Sunday 13 September 2009

McMichael exhibition closes in one week and then travels to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland!

STEPHEN WEIR NOTES: The show is now in Switzerland, however, it has left it's footprint on the gallery. A Don Yeomans Totem Pole carved for the exhibition still stands in the McMichael lobby. You can see a George Socka's video of its raising at:

McMichael exhibition closes in one week and then travels to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland!

Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast will represent Canadian culture to an international audience.

September 10, 2009 Kleinburg, ON
— The McMichael Canadian Art Collection announced today that its special exhibition, Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast, will be on display in Switzerland’s Olympic Museum Lausanne as part of the celebrations for the Vancouver 2010 XXI Olympic Winter Games. The exhibition, organized by the McMichael and guest curated by Ian Thom, will close at the McMichael in one week on September 20th, 2009. Challenging Traditions features over seventy contemporary works of art created by forty of Canada’s most talented First Nations artists living in Canada’s Northwest Coast. The exhibition will travel to the Olympic Museum Lausanne on October 8th, 2009 and remain on display throughout the Winter Games in February, 2010, closing there on April 11th, 2010.
The Olympic Museum Lausanne brings together sport, art and culture. They are the traditional pillars of Olympism, and the Museum gives concrete form to this trinity. The mission of the Olympic Museum is to make visitors aware of the breadth and the importance of the Olympic Movement; to show them by means of images and symbols that Olympism is not merely a matter of sports competition but rather a philosophy of life whose roots are deeply embedded in our history. Bringing First Nations art to the Olympic Museum during the 2010 Winter Games is very much in keeping with the Museum’s and Vancouver Organizing Committee’s commitment to celebrate the best in Canadian and international arts and popular culture. By recognizing the traditions of the First Nations people of Vancouver, British Columbia, they will create a cultural legacy that will endure even after the Olympic Games are over.
“The Challenging Traditions exhibition is so uniquely Canadian and immensely interesting,” said Tom Smart, Executive Director and CEO of the McMichael gallery. “We are proud to be the first institution to organize and host this landmark exhibition and provide our visitors with a unique look at the contemporary art of Northwest Coast artists. And now, we have been given a rare and prestigious opportunity to showcase some of the very best in Canadian contemporary art of the Northwest Coast to an international audience.”
The McMichael exhibition will be part of a larger display entitled Vancouver 2010: Sustainable Development and Living Traditions, which will provide a cultural link with Canada and British Columbia on the occasion of the XXI Olympic Winter Games.
Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast is a landmark exhibition and publication (co-published by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Douglas & McIntyre) that examines the rich diversity and creativity of art in this region of Canada. The criterion for the selection of work has been based not on anthropological categories, but on innate aesthetic qualities and artistic significance.
The forty artists included in the exhibition have been selected by the guest curator, Ian Thom, the foremost curator and author of historical and contemporary Northwest Coast Canadian art. Each artist has built a substantial and important career. They address, in their own ways, an important visual and cultural tradition in a unique, personal voice. Lastly, and perhaps most controversially, each artist produces work of remarkable depth, beauty and quality. Moreover, the curator has attempted, wherever possible, to select recent, newly created work in direct consultation with the artists themselves.
Each artist has been interviewed by the curator and the selection of the works included was thoroughly discussed with the artist. In some cases, this has resulted in the artist being represented in a way that might not be expected, but is of their choosing. All have welcomed the opportunity to participate in the project and the opportunity to provide input into the selection of included work.
Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Culture, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation. This project has been made possible in part through a contribution from the Museums Assistance Program, Department of Canadian Heritage. The publication and accompanying curatorial research has been generously funded by the Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts.
About the McMichael
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Culture. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of more than 5,500 artworks, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, First Nations and Inuit artists.
The gallery is located on Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg, and is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors/students and $30 for families. There is a $5 fee for parking. For more information about the gallery, visit


For further information or to receive high resolution photographs, contact:

Stephen Weir, Publicist
Gallery: 905.893.1121 ext. 2529
Toronto Office: 416.489.5868
Cell: 416.801.3101

Cathy Lepiane, Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210