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Galleries

Sleeping Giant Gallery

Posted by Derek Flack / Posted on May 7, 2009

Sleeping Giant GalleryThe story of how Sleeping Giant was founded is becoming more and more common: an art lover with a head for business starts a makeshift gallery in his home, realizes it's actually a viable career pursuit, and then seeks out a professional space from which to show exhibitions on a full time basis. Okay, maybe not that common. But the very fact that more than one of the spaces I've profiled in my short (but illustrious!) career here at blogTO suggests that the current recession hasn't stifled the hope of all of those who believe arts-based professions can still pay the bills.

Josh Glover, the founder and owner of Sleeping Giant, is just one of those people. Having worked in a variety of professions over the years, his entry into the gallery game is rife with both enthusiasm at the change in direction and optimism that he can apply his previous business knowledge to this new endeavor. Running a successful gallery isn't easy, but I'd say that the above qualities are absolute requisites (in the absence of piles of public funding) in order to have a fighting chance. The still reasonable cost of renting a space in Trinity-Bellwoods doesn't hurt either.

Sleeping Giant GalleryOn the more artistic side, another thing that helps galleries to achieve viability is establishing a roster of talent, the process of which Glover has already begun. Five of these artists are featured on the gallery's website, and they've been responsible for much (but not all) of the work that's been shown at Sleeping Giant. And, interestingly, Glover doesn't just rely on these artists for their work; he also uses them to help with the curatorial process. Because the gallery actively seeks out new artists, Glover and his team collectively review portfolios as part of the ongoing search for new talent.

Sleeping Giant LogoBeing a new gallery, however, Sleeping Giant also offers rentals of its space in the absence of this review process. That's not to say that anybody with enough cash could necessarily have a show, but the odds are that if someone's stuff's good, it'll be more than welcome. In fact, Glover tells me that thus far he's worked out deals with artists that balance the rental fees with reasonable commissions from the sale of work. It strikes me that this is a pretty good deal for the artist. After all, for those who aren't established, the fear always exists that the work won't sell. Better to save on the rent - which isn't contingent on sales - and worry about the commission later.

20090506-Sleeping Giant Smolik Back.jpgIf and when this "later" comes, that's good for everybody. More than anything, what Glover hopes to do is to make good on the name he's given the gallery: he'd like to wake a few sleeping giants. Throughout our conversation he revealed that he's both passionate and confident in the artists he's shown, really believing that with enough exposure they'll garner both critical and financial success. It's certainly a nice thought, and one that puts some of the control in his hands as owner of a space. Toward that end, he's worked hard to get people into the gallery by keeping longer than normal hours (12-8, seven days a week), hosting live music events in the space, and by pushing the work to any and all comers.

As with many galleries that focus on emerging artists, there's no one medium or style that's particularly privileged over another at Sleeping Giant. Having said that, it's clear from the current artists on his roster and from what's been exhibited thus far that there's a predilection for street art and Pop Surrealism. But, I would imagine that as a result of Glover's open attitude, things will diversify as the gallery grows and books more shows. Who knows - maybe he'll find the right sniffing salts for a few would-be giants along the way?

The artwork depcited in this post is by Smolik. Please see the gallery's website for more information.

Sleeping Giant Exterior

Sleeping Giant Smolik

Sleeping Giant Smolik

Discussion

14 Comments

Tracey / May 8, 2009 at 10:50 am
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has anyone read the sleeping giant website?
it is a joke.
this write up pretends that glover takes art and his gallery seriously.
John / May 9, 2009 at 07:57 pm
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This gallery is definitely a joke.

From the website:

"Coming from Barrie Ontario it blows my mind on how many chicks this guy knows. I'm beginning to think he has a prostitution business on the side"

Are you kidding me?

Sounds like Smolik has a great career ahead of him...
Louise replying to a comment from John / May 10, 2009 at 07:50 am
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You might try judgeing the artist instead of the gallery before you make coments like that. I think the artist has lots of talent, and he should go far
John replying to a comment from Louise / May 10, 2009 at 02:28 pm
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I think that an artist is more likely to "go far" with a competent gallery behind them. I dont think promoting how many chicks an artist knows really has any relevance or will further his career. To each their own... Personally I think the art looks like a cheap rip off of Mike Giant, Ian Francis, and Dave Kinsey.
RickyD` replying to a comment from John / May 13, 2009 at 03:31 pm
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John, You sounds bitter because you FAILED.

Smolik love the work, keep it up.
Keaton Evans / June 13, 2009 at 09:25 pm
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This ^^^^ (meaning these dumbass comments) is why the toronto "Art" scene- if you can call it that- will not progress much farther than it already has.
Keaton Evans / June 13, 2009 at 09:27 pm
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And good work glover, i hope you succeed
Marinko Jareb / August 26, 2009 at 07:21 pm
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I recently visited sleeping giant and bought some screen prints.
I found the gallery director knowledgeable, friendly and very supportive of the artists that he represents. I also think his "attitude" towards art is fun and relaxed, in line with the philosophy and approach of NYC's "the alleged gallery" and the street art movement. Big respect to all "sleeping giants" out there; See you on Dundas Street!
bonhomie / September 11, 2009 at 01:15 am
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silly cats, the art changes all the time. some amazing stuff has been through there and Glover fully appreciates good art as well as good artists who know that taking anything too seriously is never a good thing. haters are just haters.
Simon / January 5, 2010 at 10:31 am
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Having visited the space several times I can easily say that the quality of the art displayed is top notch with very reasonable prices. Getting into investing in art (and not just walking around it and judging it) is always intimidating and the price tags at Sleeping Giant avoid any elitism you find at many Toronto galleries.

As for the person running the place, I've always had the impression that he takes everything very seriously. He just doesn't act like a stuck up snob trying to prove it all the time. The proof is on the walls!
HMM / May 12, 2011 at 07:40 pm
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Sleeping Giant Gallery is an awful place to put your work. Beware of the owner scamming you and your money for pieces he sells, and not replying for months. I recommend supporting the artists elsewhere if possible and not through Sleeping Giant!
saraah / June 1, 2011 at 09:28 pm
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No Studio 561 Gallery is Much better and a nicer place. They rent it out and have commission free exhibits. Better area too. I say that's the best bet in the city. Check it out guys! I've been to several opening there gallery hopping.
MFB / June 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm
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I would have to agree with HMM since I have been personally scammed by Sleeping Giant. I can barely afford the materials and for them to take my money hurts my practice.
mariclaire / August 23, 2011 at 05:04 pm
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yeah i was an studio 561 gallery at the opening a couple of weeks ago, their openings are like huge events with tons of people,I met some cool people..yeah check that place, much better than the sleeping giant one that s for sure!

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