This weekend, the Toronto Star "New in Homes and Condos" section (a must read for any self-respecting critic!) noted that OCAD has been promised 8,000 square feet of new, ground level gallery space in a forthcoming downtown condo project.
Now, while I'm all for increasing Toronto gallery space, especially for students, I have to say this news touched on a point that's peeved me for some time: OCAD's rather poor use of its existing gallery space. In particular, its designated "student gallery" at 285 Dundas Street West seems catatonic for an institution of OCAD's size and activity, hosting just seven exhibitions per year. The OCAD Graduate Gallery at 205 Richmond seems like a similarly sleepy cipher--it doesn't even have a webpage on the school's site, let alone its own website.
To be fair, I'm aware the school also has a couple of more active gallery spaces, like the recently rebranded (if also somewhat slow-moving) Onsite [at] OCAD, which often focuses on international professional artists, and the student-union funded Xpace, which seems to be the school's best-used venue, if its most distant (located on the trendy Ossington strip, Xpace has a mandate to "bridge students with their established counterparts through experimental programming that cultivates public dialogue" -- the meaning of which I've never really quite figured out).
These stronger points aside, I don't think OCAD's promised megaspace at Richmond and Duncan will be of any use unless the school can get its collective act together and get students (or truly student-focused curators) actually putting new shows up every week or two.
I welcome anyone to call "golden light of nostalgia" on this little diatribe, but a one-to-two week turnover is the basis of the student gallery program at my alma mater of NSCAD, and I think it benefits both individual students (in terms of learning how to individually prep a show, meet deadlines, etc.) and the college (in terms of the openings providing a regular social venue and gathering point).
Like I said, it's always great to see new gallery spaces, particularly ones in the name of education. But you have to know how to use the space to get the most educational mileage of out of it, and I don't always see that happening at OCAD--or, for that matter, other downtown Toronto art programs.
Suggested solutions? Related gripes (I'm sure some will take exception to the condo's marketing scheme, including free lithos from OCAD students)? Feel free to post.
Image of Antony Gormley's Blind Light installation at Hayward Gallery via Metapedia
Monday, August 23, 2010
Posted by Leah Sandals at 8:58 PM