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Spotlight on human rights

The Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival runs from January 23 to April 18.

Still image from Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival film "Matar a Jesús".
Still image from Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival film, "Matar a Jesús".

Humanity’s global pursuit of human rights will take to a world-class stage for the third annual Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival, beginning January 23 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Through music, theatre, dance, multimedia, and film, the festival will explore poignant stories of refugees, Indigenous identity and health, protest, disability, equity, and more.

“The arts are a powerful voice in promoting awareness and action in human rights,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's University. “We are privileged to partner with diverse artists and human rights activists who have dedicated their lives to create a fairer and inclusive future for humanity.”

The performance series will launch with a screening of Alanis Obomsawin’s Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger – one of four festival films curated by Queen’s Department of Film and Media professors Susan Lord and Dorit Naaman. The film documents the story of a young Indigenous boy who spent all five years of his life in hospital while the Manitoba and federal governments argued over who was responsible for paying for the boy’s care. More films will be screened in the following weeks, including Advocate, the story of Jewish-Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel; and Matar a Jesús, about the police’s handling of the murder of a young Colombian photographer’s father.

Among the festival’s live events will be a free performance installation entitled Firebirds in Motion, co-created by a Queen’s student and featuring collaborative contributions by Queen’s students and Kingston artists. The piece is set to explore the expansive theme of equity through dance, movement, and sound.

The festival’s live program will also feature the Art of Time Ensemble and Ralston String Quartet performing the history of protest music; dance performance The Mush Hole, a reflection on the Mohawk Institute residential school experience and; a multimedia exploration of the influence of refugee populations in their adopted countries. The Kingston Symphony will join Juno Award-winner Tom Wilson for Beautiful Scars, and the H’art Centre’s multimedia performance Small Things will look at parents’ experiences raising children with developmental disabilities.

“Nothing could be more important in this challenging political world climate, in which we are now immersed, than to inspire people to actively participate and create a political and legal environment that will protect world citizens from prejudice, hatred, and violence,” says Baldwin.

For more information on the Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival, visit the Isabel website.

Agnes offers seven new exhibitions

 Video works, ephemera and production material created by Arnait Video Productions are presented in Inuuqatikka: My Dear Relations, one of seven new exhibitions in the Winter Season at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Supplied Photo)

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre is celebrating seven powerful new exhibitions as it launches its Winter Season, from new works to a different look at classics, from the far north to the sky above.

Agnes curators and invited guest curators are presenting a rich range of art dating from the 1500s to the current moment, including several recently acquired works.

The launch event will take place Thursday, Jan. 16 from 6-7:30 pm.


Inuuqatikka: My Dear Relations
Jan. 11-April 12
This exhibition features video works, ephemera and production material created by Arnait Video Productions, the world’s leading women-centered Inuit filmmaking collective. Arnait represents the voices of Inuit women across generations, addressing traditional knowledge and contemporary life. This exhibition is part of Arnait’s March 2020 artist residency at Queen’s Vulnerable Media Lab, which includes intergenerational dialogues, workshops, and screenings. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with Archive/Counter-Archive and the Vulnerable Media Lab.

The exhibition is curated by Nakasuk Alariaq, Linda Grussani and Tamara de Szegheo Lang.

The Pathos of Mandy: Walter Scott
Jan. 11-April 12
In Walter Scott’s new body of work, the central character is Mandy, an artist who has lost all legal ownership of his fictional character. A film follows Mandy through various vignettes of hubris and desperation as he attempts to piece together who he is, both personally and artistically, now that the central focus of his art practice is gone. The film and the accompanying installation are together a meditation on the slippery states between the fiction and reality of the “artist,” of aesthetic representation and of the self. 

Fresh from New York’s International Studio & Curatorial Program, Scott is this year’s Stonecroft Artist-in-Residence at Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

B-Side Agnes Etherington: Paul Litherland
Jan. 11-Aug. 9
Montreal-based photographer Paul Litherland offers unprecedented access to the little-seen “back sides” of paintings from the Agnes’s historical European collection in B-Side Agnes Etherington. Printed to scale, his photographs are mounted on commercial painting stretchers, which lend them the aura of original canvases while offering privileged views of labels, installation hardware and preservation devices. Enlightening viewers about the physical histories of Old Master paintings, this exhibition invites viewers to contemplate notions of the simulacrum and the trompe-l’oeil tradition.  

