Skip navigation

The woman who brought Vermeer to Vancouver

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Kathleen Bartels is ‘amazingly tough – but in a way that is somehow beguiling ...Read the full article

This conversation is closed

  1. Northern PoV from Canada writes: The VAG just had a great show of Canadian art ... relatively unknown contemporaries of the Group of Seven.

    Here to Bartels!!
  2. Oreos Eating Near Parliament from Ottawa, Canada writes:

    I look forward to seeing this terrific on-loan temporary exhibit when I visit Vancouver this summer. Congratulations to those who got it organized.

    But I must add how disappointed I am generally with the collection at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It is bad and it is small. It is an embarrassment for a city of Vancouver's size.

    I do not think most people realize just how BAD and how SMALL Vancouver's collection of art is.

    Check out these numbers, for number of artworks in the city's art gallery:

    9,000 Vancouver
    30,000 Toledo Ohio
    40,000 Cleveland Ohio
    55,000 Indianapolis Indiana

    Do you see the problem?

    There are troubled, unemployed, rust-belt towns in the USA's Midwest, with populations of people HALF of the population size of rich, vibrant Vancouver's population, that nonetheless literally have FIVE TIMES as many pieces in their permanent collections, and of high quality - including many, many excellent paintings spanning from the 1600's Dutch through 1800's Impressionists - in their PERMANENT collections.

    Wake up, rich Vancouverites! Donate to your art gallery! It is embarrassing how bad and meagre it is at present!
  3. Oreos Eating Near Parliament from Ottawa, Canada writes:

    And hey, Vancouver Art Gallery, if you want to do just ONE thing to make the outside of your building look better, do this:

    RIP DOWN THE UGLY PIECE-OF-CRAP ABOMINATION of conceptual "art" that in 1990 was stuck up near the roof of the building, by Weiner, a little poem (roll eyes) that reads: "Placed Upon the Horizon (Casting Shadows)."

    That piece of Yankee crap above the sidewalk is such a garish eyesore! Lose it! Take it down! It clashes SO badly with the classical design of the old building. It just SCREAMS to the public: THIS ART GALLERY SUCKS!

    I predict that if you tear down that Weiner piece and throw it in the trash bin in the alley, the public will immediately triple their donations to the gallery.
  4. Born and Raised by the Beaches from Vancouver, Canada writes:

    Bravo to Oreo Eater!

    Yes, the ugly Weiner piece is an inappropriate eyesore, that the Vancouver Art Gallery foolishly stuck on the outside of the building near the roof a few years back.

    I will not donate a penny to the art gallery until they take that ugly thing down. And I would not be surprised if hundreds of thousands of my fellow born-and-raised Vancouverites feel the same way.

    Citizens against ugliness unite! You have nothing to loose but ugliness incarnate!

    Lobby the Vancouver Art Gallery about the Weiner piece: TAKE THAT UGLY THING DOWN!

    For folks who have not seen it, and how badly it clashes with the classical architecture of the building, go to the internet link below to see a photo of this hell on earth that is the Vancouver Art Gallery exterior.

  5. Alban Leurk from Ottawax, Canada writes: Oh my gawd! She is an AMERICAN raising the standard of a Canadian art gallery!!! How can this be possible? LOL

    Indeed Mrs Bartels (and team) has brought terrific shows to the VAG: Rodin, Monet to Dali from the Cleveland Museum, and now Vermeer. Some serious pieces are there such as the well known Rembrandt portrait as an oriental, few Nicolaes Maes -the praying woman and a portrait of local bourgeois that feels like the live person has been resized but is still alive- and the Vermeer. Indeed this is serious stuff that somehow seems to escape the public collections of this country. My only criticism here is that we miss the cross polination of seeing Vermeer or a still life Dutch master side by side with a Mondrian or a cubist work for example, linking the 17th century to the 20th. But this is likely the result of the povera arte of our collections rather than the lack of vision of the curator. Good work and “But on a personal level it's taken more time,” she concedes. “There are still moments when I feel I don't quite belong here – and maybe you never do.”

    Indeed: one never belongs here, Canadians make sure you don't.
  6. Alban Leurk from Ottawax, Canada writes: As for the VAG new home, how come we cannot mix new and old and create a superb world class architectural piece where the VAG stands now? Are we short of architects in Canada? Instead of ending up in a excentred location, we should take advantage of this perfect center spot...
  7. Jak King from Vancouver, Canada writes: There is no doubt that Mrs Bartels has raised the standards for the VAG. Her choice of exhibitions has been superb (n matter if I have liked them all or not). She is to be congratulated and it was with pleasure that I renewed my membership this year.

    I agree about the Weiner on the roof! However, visiting the Vermeer yesterday, I notice that the "transportation exhibits" that have sat for ever outside the main entrance have finally gone. FYI, my review of the Vermeer/Rembrandt exhibition can be found at
  8. Old Timer from Timmins, Canada writes:

    I would like to add my voice to the growing chorus on this board who are demanding that the Vancouver Art Galley take down the Weiner peice near the gallery's roof.

    It is ugly there and it has got to go. It is so jarring in that location, wrecking the classical features of the old stone building.

    It does not work there at all. I cannot think of another gallery in the world that has made the mistake of attaching a contemporary piece in that way, sticking out from a century-old building like a red ugly zit protruding from an otherwise beautiful face.

    It is offensive and pungently distasteful there. It has to go.
  9. d s from West End, United States writes: A minor Vermeers. Off to the bookshop to see better ones. Better than a new gallery would be free entrance. Paying for the VAG went out with Tony Emery, the last great VAG director. And the collection is small for a better focus. As it is too much was spent of housing for free the miserable Longstaffe collection of (who?) famous Canadian moderns. What a load of financial shenanigans went into that. VAG has to reach the level of the WAG, in Winnipeg to be any good. The only Michelin stars in Vancouver go to the MoA at UBC for their anthropology presentation, though the building is an architectural disaster on an iffy site.
  10. Mikey Gault from The Moral Highground, Canada writes: Withouth the VAG, potsmoking deadbeats would have no where to hang out on Robson.

Comments are closed

Thanks for your interest in commenting on this article, however we are no longer accepting submissions. If you would like, you may send a letter to the editor.

Report an abusive comment to our editorial staff


Alert us about this comment

Please let us know if this reader’s comment breaks the editor's rules and is obscene, abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, defamatory, profane or racially offensive by selecting the appropriate option to describe the problem.

Do not use this to complain about comments that don’t break the rules, for example those comments that you disagree with or contain spelling errors or multiple postings.

Back to top