Every year the City of Ottawa acquires new artworks for its collection, mostly through the Direct Purchase Program, a competitive, juried process whereby artists living in the Ottawa-area or that have a connection to Ottawa can offer their work to be considered for purchase. This year 60 artworks by 41 artists were selected for purchase through the Program – out of 267 applications. An additional six artworks were donated and five site-specific permanent public art installations were commissioned by the City.
Longevity, an exhibition which opened at the City Hall Art Gallery in November, brings these recent acquisitions together on display for the public to view until January 7th, 2018.
The group of works in Longevity are as diverse as they come, and reflect a variety of artists’ backgrounds and different themes, subject matter, and media. From painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, video, and textiles, this year’s acquisitions reflect varied themes such as time, conceptions of place and home, urban life, the environment, and cultural identities, among others.
Despite this plethora of meaning, the exhibition is tied together through a desire to build a collection of artworks that, according to the exhibition text, “serve as meaningful records that help to define the cultural landscape of our region.”
“The City of Ottawa Art Collection differs from other institutional collections in that it does not have a curatorial focus. There was no overarching mandate that we gave the jury to fill any ‘gaps,’ what we were looking for were artworks that spoke to a historical and contemporary understanding of art and the people in Ottawa,” says Jonathan Brown, Public Art Officer for the City of Ottawa.
The works are reflective of the immense creativity of the artists in this city and of which the exhibition only represents but a small percentage.
From Donald Kwan’s Longevity, which draws from his familial history and the promise of a new life through immigration; Tony Fouhse’s End of the Line, showing the artist’s interests in capturing a moment in Ottawa’s suburban architectural history; Gayle Kell’s Botanical Lure, a spontaneous line drawing similar to intricate lacework and plant tendrils; Laura Taler’s Brush Dust Against the Wind no.1923 (blur), part of a series exploring presence through slow and steady movement; to Bhat Boy’s Fall Flea Market at the Glebe Community Centre (one of the six donated artworks on display), which reconceives familiar local spaces – it is evident that there is a lot of talent in this city that will now be preserved for posterity in the City’s collection.
After the exhibition ends on January 7th, keep an eye out for these artworks in city offices and public spaces across the city. Brown says that approximately 80% of the City’s art collection is on view in 150 places across the city, including libraries, community centres, and transit stations.
For more information about the exhibition and for the complete list of artists whose work has been acquired by the city in 2017, please see the City Hall Art Gallery website. To learn more about the City’ of Ottawa’s Art Collection, see their website.