The Square Foot Exhibit

August 5 – 21, 2011
1100 Queen St. West

Phil Anderson asked a few questions of the coming up show from AWOL Member and one of the shows organizers  Nurit Basin.

Anderson: What are the origins of the show? How did it come about and whose idea was it?

Basin: Before the Square Foot show, we ( AWOL. Gallery & Collective ) would curate and hold themed group shows in warehouses where we would invite between 25 to 40 artists for each show. We usually held these exhibitions some time in the late fall. As much as we loved putting these shows together, we had a difficult time recovering the costs that went into such big productions. In the summer of 2003 we re-grouped and were brainstorming on how we can still invite a lot of artists to show but in a smaller space such as in our gallery at AWOL. Ross Bonfanti one of the AWOL co-founders and co-directors came up with the idea to restrict the size to a square foot. This way we can invite many artists and still be able to fit all the work in a more confined space. He suggested the square foot size because at the time he was working for a faux-finishing company where everything was charged by the square foot. We first invited artists we knew and then put an open call for submissions. To our surprise we ended up having over 150 artists respond to the call.

Anderson: How has the show grown over the years and what, if any, problems came about with the growth?

Basin: The show grew in size, one year I believe it was in 2008 we had over 900 artists and over 2000 pieces of artwork. I think the biggest challenge was communicating with so many artists regarding deadlines of dropping off the artwork, making sure all the artwork is accounted for during the show, and the pick-up of the artwork. At the end of each show we learn new things on how to improve the logistics and apply them to the following year.

Anderson: What do think is the attraction for the public to go to Square Foot?

Basin: A couple of things such as the number of artists that take part in the show and the number and variety of works that are exhibited in one room. Once all the artwork in hung it actually starts to look like one big art piece which is the installation itself.

It also evolved into a community event where the show not only brought a lot of different artists into one space but it also brought a lot of patrons who continue to come see the show every year and follow certain artists as well as discover new ones. We even have buyers who buy pieces to add to their own square foot collections they started at home.

Anderson: It has moved location a few times. Where will it be this year? How long does it take to install the show?

Basin: This year for the first time it will be held at Twist Gallery, located at 1100 Queen Street West just west of Dovercourt. It usually takes about 3 days to install and a day to verify the locations of the pieces in the database.

Anderson: Is there any particular memorable moment from a past show that sticks in your mind?

Basin: I think every year the memorable moments are always the line-ups we get during the artist’s opening receptions. We just can’t believe how many people are in line to see an art show.

Anderson: What is the show this year  looking like?

Basin: In terms of artwork, we’re not sure yet because the drop off is in a couple of weeks.

Anderson: How many artists do you anticipate participating? Have there been many applications?

Basin: Yes. We have over 600 artists registered to participate this year so far. So probably it will be in the range of 550-600 artists.

Anderson: Has there ever been a predominant theme noticeable in submissions?

Basin: Every year it varies, one year we had a lot of cat paintings, another year we had pears, last year or the year before it was the year of the portrait. It varies and that’s the exciting part as well to see what the artists are collectively and unconsciously working on.

Anderson: How do you see the show evolving in the next few years?

Basin: Other then moving locations, I think over time it evolves with the type of artwork we receive. It feels like we’ve seen everything, but every year we are still surprised and amazed at some of the work we get. Artists are always challenging themselves to see how their piece can stand out from the rest.

Note: All works are 12 x 12 inches and sell for $225 .
50% of the sale goes to the artist and 50% goes to AWOL Gallery
Friday  August 5 is the Preview Gala Tickets are $20
Saturday August 6  is the public reception
Free- line ups are expected

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