Monday, August 10, 2009

Queen West Galleries Keep on Movin': Dundas and Downtown LA Edition

Lots of art news and shows to report on, and unfortunately very little time to do it today. But there is time to note yet another Queen West gallery move—Loop Gallery, a collectively run space that has been on Queen West for a decade, is moving north to 1273 Dundas Street West.

When I dropped by the gallery recently, the move was explained as simply a response to neighbourhood change—and I observed yet again that the car wash that used to be across the street from Loop is now the Bohemian Embassy condo construction pit. I don't know if that's the change the Loop staffer was speaking of, but it's certainly part and parcel of the change package. Loop will have one more show on Queen West this month, a York University MFA/PhD show which runs August 19 to 30. Then it's northward ho!

With Loop's move, the critical mass for Dundas Street increases. The main draw for gallery-goers on the western edge of the Dundas strip for the past few years has been Jessica Bradley Art and Projects, which is run by a former National Gallery curator and reps many of Canada's prominent "younger" artists like Shary Boyle, Luanne Martineau, Hadley and Maxwell and others. Recently that was supplemented by Alison Smith Gallery and even more recently by the Department, a flexible space which seems to be developing more solid programming for the fall. (I liked the current show The Sun Has Turned to Glass, esp. the works by Lauren Hall.) With Loop near the Dovercourt intersection, it will be easier to see the easternward gallery points Le Gallery and more recently Show & Tell as part of a continuous art Dundas stroll up to Bradley's space. I'll be waiting and seeing.

On a different but related note, Toronto gallerist Katharine Mulherin just wrapped her kickoff show for her Los Angeles space, KMLA projects. According to her website, KMLA projects is located at 936 Chung King Road, and shares space with AUTOMAT, a project by businesswoman Naomi Hui. As Mulherin notes on her website,

"From the first moment that I set foot on California soil, I felt like I had found home. That was 2005, when my Toronto gallery, Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects, first came to LA to participate in an art fair. After talking to everyone about opening a space in LA for 4 years, I finally decided to do something about it. Seeing the recession as a potentially positive opportunity to start a project with less money, I came to Los Angeles with my family in March to do some research and check out the neighborhoods.

In April, I made contact with Naomi Hui, a business woman in Chinatown who operates AUTOMAT. One day of frenzied emailing and a crazy one-day trip from NY to LA and LA to NY in early May enabled Naomi and I to meet and decide on a collaborative project in her AUTOMAT space at 936 Chung King Road.

The KMLA project will share the beautiful 25 x 40 foot space ( with 14' ceilings!) with AUTOMAT's 3 bright red vending machines. A mixed-use space seems like a smart idea in these less than certain times, and the beautiful light-filled space allows both projects to operate together comfortably.

The first show was to provide an introduction to a variety of gallery artists, including past Unedit My Heart faves Sojourner Truth Parsons and Seth Scriver, among others.

Image of embossed postcard by Sandy Plotnikoff from Katharine Mulherin Projects

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