What we're looking for: advice for artists
If you haven't exhibited at the gallery before, and are interested in doing so, please click on this link to tell us about yourself. If you'd like to know in advance whether you're a good match for our gallery, read on.
We ask our customers "what strikes you as beautiful?"
Our mission is to connect people looking for more beauty in their lives with artists who can create that beauty.
We're an unabashedly commercial gallery. We understand that not all true art is beautiful, that there are many reasons to create and to express oneself through art, but beauty is what interests us.
Beauty is nothing to be ashamed of! The experience of connecting to a beautiful artwork can be intense. We're not looking for ho-hum, "okay" art that you might expect to find in a hotel room. We're looking for artworks that are stunning, breathtaking. We seek works that strike the viewer like a bolt of lightning.
WHAT WE AND OUR CUSTOMERS LIKE
Our own tastes and the tastes of our clientele evolve and converge to a general strategy.
We look for a middle ground between pure representation and pure abstraction. Pure technical skill in reproducing a scene is a wonderful talent, but it isn't art. On the other hand, if it's hard to identify "what you're looking at" in an artwork, it's harder to get that visual excitement that we're looking for.
Colour palette is also important. The colours of a piece need to work together in harmony with each other and the theme. We find that rich, vibrant colours are especially popular with our clientele. We've had a few very beautiful pieces that were dark and others that were pale that didn't get the attention they deserved. This doesn't mean to suggest you go all tutti-frutti like a child with a new set of crayons, but rather to encourage you to select a set of rich, compatible colours that convey a mood suitable to the subject of the work.
As a Canadian gallery, in our nation's capital, we and our customers enjoy a lively, diverse, multicultural environment. We especially enjoy art that draws inspiration or influence from other parts of the world, with fresh "cross-roads" interpretations. We and visitors to the gallery have been drawn to work of "local" artists who have been born in or trained in Turkey, Russia, Korea, and Europe, as well as those in whom the Canadian Group of Seven influence runs deep.
We will, admittedly, occasionally indulge the sentimental or the cute, but we want to avoid going too far in that direction.
SIZE MATTERS, MEDIA and PRESENTATION
Our space is quite limited. Our small gallery has wonderful display windows on the street; we use those to our advantage with frequently changing displays. The interior is one 20' x 20' room. We don't accept any piece larger than 40" x 48". About half our sales are smaller pieces, 20" x 20" or under. We've found that 12" x 12" canvases, popular with artists, are less popular with customers. A very successful format for us has been 10" x 10" cradleboard.
Our space works well for display of elegant small (mantlepiece-sized) sculptures in ceramics, glass, wood or other media. These add interest for visitors to the gallery, and they sell well, especially as gifts.
We have found that artworks behind glass do not attract attention in our space. This eliminates conventional presentations of watercolours and photography. We are interested in working with watercolourists and photographers who are willing to experiment with alternative approaches to mounting and presenting their artworks.
Our hanging system requires D-ring (large enough to take a hook) and wire hardware. We don't require gallery depth (1.5" - 2") canvas and cradleboard, but we prefer it, especially for canvas. We prefer canvases and cradleboards to be unframed. Sides and backs must have a neat, professional appearance, preferably including the artist's name and the piece's title. Keep in mind that artwork needs to be photographed for our online store; signatures and images that run too close to the edge may be cropped off, so that the work does not present well online.
THEMES and VARIATIONS
We've found it useful to exhibit in a series of themes. We prefer to meet artists who can present art fitting with an upcoming theme. We change our theme shows often -- to keep visitors, potential customers and ourselves enjoying the gallery. Themes change every 2-4 weeks, and our window displays change weekly. We've found that variety of interpretations of a theme helps artists gain attention.
Upcoming themes, tentatively, are:
- Canadiana: Landscapes, vistas and familiar landmarks (recognizably Ottawa a plus!) ~ July/August. (Please submit as soon as possible.)
- Hyper-local ~ artists who live and/or work within walking distance of the gallery ~ co-sponsored by NEST ~ September 9-29
- Horses ~ October
- Songs of the Season ~ music, musical instruments, birds ~ November/December
We're always interested in rural and wilderness landscapes, as well, an ongoing and repeating theme in the gallery.
WHO WE'D LIKE IN THE GALLERY
We're always on the lookout for actively working local artists, from newcomers to seasoned professionals, who are based within an hour's drive of Ottawa.
We love supporting and encouraging developing new artists. We don't demand a lot of marketing skill, but we do expect you to already have an internet presence, be it a website, a blog, an Instagram, or a Facebook page, where you have some of your works publicly visible. And you'll need to be able to cope with our simple web interface to submit works.
Ideally, we would be getting your new works "hot off the press". We understand that some more seasoned artists have relationships with other local galleries and we don't enforce any sort of exclusive relationship, but we aren't looking for hand-me-downs that have been lurking in other spaces for years or advertised online for weeks or months. We do our best job of advancing artists if the work we have on hand is fresh.
If you are an artist currently creating in the Ottawa region, with either proven or potential appeal to to art buyers, we are very interested in getting to know you and your work. If you are interested in participating and are new to the gallery, please fill out the form linked at the top of this page.
If you've formerly exhibited at the Gallery, you can let us know that you're interested in an upcoming exhibit by contacting us using the "Contact us" link at the bottom left of this page.
Thanks for your interest!
Irene and Michael Tobis