Ottawa’s Best Contemporary Art Galleries

Lauren England

In efforts to support local and regional artists, these art galleries are seen as a few of the top destinations for contemporary art in Ottawa. With a diverse range of media on show — from light sculptures and new-media works to traditional portraiture and oil paintings — there is something on show for everyone in Canada’s capital.

Ottawa Art Gallery

Art Gallery

Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa
© Ottawa Art Gallery
After years of lobbying by local artists for a municipal gallery that would represent the energy of the Ottawa art scene, the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) was finally founded in 1988 as the Gallery at Arts Court. Now recognised as an independent charitable organisation, the Ottawa Art Gallery has developed over the years into one of the city’s finest contemporary art venues. They have an extensive exhibition and programme calendar including public, education and community programmes, a summer camp and an annual art auction. In 2012, the gallery was presented with the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) Public Program Award for their public programme In Real Life, a love letter-writing party organised for their 2012 summer exhibition, as well as for the Your Word Is Bond, featuring works from artist Christos Pantieras and curated by Johanna Mizgala.

Gallery 101


Established in 1979 by a group of Ottawa artists, non-profit artist-run centre and charity Gallery 101 is dedicated to the professional presentation and circulation of visual and media art. During the 1990s, the gallery developed their focus on media arts including sound, video and experimental cinema for which they are now known. Their primary commitment is to artists and their work – in order to support professional development, Gallery 101 currently offers a range of opportunities for artists, curators, writers and critics. Throughout the year, the gallery presents a stimulating selection of curated solo and group exhibitions with works by Canadian and international contemporary artists across all mediums. Over the years Gallery 101 has also developed a reputation for cultural diversity in their exhibition programming, representing Aboriginal, Inuit and Franco-Ontarian artists, providing an accessible and inclusive contemporary art venue.

Orange Art Gallery

Art Gallery, Market

Andrea Stokes Exhibition
© Cube Gallery
Orange Art Gallery has been steadily making a name for itself in Ottawa’s growing arts scene since it opened in April 2010. Located at the popular Parkdale Market in Wellington Village, the gallery showcases a diverse range of contemporary arts from abstract painting to metal sculpture and represents a number of talented contemporary artists from Ottawa and the surrounding areas, such as metal sculptor Chris Banfalvi and abstract landscape painter Anita Utas. In 2013, Orange Art Gallery put into place their current three-week rotating exhibition programme, which has enabled the gallery to present works by a greater number of artists in a variety of media ever since. Orange Art Gallery also participates in the Art Walk Event, held in Ottawa on the first Thursday of every month.

L.A. Pai Gallery

Art Gallery, Store

The L.A. Pai Gallery, established in 2000 and directed by Lisa Pai, has worked tirelessly in its promotion of contemporary emerging and established artists since it opened its doors. The gallery is known for seeking out and presenting the most promising developments in contemporary Canadian jewellery and sculpture. The gallery exhibits works in ceramic, fibre, glass, metal, mixed media and photographic print. Alongside beautiful contemporary crafts by artists, designers and craftsmen such as Michael Belmore, Brad Copping and Vivienne Jones, L.A. Pai Gallery present works by daring artists with strong contemporary relevance, highlighting their support of new ideas in contemporary art.

Patrick Mikhail Gallery

Art Gallery

Patrick Mikhail Gallery, established in 2006, puts a heavy emphasis on complete engagement in the professional practice of its represented artists, and full commitment to launching their new bodies of work. Patrick Mikhail Gallery has launched the careers of multiple creatives, spawning a new generation of contemporary artists in the Canadian art scene and abroad. This has been achieved through the gallery’s strong ties with international museums, institutions and private collectors, and a programme of carefully curated solo and group exhibitions, projects and academic collaborations. The gallery also regularly participates in international art fairs and festivals. Works presented here explore a wide range of contemporary issues and ideas across the mediums of painting, photography, installation, performance, sculpture, drawing, film, video, and new media. Represented artists include sculptor Jinny Yu, photographer Stephen Brookbank and media artist Cheryl Pagurek.

SAW Gallery

Art Gallery, Building

Galerie SAW Gallery, Ottawa
© SAW Gallery
SAW Gallery is an artist-run centre unlike any other. Since its inception in 1973, SAW has been a supporter of politically and socially engaged art, specialising in performance and media arts. SAW Video Cooperative was established by the local founders of the centre in 1981 in order to support independent video and documentary artists, along with their highly regarded multidisciplinary space Club SAW. In 1989, the three elements of SAW moved into the historic Arts Court Building where they reside to this day. The aim of SAW is to become a global premier artist-run centre through an engaging exhibition programme, outreach, and exchange initiatives. In its innovative projects and exhibitions, SAW supports cultural diversity and promotes contemporary Canadian and international artists from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Wall Space Gallery

Art Gallery

Family-owned and operated, Wall Space Gallery and framing business has over 25 years of experience in the art industry. The gallery currently represents over 50 Canadian artists from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Eastern Quebec and beyond who are among the best in their respective fields. Working with established and emerging artists such as Cali Balles, Jodie Fletcher, Jennifer Graham and Tanya Kirouac, the gallery features works that push the boundaries of both their medium and chosen subject.

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