While it's clear that Canada has some thriving art scenes in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg, the issue continues to be the comparatively weak market for contemporary art.
We have Nuit Blanche in Montreal and Toronto (which is a good start) and we have art fairs for collectors, but the question is how to get the average non-art person visiting galleries and purchasing work by local artists?
Darren Stebeleski, $400.
A plan to bring the gallery to the people will launch at Winnipeg's popular Fringe Festival (July 13 - 24, 2011). Conceived by Martha Street Studio, RAW:Gallery of Architecture and Design, and Golden City Fine Art, the idea is to increase exposure and appreciation of Winnipeg's outstanding artists.
"We felt it was unfortunate that people are not able to find local contemporary artists as easily as in other markets," say the organizers. "Thus, over some drinks we hatched Post No Bills temporary commercial gallery. We hope that this event, in conjunction with the Fringe Festival will help both artists and patrons to meet one another."
Michael Dumontier, $2000.
The Royal Art Lodge, $500.
There will be over 40 artists showing work priced from $20 to $4000, including work by Shaun Morin, The Royal Art Lodge, Noam Gonick, Guy Maddin, Simon Huges, Adrian Williams, Diana Thorneycroft, Paul Butler, Krisjanis Katkins-Gorsline, Michael Dumontier, Neil Farber and Takashi Iwasaki.
Shaun Morin, $300.
I spoke with organizers Joe Kalturnyk and Eric Wood over email the other day:
VoCA: Will the gallery be 'curated' at all? If so, how?
E&J: Yes. Every day. By Eric and sometimes by Joe. We'll begin with trying to show as much work as possible with as much range as well. Established artists that are represented by our three galleries will take center stage and emerging artists will be on display for one to three days of the festival.
VoCA: How will the artwork be displayed? Can you please describe what the 'gallery' will look like, physically?
E&J: The gallery structure is made from material intended to be temporary. The main structure is built from "system scaffolding." The work will be hung onto a thin steel grid that will be fastened to the scaffolding. Then the entire structure will be shrink-wrapped with a recycled white poly. In the end, it will look like a 21' x 14' x 10' tall white cube.
Keith Wood, $450.
VoCA: How will you encourage people to purchase the art, beyond them just liking the work? Will they be able to meet the artists?
E&J: We are offering time payments (a layaway plan) for some of our more expensive works. Seventy-five dollars a month will be the standard payment. (Both Joe and I are collectors and have been taking advantage of time payments for years now.) Also many of our artists have made lesser-priced prints solely for this event. These prints will range from $20 to around $250 and will be presented in 'edition booklets.' Lastly, most artists will have portfolios on site.
A lot of the artists will be volunteering their time so people will have a chance to meet them. Luckily both of us have been involved in the art community for most of our lives and know quite a bit about each artist that is involved and will have no problem explaining and getting people excited about the work/artists.
Doug Smith, $650.
VoCA: If it's a success, would you consider bringing this idea to other festivals in cities/towns across the country?
Leslie Supnet, You are so far away, 2010, $400.
VoCA: What are your top tips or picks for people attending Post No Bills?
E&J: Come everyday. And every night.
All images courtesy Eric Wood.