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.