From Tudor to Hanover: British Portraits, 1590-1800
Jan. 11-Aug. 9
In recognition of a number of spectacular acquisitions in recent years, From Tudor to Hanover: British Portraits, 1590-1800 investigates the evolution of the painted and printed portrait in Britain. The desire to fashion the self, record achievement and cultivate fame has appealed to British citizens since the early modern era. Accordingly, this show explores the fundamental issues of identity – gender, class and status – by presenting portraits by Peter Lely, Godfrey Kneller and others in the context of evolving national and cultural boundaries.

Face to the Sky: From the Collections
Jan. 11-Aug. 9
Face of the Sky turns its gaze upwards, tracking a longstanding artistic fascination. In feature works from the Agnes’ contemporary and historical collections, skies swarm with figures, depicting spiritual epiphanies and embedded histories that seem to both belong to the land and carry transcendent potential. Taking inspiration from artist John Hartman’s drypoint landscapes, the exhibition combines Inuit printmaking, Italian Renaissance angels, Canadian mystical landscapes, modernist sculpture and contemporary mediations.

Playing Doctor: General Idea Multiples
Jan. 16-April 12
Affordable and ubiquitous, General Idea multiples were an activist means of disseminating activism. The Canadian collective, comprising AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, was an international artistic force. From the 1970s through early 1990s, they sent into the world art editions in various media that played upon consumerism, collaboration, media culture, queer counterculture and AIDS. Playing Doctor samples three decades of multiples-making from the Agnes collection, revealing the interconnectedness of General Idea’s ironic, often humorous, and self-referential practice.

Quest for Colour: Five Centureis of Innovation in Printmaking
Jan. 11-April 12
Printmaking is essentially a linear medium. How, then, to achieve the tonal richness of painting? Quest for Colour explores the inventive techniques through which printmakers from Albrecht Dürer to Andy Warhol have sought to answer this challenge. Curated by students in the Art History Program at Queen’s University, with Professor Stephanie Dickey, Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art.


To April 12: The Art of African Ivory

To Sept. 6 2021: Sandra Brewster: Blur

A members’ preview is being held ahead of the launch starting at 5 pm.

To learn more visit the Agnes Etherington Art Centre website.

An overlooked era

Professor Robert Morrison’s The Regency Years is feted with prestigious book honours at home and abroad.

Queen’s University Professor Robert Morrison’s latest book The Regency Years was recently named to the RBC Taylor Prize Longlist and was picked by The Economist as a Book of the Year. The Gazette contacted Dr. Morrison to talk about the book and what the future holds.

Q: Tell us a bit about this book and what inspired you to write it.

A: This book is about a period in British history known as the Regency. It began in 1811 when the king, George III, went permanently insane, and his debauched son, George, Prince of Wales, became the sovereign de facto, or Prince Regent. It ended in 1820 when George III died, and the Prince Regent became George IV. There were many reasons why I wanted to write the book. But I think the biggest one was that I wanted to show why literature and the arts matter, and how what happened then still shapes what happens now. The book concerns novelists like Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, poets like Lord Byron and John Keats, military men like the Duke of Wellington, painters like J. M. W. Turner and John Constable, and scientists like Michael Faraday and Sir Humphry Davy. Their achievements defined the Regency, but they also shape the world we live in now.

Q: The regency years are often called the overlooked era. Why do you think a book about this era is resonating so much today?

A: I’m not sure. I would like to think it is because I try in the book to take a fresh and much more wide-ranging approach to the Regency. On one level, I explore the elegance and poise that we typically associate with the period, in the architecture of John Nash, the portraits of Thomas Lawrence and Henry Raeburn, and the novels of Austen. But on another level, I try to bring into view people who have been left out of previous accounts of the period, including the Indigenous leader Tecumseh, the arctic explorer John Franklin, the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, the comedian Dorothy Jordan, and the diarist Anne Lister, who wrote at length of her experiences of same-sex love.

Q: Your book has been named to the RBC Taylor Prize Longlist and picked by The Economist as a Book of the Year. Are you surprised by the accolades and media attention it has received?

A: Very surprised. I just sit in my library and work as hard as I can at reading and thinking and writing. But then it all goes out into the world and different readers react in different ways. Having it recognized by The Economist and the RBC Taylor jury is a big thrill.

Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on the university’s researchers, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research at Queen’s.

Q: Talk about some of your other research interests. How do they intersect with the Regency years?

