This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into Ottawa’s art scene—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Carrie Colton on the future of art galleries in Ottawa, or read posts from Olivia Johnston on photographic arts, Marisa Gallemit on visual art, or Thomas Cumberbatch and Tegan Smith on studio spaces.
Carrie Colton is a designer and art advisor. After a lifelong love affair with art and design, both personal and professional, Colton founded Studio Sixty Six in 2013. Studio Sixty Six is a potent, contemporary art gallery representing a group of Canadian working artists carefully selected by Colton, who is also the gallery principal. They provide ongoing support and advice to their clients and champion their artists’ art practices and career trajectories.
Apt613: What is the current landscape for art galleries in Ottawa?
Carrie Colton: I believe art galleries, like ours, that have been built on in-person conversations with collectors and viewing of the artworks—and who do not have second income streams like framing shops—are struggling dearly. In general, I suspect that we all need to up our online marketing games, which we are determinedly doing.
Ottawa has a handful of excellent galleries that carry a wide range of regional and Canadian artists. Studio Sixty Six defines itself by being as focused on helping our small number of carefully selected artists nurture and grow their careers—both commercially and with Canadian cultural institutions—as we are on selling art.
If you care to make a prediction… Where is the art gallery industry going in 2021?
I’m very much hoping that because we have all spent so much time indoors staring at our walls, people will be encouraged to focus more on home improvements and decor, including original art to make their spaces as vibrant and enjoyable as possible. I think people are going to buy more art online going forth.
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Where in your wildest dreams could Studio Sixty Six grow in your lifetime?
In my wildest dream, I see Studio Sixty Six being taken over by a small group of young Ottawa creatives (with myself continuing to direct and guide) that will continue to nurture the careers of working, uber-talented artists who will partner with us on selling their art and other projects to put their art into the world. By other projects, I’m talking about a series of product designs incorporating our artists’ artworks and design ideas: fashion, furniture, architectural details, lighting, etc.
What is the best innovation to take place for art galleries since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?
I can’t think of anything offhand, but the fact that everyone is online and there are already so many online social media vehicles for galleries to market their artists on is a lifeline, for sure.
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Who is the future of Ottawa art galleries?
Studio Sixty Six, in my humble (haha) opinion, because we are not looking at how things have been done in the past. We embrace art and are excited about change.
Tell us something you wish somebody told you when you started your career in commercial art.
You’re crazy to start a gallery in Ottawa! But I was told that! Glad I ignored it.
Back in 2015, Apartment613 took a look at the future of Ottawa across several different sectors. In 2021, we’re bringing the series back, asking experts, artists, and community leaders to shed some light on their local field or industry, as it stands now and where they think—or dream—it will go over the next few years. Every week we’ll profile a different cultural sector in Ottawa, leaving no niche unexplored—from social justice to theatre, bars to sports, to the future of the municipality and its natural environs. Keep an eye out for a new batch of posts every Tuesday on Apt613.ca.