Saturday, July 11, 2009

Movin' Right Along: Toronto Galleries Shuttered or Shifted So Far [Updated] [& Corrected!]& Corre

This past year has been a big one for gallery closures and changes in Toronto. Blame the recession, poor management, boredom, or a combination of all three. But the fact is Toronto has lost a lot of venues for art in the past little while. Here's the rundown:

Keep Six Contemporary - word on the street is this gallery is closing end of the month following a show by owner Rafi Ghanaghounian and artist Isabelle Mignault. In recent months, Ghanaghounian had tried to keep the space open by partitioning it and renting out different spaces. Past highlights include "EXPLICIT FANTASTIC: sex(y) in contemporary culture" from fall '08, which featured international names like Richard Kern and Junko Mizuno alongside T-dot fabulousites like Allyson Mitchell and Shary Boyle. (Image Tori Nagimoto from Explicit Fantastic)

Katharine Mulherin Projects - Having just celebrated a decade-long run as one of the main dealers on Queen West, Mulherin is setting her sights to the *real* far west—Los Angeles. Staff say she has already opened a space there and will likely sell off one of the three spaces she is involved with in Toronto. Basically Mulherin's gallery has been a launching pad for innumerable Toronto (and emerging Canadian) artists, especially of a younger ilk. She notably picked up the Royal Art Lodge and its members very early on in their careers, and represented Canada at a number of commercial fairs. Other highlights include Eliza Griffiths Davida Nemiroff, and Balint Zsako, as well as artists who moved on to other galleries like Kim Dorland and Shary Boyle.( Image by Drue Langlois from Katharine Mulherin)

Artcore Fabrice Marcolini – Recently left its Distillery-area space with little warning. Their Twitter feed says they're planning to "pioneer" a new area, which I shall believe when I see. Past highlights include giving massive space to both Canadian and international artists, including Rina Bannerjee, Ryan Schneider, Nick & Sheila Pye, Jon Pylypchuk, Ryan McGuinness and many more. (Image by Ryan McGinness from Artcore)

Greener Pastures Gallery [WEBSITE DOWN] -- Gallerist Kineko Ivic scored the coup of the Toronto gallery season last fall when he brought in the first Canadian show of German bad-boy artist Jonathan Meese. But shortly after that show, the gallery closed up. Later, in an Artstars* video, Ivic said he's now dealing out of his home. Again, yet to be seen if this will pan out. (Image by Jonathan Meese from Canadian Art)

Sandra Ainsley Gallery -- Ainsley is *the* glass-art dealer in Toronto, and while that may earn groans from those who hate Chiluly and his ilk, the fact is that she provides a kind of support for both contemporary and crafty artists in this vein. Recent highlights included Matthew Eskuche, who caught my eye at Ainsley's TIAF booth last year and showed in her gallery after that. Ainsley left her Distillery space after eight years tenancy there this spring and showed her most recent exhibition in a loft at Davenport and Dupont. She is currently dealing out of her home -- again, remains to be seen what permanent space may or may not come out of all this. (Image Matthew Eskuche from Canadian Art)

Paul Bright Gallery -- After opening last fall and showing strong work for six months or so--stuff we don't normally see in Toronto, like Misaki Kawai and William Buzzell--Bright closed up shop in June. His site now says the gallery is moving to NYC, but seeing as how Bright himself was "Toronto/Brooklyn-based" to begin with to me this seems like a variation of "I'm dealing outta my house for the moment." Again, remains to be seen. (Image by William Buzzell from Space 1026)

List Gallery -- I was happy to see this small space open in the east end in the winter, partly because artist and owner Svava Juliusson was bringing in some NSCAD-related names like Kristina Lahde and Donna Akrey. But this one has also gone kaput. (Image by Kristiina Lahde from her website.)

Further, Engine Gallery closed its Queen West location, and is now exclusively in the Distillery.

[CORRECTION: Dear reader, I should have well resisted the temptation to "update" on this one. The good Gabby Moser points out that the Hendeles foundation is reopening this fall. Which is good for us all -- and a relief for I did fear it gone, it being closed every time I went by in the past year.... Thanks Gabby!]

[UPDATE: My goodness, I'm ashamed I forgot to mention one of the biggest-name closures of the last 12 months -- the space of the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation. Hendeles is one of the top collectors in North America and arguably the top one in Toronto. (Who else in Canada has had Agnes Varda make a film about them? No one.) In her space, she put on top-notch shows drawn from her collection-- a visit was invariably a "sure thing". There's whispers about that she'll be teaming up with the University of Toronto on a new endeavour in the fall. Still, no matter what she does next, her space will most certainly be missed. The following articles are older but give some indication of her stature: "On the neurological path through Ydessa's museum" by Robert Fulford and "Bears" by John Bentley Mays.]

In terms of other changes, maverick artist-run centre Mercer Union relocated, as did small commercial gallery Brayham Contemporary (that's in her house, but I believe it because she has public viewing hours and I've actually seen it!).

On the plus side, I should note that other galleries have opened recently, like Julie M, Tinku, Meta, Switch and Barbershop and others.

I suspect running a gallery is hard—I could certainly never do it. But it does worry me to see so many closures, mainly because it means less venues for art. Hopefully in the end they are just "downsizings"--but only time will tell.


Gabby said...

Ydessa Hendeles isn't closing! They're mounting a new show right now that is due to open in the fall (I breathed a big sigh of relief when I heard this)

Leah Sandals said...

Hooray! Thanks Gabby... will correct. The last many times I went by they were very closed and their website is also down.

Gabby said...

Yeah, I recently had an email from her through work and she confirmed that it will be reopening. Just don't know when...

Jennifer said...

Another gallery switching to online sales and consulting is Prime Gallery (on McCaul), closing it's doors after 30 years (celebrating their 30th year this year). This was one of only a tiny handful of specialty galleries dealing specifically with ceramics, textiles, and metal, and has many GG and Bronfman award winning artists, as well as the hottest emerging talent in the mediums. Sad to see it go.

Leah Sandals said...

Wow, Jennifer, thanks for posting that info... that's sad to hear.

I do like the ceramics and craft stuff Prime has carried, and they also had some great photographs in there of CanLit icons in their youth -- Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and the like.

It seems the market is changing, eh?

I wonder about Prime being around Queen West as well... Pages Books had to close due to steep rents on Queen around there.

MLS said...

Oh wow, I had no idea so many galleries were closing in the city. That's a shame. Anyhow, thanks a lot for the informative article. I was just looking for places where I could enjoy art and this helped me a lot. Take care, Julie.