Must-See Commercial Galleries in Toronto

Gallery 1313
Gallery 1313

The main reason for buying art isn't investment, but the enjoyment and pleasure that a fine piece of art gives us. It's a form of expression that's unique for each and every one of us. The way we decorate our homes is the way we want to present ourselves, and commercial galleries are the places to make this happen. The commitment of Toronto gallery owners to professional and ethical practices have contributed to one of the most impressive art collections in the country. An important part of their work is also the promotion and cultivation of local artists and also keeping contact with the international community and enabling Torontonians to get their hands on some of well recognized pieces from the world's renowned artists.

It's very hard to find a well established gallery, especially since the market still hasn't recovered from the financial turmoil of the past two years. We bring you some of the finest galleries in Toronto — some of them traditional, some of them modern, but all trying to make a breakthrough on the Toronto art market.

Arta Gallery (Map)

Arta Gallery
Arta Gallery

The Arta Gallery definitely has one of the most impressive spaces in Toronto. Located in the Distillery District, one of the parts of Toronto that has kept its character over the years. Arta was established in 2003, when the Distillery District was opened. A large, open space in one of the buildings in the district gives you the opportunity to savour art exhibited by some of the top Canadian and international artists. Fay Athari has done a remarkable job as the director of what surely is my favourite gallery in the city. Arta's vision is "to promote art in our daily lives and replace drudgery with colour, movement, and life."

Arta also offers a gallery as a venue for rent. It's the ideal place to hold a banquet or any type of corporate event; you don't have an opportunity to organize a dinner for your business associates in a gallery very often, do you?

Arta also provides art consultation. A consultant they provide will accommodate the choice of art to your taste and adjust it to the looks of your office or home. They also provide art leasing plans. My tip for the gallery is the Iranian painter, master of oil on canvas, Aydin Aghdashloo.

Phone: 416-364-2782

Le Gallery (Map)

Fingerprints by Matt Bahen in LE Gallery
Fingerprints by Matt Bahen
in Le Gallery

Toronto's Little Portugal neighbourhood has been harbouring Le Gallery since 2003. Will Kucey, the gallery director, started this gallery as a project during his time at OCAD. The amount of work he and his friends invested into this place during the past nine years was insane but we can surely say that it paid off. The talent that Le Gallery has pulled in over the years is nothing short of astounding: Nicholas Di Genova, Jennifer Norman, and currently Scott Waters, Nathalie Thibault, Tom Ngo, Genevieve Jodouin, and many others. My personal favourite is Amanda Nedham. Her works are primarily concerned with the various taxonomic functions of history, Nedham's works on paper exhibit a technical proficiency and enamoured exploration of natural history's complex and overlapping structures.

The storefront dimension of the gallery creates a different experience than most of the other galleries; it was a bit strange at the beginning, but eventually, you'll get used to it, and some of my friends actually preferred it. Le Gallery focuses mainly on the promotion of emerging and mid-career artists in critical contemporary practice. This gallery has been an important starting point for many potential young artists. The gallery also supports the local art scene and it fully deserved to be voted runner-up for Small Gallery of the Year (2004) by Eye Magazine and multiple nominations from the Untitled Art Awards. The Gallery not only promotes artists to the public but also to upper-tier galleries (some of its artists have been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), in New York) and art collectors.

Phone: 416-532-8467

Nicholas Metivier Gallery (Map)

Charles Bierk Spencer 2012 in Nicholas Metivier Gallery
Charles Bierk Spencer 2012
in Nicholas Metivier Gallery

The gallery was founded in 2004 by Nicholas Metivier, member of the Art Dealer's Association of Canada. The gallery represents Canadian, European, and American artists, covering all media, including painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, drawing, and printmaking. The Nicholas Metivier Gallery promotes young artists heavily, and tends to take care of artists in the long-term.

