The collective imagination of a nation’s artists reflects a multidimensional view of the artists’ country. In Canada, once a year, the Canadian Art Gala is that rare occasion when this intricate jigsaw puzzle of perspectives is assembled together in one room—gathered to unfurl Canada’s ethos and visualize the zeitgeist.
Celebrating 21 years running, the gala—held September 22nd—will play host to more than 350 influential art, cultural, philanthropic and business leaders, while showcasing the work of 50 of Canada’s leading artists in the county’s most anticipated art auction of the calendar year.
“I am always honoured to be included in the Canadian Art Foundation Gala, and over the years, I’ve been invited and happy to donate works many times,” says Toronto artist Jennifer Murphy, known for her beautifully offbeat and evocative approach to collage. “Over the course of my career, there have been many milestones that the Canadian Art Foundation has been instrumental in fostering. I’m grateful to the Canadian Art Foundation for the important work they do by supporting Canadian artists of all levels and encouraging engagement with art, artists and art enthusiasts, both new and old.”
An evening of culture (aside from the extensive collection of art on display, there is a live ballet performed by artists the likes of Jenna Savella, first soloist at The National Ballet of Canada), the gala and auction help support and grown the county’s vibrant arts scene, with funding raised from the event filtered back into the Canadian Art Foundation and its key programming initiatives, including educational programs, as well as supporting Canadian Art magazine.
“The Canadian art scene has changed dramatically since I began my arts practice [in] the early 1970s,” declares Suzy Lake. The iconic multi-media artist (who recently was honoured with the 2016 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts) is passionate with optimism when speaking about the evolution of the local arts community—growth very much backed by the Canadian Art Foundation. “By the mid-‘70s, artist run spaces not only filled an aesthetic gap, but provided a communication line with new ideas between artists across the country. We traveled and were able to exhibit beyond our local communities. It amplified a Canadian contemporary voice for us against the overwhelming influence of the large U.S. art magazines,” Lake reminisces. “Although this summary sounds like ‘back in my day we had to walk barefoot to the museum,’ it was a very exciting time to be a part of these changes. How wonderful that change has continued to flourish and that our art scene has grown in sophistication because of it. Technological changes in the ‘90s not only made communication between artists and art centres instantaneous, but also influenced media and aesthetics. It just keeps on getting better.” When browsing through the works of the artists recruited for this year’s Canadian Art Gala, it’s evident that Lake is correct.
For art enthusiasts unable to attend the event: no need to let empty space on your walls get you down about missing the big auction. The Canadian Art Gala feels your pain and to alleviate it, it’s gone online. Simply register and get bidding… cocktail attire entirely optional.