Ottawa Art Gallery takes community programming and annual auction online

CLAUDIA GUTIERREZ

The Pivot: The Ottawa Art Gallery, a downtown institution with a mandate to be ‘the most vital arts institution in Ottawa’, moves youth art workshops online and ramps up to hold its annual art auction virtually

The Backstory: The OAG Youth Council was amongst the first group at OAG to flip to virtual, says Alexis Boyle, curator of community access at the OAG.

“They aren’t afraid of technology. Immediately they said ‘Let’s do a Zoom’. They were the ones who inspired all the other virtual programs,” says Boyle.

This spring the monthly In Studio flipped its workshops to an online group art session. Participants joined with whatever art project they might have going on. Eventually, they created an inspiration word — “think Lavender” was among the first. Yes, participation dwindled from around 30 to under ten but Boyle still sees it as a win.

“Numbers wise it’s not great but it’s still something, a place for young people to connect with people.” And Boyle notes that youth, in general, are a maginalized community. “There aren’t that many things out there that are  just for them. They’re so special. Plus, they’re not jaded by the universe, and I want to support them.” 

Cameron, a youth council member, is one of those young people. 

“I am so glad we were able to transition from in person to a virtual option,” says Cameron. “Quarantine can be incredibly isolating, so having a set space where we can join and do art with others stress-free is amazing. Having the InStudio take place virtually also makes the opportunity for art and learning is accessible to more people who might not otherwise have access.” 

The next In Studio event features guest artist Moraa Stump, who works with textiles. This one also includes a free kit so participants can better follow along at home. Just make sure to sign up by 9 a.m. on Thursday, November 12 so Alexis and her team can put a kit in the mail for you.

Find out more about the event here.

For those over 25, the OAG is ramping up for its big art auction. In the past, the annual event has brought together art lovers and philanthropists for a gala-type event where guests bid on works by local artists. Give to Get Art offers a chance to buy works donated by artists in the region; the artists receivet 50 per cent of the proceeds, and the OAG puts the rest of the funds into community programs like In Studio. And you get a special piece to hang on your wall! 

By participating in the OAG Art Auction, which features works like this one by Anne Wanda Tessier, you’ll be supporting the OAG Youth Council, shown at left.

The works will be on view from Dec. 5 to 18 at the gallery, as well as via an online gallery. Buy a $35 bidding ticket to make a bid — that starts Dec. 14 and runs until Dec. 18. 

Want to get your favourites picked out early? Check out the works here.

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