All photos by Mark Schacter.
After travelling the world and publishing three books of photography, Mark Schacter is putting down roots in Ottawa’s artistic scene and inviting locals to come see his work.
On Saturday July 9, Schacter will open the doors to Skyline Gallery, a space set aside in his Trillium Avenue home for the public to explore some of our country’s most breathtaking corners.
Schacter’s photographs are minimalistic and sometimes even harsh glimpses of Canada and the US. He captures looming forests, empty fields and old but well-loved diners that should be recognisable to anyone who’s let on arm hang out a passenger-side window and stared off into the distance during a long drive through the country.
“I think that’s how a good photographer adds value,” Schacter says. “Making you see something familiar in a way that you never had before.”
Schacter’s photographs don’t seem like brief flashes of time. They’re scenes that you imagine would look exactly the same if he’d taken them a year later, or a year after that. Schacter has lived in the US, the UK and South Africa, but it was these Canadian landscapes that inspired him to start taking pictures.
“I think when people think of being a photographer…your initial impulse is to go abroad,” he says. “One of the things I’ve discovered is there’s just so much variety and so much intensely interesting stuff in Canada.”
Schacter grew up in Thunder Bay, and he says his Northern Ontario upbringing inspired the starkness that’s clear in so much of his work.
“That’s what Northern Ontario’s like,” he says, “and that’s really affected the way that I see things.”
After taking quite a few years away from photography to pursue a career and build his family, Schacter jumped back into it in 2004, a time when he was missing the creative outlet and discovering the potential of digital photography. Since then, he’s returned to Thunder Bay to take photos for each of his three photography collections, Roads (2010), Sweet Seas, Portraits of the Great Lakes (2012) and Houses of Worship (2013).
Now he’s moving away from book publishing, and his new collections will go into the gallery. The idea for this latest, and arguably most ambitious, project reared its head when Schacter and his wife were exploring Santa Fe, which he calls “gallery heaven.” They saw plenty of galleries built right into people’s houses, and decided the idea could work just as well in Ottawa.
That idea grew, and now the Skyline Gallery’s opening is just a month away. The space will feature plenty of the landscape work Schacter is known for, and there will be a wall dedicated to prints from Houses of Worship. For Schacter, the gallery will be a unique chance to showcase his work, but it also gives other locals a great opportunity.
When most people think of art or photography galleries in Ottawa, they probably imagine exhibits at the OAG or NGC, or one of the smaller galleries scattered throughout Centretown. But Skyline will sit in a residential corner of Nepean, so it offers something new and close to a lot of locals who would otherwise have to hop into their cars to track down great art. On top of that, if people are looking for photography that captures Canadian landscapes in such an arresting style, Skyline will be the only place they can find it.
Once the gallery’s opening weekend is behind him, Schacter says he’ll start to look at putting together a new collection. One plan that stands out is to focus on an area rather than a theme. He’d like to put together an exhibit that really digs into one of Canada’s unique geographies. He hasn’t decided where to look yet, and when I asked him what his favourite part of the country to photograph is, he laughed.
“That’s like asking me what my favourite child is,” he said. “The point is in photography that you’re going to find interesting things everywhere you are.”
Skyline Gallery is having its grand opening Saturday July 9 and Sunday the 10th. Regular hours are Saturday and Sunday 11-5 or by appointment (appointments can be made at (613) 277-6777). The Gallery’s address is 3 Trillium Ave.
You can find more about the Gallery’s opening and Schacter’s work at luxetveritas.net/skyline.