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Canada stitched heart map by Sadie & June. Photo: Maker House.

#Support613 Gift Guide: Visual art by local artists

By Hingman Leung on December 2, 2020

Part 9 of the Apt613 holiday gift guide rounds up tons of local visual art to beautify the walls of your gift recipients.

Having art in my home makes me happy, because art isn’t just beautiful, it’s also a way to curate an environment that feels uniquely mine. Today, owning art doesn’t necessarily have to be an “investment” anymore. Thanks to the variety of formats, sizes, and materials available, artists are creating pieces that we can own or gift for pure enjoyment, just because we love it, and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Now that we are spending much more time at home, there’s no better time to adorn our walls with what makes us happy. We’ve curated a great selection for you – there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to hanging art, but if you need a bit of inspiration, Santini Gallery is a great local resource!

That 613 look

Who doesn’t want a piece of the 613 in their homes? A number of Ottawa artists are making it possible to pay homage to the landmarks that make Ottawa and its environment unique – and it’s not the kind of landmarks you’d see at the souvenir shop. While you may already know about the OG of neighbourhood illustrators, Colin White, who has been commemorating local haunts like Boushey’s for close to 15 years, some new artists have joined the club. Elizabeth from Rideau River Threads makes Ottawa-themed embroidery art like this Library of Parliament minimalist hoop and this incredible Ottawa sunset. You can also get a variety of artistic maps of Ottawa (and Gatineau) from Maker House Ottawa, a local maker-based shop featuring home goods and gifts that are made to last. An Nguyen is an Ottawa-based painter who creates colourful scenes that serve as an escape and a source of joy. Check out the prints of her fantastic painting of Chinatown at night!

Chinatown at Night by An Nguyen.

The 100-mile diet of visual art

To help you shop local this holiday season (and beyond!) we have compiled for you a list of ultra-local visual artists that you may not already know about at a variety of price points.

  • Anaya Arts creates minimalist and Afrocentric framed prints that draws from and inspires Black excellence.
  • Kristina Corre crafts thoughtful and meditative mixed media collages exploring identity and culture. Use her #SeesCutsPastes to see a selection of pieces that can be printed to order ($45-60) or contact her to visit her studio for original work.
  • Bradley Cayford is a concept artist and illustrator, whose work you can own in the form of socks, mugs, and notebooks, while at the same time benefiting charity.
  • Claudia Gutierrez is a multimedia artist and an active advocate and cultural worker in the local arts community. Her framed textile pieces blend together her love of printmaking, hand dying, and embroidery.
  • Dawn at Chez Kwetu makes textile art inspired by her own journey growing up in DR Congo, creating a bright and colourful Afro-bohemian aesthetic.
  • Amber Chief and Kyle Simon collaborate in Wolf and Crow Studio to showcase their Indigenous bead work and acrylic paintings.
  • Mixed media painters Fivi Lu and Mia Kin join forces in Art Quipo experimenting in dreamy and effervescent pieces that evoke peaceful movement. Their style represents converging paths, driven by adventure and independence, tied together by their love of colour and texture.
  • Ming Wu’s collage art brings a whimsical pop of colour. Postcards and art prints are now available from his website.
  • Finally, Possible Worlds, a community-driven, artist-run, independent art platform specializing in graphic art, print and electronic music, just relocated to Hintonburg, where you can find a collection of art prints by artists like Ottawa-based Melanie Yugo and Toronto-based Alicia Nauta.


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Custom art

Commissioning custom art from a local artist can result in a one-of-a-kind jaw-dropping gift for a loved one. Here are some local artists with distinctly different styles to choose from! Pop illustrations by Samriddha Chatterjee, whimsical, woodsy and cheery art by Alexandra Finkeldey, watercolours by Natasha Runions, iconic black-and-white art of people or landmarks by Katie Sheedy, and dreamy and fiercely feminine Munea Wadud are just a few to name! Commissions usually start with a consultation of what you want created, and you can share a reference photo if you have one, and the creation process does take time – some of these artists are booking for January 2021 onwards, so do reach out directly if you’re interested.


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Go big!

Did you know that you can commission a mural by some of Ottawa’s top artists? Know the name or not, you will probably have seen one of DRPN Soul’s works around Ottawa, like this latest one in Chinatown or this one in the ByWard Market. In Centretown and Vanier, Dom Laporte has been throwing up murals that celebrate community, like this one, which was done as a tribute to our front line workers. Craving some juicy larger-than-life flowers for your walls? Emilie Darlington does floral murals indoors and outdoors featuring tropical colours that really pop. And this is just a small handful – Ottawa is home to House of PainT, an annual festival celebrating and elevating urban arts and hip hop culture in Ottawa, and they’ve put together a comprehensive mural map where you can check out all of the artists active in the city.

Check out this interview we did as part of our first Hidden Gems of Ottawa series!


Bonus round

The Ottawa Art Gallery is holding its annual art auction online this year. You can see what is on offer from December 5th to 18th, and bidding goes from the 12th to the 18th. Proceeds go towards supporting regional art, artists and programming.

SAW Gallery is hosting the 14th edition of SKETCH art sale and auction online. Virtual bidding on select works started on November 28 and runs until December 11 at 7pm. Many more artworks are on sale at SAW Gallery which can be visited in-person (masks and physical distancing required). Artists, illustrators and designers from Ottawa, across Canada and around the world have contributed hundreds of works in every style imaginable. With works priced affordably, starting at only $10, SKETCH is the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind gift.

What did we miss? Tell us about the local artists you love in the comments.