A: Many of the people I have studied and taught for the past 20 years were active during the Regency, and writing the book was a way of bringing highly diverse interests together. For example, Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice, her most famous novel, in 1813. That same year, after nearly a decade of experimentation, Thomas De Quincey became addicted to opium. 1813 was also the year that Robert Owen published his New View of Society, the Duke of Wellington won the battle of Vitoria, Turner and Constable dined together at the Royal Academy, Lady Hester Stanhope became the first European woman to reach Palmyra in Syria, and so on. The book seeks to highlight events such as these, but also – and I think more interestingly – to try and bring them into collision.

Q: Regarding your writing, what can we expect next?

A: Right now I’m working on the Oxford Handbook of Romantic Prose, which brings together 52 different scholars, each of whom is contributing a chapter on a specific topic in early 19th-century British prose, ranging from Africa and Antiquarianism through Magazines and Metropolitanism to War and Welsh regionalism. I’m also editing the Collected Letters of Thomas De Quincey, and writing a book on the literature of addiction, beginning with De Quincey and moving up to Carlyn Zwarenstein, a Toronto writer who recently published a fascinating book called The New Confessions in which she engages very consciously with De Quincey’s many accounts of his opium addiction.

Agnes Etherington Art Centre earns pair of awards

Recent exhibition wins an innovation award and Director Jan Allen is honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

Visitors enjoy The hold: movements in the contemporary collection.

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre was honoured with a pair of major awards at the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG), hosted in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 25.

The hold: movements in the contemporary collection received the award for Innovation in a Collections-Based Exhibition, while Jan Allen, Director of Agnes Etherington Art Centre, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The OAAG Awards celebrate the excellence and outstanding achievements of Ontario’s public art galleries. The awards are peer-reviewed, selected from over 250 nominations from 36 member galleries. 

Jan Allen, Director of Agnes Etherington Art Centre, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ontario Association of Art Galleries.

“I’m tremendously honoured and grateful to receive the OAAG Lifetime Achievement Award,” Allen says. “I’ve enjoyed a fascinating career in this dynamic sector: the support and encouragement of colleagues has been crucial at every step. I congratulate Sunny Kerr for the well-deserved award he has received for his inventive work in The hold: movements in the contemporary collection. This project broke new ground in our approach to and conception of movement and access in the gallery, while staging artworks with Sunny’s signature sensitivity and altogether brilliant visual poetics.”


The hold: movements in the contemporary collection, curated by Sunny Kerr.

Guided by the gestures and imaginaries of works from the collection – such as amassing and splitting figures or tracing paths across grounds­­ – this exhibition addressed hindrance and movement, from the global to the intimate. Kingston artist and disability activist, Dr. Lisa Figge was consultant on the formation of the exhibition, using her paths in a mobility scooter to form the organizing principles of the exhibition’s layout. 


For nearly three decades, Jan Allen has served the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and broader artistic community, first as curator and then gallery director, with acuity and resolve.

As the gallery’s first dedicated contemporary art curator, she wholly defined a core curatorial area while also cultivating her own focus in electronic and new media art and politically- and socially-engaged practice, for which she has gained wide recognition. Deeply invested in the transformative potential of visual culture, Allen has organized more than 160 exhibitions of contemporary art, has produced and written for almost 50 exhibition catalogues, and contributed to contemporary arts journals such as Prefix Photo and C Magazine.

Her breakthrough exhibition publications have become definitive resources in the contemporary art field, including Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge: Working Culture (2008), for which she received an OAAG curatorial writing award and Annie Pootoogook: Kinngait Compositions (2011), the first exhibition publication devoted to the artist. Joyce Wieland: Twilit Record of Romantic Love (1995) continues to be a vital reference in feminist art history.

As director of the Agnes since 2014, Allen renewed artistic programs and built sustaining endowments, dramatically increasing participation. Allen will retire from the position on Jan. 1, 2020.

“Jan Allen has the rare skills of a great leader,” says Agnes Advisory Board Chair, Glen Bloom. “She has led by example and created an environment where her staff could flourish. And they have. Jan has a legacy at the Agnes that will endure.”

It’s the year of Rembrandt again, to the delight of museum audiences

THE CONVERSATION: The Dutch master has intrigued art-lovers for four centuries. His strength in depicting the human experience compels audiences even after 400 years.

Visitors to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre tour the Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges exhibit.

Among Dutch-speaking art lovers, 2019 is known as a Rembrandt-jaar (Rembrandt year), one marking the 350th anniversary of the death of the artist Rembrandt van Rijn. It is the cause for the beloved artist — who painted in the 1600s — to be commemorated with exhibitions, publications and even delicious treats.

