Steps away from the National Gallery of Canada may not seem like the ideal location for a non-profit artistic collective to be, but this is exactly where BLINK Gallery is situated. And while you may think that such a prestigious address would garner public interest solely based on this merit, it seems that only those truly in the know have had the opportunity to explore it thus far. In fact, sculptor and BLINK Gallery member Bozica Radjenovic affirms that “it is like a gem or the best kept secret”
The collective is opening its 2014 season tomorrow with “Recent Work,” an exhibition showcasing pieces by Radjenovic’s fellow BLINK members Karina Kraenzle, Barbara Cuerden, Tami Galili Ellis, Jean Jewer, Cynthia O’Brien, Jenny McMaster, and will feature some of Radjenovic’s own works. The gallery will also be selling some limited edition prints by each of the artists, with all proceeds going towards this year’s season.
So what makes this gallery any different from what you’d expect to find on Wellington Street? Well, for starters, BLINK asks that its artists utilize both the interior and exterior space “as a laboratory for creative approaches and interventions,” and encourages its members to find opportunities to interact with the public.
“BLINK is a unique space,” says Radjenovic. “During the summer the exhibitions change every week, but only curious souls discover that.”
It seems that collectives such as BLINK are being eclipsed by their already established and successful counterparts, which more often than not display pieces by well-known Canadian artists. Yet is it really fair to assume that these spaces provide an accurate portrait of Canada’s creative current? It would be difficult to convince someone like Radjenovic of this.
“It’s hard to be an artist anywhere but it’s even harder to be a Canadian artist,” she claims. “Do you know that [the] average visual [artist’s] salary in Canada is $15,779 which is less than minimum wage, a shame for one of [the] G7 countries.”
BLINK allows artists to explore their medium beyond the physical constraints (which can sometimes extend to a work’s content) typically imposed by galleries or museums. This means that, at BLINK, patrons are treated to a different viewing experience, one which continuously provides new exhibitions.
“Not-for-profit galleries [give] me freedom to show new, original, experimental and progressive [artwork],” explains Radjenovic. “Sometimes, this kind of work doesn’t fit the space above the mantle, but it doesn’t mean that that is not art.”
Now, if you’re still not convinced that these forms of creative expressions serve anything practical, consider Radjenovic’s scenario: “If we take down all paintings and cover all sculptures, everywhere, for only one day, we would realize that art is a necessity and not a luxury. Having art means living a culturally rich life.” And who wouldn’t need that?
“Recent Works” opens on Thursday May 29th from 6-9pm at BLINK Gallery in Major’s Hill Park. Click on their web link here for a map. The exhibition runs until Sunday June 1. Blink is otherwise open from noon to 5pm daily.