2013 Melva J. Dwyer Award Winner/ lauréat du prix Melva J. Dwyer

The Melva J. Dwyer Award committee received 15 nominations this year representing a diverse range of subjects on Canadian art, architecture and design; we were all pleased to view such a dynamic array of publications chronicling our national artistic and cultural heritage.  One title, however, stood out as truly representing an “exceptional reference or research tool relating to Canadian art and architecture”

ARLIS/NA Canada is pleased to confer the 2013 Melva J. Dwyer Award to IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958–2011; a publication that accompanied an international exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Featuring more than 160 reproductions, it also includes essays by the exhibition co-curators David Moos  and Michael Darling, as well as contributions by Lucy Lippard among others. A noteworthy feature is the comprehensive bibliography compiled by ARLIS/NA member Adam Lauder of York University.

The integrity of the critical essays, high quality art reproductions, academically sound citations, rigorous indexing, innovative nature of the publication’s “Narrative Chronology,” and authoritative bibliography all make this a publication of unique value for researchers in Canada and beyond.

The 2013 jurors included:

  • Adrienne Connelly, Librarian, Alberta College of Art + Design
  • Élise Lassonde, Bibliothécaire, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  • Linda Morita, Librarian/Archivist, McMichael Canadian Art Collection

A motivating rationale for the jury was how clearly the publication chronicles BAXTER&’s unique oeuvre, placing the artist as a prescient pioneer of relational aesthetics and other 21st century movements that strive to open a democratic dialogue over the art market, value theory, curatorial control and power paradigms embedded in aesthetics overall.

These philosophical goals are nothing new to BAXTER& as, for over 50 years, he has radically redefined the role of the artist and purposely defied the limitations of medium by effortlessly integrating  painting, drawing,  photography, installation, sculpture, and performative aspects into his work.

 Despite the provocative nature of this re-signification of the role of the artist; BAXTER&’s creative process is never confrontational but, instead, is nourished by empathy, concern, playfulness, humour  and is always founded in an unwavering sense of collegiality with his audience

 This collaborative ethos has led to a particular sense of play in how he represents himself to the world: he has worked under various monikers throughout his career, including N.E. Thing Co., a corporate-style organization in which he served as co-president.  In this guise, he blurred the two solitudes of private vs. public with an astoundingly creative number of initiatives including sponsoring a youth hockey team, hosting a game of “Monopoly with Real Money” played in a Toronto Dominion banking hall and being hired by Labatt’s Brewing Company in 1981 as a creative consultant “artist in residence.”  His own name has metamorphosed over the decades: often he is known as “McCoolman,” but always “the &man.” Since 1983, he has joined forces with Mrs. &man, artist Louise Chance.  As the ultimate example of his collective spirit: his online catalogue rasionnE is NOT a linear, chronological representation of only HIS works, but instead encourages a cacophonous “piling on” of artworks by welcoming user-generated content.  This open source approach to his name became formalized in 2005 when he legally added an ampersand to his surname.

The ampersand, in fact, has been a recurring symbol throughout his oeuvre, which, for librarians well-versed in Boolean searching techniques, gives him an especial position of fondness and esteem. Although in practice, this fluidity in self-identification leads to perplexing cataloguing gymnastics in maintaining name authorities. I might add that the Getty’s Union List of Artist Names still lists the artist FORMERLY KNOWN AS Iain Baxter!!   But in an ironic turn, librarians are essentially unable to recognize his new identity: to use the ampersand in a library catalogue search yields an error message due to “an unexpected end of clause,” a situation that I’m sure would delight the &man!

In closing, I will let David Moos explain the enduring nature of the artist’s work:  “BAXTER&’s thinking resonates today because his willingness to experiment remains undiminished…It is here, between originality and the familiar, that one finds BAXTER&, raising our awareness that art is an experiment—an embrace [that] one must experience.”

Presented on Sunday 28 April 2013 at the ARLIS/NA 41st annual conference Convocation, Pasadena Civic Auditorium by:

Daniel Payne, Canadian Member-at-Large (2012 – 14)
Head, Instructional Services,
Dorothy H. Hoover Library, OCAD University


BAXTER&, IAIN. “artist’s message.”  IAINBAXTER&raisonnE…York University Libraries: Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections online exhibits. Web. http://archives.library.yorku.ca/iain_baxterand_raisonne/archive/files/b…

Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics, trans. Simon Pleasance, Fronza Woods and Mathieu Copeland. Dijon: Les presses du réel, 2002. Print.

Canadian Art. “Iain Baxter&: Ampersand, Mon Amour.” Canadian Art Magazine (6 Nov. 2008). Web http://www.canadianart.ca/see-it/2008/11/06/iain-baxter/  

“Iain BAXTER&.” The Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art. Web. http://ccca.concordia.ca/

“IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958-2011 (March 3 – August 12, 2012).”  Art Gallery of Ontario. Web http://www.ago.net/theandman

IAINBAXTER&raisonnE … l i v E … & … the&MAN. Web Blog. http://andraisonne.blogspot.ca/ 

2012 Melva Dwyer Award Winner

The 2012 Melva J. Dwyer Award goes to Francois-Marc Gagnon, Nancy Senior, and Réal Ouellet, for The Codex Canadensis, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2011.

The Melva J. Dwyer Award was established in recognition of the contribution made to the field of art librarianship by Melva Dwyer, former head of the Fine Arts Library, University of British Columbia.  It is given to the creators of exceptional reference or research tools relating to Canadian art and architecture.

