This week Xpace is in installation mode so things are in transition as we get ready for the new round of exhibitions that will open on November 22nd. As the space is emptied of art from the last exhibition and getting some touch ups I’m reminded of how awesome of a space Xpace is, and how rare good gallery space is in Toronto. The sad fact is gallery space is at a premium and in high demand from all the artists that call Toronto home. Toronto Art Council Estimate 21 thousand artist are Toronto Residents. Calls for submissions from artist run centers get flooded with proposals and only a select few seem to get selected. The same can be said of commercial galleries, programming a select number of shows for their represented artists. So if you are an emerging artist without gallery representation and no artist run center has accepted your work, what are your options?
It depends on how creative you are, or how much money you are willing to spend. You can go the road of having art shows in your apartment, or in a window space in an empty building. I have seen art shows in 24 hour laundry mats and performances in empty outdoor pools. These Do it Yourself shows can last anywhere from a couple of hours to months, and can be very popular or just for your friends. When looking for non-traditional space its important to inquire with a lot of people/businesses and potentially be ready to exhibit your show that instant. Since a lot of empty spaces are in transition and might not be available several months from now. Do It Yourself means that you will have to do everything yourself, which is why I encourage people going down this road to work collectively: split up the banal stuff such as gallery sitting, writing a press release, cleaning the space etc. between the group.
Another option is to pay to hang your work. Spaces such as Project Gallery, Hashtag Gallery, or Creatures Collective all offer opportunities for you to rent the entire space, or hang a single work within a group show for a varied price. I’d estimate you might be asked to spend around 50 dollars to exhibit a medium sized piece. The issues with renting a gallery for a week is that it is expensive. You should expect to pay between 800 to 1000 dollars just for the space. Most artists don’t have that money, and it isn’t always clear who the audience for these spaces might be. Paying to hang your work might seem like a good option for you, but it is important to ask what services the gallery may be giving you in exchange for your money. It might feel like less of a deal if you still find yourself in charge of marketing. My best advice would be to invest in yourself by Doing it Yourself. Find a cheap unique space, make the posters, get the press involved, put up your best work, and reap all the rewards.