Saturday, September 27, 2008
Another Two Million Dollars from Michael Audain Can't Paper Over his Devaluing of Women
Condo developer and philanthropist Michael Audain, ducking criticism for giving the Audain Lifetime Achievement Award to Jeff Wall who allegedly operated a sexual harassment ring while head of the Simon Fraser University Visual Arts Department, has given more money to a cause he has named after ....himself.
Audain has slapped down $2 million for The Audain Emerging Artists Aquisition Fund at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Fund will allow the Art Gallery to purchase art works from British Columbia artists, 35 years old and under, considered promising.
Who would be considered promising? Young artists who spread their legs for Jeff Wall or his underling professors Greg Snider, or David McWilliam, and zipped their lips? To a survivor of advanced sexual harassment by both Wall and Snider at SFU, this is no joke: "I doubt Audain could afford to see an artist as promising if she's been talking about what went on at SFU. He and Wall are friends."
The survivor sees Kathleen Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, as part of the problem too. As long as Audain is throwing money at the VAG, Bartels seems willing to allow boys to be boys. Bartels allowed Audain, Chairman of the Vancouver Art Gallery Foundation, to hold a party on VAG premises to present Wall with his Lifetime Achievement Award while he remained uninvestigated for the sexual harassment ring he allegedly operated. Just two weeks ago, Bartels told the Globe & Mail, “If we only had five more Michael Audains, we'd be in a more significant place.”
"All I've asked for is an investigation", says a survivor, adding that it's difficult to get one when Audain and Bartels are essentially covering for Wall. Never once has Audain called for an investigation in the sexual harassment environment at the SFU Centre for the Contemporary Arts under Wall. [Audain also donated money to a Gallery to be named after himself at the soon-to-be-opened SFU Centre for the Contemporary Arts which has been accused of attempting to bury their sexual harassment history in the foundation, like the mafia buried the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa.] Bartels is certainly not in the dark about the allegations against Wall. A survivor briefed her assistant after she took the job as Director of the VAG.
Bottom line: All the money Audain throws at the new Audain Emerging Artists Acquisition Fund can't paper over his devaluing of young women.