The Belkin shares the community’s sadness at the recent passing of Michael O’Brian on 6 October 2023. Michael touched many people at the Belkin and in our community with his warmth and vibrancy. His independent cast of mind and life-long engagement with the art of this place and time has made a significant cultural contribution to Vancouver, the province of BC, Canada and beyond.
Michael’s legacy of vision, philanthropic support and investment in the city’s cultural scene is unprecedented and he will be remembered by many. His involvement in the arts has included board positions and significant support of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology, Emily Carr University and the Vancouver Opera, as well as the Belkin.
At the Belkin, we were fortunate to be involved with Satellite Gallery at 560 Seymour Street, which ran from 2010 to 2014 under the shared direction of the Belkin, the Museum of Anthropology, Presentation House Gallery (now Polygon) and the Charles H. Scott Gallery (now Libby Leshgold). Michael imagined and established Satellite Gallery as a space for engagement and dialogue in the city centre, and especially as a space for students and emerging artists to experiment with new ideas. The city was sorely lacking in this type of space at the time, and it offered an opportunity for so many young curators, artists and students to put their work in this context. The Belkin benefited greatly from this collaboration, in part through working so closely with the partner institutions and thinking about our shared mandates and ideas in a more broad and comprehensive way. We were all fortunate to be involved in this successful experiment and the learnings from it resound in our thinking today.
We share our best thoughts with his family and community.