Art & PartyPublished on March 8, 2020


Artwork is one of the most effective ways to make a personal imprint upon a home. A choice selection of art can set the mood of a room, welcome visitors and provide pleasure over the course of a day. Fortunately, shopping for art can also be an opportunity to party by attending an art show opening, sometimes called a vernissage (from vernis, French for varnish, usually the last step in painting an artwork before showing).

An opening is an intimate, personal, and relaxed opportunity to see new works of art carefully arranged in a gallery setting. It’s also a chance to meet people with an interest in art, some of whom are just starting to collect. Above all, it’s a rare opportunity to talk with artists. As local painter and printmaker Roger Sutcliffe says, “I like the opportunity to meet new and interesting people, and answer questions on my work, my motivations and what I am striving to achieve.” For artist Susan Cartwright, it’s a chance to “talk to the guests about my artistic process and intent, and share my love and passion for what I do.”

Most gallery owners know the importance of letting artwork make its own impression upon a customer. For that reason, an opening is a relaxed affair, accompanied usually by finger food and refreshments (often wine and cheese) either free or at minimal cost. Patrons are encouraged to move around the gallery at their own pace, to talk with others, or simply look quietly at the artwork.

Luckily for art lovers, Ottawa has a lively and evolving art scene. Openings take place almost weekly at numerous private galleries such as Koyman Gallery in Ottawa East, Wall Space in Westboro, Studio Sixty Six in the Glebe, and the Orange Gallery adjacent to City Centre, just off Somerset Street. A visit to a vernissage at La Fab Arts Centre in Chelsea can be combined with dinner in one of Chelsea’s excellent restaurants, a walk in Gatineau Park, or a visit to Nordik Spa-Nature.

Like buying a home, buying art is a commitment to an object over a long period of time. And the experience can be pleasant in ways that only an art gallery can provide. Whether you’re just getting into art or have been collecting for a while, a vernissage is a great way to see art, meet people, and have fun.

Most galleries have websites, or a presence on social media where they announce openings. A good source for finding arts events is the Ottawa Arts Events Calendar sponsored by Arts Network Ottawa or consult Art Engine’s Ottawa events listing.

The following galleries have upcoming openings, a few of which are noted below. Always check the gallery website, since dates and times can shift. Note that Wall Space Gallery asks for an RSVP:

  • Wall Space Gallery, “Alternative Process,” with artists Marianne Burlew, Joy Kardish, Nicole Krstin, Nate Nettleton, and Ava Roth, Thursday March 5, 5–7 pm, (please RSVP to
  • Gallery 101, Various artists, with support from the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, Minwaashin Lodge, Tungasuvvingat Inuit. “Human Trafficking Awareness within Indigenous Communities,” Saturday March 7, 1–5 pm.
  • Studio Sixty Six Gallery, Andrew Beck, Friday March 27, 6–9 pm, and Guillermo Trejo, Friday May 1, 6–9 pm.
  • Orange Art Gallery. Leya Evelyn, “Absolutely,” Thursday March 5, 6–10 pm, and Matthew Jeffrey and Ingrid Hollander, “New Works,” Thursday April 2, 6–10 pm.
  • Koyman Galleries, Raynald Leclerc, Saturday April 4, 12–5 pm, and Sheila Davis, Saturday April 25, 12–5 pm.
  • La Fab, the gallery at the cultural centre in Chelsea, Shabnam Dastoornejad, “Moments in Pastels,” Saturday April 4, 2–5 pm, and Michelle Delisle, “Beyond Our Differences: Connecting with the Syrian People,” Saturday May 2, 2–5 pm.

Murray Dineen

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