Saturday, August 06, 2005

Bill Shurniak meet Alice Walton


Back in May, there was a large blip on the radar when the Walton Family Foundation presented the design of the museum that Alice Walton wanted Moishe Safdie to build to the public.

An awful lot of the criticism was focused on the sale of an Asher B. Durand by the New York Public Library. Some more of the criticism was focused on general ideas about all things Wal-Mart, and then there were the folk who just plain prefer New York to Arkansas.

Then, you get the defenders, who seem to prefer Arkansas to New York, and the fence sitters who write about both sides of the story.

So what's this gotta do with art stuff on this side of the 49th? On Thursday, Bill Shurniak announced that he, too was building a fancy art gallery in the middle of nowhere. Judging from the CBC article, one would assume that this is as big news as who is going to write the music for the film about 50 cents. However, to me it highlights the differences between American art and Canadian art. $50 million dollar museum vs. $1.5 million dollar gallery. Controversy over how the collection was purchased vs. a student art contest for the opening. Tax exempt status vs. a baby grand piano... Bill Shurniak is most definitely in the same tax bracket as Alice Walton, his insistence on behaving in a Canadian manner, is going to keep Canadian art off the map for a bunch more years. Betcha dollars to doughnuts that Assiniboia stays a backwater.

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