Currently, the gallery exhibits Charles Bierk, Peter Horvath & Chris Soos, and Renie Spoelstra in Frames per Second, a group show about the influence of film and photography in the work of artists that will be up until August 18th. We can look forward to the Howard Loon exhibition in the second half of September and early October and the Saul Leiter exhibition in the same dates.

In 2005, Nicholas Metiver founded the Arts Open Foundation, a grassroots organization that raises money for organizations that provide educational programs in the visual arts to at-risk and underprivileged youth.

Phone: 416-205-9000

Gallery 1313 (Map)

The Gallery is well appointed and spacious, giving opportunity to present both large-scale art as well as more intimate pieces. The gallery is a vital contributor to making arts and culture accessible in Parkdale, providing much needed exhibition space for artists, critics, scholars, students, and community organizations. The gallery offers over 70 exhibitions and many other cultural events a year. Its programming emphasizes the work of local emerging artists and occasionally features national and international exhibitions. Gallery 1313 is a member of the Artist Run Centres and Collectives of Ontario (ARCCO), the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG), and Community Arts Ontario.

With an inviting courtyard entrance, Gallery 1313 consists of four exhibition spaces: the Main Gallery, the Process Gallery, the Cell Gallery, and the Window Box. The Main Gallery is approximately 1,300 square feet with 14-foot ceilings and halogen lighting. The Process Gallery has 33 feet of running wall space for rental shows. The Cell Gallery has 35 feet of running wall space and is dedicated to the exhibition of Gallery 1313 members' works of art. The Window Box space is 66.5 inches high by 25 inches wide by 22 inches deep. It faces the courtyard and is typically used for installation works.

From August 9th to 19th, the Main Gallery space will host a group art exhibit called Place Unheard.

Place Unheard calls on voices from miles off the beaten path to create work on the theme of "place" from artists whose perceptions of "place" are distorted by transient lifestyles, socioeconomic realities, and the chaotic underground.

Phone: 416-536-6778

Clint Roenisch Gallery (Map)

Clint Roenisch Gallery
Clint Roenisch Gallery

When visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, I've stumbled upon the Clint Roenisch Gallery and I've been visiting it regularly ever since. The gallery was opened in 2003 and has been home to a variety of both Canadian and international artists. Several international artists including Roger Ballen (Johannesburg), Marcel van Eeden (Zurich), and Heather and Ivan Morison (Wales) have even had their first solo exhibitions in Canada at Clint Roenisch. Roenisch Gallery artists have exhibited at or been collected by the MoMA, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the National Gallery of Canada, the Berlin Biennial, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Venice Bienniale, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the State Museum of Russia, the Guggenheim Museum, the Stejelijk Museum, the Power Plant, Art Basel, and the Sydney Biennale — among many other institutions. This is one of the most impressive achievements a commercial gallery in Toronto has ever achieved.

Since its opening, the gallery has presented the work of Nan Goldin, Graham Gillmore, Richard Serra, Tim Braden, Andre Kertesz, Roger Ballen, Brett Lund, Marcel van Eeden, Raymond Pettibon, Marcel Dzama, Martin Bennett, Guido Molinari, and Peter von Tiesenhausen.

The gallery is home to many artists, among others, also to one of my favourites, Jennifer Murphy. This is Josh Thorpe's view on her works, which I identify myself with:

This work is often called gothic, fantastical, surreal. And yes, it is often some or all of these things. But one thing you don't always hear it called is psychedelic — at times phenomenologically dazzling, but more important: involved in an open question about material, representation, perception, and consciousness.

From September 6th, we can also look forward to an opening after the August pause, by Jessica Eaton. Her photographs have been published in numerous publications, including Hunter and Cook, BlackFlash, Color, Pyramid Power, and Lay Flat 02: Meta, among others. Artnews reproduced Eaton's "cfaal (mb RGB) 18, 2010" on the cover of their March 2011 edition to accompany the article, The New Photography.

Phone: 416-516-8593

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