Art critic, curator. Born in 1921, Alvin Balkind received a Bachelor of Arts degree from John Hopkins University and subsequently studied at the Sorbonne. Balkind played a key role in the development of the avant-garde art scene in Vancouver. Founded in 1954, Balkind’s New Design Gallery became a locus of creativity for the small but vibrant artistic community. The New Design Gallery presented live theatre, visual art, films, concerts, lectures, and poetry readings. It attracted the likes of Marshall McLuhan, Raymond Massey, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti to its events. From 1962 to 1973, Balkind was curator of the University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery at . There, Balkind harnessed his energy and resources, organizing bold experiments in art, design, and curating.
His time as curator at the Fine Arts Gallery coincided with the growing awareness in Vancouver of the currents in international art—an awareness Balkind fostered by inviting a number of influential contemporary artists to Vancouver. Balkind’s innovative programming and focus on contemporary art gave the gallery an international reputation. Balkind was chief curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 1975 to 1978. He became an independent curator subsequent to his tenure at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Balkind was head of the visual arts studio at The Banff School of Fine Arts from 1985 to 1987 and was the recipient of the first Vancouver Institute for Visual Art Award in 1992, given to an artist or an art worker who has made a lasting contribution to the art scene in British Columbia. Balkind passed away the same year.
Discrete project sites documenting the work of specific artists and collectives in detail.
Essays and conversation providing a context for exploring the Project Sites and Archives.
Video interviews conducted between December 2008 and May 2009 reflecting on Vancouver’s art scene in the sixties.