The 2012 award was administered by James Rout, Chair of ARLIS/NA Canada, and a jury that consisted of Vanessa Kam, University of British Columbia,  David Payne, OCAD University, and John Latour, Artexte. This year, 12 nominations were received for the award.

In the words of the jury, “The Codex Canadensis is a remarkable publication through and through. The image reproductions are exemplary and the overall contribution to our knowledge of the visual and material culture of the early colonial mindset is invaluable. The rigorous and meticulous detail of their notations and descriptions of the document demonstrate their authority in an unquestionable manner.”

2011 Melva Dwyer Award Winner

The 2011 Melva J. Dwyer Award goes to the Ontario Art Gallery and Douglas & McIntyre (co-publishers), and Gerald McMaster (editor), for Inuit Modern: Art from the Samuel and Esther Sarick Collection, published in November 2010.

The Melva J. Dwyer Award was established in recognition of the contribution made to the field of art librarianship by Melva Dwyer, former head of the Fine Arts Library, University of British Columbia.  It is given to the creators of exceptional reference or research tools relating to Canadian art and architecture.

The 2011 award was administered by James Rout, Chair of ARLIS/NA Canada, and a jury that consisted of Larissa Beringer, Emily Carr University of Art + Design,  Tanja Harrison, NSCAD University, and Jennifer Garland, McGill University. This year, 13 nominations were received for the award.

In the words of the jury, Inuit Modern sheds new light on the cultural resilience of Inuit artists, situating its major themes within the context of a rapidly changing Arctic. It considers how Inuit have dealt with the rapid transition from a traditional lifestyle to the current challenges of globalization and climate change. It includes scholarly essays by art historians and curators of Inuit art, as well as artist and author biographies, extensive notes, and a comprehensive list of the works in the exhibition together with a complete index.

Full colour photographs of all of the art works are included in this publication, including sculpture, prints, inlay, drawing, stonecuts and textile reproductions. The jury agreed that these images were exceptional high quality reproductions, considering the range of media covered, making it an essential visual reference tool for further research and study on contemporary Inuit art practice, and highlighting the book’s importance as a resource for librarians, art historians, artists and cultural anthropologists.

2010 Melva J. Dwyer Award Winner

This year’s winner of the Melva J. Dwyer Award is Dr. Oliver Botar for Andor Weininger: A Bauhausler in Canada, published by the Robert McLaughlin Gallery,  2009.   This book, which accompanied the exhibition A Bauhausler in Canada: Andor Weininger in the ’50s at  the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (May 9 – June 28, 2009) are the only Canadian contributions to a major series of exhibitions, conferences and publications on both sides of the Atlantic celebrating the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany.

The Melva J. Dwyer Award was established in recognition of the contribution made to the field of art librarianship by Melva Dwyer, former head of the Fine Arts Library, University of British Columbia.  It is given to the creators of exceptional reference or research tools relating to Canadian art and architecture.

The 2009/10 award was administered by me Liv Valmestad, Chair of ARLIS/NA Canada, and a jury that consisted of Eva Revitt, Grant MacEwen University,  James Rout, the Banff Centre Library and Cyndie Campbell, National Gallery of Canada.  I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone on the jury for their efficient work and thoughtful deliberations.

This year, eleven nominations were received, including one web site The Historical Canadian Women Artists: A Bio-bibliographic Database, located on the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative (CWAHI) website at http://cwahi.concordia.ca/ , 2007, co-authored by Arlisian Melinda Reinhardt, Concordia University.  This site is a fantastic initiative and is an artist database that includes over 300 entries of women artists with biographical information, educational background, association memberships, locations and holdings of artist files and bibliographies throughout Canada. This initiative was given Honourable Mention for this year’s Melva Dwyer award.

The winning entry, A Bauhausler in Canada: Andor Weininger in the ‘50s, documents the life of Hungarian-born Andor Weininger (1899-1986), a recognized figure at the Bauhaus, the most influential art and design school of the 20th century. After his arrival to Toronto in 1951, it seemed as though he would integrate into the burgeoning city’s emergent Modernist art scene, but after initial successes, Weininger’s Canadian career faltered and soon after receiving Canadian citizenship in 1957, Weininger and his family moved on to New York City. Since the 1960s his works have been included in many major international exhibitions. His art is represented in the collections of the MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University, and in a number of European collections.

With its excellent scholarship, this book reveals that despite his marginalization in Toronto, Weininger enjoyed his most productive years as an artist in Canada, resulting in an inventive, highly eclectic and often strikingly beautiful oeuvre. The recovery of this oeuvre to Canadian art began when the foundation set up in his memory donated important groups of his work to The Art Gallery of Ontario, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery and Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba. In this volume, Dr. Oliver Botar both documents these donations and takes a close look at Weininger in Canada, and discusses the shifting loyalties of Canadian abstract artists during the 50s and adds to the history of Canadian Modernism.

 In the jury’s words, this book was “the complete package.”  The jury was very impressed with both book’s comprehensiveness and the high quality of its layout and presentation.  Not only does it contain endnotes, an index and bibliography, but it also includes a chronology of Weininger’s life and a catalogue of all of his art works housed in Canadian collections.   The book itself is beautifully designed and presented.  Tasteful colour combinations are used in the table of contents and chapter pages.  The colour photographs are of excellent quality presented in both full colour plates and also in smaller sizes, which dot the margins of the text throughout the book.