Interview with Lise Beaudry, Director of Gallery 44

Salomeh Ahmadi (S.A) interviewed Lise Beaudry (L.B), Director of Gallery 44 for Contemporary Photography about their recently received grant and their future plans.

Some organizations get funding and others don’t. In Toronto and more broadly in Ontario, the arts and culture scene are most certainly flourishing, especially with the increased funding from Toronto Council of $22.5 million over the next 6 years.

Today I’m in Gallery 44 for Contemporary Photography interviewing Lise Beaudry the Director. Gallery 44 is one of the few photo galleries in Toronto that houses a darkroom in the basement at 401 Richmond. They exhibit Canadian and internationally known artists as well as  showcase up and coming photographers weekly in the Members Gallery. Gallery 44, the recent recipient of a grant from Ontario Arts Council for $149,000. We talk about where the funds will go, about photography, upcoming projects and what is in store for 2013.

S.A:  You have just been the recipient of a well deserved grant, congratulations. What do you have in store for the community at Gallery 44 with those funds?

Molly Crealock, Sparrow Stuck and Sleeping, 2008

L.B: We will use the [grant] funds for various things such as air conditioning the gallery space to make it more comfortable for guests and staff; for renovations of a space for Robin, our media person who was hired last year. The renovations will allow privacy for the staff  by reconfiguring the reception area. We will also use the funds for new equipment for exhibitions; responding to what photography is today, such as buying new audio equipment; (photographic image and audio) an HD projector; we are still transforming the production facilities downstairs into a digital darkroom. We have now a 44” printer donated from HP that we have. We  will provide a proper space with lighting to cut and store prints. We’ll move the scanner printers into that space too. We will invest in the darkroom a better air ventilation and update the space. The grant came from a strategic planning evaluation we conducted with our members and the community to determine needs and what we can build on and where funds are needed. This grant will be utilized over one year.

Jason Brown, You Seem To Be Where I Belong, 2012

S.A:  What do you think of the increased arts funding of $22.5 million, over the next 6 years, from the billboard tax that was passed by the Council on January 26th?

L.B: We’re still waiting from the TAC [Toronto Arts Council] to see how the funds will be distributed. We haven’t had an increased funds from TAC in over a decade, and it is time to reflect the increased cost of living in the city for staff and artists. It’s exciting to see that [increased funds] happening and how that will affect Gallery 44 – it is great news!

Marco Buonocore,  art-photo-studio, 2012

S.A: Where do you think contemporary photography is heading?

L.B: We still use the term ‘contemporary photography,’ but what we mean is ‘photographic image’ and it’s related medium. It is no longer just a print on a wall, although there is a lot of that here at Gallery 44. What we are interested in is where the photographic image can fit in these days, the new ways of making images, along with its history of course. The diversity of the photographic image is getting more and more interesting and it could be used in many more ways than before because of the digital media. Challenging the definition of the medium creates an important dialogue in between the artists and the visitors. On the other hand we still commit to the traditional method, we have a wet darkroom downstairs. There is the revival in alternative and historic processes here that makes our gallery so exciting. Gallery 44 brings people from all walks of life to look, create – everyone from professional, emerging to amateur artists, to community partners – together by using those production facilities.

Marvin Antonio, Julienne Antonio Is_Isn’t Dead, 2012

S.A:  What is upcoming for Gallery 44?

L.B: Implementation of the grant is big at the moment. We also have exciting shows coming up and in May is CONTACT [Photography Festival] that brings Doug Ishcar, Chicago based artist to Gallery 44. He is a well established artist who also does video installations. We will be showing  of his trademark works along with some new ones under the title Undertow from May 3 to June 1, 2013. Collaboration is very important to us with organizations that have similar or different mandates than us, just like this one with Chicago. Doug Ischar’s show will be accompanied by a panel and critiques dicussion from Canada and the US. And of course after that there are always more shows like Proof 20 in the summer!

Doug Ischar, MW 1, 1985 / 2009

S.A: What’s Proof 20?

L.B: Proof  is an exhibition of emerging artists we do every year and in 2013 we are celebrating 20 years of that show. For the occasion, we have three curators, each responsible for selecting from one area: west, centre, and east, to get a better and deeper representation of  contemporary Canadian photography.

Proof 20 is also an event to engage emerging curators and showcase new talents from coast to coast. In the jury process, we bring artists from previous years’ Proof exhibit who will make the selection. It is interesting to make projects in the course of 20 years and rethinking them. It is also exciting to come up with some new projects too, mix them with the ones that have a history and shift the way they are implemented. Proof 20 will happen in July in this summer.

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