A milestone Rembrandt year occurred 13 years ago, with the fourth centenary of his birth. The worldwide professional organization of curators of Dutch and Flemish art, CODART, recorded 83 exhibitions between 2005 and 2007 in honour of that Rembrandt year.

And, yet, with the 2006 Rembrandt-jaar still fresh in the memories of many, one may wonder, why are we celebrating Rembrandt again? What appeal does this European male artist have for us in 2019?

The Rembrandt years

Amy Golahny, Richmond Professor of Art History Emerita at Lycoming College, describes the 2006 exhibitions as focused on newly discovered documents and the contextualization of the master within the economic, diplomatic and historical role of art. One consequence of this year was the increase in monographic exhibitions of art by those in Rembrandt’s orbit, such as his master Pieter Lastman and his colleague and a competitor Jan Lievens.

A substantial 53 shows dedicated to the artist are listed on the CODART web site this year. These include Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges, organized and circulated by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre of Queen’s University, where I am a curator and resident researcher. The show focuses on the development of Rembrandt’s pictorial language among a network of colleagues in his native city of Leiden.

Rembrandt van Rijn, ‘Self-Portrait’, around 1629, oil on panel. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Courtesy of The Clowes Fund, C10063.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the foremost collection of Rembrandt’s art in the world, took a broader perspective in All the Rembrandts, which showcased its holdings of 20 paintings, 60 drawings and 300 of the finest impressions of the artist’s prints. From examinations of Rembrandt’s early years to a comprehensive view of his accomplishments across media, this year’s exhibitions delve deeply into the development of this singular artistic personality.

The earliest Rembrandt year seems to have been 1906, the 300th anniversary of his birth. That year spurred the placement of a commemorative plaque on the site of his birth home and the erection of a sculpted likeness in Leiden, as well as the purchase of the artist’s home on the Breestraat in Amsterdam to create a museum.

These early acts were as much monuments to the man as much as to his oeuvre, which reveal the lingering 19th-century romanticization of the artist as a Dutch national hero. Subsequent Rembrandt years — 1956 and 1969 — have concentrated on bringing together masterpieces by Rembrandt and his pupils so as to further delineate their individual oeuvres.

In anticipation of the 1969 Rembrandt year, the Rembrandt Research Project, which became the authoritative voice in determining the authenticity of Rembrandt paintings, was founded. Clearly, these commemorative years have had a huge impact upon our understanding the artist’s oeuvre and his biography.

The artist

Rembrandt van Rijn, ‘Head of an Old Man in a Cap c. 1630, oil on panel. John Glembin/Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University. Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2003

There is a rich body of period documents that convey the painter’s character. Authors frame his personality as one rooted in a sense of conviction and autonomy and he seems to have experienced many of the trials and tribulations of modern life.

He was a late bloomer, and began his art education at the late age of fifteen or so; he believed so audaciously in his own skills that he proclaimed he could sell an unsatisfactory commission depicting a man’s beloved to any interested buyer.

After the death of the love of his life, he took up with the nursemaid and, subsequently, the housekeeper, with whom he had a child out of wedlock. He declared insolvency after unwise financial decisions.

There is something perpetually intriguing about his depiction of the human condition. His powerful colour, robust forms and imaginative interpretations humanize familiar narratives in striking ways. His early masterpiece, Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver of around 1629, for example, communicates the physical burden of treachery in horrifying terms: clothing rent in desperation, scalp bleeding after a violent fit, hands clasped in agony, body contorted in humiliation and despair.

Rembrandt, through his acute observation of the human condition, has incited new reflections upon our place in the world and our contributions to it.

Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges
Queen’s University’s Agnes Etherington Art Centre is currently hosting a touring exhibition celebrating the emergence of Rembrandt van Rijn, one of history’s most renowned artists. Drawing on the strengths of the museum’s Bader Collection, the exhibition – Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges – will appear in four Canadian cities and features works of art by Rembrandt, his colleagues, and his students, that reflect the creative environment and influences that shaped the earliest years of his career. Between August 2019 and May 2021, the exhibition will make extended appearances at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton in Hamilton. The catalogue and the exhibition tour are supported by grants from the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, a Bader Philanthropy; and the Government of Canada.

The shows

Why have museum exhibitions been so fundamental to this investigation of Rembrandt?

