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Under Kiendl’s leadership, the MAG acquired its largest ever artwork, Duane Linklater’s Kâkikê/Forever, its neon green letters installed on the building’s façade.
“That kind of public facing art, kind of as a beacon, really represented the change that’s happening at the gallery,” said Kiendl.
The MAG also secured some large financial donations, including an anonymous $25-million gift.
Fundraising was Kiendl’s “first and foremost” challenge when he joined the MAG six years ago, coming from Plug In in his hometown of Winnipeg.
“Creating endowment for the gallery has been basically a huge lifeline, especially as we see events like COVID unfold,” said Kiendl. “It just gives us that extra amount of security to ensure that the gallery will continue and be sustainable. Not that long ago, I’m not sure that we would be able to continue on in a way we will, if it had not been for that and a number of other major gifts.”
Kiendl was born on Long Island, N.Y., and moved to his mom’s home province of Manitoba as a child.
His first gallery job was at AKA artist-run in Saskatoon in 1995. Two years later, he moved to Regina to work as a curator at the Dunlop Art Gallery.
Between 2002 and 2013, he worked at the Banff Centre and Plug In.
Friday was his last day at the MacKenzie.
The upcoming job in Vancouver, which begins Aug. 21, was an opportunity Kiendl “couldn’t turn down.”
“Moving to one of Canada’s four largest art galleries is something I’ve worked towards my whole career and it seems like it was a good moment to make that switch,” he said.