2017 is the year that Gallery 1313, the artist run centre and non-profit gallery, celebrates 20 years of patronage and growth. A large space in the Queen-Lansdowne neighbourhood, it has become cherished by audiences and artists for its inclusive and nurturing approach, offering aspirants the chance to display their work and share their contributions with each other. Art institutions are infamous for their seemingly elitist and hegemonic influence, concerned only with prestige and profits. Gallery 1313 instead encourages people to pursue their passion and be part of something inspiring. According to Gilles Morin, a design and art instructor at George Brown College and relatively new member to the gallery, it proves to be a much more inviting place than professional galleries because it does not obsess over sales and reputation. Especially in Toronto, where the market for artwork is fairly small and highly competitive, it is refreshing to have a place that is more community-oriented; there is certainly a future here. Pat Rice, who has been a part of Gallery 1313 for over a decade, adds that it is a great environment to receive constructive feedback without that cutthroat mentality, which is especially important for aspiring artists.
The 20th anniversary celebration was a wonderful experience, with many of the artist members contributing their own selected works to commemorate the milestone. Paintings, photographs, and drawings encompassed the entire space, demonstrated the sheer diversity present within the community. There was even a performance piece conducted in the middle of the space: a faceless, black-and-white figure moved among the audience, eventually dancing to harrowing music.
None of what Gallery 1313 has accomplished would have ever occurred if not for the support of the community, as well as the tireless efforts of the curator and founder, Phil Anderson. He has dedicated so much to keep this precious establishment running and spurring unharnessed talent. Anderson said that his work as a gallery director wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteers, artist members and board members who have tirelessly supported his efforts. “I am proud”, he continued, “that the gallery has been able to support local exhibitions as well as international exhibitions such as STARTING NOW from Holland, curated by Richard Rhodes, former editor of Canadian Art, SuperDanish from Denmark curated by Patrick Macaulay, Director of Visual Arts, Harbourfront Centre and Nature In the Garage, curated by Janet Bellotto a local and international artist. The Gallery is host to many student exhibitions yearly from OCAD University, Ryerson University, York University, Sheridan College among others. These students are the future of the art community.”
People who had worked with him and participated in the gallery’s shows have commended his peerless contribution to the success and preservation of the gallery. Imre Hajagos remembered that he had a solo show here in 1998 and at that time Phil Anderson also ran Artery, a small, critical magazine. Five-year member John Ferri claims that Phil is an institution himself, whose work has a real and significant impact by creating such an open and welcoming space for everybody to be a part of.
Everyone – artist members new and old, visitors and long-time patrons, and foremost members of the Toronto art scene – agrees that Gallery 1313 is an important cornerstone of the communal identity and the city’s art culture. It holds a cherished place in our memories and our hearts, and hopefully we will have the chance to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Text and photo: Simon Termine
*Exhibition information: January 18 – 29, 2017, Gallery 1313, 1313 Queen Street West, Toronto. Gallery hours: Wed – Sun, 1 – 6 pm.