Western Front Society

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Western Front
Western Front Building.JPG
Established 1973
Location Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Website www.front.bc.ca

The Western Front is an artist-run centre located in Vancouver, Canada. It was founded in 1973[1] by eight artists (Martin Bartlett, Mo van Nostrand, Kate Craig, Henry Greenhow, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe, Michael Morris, Vincent Trasov) who wanted to create a space for the exploration and creation of new art forms. After they purchased the former Knights of Pythias lodge hall located in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver,[2] it quickly became a centre for poets, dancers, musicians and visual artists interested in exploration and interdisciplinary practices.[3] Many of the Western Front's early works reflect this interdisciplinary ethos with early influences of Duchampian and Fluxus-based investigations into mail art, telecommunications art, live electronic music, video and performance art. Western Front also supported a number of political and activist projects - in one of their most famous performance pieces, founding member Vincent Trasov adopted the personality of Mr. Peanut, gave a number of performances and in 1974 ran for mayor of Vancouver. Mr. Peanut was so highly regarded that he was picked by The Vancouver Sun as one of the province’s 100 most influential people as the end of the millennium approached in 1999.[4] As a focal point of experimental art practice through the 1970s and 1980s, the Western Front, in connection with other centres like it, played a major role in the development of electronic and networked art forms in a national and international context.[5][6]

Over its nearly 40-year history the Western Front has promoted critical investigations into and surrounding interdisciplinary, media-based, anti-object, and ephemeral practices with particular attention to the contexts and economies in which art is produced.[7] While general curatorial priorities have remained dedicated to these practices,[8] the Western Front’s internal structure has continued to evolve and a number of distinct programs have been established and retired over the years including Performance Art, Movement Arts, Literary Arts and Front Magazine. The Western Front still continues to program events and exhibitions related to these genres, but no longer supports fully dedicated departments. The Western Front continues to maintain programs in Media Art, New Music, and Exhibitions.[citation needed]

In 2015, the society received a gift of $1.5 million from Vancouver property developers Rize that enabled the society to purchase the building from its owners.[9][10]


In 1993, Western Front published the Whispered Art History: Twenty Years at the Western Front, which documents and celebrates the first twenty years at one of Canada's first artist-run centres.[11] The volume features essays by Peter Culley, Karen Knights, Judy Radul, Alex Varty and William Wood in addition to a comprehensive chronology of Western Front's events during its beginning years [11]


  1. ^ Joan Murray (1 November 1999). Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century. Dundurn. pp. 174–. ISBN 978-1-4597-2236-1. 
  2. ^ Harold Kalman; Robin Ward (27 April 2012). Exploring Vancouver: The Architectural Guide. D & M Publishers. pp. 60–. ISBN 978-1-55365-867-2. 
  3. ^ "ARCLines: The Origins of the Western Front". ArcPost. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "Vincent Trasov: The Peanut Grows Up". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 8 June 2017. 
  5. ^ "Western Front Western Front Society Media Archives Project". The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  6. ^ Becker, Ken. "Not Just Some Canadian Hippie Bullshit: The Western Front as Artists’ Practice". Filip. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  7. ^ Cutler, Randy Lee. "Vancouver Singular Plural: Art in an Age of Post-Medium Practies" in Vancouver Art and Economies in Vancouver Art and Economies (Melanie O'Brian ed.). Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press / Artspeak. pp. 145ff. ISBN 1-55152-214-4. 
  8. ^ Alison Appelbe; Linda Rutenberg (1 July 2009). Secret Vancouver 2010: The Unique Guidebook to Vancouver's Hidden Sites, Sounds and Tastes. ECW Press. pp. 303–. ISBN 978-1-55490-564-5. 
  9. ^ "Vancouver's Western Front, critical of developers, gets $1.5m from developers". CBC. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "Developer dollars enable Western Front to buy building". Vancouver Courier. Retrieved 28 May 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Whispered Art History

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