The curatorial act is a powerful strategy for imbuing the Old Masters with agency in the modern world. That act can unify contemporary themes with historical grounding, inviting the viewer to consider artworks as living objects bearing renewed meaning through the interpretative material presented in the gallery. The curatorial act can also invoke deeper understanding through comparison with other objects, illuminating new perspectives on familiar works.

Curators, as stewards of collections, have the responsibility to think creatively and broadly about the current pertinence of historical artworks. This can be seen in some of this year’s Rembrandt exhibitions.

Among the more incisive investigations are Rembrandt and Saskia: Love and Marriage in the Dutch Golden Age at Fries Museum in the Netherlands, which explores notions of status and social expectations within the framework of Rembrandt’s marriage, and Rembrandt@350: Zimbabwe remasters a Dutch icon, which features local artists’ responses to Rembrandt, plus six of the master’s etchings and a life-sized print of The Night Watch (which is now undergoing in-gallery analysis streamed live online.

The exhibitions on view this year demonstrate that new perspectives can deepen our access to and appreciation of the past. Each era curates the Rembrandt that it desires.

So, in this Rembrandt year of 2019, how are you celebrating the master?


Jacquelyn N. Coutré, Bader Curator/Adjunct Assistant Professor, European Art, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Rembrandt van Rijn, ‘Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver’, around 1629, oil on panel. Private collection. Morgan Library & Museum/Private Collection


Agnes Etherington Art Centre to celebrate Fall Season Launch

Queen’s art gallery hosts public reception marking debut of four new exhibitions.

Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges gallery space
Between August 2019 and May 2021, Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges will appear at the Agnes, the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, Regina's MacKenzie Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Queen’s University’s Agnes Etherington Art Centre is set to celebrate four exciting, new exhibitions at the museum’s 2019 Fall Season Launch reception on Thursday, Sept. 19, including Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges – a national touring exhibition that explores the famed artist’s works and influences.

Jamasie Padluk Pitseolak, Grub Shoe, 2011
Jamasie Padluk Pitseolak, Grub Shoe, 2011, serpentinite. (Photo: Bernard Clark)

Also among the debut exhibitions to be celebrated at the public reception are a deep-dive into a selection of portraits and self-portraits from the Agnes’ collection, an exploration of the ways in which we look, and a selection of recent abstract paintings by acclaimed Canadian painter Milly Ristvedt. In addition, artist Sandra Brewster’s dramatic, newly commissioned work in the atrium will greet visitors to the gallery.

“The season launch is an exciting, gratifying occasion for us to share the fruit of much planning and creative work with our wider community,” says Jan Allen, Director of Agnes Etherington Art Centre. “This fall’s offering is distinguished by Dr. Jacquelyn Coutré’s gorgeous exhibition focusing on Rembrandt’s emerging years as an artist. Leiden circa 1630 is a deeply original show that highlights The Bader Collection along with seldom seen works from private and public collections. We are thrilled also to introduce the Franks Gallery, a new exhibition space for regional and research-based exhibitions, named in honour of longtime Agnes supporters, Daphne Franks and the late C.E.S. (Ned) Franks.”

Adrian Blackwell, Kate McConnal’s Space, #1 from Evicted May 1, 2000 (9 Hanna Ave.), 2001
Adrian Blackwell, Kate McConnal’s Space, #1 from Evicted May 1, 2000 (9 Hanna Ave.), 2001, colour photograph.

Through a selection of the museum’s contemporary portraiture, Tracing Self and Other is an exhibition that considers some of the ways we know (or fail to know) one another and ourselves by examining a range of artists’ approaches to capturing intersections of perception, memory, incomprehension, passion, and compassion. The intimate exhibition seeks to probe beneath the surface of appearance, and raise questions about how we value one another: how we celebrate, how we hurt, and how we heal.

Split Between the I and the Gaze features diverse contemporary works exploring different acts of looking, calling into question the assumed roles of passive spectator or active participant. The exhibit implicates the viewer by placing them in the position of both the observer and the observed. Curated by students of Contemporary Art and Curatorial Practice with Professor Jen Kennedy in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation at Queen’s, the exhibition prompts viewers into different ways of seeing when confronted with direct gazes, fragmented bodies, personal spaces, and belongings.

Installation view of Between Chance and Order: Milly Ristvedt at Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Photo: Paul Litherland
Installation view of Between Chance and Order: Milly Ristvedt at Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo: Paul Litherland)

Between Chance and Order: Milly Ristvedt marks the inaugural exhibition in Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s new Franks Gallery. The selection includes recent abstract works by the painter, whose long career has included over 50 solo shows worldwide, and has led to many of her pieces entering private, corporate, and public collections – including Art Gallery of Ontario, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Harvard University, and Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Ristvedt is also a Queen’s alumni, having completed a Masters in Art History in 2011.

