Saturday, June 27, 2009

Holy Disappearing Distillery Galleries!

As I was out and about at the galleries this afternoon, I noticed two major Distillery-area venues seem to have vamoosed in the past couple of weeks.

There's nary a trace of Toronto's most reliable Art Newspaper advertiser, Fabrice Marcolini, at his former outpost, Distillery building no. 62. When I had checked his Artcore Gallery website before venturing out, it merely seemed the gallery was closed for the summer. But looking inside things seem pretty cleaned out--not just "paused", as indicated by the "gallery info" page on their website. All signage both inside and out has been removed:

On Twitter, Artcore says, "After 6 consecutive successful seasons at the Distillery, we are ready to pioneer a new district with a new model for our artists & clients." No new address is yet listed.

Then, in another double-take moment, I walked by Distillery building 32--home to Sandra Ainsley Gallery for the past couple of years. Again--all signage removed from the entrance and things in a visible state of flux inside.

Granted, part of the Ainsley space has been taken over the Thompson Landry Gallery. Staff there told me they've been in the space for a couple of weeks, and that Ainsley is now dealing art out of her home. Her website is a bit contradictory, with info about a summer group show running to Aug 15 on the homepage and a letter on the "gallery" page that says

Dear Valued Clients and Supporters of the Sandra Ainsley Gallery,

After eight years in my current gallery, I would like to let you know that I have recently decided to leave the Distillery District, and will be restructuring my operations while remaining very much in business.

I will be operating business as usual via the phone and email. As well, please visit our newly updated website which will be up by Friday, May 22nd. My staff and I are available to help you find the right piece and would be pleased to arrange private viewings at your home or office, or at our gallery warehouse.

I will continue to keep you informed of exhibit ions or special events, and look forward to further announcements in the near future.


Sandra Ainsley

Click "location" and it reads "to be announced"

I'd speculate that the market downturn must be in part responsible for these shifts--both of these galleries were huge spaces that no doubt had quite high rental fees, ones hard to meet without strong sales.

And though I've critiqued shows at both these galleries, it's sad to see them go (or downsize as the case may be). Artcore Fabrice Marcolini consistently provided a venue for large-scale and international-level work like Ryan McGuinness, while Sandra Ainsley specialized in glass art—not always popular with the contemporary crowd but some of the artists she brought in were very interesting, like Matt Eskuche.

The gallery offerings in Toronto would surely be poorer without them. Anyone with additional info on these changes is welcome to email me or comment.


Gabby said...

I noticed these absences too. The folks at Clark Faria told me (in passing) that Sandra Ainsley had asked the property owners at the Distillery for a smaller space with lower rent but that they were reluctant to do so, which forced the gallery out. I heard that she still has a warehouse/exhibition space somewhere in Scarborough...

The Artcore/Fabrice Marcolini is more of a mystery. Apparently they "disappeared in the night". Their programming was great, so here's hoping they reopen somewhere more affordable.

Leah Sandals said...

Hi Gabby - Thanks for the info! I'm not surprised about the Distillery not budging. They do have seem to have tenant demand for more lifestyley businesses -- the super$$$ home stores like Hastens and Artemide -- so are likely betting on demand there staying strong.

Yep, Sandra Ainsley says on her website that they are willing to show to clients at their warehouse. I wonder if that is where this promised summer show will be.

Same for Artcore... hope they do reopen, though space is expensive in the city, with rents, I bet, not dropping in relation to art market sales.