Ottawa Art Gallery hosts silent art auction in new building space for first time

All photos by Aaron Hemens

Artists, art enthusiasts and collectors from across the National Capital region mingled and occasionally placed bids at the 20th annual “LE PARTY” silent art auction, which was hosted at the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)’s new expanded building space for the first time on Thursday, Nov 8.

“We’re still kind of learning to live and use the building, so what’s exciting is the potential. We used to be crammed in the old building, and we had exhibit spaces but no social spaces,” said Véronique Couillard, head of communications at the OAG.

The OAG, which is also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, previously held the event in the gallery rooms of the neighbouring Arts Court, while this year’s auction resided in the new building’s Alma Duncan Salon.

“So it’s fun tonight—not that it’s all about drinking and food—but we have room for a bar, room for people to serve food, and of course we have more room for art,” Couillard said.

The auction, which has raised over $1.1 million to date, featured the works of more than 65 artists who are based or have some sort of link to the Ottawa-Gatineau region, with all proceeds going towards supporting the OAG’s public and educational programs, as well as covering the gallery’s free admission.

“It’s our main fundraiser. The gallery is a public gallery, and we count on donations and events like tonight,” Couillard said.

The art showcased at the auction included everything from still photographs to landscape paintings, abstract sculptures, jewelry, and multimedia video art.

“It’s definitely a great snapshot of what’s being produced in the region right now,” Couillard said.

Dale Dunning, an artist from Almonte whose “Tin Man” sculpture was up for bidding, praised the event for encouraging artists to get out of their studios and have their work displayed.

“I work away in my studio all year and hardly see anybody, so this is nice to actually meet people who are interested in the work and want to know how it’s done. It’s very important,” Dunning said.

Similarly, Norman Takeuchi, a painter who was named one of this year’s Critics’ Choice winners, said that it’s crucial to have these events that celebrate the talents of local artists.

“I think artists need this kind of event to get their work out to the public and to get the publicity that comes with this. Artists can always use this platform,” Takeuchi said.

As for his Critics’ Choice award, Takeuchi said that he couldn’t be more pleased.

“It feels fantastic. When I first heard the news, I couldn’t believe it. I was really stunned. My wife and I have been talking about it ever since,” he said.

Anna Williams, a local artist and fellow Critics’ Choice winner, echoed Takeuchi’s enthusiasm, saying that she was totally astounded when she found out that she had been selected.

“It’s super awesome. It’s always great when you toil away alone to get a little moment of recognition that you’re on the right path. It’s really validating,” Williams said.

Along with Takeuchi and Williams, other artists including Elle Chae, Howie Tsui and Jeff Thomas were named 2018 Critics’ Choice winners.

“It’s a huge honour to be recognized like that, among such incredible work. There’s so many great pieces in this show, so it really feels special,” Williams said.