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20/20: The Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, better known as Centre A, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
To mark the occasion, Canada’s only non-profit public gallery devoted to contemporary Asian art, held a giant birthday party at the Imperial Lounge. Showcasing the wide range of artistic disciplines Asian artists are active in, the firm presented Off Keefer, a cabaret-style friend-raiser that featured local artists breaking stereotypes and shaking up the visual arts scene.
Fronted by Yun-Jou Chang, Centre A’s interim executive director, and Emma Richards, the firm’s chief fundraiser, several hundred supporters filed into the Main Street event space to take in the live performances and to support the Centre’s vision for the next 20 years.
Founded in 1999 by Hank Bull, Stephanie Holmquist and Zheng Shengtian, the gallery recently put down roots moving into the Sun Wah Centre at 268 Keefer — its largest home to date. With a 30-year lease on 3,300 square feet of space located in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood, the expanded space has provided capacity for multiple, simultaneous exhibitions, as well as a separate, purpose-built reading room to house the Centre’s collection of rare Asian books.
The space will also enable more opportunities for artists; empowering new voices in contemporary Asian art to share their work, says Bull. For the past six years, Centre A has been giving emerging artists and curators an opportunity to showcase their work and advance their career through Centre A’s internship program, he adds.
Hosted by local filmmaker Jen Sung and drag artists Shay Dior and Maiden China, the evening playbill included performances by comedienne Ash Dhawan, new media artist Sammy Chien, Musqueam drummer Bronson Charles, performance artist Ralph Escamillan, Vietnamese pop band GaS and dance collective Immigrant Lessons. Between acts, attendees bid up auction items in support of Centre A’s vision to be an accessible public art gallery for all and to be a bridge in building and understanding the long and dynamic Asia-Canada relationship.
“Centre A is for everyone,” says Chang, who stepped into the interim executive director role last October. “The gallery is a place for up and coming as well as established artists. We want to showcase a variety of disciplines — similar to what attendees are enjoying tonight — and we want to exhibit work that is reflective of more Asian communities, from places like South Asia, Malaysia, and Singapore.”
Luminaries in attendance included playwright Tetsuro Shigematsu, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival artistic director Joyce Rosario, and Centre A’s former executive director Tyler Russell. Proceeds from this year’s hootenanny will go toward ensuring Centre A’s success in enhancing public programs, diversifying exhibitions and public events, creating mentorship opportunities for emerging artists and cultural workers and expanding its artist-in-residency program.
Kids Up Front Vancouver gala
FRENCH KISS FOR KIDS: Giving kids a lift one ticket at a time, Kids Up Front offers kids a sense of discovery, dreams and possibilities. The national charity founded by John Dalziel in 1999 redistributes unsold ticket to deserving children and their families to experience sports and recreation, attractions and arts and culture events. To support more underserved kids, the Vancouver chapter recently hosted a night of art and music at Le Soleil Fine Arts Gallery.
A Parisian-themed affair, French paintings by Picasso and Renoir and other lesser-known artists provided the perfect backdrop for the Kids Up Front soirée; a pair of Marie Antoinettes greeting guests, the perfect finishing touch. The cocktail party led by board chair Robert McElroy, along with directors Rivka Abramchik, Lyle Wagner and a dedicated group of volunteers, had many opportunities for attendees to support the cause — from a 50/50 draw, to a wine pull and an impressive art raffle featuring a one-of-a-kind painting by Johanan Herson appropriately titled Kid Up Front.
A fun-filled evening of fine Parisian food, art and wine, the event reached its peak when organizers gave John Coupar a French kiss. The three-term Vancouver Park Commissioner and president of Novex Delivery Solutions, Coupar was lauded for his firm’s ongoing commitment to Kids Up Front. Running Canada’s first carbon-neutral courier company, Coupar’s fleet of drivers deliver hundreds of tickets to deserving kids free of charge every year.
With the help of volunteer chapters in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto Kids Up Front has distributed more than 1.6 million tickets to more than 600 community partners. With the recent additions of two new chapters in Ottawa and Atlantic Canada, even more inspirational experiences and priceless memories will be available to children and their families who otherwise would not have the opportunity.