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Clint Roenisch Gallery

Posted by Elena Potter / Posted on March 2, 2011

Clint Roenisch GalleryClint Roenisch Gallery, nestled in the hub of the West Queen West "Art + Design District," is a small gallery that packs a punch. Having opened its doors in 2003, the gallery has a history of exhibiting some of the most avant-garde work to hit Toronto, and actually pre-dates its neighbour, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, which opened in 2005.

Before starting his own space, Clint Roenisch established himself firmly in the art world during his time as curator of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery--an important period, since it was through this practice that he met and learned about artists that he continues to work with to this day. Roenisch relocated to Toronto to open an outpost of Monte Clark Gallery (now Clark & Faria), moving into the commercial gallery world from the art-museum world --Roenisch jokingly calls that transition, "when I crossed over to the dark side." He was ready to strike out on his own after a few years. "When you work for another gallery, inevitably you're facilitating their vision," he says.

Clint Roenisch GalleryThe "dark side"--that is, the commercial gallery world-- presented some positive changes. Roenisch says of being a curator, "It was great, but I think if I'd stayed, I would have been fired. It doesn't suit me," explaining he prefers the freedom of being self-employed and self-directed, without having to answer to a board or governing body. "It's definitely more autocratic." Roenisch, a soft-spoken yet commanding presence, has a taste for this independence: "I opened my gallery so I could have a say in what is being shown," he says simply.

Clint Roenisch Gallery"The work is certainly quite disparate," Roenisch says, describing the wide swath of art he exhibits at 944 Queen West. The gallery represents about 20 artists working in various media, mostly Canadian with a few internationally-based artists as well. Roenisch likes the dialog that's created by having many different kinds of work in close proximity. When I visited, the playful abstract paintings of rising painter Hugh Scott-Douglas were on display--Scott-Douglas is the youthful end of the gallery's roster, while acclaimed painter Harold Klunder is at the other end of the spectrum.

A common thread, offers Roenisch, is that he's interested in artists who are aware of what's come before them, art-historically speaking, and who are unswayed by trends. Like most art lovers, he has some particular tastes too: "We're not here for very long--our time [on earth] is quite transient," says Roenisch with a shy grin. "Art that speaks to that intrigues me."

Clint Roenisch GalleryMany recognize the gallery by its old hand-lettered window text. "I forgot to order the vinyl lettering for the window, and we'd already sent out invitations for the first opening party," Roenisch explains of its origin. "We had to open, even though we weren't quite ready, and I decided to just write the gallery's name on the window in oil stick. It was hard to write backwards, I was very stressed out--I f**ked up the word 'gallery,' crossed it out and wrote it again; it looked OK, it was playful. I said, 'I'll deal with it tomorrow' and we ended up just leaving it. It helped us stand out."

When the gallery turned five, Roenisch commissioned a font-- "It's called Roenisch Regular," he says with satisfaction. It's used in the gallery's web and print material, and in the neon sign that was installed after the emblematic writing was wiped away. It was time for a change, says Roenisch: "There's always the danger of ossifying--you just can't."

Clint Roenisch Gallery



Alex / March 2, 2011 at 04:36 pm
Big paint chips are avant garde?

Why is it that art needs less and less skill? Don't get me wrong, Jackson Pollock is my favorite painter, but it seems to be 100% image at this point. Can you do a good enough job convincing morons with too much money that the neon green square somehow means something and is worth thousands.
CLINT / March 2, 2011 at 04:53 pm
Hi alex, this saturday is the last day of the current show. come see it in person and we can talk about the work if you like. Noon to six. CR
katherine / March 2, 2011 at 05:33 pm
Amazing response from an amazing curator. I have stopped and stared at the works displayed in this gallery longer and more frequently than any other...
If that makes me a moron, I'm just fine with that.
1234 / March 3, 2011 at 04:08 pm
The graphic designer behind the font is Colin Bergh who is super talented and an amazing DJ.
Lt. Data / March 5, 2011 at 03:04 am
Nice self promotion in the comment section. Shitty font. Last show there was beyond bad. Clint Roenisch gallery is everything that is wrong with the Toronto art scene and why it's such a joke. No wonder I moved to NY.
Ed / March 7, 2011 at 07:25 pm
Haha, the reply to Alex's comment is great, thank you for that.
NOPE / March 10, 2011 at 12:24 am
I like that despite LT. DATA's big move to the big apple to chase his big dreams of becoming a big artist he still takes the time to read blogTO and 3:04am and post comments that are so absolutely inconsequential it's laughable.
Alex McLeod / March 13, 2011 at 03:53 pm
Hilarious about the oil stick bit, amazing gallery, legit font too :D
graham k replying to a comment from Alex / December 5, 2011 at 08:31 pm
Jackson Pollock would have read that and laughed in your face, Alex.
jayquality / January 13, 2012 at 02:28 am
geez toronto, so vicious! that type of bitterness gives this city its prissy reputation. tone down the vitriol, and relax.

add to that that CR has a particular vision. you don't have to love it, but it's a position nevertheless, and one that is not being filled by any other gallerist in this town. he shows quality work. open your mind and observe.

Kopelev / March 2, 2013 at 05:52 am
Dear representatives of gallery

I would like to present you my photos

I remove and print always the photos itself. A classical black-and-white photo. Serebrjannaja Bromozhelantinovaja photographic paper and toning by salts of sulphurous sodium and iron simultaneously, or sepia, either salts of iron or copper salts.

Name and address : Kopelev Alexander
Russian Federation, Moscow, 109457, Jigylevskai st., h.3, room 141
Phone.: +7-926-111-40-61,
Victor Ladipo / March 19, 2013 at 05:18 pm
I'm a painter/sculptor. I seem to like Clint's comment that "he's interested in artists who are aware of what's come before them, art-historically speaking, and who are unswayed by trends". That's cool, unlike some gallerists who are always swayed by trends therefore influence their artists to do same. His view portrays him as a grounded gallerist. i wouldn't mind showing in his gallery.
GARY STANLEy / November 5, 2013 at 08:05 am
i acquired a Prince Monyo wall sculpture in 1978 which i need to move sell i have moved and it is too large and i need to sell 4165468199 thank you .even if you know someone or business who can handle this 67 in x45 high heavy beautiful horses in abstract can send pictures..ty
The true Paul Butler / May 13, 2014 at 10:28 am
The above comment is not from me Clint, but from someone posing as me. Just catching this now - 5 years later.

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