Vancouver Art Gallery announces two major gifts

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Vancouver Art Gallery announces two major gifts
Gordon Smith, Untitled, 1996, Acrylic on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund.

VANCOUVER.- The Vancouver Art Gallery received a bequest of $1 million from artist Gordon Smith, together with a generous matching donation of an additional $1 million from Stephen and Gail Jarislowsky and The Jarislowsky Foundation. With this new endowment fund, the Vancouver Art Gallery announced the creation of a new curatorial position: Curator of Canadian Art.

The Gallery believes this to be an unprecedented bequest from an individual artist to a Canadian art museum. The late Gordon Appelbe Smith (1919-2020) was a generous, long-time supporter of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Smith gave his time and his art prodigiously, donating works to the Gallery's permanent collection and for many fundraising events. He believed passionately in the Vancouver Art Gallery's educational role to expand people's creative horizons. Although an immigrant himself, he was proud to have been known as a Canadian artist, representing the region and country in national and international exhibitions.

The Jarislowskys and Gordon Smith were friends. Stephen Jarislowsky collected and admired Smith’s work and is delighted to match the generosity of his late friend in supporting the Vancouver Art Gallery and Canadian art. The Smith Jarislowsky Curator of Canadian Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery will foster the research, presentation, and collection of Canadian art and promote the invaluable work of historical and contemporary Canadian artists.

This exceptional bequest and generous donation were welcomed by Vancouver Art Gallery CEO and Director, Anthony Kiendl. “The extraordinary generosity of Gordon and Marion Smith and Stephen and Gail Jarislowsky through their foundations is incredibly moving,” said Kiendl. “These gifts are important in so many ways. The funds will not only help our amazing team at the Gallery carry out the important work of providing enriching art experiences, but they will also serve as an inspiration for others. This bequest and gift will continue to make a remarkable difference for years to come. We are deeply grateful.”

Among Gordon and Marion Smith’s many initiatives was a previous endowment to support the Vancouver Art Gallery’s educational programs. Over the course of more than 70 years, their tireless work and commitment to the progression of Canadian art shaped many emerging and established artists and included the creation of the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for Young Artists.

Fueled by his commitment and passion for the advancement and presentation of Canadian art, Stephen Jarislowsky has established similar funds at art galleries and universities across Canada. He was especially touched to be able to set up this curatorship in partnership with the Smith Estate as he has enormous respect for Gordon Smith, both as an artist and “a truly wonderful man.”

“It is important to keep the name of Gordon alive and it is an honor for Gail and myself to participate in recognizing his artistic genius as well as the nobility of the man himself,” shared Stephen Jarislowsky, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Jarislowsky Fraser Limited. “Gordon’s work was ever vibrant and his new inventions, time after time, culminated finally in the last and greatest chef d’œuvres of his 100- year long life. Gordon ever assured us that the best was yet to come. He kept his word. He was a great artist of British Columbia and one of our great joys in life was our friendship over so many years.”

“On behalf of the Estate of Gordon Smith, and my co-executor, Andy Sylvester,” stated Ian M. Thom, Senior Curator Emeritus, Vancouver Art Gallery, “I am delighted that Gordon’s bequest, together with the exceptional donation from The Jarislowsky Foundation, will have a permanent impact on Canadian art through the establishment of this curatorial position. Gordon firmly believed in the importance of Canadian art and the vital role of the visual arts in our culture.”

The Vancouver Art Gallery plans to post the position immediately, with the expectation to appoint a Curator of Canadian Art as soon as an ideal candidate is found.

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