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Posted by Staff / Posted on December 16, 2010

gallerywest TorontoGallerywest is one of Parkdale's survivors, having risen from the ashes of the closure of gallery DK. Behind the space's resurrection is Saskatchewan native and multimedia artist Evan Tyler. As Gallerywest's proprietor and current sole staffer, he's making an earnest go of running the space at 1332 Queen West, after its previous tenant closed up shop during the summer.

The room itself is modest: a fairly typical, small, Parkdale storefront with white walls and mock-hardwood floors. Its large front window is draped with a black cloth, creating a separate spot for one piece of work to act as a teaser, enticing passers-by into the gallery.

gallerywest TorontoThe name "Gallerywest" refers both to its location in the western part of the city, and to the programming that's lined up, which features a strong showing of western Canadian artists. Being more familiar with the art scene in that part of the country, Evan's plan is to exhibit works by artists from Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia in an effort to help them earn more recognition in Canada's largest city.

And, he's not shy about letting his Regina pride show. While the desire for growth prompted him to make the move to Toronto, he retains strong connections with the prairie provinces, and he emphasizes his admiration for Regina's artistic fertility. "Often in smaller cities, there's a great sense of community, and a feeling of having a common enemy," he laughs, referring to conservative types who aren't fans of visual arts. "That makes for a really fun and collaborative art scene."

gallerywestSense of space, physical and psychological geography, and exploration, are all themes around which Gallerywest's exhibitions are loosely based. All types of media are shown in the space-- I visited at the tail end of an exhibition of urban-exploration photography by Jon Muldoon, who took his camera and lights with him on journeys into Toronto's subterranean sewers and water systems. Next up is an exhibition by Regina-based Kirsten Smith, whose installation "Unearthed" will explore the tension between urban and rural landscapes.

Gallerywest's main challenge has been attracting visitors. It's not too surprising -- most independent Toronto galleries don't experience a lot of foot traffic and visiting can also be difficult due to somewhat spotty hours, and a minimal amount of information on the gallery's website. However, having only been open for two months (as of my visit), and having limited resources and only one staffer, it's certainly forgivable. It's wise to call to check that they're open before making the trip.

Evan's route to 1332 Queen Street West was serendipitous. He exhibited some of his artwork there early in 2010, while still based in Regina, and had come out to Toronto for the show. Even then, there were murmurings from DK Gallery's directors that the end was near, and Evan jumped at the chance to take over the space. "I'd been looking for the right reason to move to Toronto," he says, "and it was perfect timing."

gallerywest TorontoFar from being an art gallery greenhorn, Evan brings with him a wealth of experience gained through leading tours at Regina institutions MacKenzie Art Gallery and Dunlop Gallery, but he says he had to learn the business side quickly. Even so, his background as a tour facilitator is clear-- he's keen to show me around the small space and tell me about the works on the walls. When I entered the gallery, I noticed the absence of contextual information, but after chatting for a few minutes, it's clear that Evan's friendliness and gift of gab are pretty good replacements for a wall text... and in the small room, that means more space for hanging the work on the walls.

Of the gallery, Evan compares Parkdale's community spirit to the friendly scene he left behind in Regina. Neighbouring businesses have watched the space change hands, and Evan says they seem to appreciate having a gallery on the block. Here's hoping the space will benefit from its director's enthusiasm and tenacity, and the community's support.

gallerywest TorontoextWriting and photography by Elena Potter.



Sean Galbraith / December 16, 2010 at 10:10 am
We are really happy that Evan was able to take over DK and open his own gallery. The exhibitions he has managed to put on so far are top notch, and I definitely encourage people to check it out.
Kurt Rostek / December 16, 2010 at 11:26 am
I'm not from Saskatchewan, but do have familial roots in Gimli Manitoba. I would love to show at Gallery West.
Courtney / December 16, 2010 at 07:41 pm
I live in the area and was pleasantly surprised when I visited it during the photo show. Yeah, it makes sense that Evan has done art tours, he is very approachable and friendly. He seems to have a real enthusiasm for talking about the work and art in general. I made it down for the opening night of the Kristen Smith show and loved her stuff, gorgeous work that I hope I get a chance to check out again before it comes down. So far I’ve really liked the work that’s shown there and can’t wait to see more!
Donna Kriekle / December 17, 2010 at 11:38 pm
Hope you are open the week following New Years - love to drop in while in To.
Heidi L / December 18, 2010 at 12:57 am
Congratulations Evan! We are so proud of you for showing Toronto the artistic wonder from the prairies! Heidi L.
Evan Tyler / December 24, 2010 at 02:23 pm
Thanks for the kind words everyone! January is an exciting month for gallerywest, we have a stellar multi-media installation by Saskatchewan artist Adam Lark titled "near the nameless". The opening reception for the exhibit is on Thursday, January 6 from 7-10 PM. Please visit this fb event page for more info:

Cheers to Toronto and the future of gallerywest, we appreciate all of your support and enthusiasm!

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