Ottawa’s Best Contemporary Art Galleries

Photo of Lauren England
9 December 2016

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.

© joiseyshowaa/Wikicomms

Ottawa Art Gallery

Art Gallery
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Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa
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 3

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Gallery 3
Gallery 3 | © Joel Bedford
At Gallery 3 there is always something new to see. The contemporary Canadian gallery presents a diverse range of artworks by some of the most talented contemporary artists from the Ottawa area, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City and further afield. Their roster of artists is unique and includes both established names and up-and-coming talents. Artworks on show include Kal Mansur’s acrylic light sculptures, paintings by John Barkley and tire-sculptures by artist Joyce Westrop among many others. Established in 2008, Gallery 3 is located in the heart of Ottawa’s Wellington West Village and takes part in the monthly Wellington Village Art Walk, every 1st Thursday of the month.

Cube Gallery

Art Gallery
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Cube Gallery is located in Ottawa’s vibrant arts and food area, West Village. The brainchild of artist and curator Don Monet, Cube opened in 2005. The Gallery features a new group show every month and has an extremely flexible approach to the type and size of works on show. Monet himself says that ‘this is the kind of gallery that gives you room to really stand back and look at the art’. Featured artists include contemporary sculptor Alison Smith-Welsh, mixed media artist Greg Ludlow and light-based sculptor Andrew O’Malley; however, Cube is more than just an art gallery. The dynamic and welcoming art space is available for rent and plays host throughout the year to numerous cultural events such as award-winning plays, live dance performances, and jazz and piano concerts.

Gallery 101

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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
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Andrea Stokes Exhibition
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

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.

L.A. Pai Gallery, 13 Murray Street, Ottawa, ON, Canada, +1 613 241 2767

La Petite Mort Gallery

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La Petite Mort Gallery, Ottawa
La Petite Mort Gallery, Ottawa | © La Petite Mort Gallery
Not meant for the faint of heart, La Petite Mort Gallery owned by Guy Bérubé, has been described as ‘Canada’s Coney Island’ with an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed media and objets trouvés,or ‘found objects’, by local, regional and international artists. All of the featured artists express the gallery’s appetite for the eccentric and is seen as an ode to diversity, sexuality and indulgence. La Petite Mort provides a new space in which the shifting and evolving dialogue between contemporary and industrial design can be explored. Works shown in the gallery bridge these two disciplines, resulting in a fusion of craft, art, design and production and merging the concepts of outsider and mainstream. Alongside their eclectic exhibition programme, La Petite Mort Gallery holds regular events such as the One Night Stand 24-hour art event and weekly opportunities for emerging talents to show their work.

Patrick Mikhail 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.

Patrick Mikhail Gallery, 2401 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON, Canada, +1 613 746 0690

SAW Gallery

Art Gallery, Building
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Galerie SAW Gallery, Ottawa
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

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.

Wall Space Gallery, 358 Richmond Road Ottawa, ON, Canada, +1 613 729 0003