The opening gala of the GAO’s Give to Get Art Auction painted a very optimistic picture of our city’s arts and culture scene on Friday as hundreds of art lovers and collectors turned out for a night of bidding, absorption and lively banter.
The Ottawa Art Gallery’s flagship fundraiser has become our city’s artistic celebration of the year since its inception over 20 years ago. The performance was back in person for the first time in three years and included over 95 works of art donated by regional artists.
No one was more excited about it than OAG’s Director and CEO Alexandra Badzak. “It’s great to see everyone here tonight,” she told OBJ.social in the early evening. “We’re going to have a full house, and that’s exactly what we were hoping for.”
There was positive energy and excitement in the air. “It looks like there’s a pent-up demand from people who really want to see and feel the art,” the OAG board chair said. Marc SchaanAssociate Assistant Deputy Minister at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
“The OAG is very much a community in many ways and while you can do some of that online and the art is still beautiful, it’s so different when you can actually be peer-to-peer. Artists can meet patrons, patrons can meet artists. You can chat about art, you can bring your friends.
“It’s really about creating those relationships, which is what the gallery is all about.”
The art auction, which continued through the weekend with online bidding, sees half of the auction proceeds going to artists and the other half to maintaining access free public to the gallery, exhibitions, workshops and artist talks, ongoing public and educational programming, and the care and preservation of the GAO collection, as well as opportunities and supports for artists and artisans in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Give to Get Art reached its goal by raising $110,000 through ticket sales and the art auction.
The OAG also hosted a weekend Give to Get Art Market which transformed the building into an art market.
When selecting pieces for Give to Get Art, organizers looked for artists at different stages of their careers, such as emerging, mid-career, and established. They also chose artwork that reflected the diversity of the community, Badzak said. “We’re definitely checking our blinders to see who’s out there.”
Sasha SudaDirector and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, was present, as was the outgoing Mayor of Ottawa jim watson, who cited the completed 2018 expansion of the Ottawa Art Gallery and Arts Court as a project he was particularly proud of when he was mayor. We have also seen Andrew Peak, who is about six months into his new role as general manager of the BIA of Downtown Rideau, who sees the OAG as an important part of his neighborhood. “It’s an incredible hotspot for creativity,” he said.
Pierre Tilley was there from the Ottawa Mission, a non-profit organization located around the corner from the OAG kitty. It feeds and shelters the homeless, in addition to offering programs and services. His social enterprise, Chef Ric’s, was helping organize the opening night gala for OAG, which is known for running art therapy classes for users of The Mission’s services.
Don Masterspresident and creative director of Mediaplus Publicité, and his wife, Lynn Buffonwere among the patrons who have attended the annual art auction since the start, even participating in last year’s virtual option (they were the highest bidders on a Christopher Griffin The painting).
“I love this event because it supports local art, and honestly, we’ve decorated many walls in our home with artwork from this event,” Masters said. “We are running out of space.”
Familiar faces included Lindsay Taubwife of Shopify president Harley Finkelstein, director of Studio Sixty Six gallery Carrie Coltonformer television journalists Don Newman and TomClark (his wife, Jane Clarkis a member of the board of directors of OAG) and the real estate agent Engel & Völkers Sarah Grand, who was among those on the seventh day without power due to the recent deadly and destructive storm. Urban landscape artist Eryn O’Neillwho had a piece in the exhibit, is beginning her master’s degree in architecture this fall at Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Planning.
Artists also included Don Kwan, recent recipient of the Peter Honeywell Award for Mid-Career Artists from the Council for the Arts in Ottawa. He was there with his brother Ed Kwanwho is a stage performer in her own right under the name China Doll.
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