Where do you find art in Ottawa? Instead of having a distinct gallery district, Ottawa is host to plentiful gems that are tucked away throughout the city in unexpected places. Arts Court, a multidisciplinary art hub in the downtown core, is an exception to this rule, as is the smattering of well-established galleries in Westboro. And of course, Ottawans have the luxury of visiting the landmark National Gallery of Canada, which will boast a newly-renovated Canadian art wing this Summer.
Our other art spaces are quite well dispersed, however, with many out of plain sight. Plenty of these galleries are recent additions to Ottawa, and fill a niche for emerging and contemporary artists. Ready for a treasure hunt? Here are some of these great, less-than-obvious places to visit:
Perched on the second floor of a commercial unit on Somerset St., this unique space acts as art shop, gallery, and studio. Possible Worlds displays work by local and international artists, and hosts a multitude of workshops specializing in printing, publishing, and DJing. For those into electronic music, they also sell records and host occasional live shows. The boutique is full of fantastic wearable art, perfect as a treat for yourself or to give as funky gifts. This ever-evolving shop is a definite must-see in Chinatown.
Formerly located across from the National Art Gallery in a little stone building once used to house cannon explosives, this quirky season gallery is evolving into a pop-up collective. Keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming events this summer - the first of which will be a spontaneous outdoor living room space, open to anyone ready for conversation.
This wonderful little gallery is tucked away in an unassuming building in a parking lot, in a residential area of the Glebe. Once you find your way in, Studio 66 impresses with a well-curated selection of paintings, prints, and sculptures. This gallery is equal parts conceptual and friendly, and displays excellent local and national talent.
The Art House Cafe
Art House Café is the most recent addition to Ottawa on this list. Situated in a stately old house, the café is a unique setting that is part lounge, part gallery, and part event space. As a hangout designed with artists in mind, there are spacious tables, plenty of natural light, and ample wall space to display local artwork. Though it functions as a studio space, it is approachable for those who simply want to stop by for a coffee and admire what’s adorning the walls.
Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Gallery
Do you only go to city hall to file paperwork? Did you know that there are a couple fantastic galleries in there too? These galleries are oases in a sea of bureaucracy; if you’re lucky, you might even be serenaded by a pianist at the public piano across the hall while you admire the artwork. These cozy rooms host unique, contemporary art installations. Next time you have to update your driver’s license, visit these galleries to make the trek worthwhile.
Congratulations on your newfound honorary citizenship. You have spoken highly of our country and pushed for a powerful agenda regarding women’s rights and their access to education. Here are a couple of things to bear in mind, now that you’re one of us and all.
In French, we like to say “mais, là, là,” which means “oh, come on.” We are not constantly calling your name.
If you’re in Vancouver, buy a raincoat. When you visit the red sands of Prince Edward Island, find a church basement in a little town called Cavendish for the most scrumptious lobster feast you will ever devour. Layover in Montreal? Pas de problème - try poutine and smoked meat sandwiches. Should you make the brave decision of staying in Ottawa, learn to shovel driveways. It’s a pretty big deal out here. As an FYI; it’s aboot, not about.
This goes without saying, but if you get a job remember the taxes. They’re pretty serious about that stuff at the Canadian Revenue Agency. Finally, Canucks like to ask, “how are you?” all the time. It takes some getting used to, but it’s nice. Even if you’re having an off day, respond with a gentle “well, thanks, how are you?” - it keeps things moving.
It’s important you know that to be Canadian means to support the efforts towards peaceful pluralism - our diversity is our greatest strength, but regrettably, one of our biggest challenges. It also means that you are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There are millions of things that make us, Us. You’ll have the rest of your life to figure them out.
On the other hand, to be Canadian is also to be aware of the things we haven’t got right, such as our treatment of indigenous peoples. Many of their communities lack quality education and carry our nation’s highest suicide rates. We welcome your voice. Many others have no access to clean drinking water. You mentioned refugees without education: let’s help them out, but let’s not also forget about our friends here.
While your speech was inspirational, you forgot to go over the responsibilities that come with your passport, so let’s hash out a couple’a details.
