FAP:O 1.08 – with Jonathan Browns

FAP:O #8 was held at City Hall Art Gallery to see the 2012 Direct Purchase show with Jonathan Browns. About fifteen came.

Jonathan gave a presentation of the Direct Purchase program.
  1. Q: What is the best strategy for using the initial ten images – cover your work or concentrate on one series? 
    1. A: Focus on what is being offered for purchase in the ten images. Use the artist’s bio to fill out your experience and the artist’s statement to explain the series. 
    2. Keep it all as concise as possible because the jury has a lot to go through and a long-winded statement will be forgotten much more easily than one that gives a concise statement.
  2. Q: How can drawing jury members from the local arts community be fair as they all know each other and emerging artists might have a hard time getting in.
    1. A: In fact it has worked very well in Jonathan’s more than ten year’s experience.
      1. The jury members are chosen after the submissions are made to allow artists to submit. The jury is chosen from those who haven’t submitted.
      2. The juries have been different each year with their own dynamics and personalities.
      3. The juries have always gone out of their way to include emerging artists, sometimes by excluding senior artists.
Current city programming for the City Hall Gallery ends this year with Raymond Aubin up in October and David Barbour in November-December.
The Karsh-Masson Gallery has closed in its old space and will be reopening next to the City Hall Gallery early in 2014.
During a tour of the works, with emphasis on the photographic, there was a discussion of how the works get placed around the city.
  1. With 500 facilities, 150 of which have city collection art, 90% of the collection is out at any one time, with room for much, much more.
  2. The jury has never been asked to choose according to what might be palatable to the public. Difficult pieces are taken and Jonathan’s job is to find a home for them. This has never yet been a problem.
  3. One senior administrator has stated that she wants works that will impress visitors to her office with the idea that there is much more out in the world than they might have expected.
During our final discussion Jonathan was told that we originally got together with the idea of raising the profile of photography in the community and he was asked if he had any advice on that subject.
Jonathan said that his impression is that Ottawa has a very strong photo community, stronger than most artistic communities in Canada, with:
  1. Festival X (We have since learned that FestX is being dissolved)
  2. SPAO
  3. Ottawa U
Festival X’s (& Nuit Blanche’s) struggles were mentioned and this brought out the question: Why doesn’t the city help such efforts when they have not yet become established, as Toronto & Paris do, when they so obviously benefit the city?
We heard that:


  1. The city has a funding formula, with a set of criteria, that prevents any organization with a short track record from getting funded.
  2. Nuit Blanche was refused this year. It is in only its second year AND the leadership has changed so it is essentially a first effort. The first year was funded in four Ontario centres through a Trilium grant.
  3. The city has an Events department which might help local efforts but exists mainly to coordinate with larger Provincial & National efforts.
  4. Canada Council used to have exploratory grants but stopped that long ago.
We ended with thanks all around, with Jonathan pleased by the discussion in a setting where he has often presented to a mute audience, and many of us thanking Jonathan for such an informative presentation and discussion.


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