Running from 6 pm to 7:30 pm, the launch reception will also feature a musical performance by Melos Choir and Period Instruments at 6:15 pm, staged in connection with Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges.

For more information on Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s 2019 Fall Season Launch, visit the website.

Agnes Etherington Art Centre debuts national Rembrandt tour

Campus art museum is first stop on Queen’s-curated tour of famed artist’s works and influences.

Rembrandt's Head of an Old Man in a Cap
Rembrandt's Head of an Old Man in a Cap.

Three and a half centuries after his death, Queen’s University’s Agnes Etherington Art Centre debuted a touring exhibition celebrating the emergence of one of history’s most renowned artists: Rembrandt van Rijn. Drawing on the strengths of the museum’s Bader Collection, the exhibition – Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges – will appear in four Canadian cities and features works of art by Rembrandt, his colleagues, and his students, that reflect the creative environment and influences that shaped the earliest years of his career.

“Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s continues to flourish as a place of esteemed cultural and academic excellence,” says Teri Shearer, Queen’s Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “The opening of this touring exhibition demonstrates the scholarly importance of the museum’s work, and highlights the international prominence of the collection housed there. The inspiring, experiential learning opportunities it presents to the Queen’s and Kingston communities are invaluable.”

The exhibition opens to the public only months after the Agnes unveiled Rembrandt’s 1659 work Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair. Linda and Daniel Bader donated the piece to the museum in memory of Daniel’s late father and Queen’s alumnus, Alfred Bader. Dr. Bader, chemist, entrepreneur, visionary philanthropist, and discerning collector of art, passed away last December.

Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair joined three of Rembrandt’s acclaimed works donated by Alfred and Isabel Bader between 2003 and 2015. Though Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair is not part of this exhibition, as it is from later in the artist’s career, many works from the Bader Collection, and loaned works from across North America will be on view and travel nationally as part of the exhibition. Together, the works investigate the experimentation, emulation, and ambition of artists in 17th century Leiden, Netherlands.

Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue, in both English and French, that features essays by leading scholars in Dutch art, including Bader Curator/Researcher of European Art, Jacquelyn N. Coutré, and Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art, Stephanie S. Dickey, as well as entries on the exhibited works by Coutré. An in-gallery and online interactive map of Rembrandt’s Leiden, as well as a short documentary about the contemporary city, animates the city’s history as part of this exhibition as well.

“This exhibition highlights the wonderful examples of Dutch art in Canadian collections, and deepens our understanding of the early careers of Rembrandt and his circle,” says Coutré. “The origin of this show is our Head of an Old Man in a Cap of circa 1630, the first Rembrandt painting presented to the Agnes by Alfred and Isabel Bader in 2003. Support from Bader Philanthropies and from Isabel Bader, in the form of a recent gift of three paintings featured in the exhibition, has thus been a deeply meaningful contribution to this exhibition.”

The Aug. 24 public launch of Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University marks the first showing of the exhibition as it embarks on a national tour. Between August 2019 and May 2021, the exhibition will make extended appearances at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton in Hamilton. The catalogue and the exhibition tour are supported by grants from the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, a Bader Philanthropy; and the Government of Canada.

Agnes Etherington Arts Centre will formally celebrate Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges at their Fall Season Launch reception on Sept. 19, 2019.

To learn more about the exhibit and the Fall Season, visit the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s website.

Jan Allen to retire as Agnes director

Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer announced on Wednesday that Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Agnes) will retire from the position as of Jan. 1, 2020. 

Allen has provided remarkable leadership in her time at the Agnes since her appointment in 2012 as acting director, followed by her appointment to director in 2014. During her tenure, she has overseen numerous exhibitions, publications, programs and acquisitions, including the most recent Rembrandt van Rijn, Head of an Old Man with Curly Hair, 1659, oil on panel. Gift of Linda and Daniel Bader, 2019 (62-002). Under her leadership the Agnes has won several prestigious awards and has nearly doubled its funding from the Canada Council for the Arts.

“Jan has laid a solid foundation for the Agnes’s continued success, working closely with the gallery’s Advisory Board, the university, and through her active engagement with the both the local and international art communities,” says Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer. 

An award-winning curator, writer and assistant professor in the Cultural Studies program, Allen has also served on numerous national-level juries and advisory committees and on the Boards of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries and the Canadian Art Museum Director’s Organization.