Photo taken on Parliament Hill by Diego Alvarado
Now that you are a Canadian, it is your duty as a citizen to uphold the freedoms, values and rights we have guaranteed in our constitution. If you’re vouching for education, fight here, too. Not just with the Malala Fund, but as an activist, speaker, and global influencer. The police are pretty cool with you holding signage and demonstrating on the Hill. You can play frisbee there and do yoga, too.
If you’re fighting for women’s rights, do so here as well. You never mentioned this (why would you?), but on a list of best countries in the world for women, Canada ranks 35th. That’s a big fall for us and a lesser score than the one when you were scheduled to visit last. That meeting would’ve been with Mr. Harper. Many say his arctic blue eyes were very endearing. Guess you’ll never know.
It is also your duty to contribute. Your speech was OK, but you had me wondering how the government would have responded had I started my citizenship with a monologue filled with instructions on the country’s obligation to global leadership. I guess you still have a lot to learn - it was your first day, after all.
Your pedestal was high, your message powerful, and I support your meaningful journey. You shared encouraging thoughts, but remember that girls here don’t have equal opportunities, either.
Don’t overlook one of the best countries in the world. Be patient with our system and speak to our citizens. Don’t always seek to be heard. Listen and take advice; speeches written by your communications staff do not suffice. Do your best to teach our people about what you’ve been through so that no child has to relive the same.
“The world needs leadership based on humanity - not based on how many weapons you have. Canada can take that lead.” Well said. Yes, we can. And Malala, one more thing: welcome to Canada.
By Lukasz Lukaszek
copenhagen, spain and les trumps unies
have forgiven this city's mother,
her nature too skeptical,
moods so shifty
like a bad relationship,
and welcomed vancouverites and edinburghians
dressed in Hawaiian tease who thought of vacation,
saw none of it,
then altered their plans for verse's sake
because church going and truth reading
have one thing in common:
some of it is about faith
and the other about listening.
the unfortunately hidden aspect
of our local literary scene faired well
in the hands of folk who reached them out
to birds stuck to oil in a state of red,
where the demand for orange is great.
some filled minds with danish pastries
as well as first Ulrikke moments, her
bopping, grooving, making this a capital reading, indeed.
there were others among les fous du ville,
bards mistakenly princing Kerouac
all loud and angry, hoola hoop curls
with a better view than vision, and Canada's
most dangerous poet proclaiming,
“poetry will save us
for it brings us
back to the sensuous body of language.”
unless it’s translated, then we're just
stuck with a ton of cliches.
and if Vanier could talk, it would talk about
Sir Dennis’ “monkey shit stained brown Buick”, property
of the uncle sitting in the clean laneway, while he
stones butterflies to talk in CapCity's two
official languages: political and poet.
activists! poetry needs you | no time for guilties or the weak:
it’s about recital of the fittest,
digging must be “forbidden like storming
banks or parliament,”
notes from the detained must be composed and gentle,
but strike! when necessary like the defence missions of
united nations that sound good on paper, but are not poems
themselves and distract populations with deadly blossoms.
Jordan was Abel to get it right - turn off the lights with
creativity aflicker and voice loops meaning to say that
no matter how much the indigenous speak, nobody hears it.
while the activists fought, the lovers fucked generously,
poets peed first when Madhur had to go,
Kayla licked wounds caused by toxic masculinity
and a Cannon fired x2 into the humble air of Alabama,
where dollar Bill ate all the crocodiles, had nothing
to do and lived in a polluted well.
some frolicked onstage, others said club soda
was the drink of alcoholics, so we drank beer instead
and the Czar of Britain’s Columbia spoke of the real struggle
and blockbuster closure as well as double tapped hearts.
if we've learned something, it is to not sit quietly,
perched like birds, words can wipe existence, launch wars
and to write is to make them protectors of common folk.
Ask Mehico - racism is still alive,
but where is it really from?
no mansplaining needed for it hits home when a woman
slams it down with,
“sexual assault is the only thing men alone can solve.”
you'd think she's a Lounatic, but tell me she's wrong.
The Truth Is that “God’s busy with seven billion other crazy folk,”
and “night falls as night will, out of nowhere,” in Ireland.
In Ottawa, “there’s not a cloud in the sky”... and it’s snowing.
Photo by Andrew Macartney, 2017