Galleries West is Western Canada’s gateway to the visual arts, aiming to facilitate communication and awareness in artistic communities across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the North. We publish a bi-weekly online magazine, Galleries West Digital, which features remarkable images along with timely and topical interpretive and critical writing that fosters understanding of a broad range of contemporary art practices. Our focus is to connect and inform as we work to build dialogues and ease the sense of isolation that often marks cultural life outside Canada’s central hubs.
Galleries West Digital serves and supports multiple artists as well as public galleries, commercial dealers, artist-run centres and other arts organizations in communities large and small across the Western provinces and in the North. We write about diverse art forms, including the visual and media arts, contemporary craft, public art and book publishing, seeking to connect and inform artists and communities about exhibitions, special projects and other events.
We carry out this mission by publishing:
One in-depth cover feature in each issue, plus five other articles about current exhibitions and other developments.
Critical reviews written by Western artists, curators, arts educators and journalists, including Liz Wylie, Dick Averns, Rachel Rosenfield Lafo and Sarah Swan, among others.
Critical national commentary by Jeffrey Spalding, senior curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and a consulting editor to Galleries West.
Frequent stories about indigenous artists and artists from culturally diverse and underserved communities.
Art-related news about auctions, awards, public art commissions, staff changes at cultural institutions and the like.
A comprehensive database of nearly 300 gallery exhibitions in Western Canada that’s updated daily.
Galleries West is committed to exploring innovation in digital magazine production and finding new ways to promote critical dialogues about the visual arts through editorial projects and community collaborations.
Brief history and highlights:
Galleries West was launched as a critical and interpretive print magazine in May 2002 by Calgary publisher Tom Tait after he observed that visual art activities in Western Canada often received little attention outside their local communities. Published three times a year over 15 years, it has featured more than 2,000 articles, including more than 300 critical reviews. From the magazine’s launch, a comprehensive website, gallerieswest.ca, has maintained a public archive of every article the magazine has published. The website, redesigned in 2011, was recognized in 2013 and 2014 by the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association with awards for Digital Presence. The magazine has been nominated for feature writing at three recent AMPA award ceremonies and, in 2014, Tom Tait was honoured personally for Achievement in Publishing. Galleries West has refined its editorial vision under four editors, including the most recent, Portia Priegert, a former parliamentary reporter in Ottawa who also served for seven years as the director of the Alternator artist-run centre in Kelowna, B.C.
The print magazine was distributed through art galleries, at no charge to the consumer, and circulation ranged from 17,000 to 28,000 copies per issue. The magazine’s funding model was challenged by the global financial crisis of 2008, which provoked a 40-per-cent loss of advertising revenue, in common with many legacy publications. The negative impact was exacerbated by new technologies, such as the iPhone and iPad, and the explosion of social-media marketing. These economic realities prompted Tait to replace the print edition with Galleries West Digital, which launched Nov. 22, 2016. Published every two weeks, the digital magazine offers immediacy and a potential level of engagement impossible with a print publication. The magazine is accessible on all digital platforms and devices without an app, and opens a door to new opportunities with video and podcasting.
We acknowledge the support of the Government of Alberta Multimedia Development Fund in the realization of this website.
Most artists profiled in Galleries West are involved in a gallery exhibition during the publication period of the given issue. We provide timely information for readers by highlighting noteworthy exhibitions happening in the four western provinces.
The Galleries West cover profile is generally reserved for rising to mid-career artists who are creating a buzz. Garnering acclaim and recognition within their own realms, these artists may not yet be widely known across the region. Our intention is to help spread the word!
Other feature-length profiles focus on prominent artists of significant reputation including tribute to Western Canada's distinguished senior artists.
In each issue, Galleries West strives to provide insight into some aspect of art making or into issues, ideas or events relevant to the Western Canadian visual arts scene.
News Roundup offers news items pertaining to the art scene in Western Canada: accomplishments, awards, unveilings, major public shows, major and unusual events and anecdotal tidbits.
- Galleries West editorial content is managed separately from advertising. Editorial choices are made by the Editor and are not for sale.
- The Editor is always on the outlook for ideas and suggestions. It's never too early to contact the editor (firstname.lastname@example.org). Maybe your idea won't work exactly as presented, but it might stimulate other possibilities. Detailed planning for a given issue generally beginsabout a month before publication.
- Galleries West recognizes that galleries perform an important function in identifying talented artists. As we choose the artists to be profiled in the magazine, we welcome the advice and input of gallery directors and curators.
- The Editor generally prefers that artists featured in a given issue will be exhibiting their work in a gallery during the timeframe of that issue.
- The Editor exercises discretion in the process of choosing feature and profile subjects. This ensures that a good mix of genres, media and galleries (public, commercial and artist run) is represented in each issue.