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The Democratization of Art

VICTORIA, BC.- Artists and curators discuss pivotal shift in visual art over last 30 years How do you describe the moment in time that changed everything afterwards? In the visual art world, the late 1960s saw the beginning of the move to revolutionize the idea of art and the everyday. Artists began inserting themselves into pop-culture and mass-media formats for disseminating information and accessing wider audiences.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria draws together artists curator and to explore these innovations in their relationship to two current exhibitions: The Mr. Peanut Mayorality Campaign of 1974 and General Idea Editions. Meet with artists Michael Morris (and also independent curator) and Vincent Trasov (Mr. Peanut himself!), as well as General Idea Editions curator Barbara Fischer at a panel discussion on Thursday July 14 at 7:30pm. The Reinvention of the Moment discussion will address the impact these works had on other artists since then, as well as today’s contemporary art.

“Through all of General Idea’s different media, their work has always focused on the link between the making of art and its dissemination in the wider marketplace,” says curator Barbara Fischer. “While the work offered new ways to examine the idea of art, it also represented a response to art's altered condition within contemporary commercial culture.”

General Idea was an artist collective of international acclaim formed by Jorge Zontal, Felix Partz and AA Bronson in 1969. When they converged in Toronto, they abandoned the model of the single solitary artist for the anonymity of a corporate entity. General Idea quickly began to produce work in a broad if not dizzying variety of media, including everything from performance, video installation, publications and conceptual architecture to photography works and a seemingly infinite array of edition-based projects of which this retrospective exhibition profiles the history.

Between 1969 and 1974, Vancouver artist Vincent Trasov assumed the alter ego of the well-known product icon Mr. Peanut. Trasov collected all things peanut to illustrate just how pervasive and potent the image of Mr. Peanut was. In his most performative manifestation of Mr. Peanut, Trasov constructed a human-sized costume that he would wear as he walked through the city, and in 1974, he ran as Mr. Peanut for the Mayor of Vancouver election. This anthropomorphic animation of Mr. Peanut made its way across Canada and the United States as well as into performance art history.

The remains of this historic event – photographs, sculptures, press clippings, ephemera and a video documentary highlighting the campaign trail – are represented in the exhibition. General Idea Editions is circulated by the Blackwood Gallery (University of Toronto at Mississauga). General Idea Editions 1967-1995 received the generous financial assistance of the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (New York). The circulation of the exhibition is made possible through the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Museums Assistance Program. The Mr. Peanut Mayorality Campaign of 1974 i s organized by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia with support from the Morris and Helen Belkin Acquisitions Endowment and The Canada Council for the Arts.

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