currently, the National Gallery of Canada Library lists 37 visual art books and catalogues by Philip Monk.

A prize for contemporary essay was awarded to Dot Tuer for “The Heart of the Matter: the mediation of science in the art of Catherine Richards” in the hardcover book Catherine Richards: Excitable Tissues for the Ottawa Art Gallery. Anna Hudson also received a writing award for her historical essay Wonder Woman and Goddesses: A Conversation About Art with Robert Markle and Joyce Wieland for the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Blackwood Gallery (University of Toronto at Mississauga) was recognized with three of the 2004 OAAG Awards most prestigious acknowledgements.

Blackwood Gallery’s curator Barbara Fischer accepted the Exhibition of the Year award for Soundtracks, a multi-venue project developed in conjunction with the Edmonton Art Gallery and presented in the fall of 2003 by seven collaborating Ontario public art galleries. The exhibition was praised for “its historical contribution, its contemporary relevance and its innovative approach to collaboration and installation.”

Soundtracks’ component exhibitions included Come A Singing, presented by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg; See Hear! by the University of Toronto Art Centre; and Re-Play by the Blackwood Gallery, The Gallery (University of Toronto at Scarborough), the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and InterAccess Electronic Media Arts, Toronto.

• The jury highly commended Soundtracks’ five curators, Catherine Crowston, Barbara Fischer, Andrew Hunter, Timothy Long and Ben Portis, for “bringing together a unique story of Canadian artists' audio and music works at a moment when boundaries between artistic expression and popular culture have become a most fluid and productive zone for multidisciplinary work.”

No less than four of this year’s major awards acknowledged the contribution of artist collective General Idea and new work by surviving member AA Bronson.

AA Bronson’s major solo exhibition and accompanying new publication AA Bronson: The Quick and the Dead were recognized with major awards for Exhibition Design and Installation and Artist Book.

• Organized and presented by the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, the exhibition was dedicated to the memories of artists David Buchan, Rob Flack, Robert Handforth, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal of General Idea, and the artist’s father John William Tim. Power Plant director Wayne Baerwaldt was in attendance to accept the award for Exhibition Design and Installation and collaborating graphic designer Barr Gilmore accepted for the Artist Book.

“Of the many shapes that mourning may take, the catalogue raisonné is one that is specific to the practice of art,” curator Barbara Fischer wrote in her introduction to one of 2003’s most ambitious public art gallery publications, General Idea Editions 1967-1995.

• This 320-page book, richly illustrated, won this year’s major art book design award, presented to designer Andrew di Rosa / SMALL.

• Research for the book was compiled by Fern Bayer. It was published by Blackwood Gallery (University of Toronto at Mississauga) in collaboration with nine other partnering galleries including OAAG members Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and Museum London.

The work of artist collective General Idea was also subject in this year’s writing award for first publication, presented to emerging curator Luis Jacob for his book Golden Streams: Artists’ Collaborations and Exchange in the 1970s, also published by Blackwood Gallery (University of Toronto at Mississauga).

• The jury saluted “Luis Jacob’s original research, informative historical perspective and innovative presentation of the work of four Canadian artist groups in the 1970s: Image Bank, General Idea, Banal Beauty Inc. and the New York Corres Sponge Dance School of Vancouver.”

The Samuel E. Weir Partner Awards acknowledge important partnerships between businesses, foundations and individuals and their public art galleries. This year, the jury cited nominations by Oakville Galleries for all three Samuel E. Weir Partner Awards.

• Visionary philanthropist Salah J. Bachir was commended for his generosity towards Oakville Galleries’ production of Fig Trees, a video opera created by John Greyson and David Wall. Salah Bachir’s contribution permitted a boxed opera set with essays, a libretto and accompanying CD. The jurors also recognized the multimedia publication, Fig Trees, with a design award for Lewis Nicholson.

The Art Gallery of Ontario was recognized by three different juries for projects and collaborations in the exhibition year 2003 across four major categories: writing, exhibition design and installation, education, and publication design.

• The AGO received a major award for the education project All Things Are Connected (Meeting Ground), a First Nations artist-in-residence project presented collaboratively with the Textile Museum of Canada, De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto District School Board, the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, 7th Generation Image Makers and visual artists Carl and Ann Beam and Samuel Thomas. The project reached over 13,000 children and adults from February 23 to March 14, 2003.

Pamela Osler Delworth was presented with the Volunteer Award for her contribution to the National Gallery of Canada in the volunteer roles of Chair of the Prints and Drawings Volunteers and Coordinator of the Print Room.

• According to her nomination by Pierre Théberge, Director, the print room project was spearheaded by Pamela Osler Delworth in 1996 in response to a need expressed by the Senior Curator. In 2003, there were 781 visitors to the Study Room received by a team of ten volunteers. Collectively, the team put in 3,269 hours of volunteer time. Pamela Osler Delworth contributed 651 hours herself.

2004 OAAG jurors included Mary Albers, Executive Director, RiverBrink – Home of the Weir Collection, Queenston, ON; Jessica Bradley, Independent Curator, former curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Gary Hall, Director, Gallery TPW, Toronto; Rachel Kalpana James, Executive Director, South Asian Visual Arts Collective (SAVAC), Toronto; Scott McLeod, Director/Curator, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto; Nancy Parke-Taylor, Fine Arts Specialist, Barrister and Solicitor, Toronto; Kathleen Pirrie Adams, Former Program Director at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, Currently teaches at Sheridan College and the Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto; Jay Richardson, OAAG Board Member, President, MANACA Inc., Toronto; and Liz Wylie, Curator, University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto.

The 2004 OAAG Awards are generously sponsored by Inco Limited and Merchant Capital Group, as well as numerous individuals. OAAG also thanks its 2004 Awards contributors: Catered Fare, CJ Graphics Inc., Contact Editions, Hawkestone Communications – Public Affairs, Lisa Kiss Design, Oakville Town Hall, Pages Books and Magazines, The Flower Room, The Japanese Paper Place and Robert Darling.

The Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG), located in Toronto, is an important component of the visual arts infrastructure in Canada. With a membership made up of public art galleries, art museums, artist-run centres and arts-related organizations, OAAG represents the shared interests of its members through a range of services including an awards program, professional development seminars, conferences, publications, targeted communications strategies and special projects.

Photos at right courtesy of Dave Kemp and Robert Darling.

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© 2004 Ontario Association of Art Galleries