OK. I'm not really here, but I couldn't let this pass with posting that Gregory Burke, the director of the Power Plant for the last six years, announced his resignation today.
Aside from being a major surprise -- Burke, from all he's told me over the years, had planned to be in for the long haul here -- It's curious timing, given the recent hiring of Melanie O'Brian as the gallery's new curator; curiouser still, given the fact that O'Brian's official public Toronto meet n' greet (she's from Vancouver) happens tonight at the Drake Hotel. Should make for some interesting questions
Wish I could be there, but I'm far, far away until March, so I'll leave you it to you to tell me how it goes ...
Here's the official release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2011
Gregory Burke, Director of The Power Plant, today announced that he will leave his position at the end of May, 2011, after close to six years in the role.
On joining The Power Plant in 2005, Burke immediately set in place the development of a five year strategic plan, adopted in 2006. Under that plan, Burke led a broad range of ambitious initiatives to develop The Power Plant and increase awareness of its internationally significant programs. In 2006, Burke launched All Summer, All Free, a program providing free admission to tens of thousands of visitors to The Power Plant. This program, combined with other new public programs, has led to The Power Plant increasing visitation by more than 250% during Burke’s tenure. The Power Plant annual commissioning program was also launched by Burke in 2006, with the aim of realizing major new projects of international significance. Since then outstanding projects have been commissioned from Rafeal Lozanno-Hemmer, Simon Starling, Lawrence Weiner, Scott Lyall, Candice Breitz, Ian Wallace and Pae White.
In 2007, Burke initiated, with the Gallery’s Board of Directors, a highly successful 20th anniversary fundraising campaign. The highlight was the record-breaking 20/20 dinner and auction that featured major donated works by leading international artists, such as Christopher Williams, Francesco Vezzoli, Stan Douglas, Liam Gillick and General Idea. Burke also implemented many other new initiatives working with The Power Plant staff and Board including the annual Face to Face fundraising dinner, the bi-annual magazine of The Power Plant SWITCH and Power Talks, which brought many leading figures from the world of contemporary art to Toronto, including Hou Hanru, Jerry Saltz, Fumio Nanjo, Iwona Blazwick, Anton Vidokle, Thea Westreich and Thomas Crow.
Over the last five years Burke’s vision has also driven the international and critically acclaimed exhibition program of The Power Plant, with many of the exhibitions being curated by Mr. Burke including Fiona Banner: The Bastard Word, Auto Emotion: Autobiography, emotion and self-fashioning, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Pulse Front: Relational Architecture 12, Francesco Vezzoli: A True Hollywood Story!, Simon Starling: Cuttings (Supplement), Scott Lyall: The Color Ball, Goldin + Senneby: Headless, LAWRENCE WEINER: THE OTHER SIDE OF A CUL- DE-SAC, Universal Code: Art and Cosmology in the Information Age, Candice Breitz: Same Same, Recent Snow: Michael Snow, Peter Campus: Reflections and Inflections, Ian Wallace: The Economy of the Image, and Pae White: Material Mutters.
In 2009 Burke began developing and fundraising for The Power Plant Access Project that will deliver in 2011 a new reception and lobby designed by KPMB architects, new website, new visual identity, new signage and new communications and publications programs. The project is the most significant capital development since the 1987 opening of The Power Plant. It will be launched to the public on 10 March, 2011, along with the spring exhibitions, including those Burke curated by Thomas Hirschhorn and Iñigo Manglano Ovalle. Burke will continue as Director of The Power Plant until the conclusion of these exhibitions in late May.
William J.S Boyle, Chief Executive of Harbourfront Centre and Shanitha Kachan, President of The Power Plant Board said: “Greg has made many important contributions to the growing international stature of The Power Plant during his tenure as Director. On behalf of Harbourfront Centre and the Board of The Power Plant we extend our appreciation to Greg for his significant accomplishments on our behalf and wish him well in his new endeavours.”
Toronto Star photo, of Burke and MOCCA director David Liss last spring .