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Photo by Brandon Clarida, courtesy Canad Council for the Arts
Art Bank Exhibition Hall 1
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Land Reform(ed) exhibition
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Lobby video wall at 150 Elgin
There I was with a planned Wednesday (June 11, 2014) in Ottawa when serendipity struck in the form of an email advising that "The Canada Council for the Arts will launch Âjagemô, its new 3000 square foot exhibition hall at 150 Elgin, on Monday, June 16 at 11:00am. Âjagemô will host work from Canada Council’s Art Bank collection, as well as various public arts events." Since I was only there for the day, I called and learned it was readily accessible and I was able to arrange a same-day preview visit.
Turns out the carefully-described exhibition hall (not gallery!) is the rather grand foyer of the new building where Canada Council's offices have been located since last December. The Canada Council name can conjure many different ideas of what might be shown here but the operating intention is that it will be the first permanent 'showroom' location for the Canada Council Art Bank. The Art Bank is physically located in the 'burbs of Ottawa and has essentially an 'administrative' relationship with Canada Council.
BTW Âjagemô, is an Algonquin word signifying “crossroads,”
Established in 1972, the Art Bank is a little-known treasure whose website proclaims it "has been collecting work by the best Canadian artists of our times. It has become the world's largest collection of contemporary Canadian art with over 17,000 paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures by some 3,000 artists. More than one-third of the collection is on view in public spaces and private organizations across Canada, through art rentals, loans, and outreach programs."
Designed to generate revenues on an ongoing basis which would be re-invested into more art, the Art Bank traditionally saw most of its revenue come from rentals to government offices. But that has changed in recent years and it has become more active seeking out private clients, where it has been almost totally reliant on referrals.
As described in Robert Everett-Green's June 17 Globe article, "Somebody visits a colleague's office, likes the picture on the wall, and with luck, contacts the Art Bank for a consultation. Pieces are suggested, a contract is signed, and the whole transaction is tax deductible. Some pieces rent for as little as $10 a month, though the minimum order is a two-year contract for $1000 a year in rentals."
The first exhibition Land Reform(ed), curated by Stanzie Tooth, features 13 leading Canadian artists. It explores how artists have understood and interpreted humans’ relationship to the landscape, and documents themes of metamorphosis, rupture, adaptation and evolution.