In November 1972, the Greater Vancouver Artist’s Gallery opened its doors at 766 Homer Street. The gallery was established with a simple mandate: to employ artists to make art. In the fifty years that followed, the organization—which was renamed the Contemporary Art Gallery in 1983—would go on to play a far more expansive set of roles in the life of the city, evolving from artist’s service organization to artist-run centre to non-collecting public gallery, becoming in the process Vancouver’s longest-standing independent contemporary art space.
As we approached the occasion of the Contemporary Art Gallery’s 50th anniversary in 2022, the gallery began to reflect at length on the histories the institution has traditionally told of itself: charting its unique trajectory outlined above; foregrounding the organization’s landmark programming achievements, locally and internationally; and tracing the institution’s considerable operational and artistic growth over the years. These milestones are significant ones, which we continue to be proud of, though they tell only a portion of our story. As we began to consider CAG’s imprint on Vancouver over the last fifty years, we became increasingly interested in understanding the city’s imprint on CAG, in exploring the organization’s development in an expanded context.
Following a year of reflection and research in 2022—the gallery’s 50th year of public operations—we invited more than fifty artists, cultural workers, activists, and other civic leaders to reflect on the broader social and cultural histories that have shaped both this city and the gallery’s work over the past five decades. Mapping some of the key moments, movements, art, and actors that have impacted the history, development and future of Vancouver in ways large and small, this project considers how we arrived at the current moment, both as a gallery and as a city, asking what the past fifty years might have to tell us about the fifty years to come.
Timelines is made possible with support from the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Now program.
A project such as this is the product of a great many minds. We extend our deepest thanks to each of the contributors to Timelines, who responded enthusiastically to the call to reflect on Vancouver’s pasts, presents and futures. Their generous and insightful responses make this project what it is.
We are grateful for the collaboration of Ground Floor and its members Asia Jong, India Eliot Oates and Jack Kenna on the WEDGE Residency component of Timelines, which invited five early-emerging artists and arts workers to contribute long-form responses to this project. We also thank Afuwa, Krystal Paraboo, Laiwan, Urban Subjects (Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen and Helmut Weber), and Wayde Compton for their crucial work as mentors to the WEDGE residents.
We are indebted to our technical partners for the project: Arman Paxad, who oversaw the development of the project website; and Eli Haligua, Kathy Feng and Sam Wong, for their work on the project’s audio and video production.
Last but not least, we thank the many former staff and interns who were essential to the development of Timelines along the way: Asumi Oba, Aynaz Parkas, Jake Duncan, Jermaine Oxley, Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, Kinar Kalindra, Kolton Procter, and Sena Cleave. We extend a special thanks to Julia Lamare, the gallery’s former Assistant Curator, who oversaw the project’s development from its conception through to May 2023.
Andy Warner, Marketing & Communications Associate
Godfre Leung, Curator
Matthew Hyland, Executive Director
Vitória Monteiro, Acting Curator of Learning & Engagement