Allen will remain active in her remaining months at Queen’s supporting the fall 2019 launch of the new graduate program in Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies in partnership with the Department of Film and Media, initiating a feasibility study and functional plan for an expanded and fully accessible facility, completing program planning and revenue development for programs over the next several years, overseeing reinstallation of the Etherington House and the launch of the new Franks Gallery, and advancing a major digital project in tandem with development of a Digital Strategy framework, supporting the final preparations of the exhibition Leiden circa 1630: Rembrandt Emerges in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt van Rijn, and assisting the leadership transition.

A search for a new director is anticipated to begin in the very near future.


Fostering local musical talent

[Isabel Concert Hall]
A showcase performance of all the finalists of the YGK Emerging Musician Competition will be held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday, Sept. 20. (University Communications)

Kingston’s legacy as a hotbed for musical talent is well known. From The Tragically Hip, The Glorious Sons and Sarah Harmer, to John Burge, Marjan Mozetich and Leonid Nediak, the talent produced in YGK is as impressive as it is diverse.

This fall, local up-and-coming acts will have the opportunity to take the stage for the 2019 YGK Emerging Musician Competition. Open to emerging musicians of all cultural backgrounds and genres, this competition is presented by the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, inspired by local entrepreneur Claire Bouvier and Aaron Holmberg, technical director at the Isabel, and made possible by The Ballytobin Foundation, Venture Club, and Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO).

“Emerging musicians need a platform and the tools to launch successful careers. The inaugural YGK Emerging Musicians Competition seeks to support and showcase Kingston’s rising musical talent,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “We are grateful for the community support and the enthusiastic response to this competition so far.”

Selected by an independent jury of notable Kingston arts talents, the five finalists will each be awarded a prize package valued at $7,500, which includes:

  • A professional audio recording of the musician’s original work or work of their choice
  • A video of a work of the musician’s original work or work of their choice, to be used by the musician and posted on the Isabel’s website for one year
  • Professional photography and media kit
  • Career and business workshops with Claire Bouvier and business consultants
  • One-year Venture Club membership
  • A showcase performance at the Isabel, with all the finalists, on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 pm.
Online application: https://app.getacceptd.com/theisabelygk
Application deadline: Monday, June 17, at 5 pm (EST)
Non-refundable application fee: $40
Announcement of finalists: Friday, July 5
Finalist video and recording day: Saturday, Aug. 17
Finalist showcase concert: Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 pm

Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada; 18 years and older; self-identify as emerging musicians; reside in the City of Kingston or within 50 kilometres of Kingston’s borders; and aspire to a professional concert career.

Aspiring musicians of all cultural and music genre backgrounds are both welcome and encouraged to apply. This competition is for artists with one to five musicians in their band/ensemble, and an original work must be submitted online. 

“Kingston has a fabulous music scene and this competition exists to help emerging musicians put their best foot forward, to share their talents widely, and launch themselves,” Bouvier says. “This competition offers a fabulous opportunity and we encourage all up-and-coming musicians in Kingston to apply.”

The competition also has its own Facebook page.

Top acts take the stage in dazzling new season at The Isabel

Bader Overton Virtuosi Festival
The Bader and Overton Virtuosi Festival will feature a number of top international acts including, clockwise from top left: Branford Marsalis; Measha Brueggergosman; Stewart Goodyear; and Jan Lisiecki.

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts recently announced its 2019-20 season which is highlighted by the introduction of a new virtuosi festival, a national cello competition, a competition for Kingston’s emerging musicians, and the Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival.

The season includes top emerging and established artists performing in the Isabel’s Soloist, Ensemble, Kingston Connection, Jazz, Baroque + Beyond, Kingston Children’s Corner, and Global Series.

MA in Arts Leadership
The Isabel is the co-creator of the MA in Arts Leadership program with the DAN School of Drama and Music to develop the next generation of arts leaders for the country. The 2019-20 year has the program’s third cohort participating in academic work as well as in practicum placements in arts organizations across Canada.

“In 2019-20, we will nurture the inquiring spirit with a diversity of world-class established and emerging artists,” says says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel. “At the Isabel, we all witness artistic excellence first-hand with artists who, through genius, inspiration, and hard work, shoot for the stars and take us beyond. This season we look forward to the Isabel debuts by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, pianists Jonathan Biss and Yefim Bronfman, jazz virtuoso Branford Marsalis, emerging star violinist Blake Pouliot, VOCES8, Akamus, OKAN, the Celtic juggernauts Braebach and Gaelic Storm, and more.”

SpiderWebShow’s foldA - Festival of Live Digital Arts will be presented in collaboration with the Isabel, the National Arts Centre, DAN School of Drama and Music, and the Department of Film and Media, and theatres and artists across Canada.

Bader and Overton Virtuosi Festival

  • Orchestral Virtuosity - Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with pianist Jan Lisiecki (Oct. 16)
  • Prodigious Virtuosity – Kingston’s Leonid Nediak, piano (Oct. 29)
  • Chamber Music Virtuosity - Fine Arts Quartet and Stewart Goodyear, piano (Nov. 7)
  • Soul Virtuosity - Measha Brueggergosman (Nov. 12)
  • Virtuosic Tour de Force - The united performance of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and European Union Youth Orchestra (Nov. 13)
  • Virtuoso Pianist - Yefim Bronfman (Nov. 23)
  • Virtuoso Jazz - Branford Marsalis Quartet (March 6, 2020)

The Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival

The Isabel presents its 2020 Human Rights Arts Festival with inspiring artists on the forefront of social and political change for a just world.

“The role of the arts is especially important in interpreting the contemporary politics of identity that are fuel for the political right and left throughout the world. We don’t want a passive experience with the arts, as we don’t want passive citizens,” says Baldwin. “We need fully engaged and informed citizens with vision, imagination, and the urgency to act. As Jungian analyst Beverley Zabriskie states, ‘Imagination is a laboratory, not a fantasy, a flight, avoidance, or defense, but … a way station between what is and could be.’”

Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival events include:

  • Imagining Peace, Inspiring Action with Andy Rush, Artistic Director, Salil Subedi, Coco Love Alcorn, Brasswerks, Trillers A Capella, Kingston Youth Choir, and the Frontenac Skies Community Drummers (Nov. 11)
  • Safe Haven by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, a powerful multimedia exploration of the influence of refugee populations on music creation in the baroque era (Jan. 29, 2020)
  • All We Are Saying – a concert of protest music with the Art of Time Ensemble and Ralston String Quartet (Feb. 4, 2020)
  • The Mush Hole by Santee Smith - The Mush Hole acknowledges the lives and spirits of Mohawk Institute residential school survivors. It is about survival, resilience, and is an embodied way to say: “Enskwakhwahshón:rien” — we will feed your hunger, “kwè:iahre” — we remember you, and “kwanorónhkhwa” — we love you. (March 9, 2020)
  • Beautiful Scars by award-winning singer/songwriter Tom Wilson who will perform with the Kingston Symphony. The National Arts Centre originally commissioned this work. “My truth was hidden from me … and finally I’m becoming a Mohawk man,” Tom Wilson states. (April 8, 2020)
  • The premiere of H’art Centre’s Notice the Small Things with 50 remarkable Kingston artists of different abilities. (April 17 and 18, 2020)
  • Human rights film festival (February and March 2020), and Queen’s student initiatives.

YGK Emerging Kingston Musician Competition

The Isabel partners with Claire Bouvier and Aaron Holmberg in the creation of the biennial YGK Emerging Musicians Competition. This competition seeks to inspire and support Kingston’s rising musical talent, and provide excellent tools for a musical career launch.

Who can apply? Kingston’s emerging musicians who are Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada who reside in the City of Kingston or within 25 kilometres of Kingston’s borders, and who aspire to a professional concert career. Aspiring musicians of all cultural and music genre backgrounds are both welcome and encouraged to apply. This competition is for artists with one to five musicians in their band/ensemble. Finalists will be able to create a professional recording and film of a work of their choice at the Isabel to boost their online profile, and will have a professional media kit created for them.

Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts’ mandate is to support the development of outstanding young talent. The Isabel created the Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition to inspire excellence and to provide performance experience and career development opportunities for Canada’s top cellists 18 to 29 years old. This Competition will inspire and assist excellent Canadian cellists who aspire to a concert career on the national and international stage. The grand prize includes a $20,000 award with an opportunity to perform a concerto with the Kingston Symphony, as well as a recital at the Isabel recorded and broadcast coast-to-coast by CBC Music. The Isabel has commissioned a new work by Marjan Mozetich for the competition, and the Isabel Quartet will participate in the chamber music portion of the competition. This triennial competition follows the inaugural 2017 Isabel Overton Bader Canadian Violin Competition.

To see the full 2019-20 schedule, visit The Isabel’s website.


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