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Galleries

Whippersnapper Gallery

Posted by Staff / Posted on November 22, 2010

Whippersnapper Gallery TorontoWhippersnapper Gallery has moved to a new space, and there's a brand new vision to go along with it. The gallery, now located at the southern tip of Kensington Market at Dundas and Augusta, has big news: during the summer of 2010, it received designation as an artist-run centre, meaning Whippersnapper will receive a small but steady stream of operational funding from the Ontario Arts Council, as opposed to grants on a project-by-project basis.

Along with this funding comes a more focused curatorial vision, which represents a step up from their previous function as a rental space, even if the square footage has decreased rather dramatically (to 130 sq. feet).

Adrian Delenia and Josh Barndt, the gallery's co-directors, have been involved since the beginnings of Whippersnapper's life and its tenure on College Street. Adrian showed paintings in Whippersnapper's very first show, and Josh got involved when he helped renovate the cavernous College Street space into a gallery. They've been part of the gallery's rotating cast of characters ever since.

Whippersnapper GalleryStanding on the sidewalk, I'm looking at the gallery from an optimum viewing point-- while visitors can enter the gallery during its opening hours, to stand back and take it all in, one must remain outside. Since it's a vitrine-like project space, Whippersnapper wants to show specific kinds of work. "The space will force itself on anything that's placed in it," says Adrian, "so we want to exhibit works that consider the space," explaining that programming for the coming year centres around site-sensitive art, installations, video projections, and other media that work with the space's constraints.

Though it's small, it packs a big visual punch, and reflects a growing trend of window galleries like Convenience Gallery and Roadside Attractions. There's a bigger audience simply by having the art visible from the street. The huge amount of pedestrian traffic helps, too: without having to enter the gallery, most passers-by slow down to look into the window.

Whippersnapper GalleryOne carryover from the old Whippersnapper Gallery is their mandate to show the work of "emerging" or "new generation" artists-- many art students had their first off-campus shows at 587A College Street. The new space will also exhibit work by artists under 30, and Whippersnapper is most interested in avant-garde practices.

The plans are to do eight exhibitions per year, a major scaling-back of programming. Josh estimates that the old gallery showed work by about 20 different artists, every two weeks or so, for four and a half years. Reminiscing about this old way of working, Adrian explains that being a constantly rotating showcase made relationship building almost impossible. Now, they're particularly interested in forming genuine relationships with artists, hoping a deeper understanding of the work will help them present it in the best possible way.

Whippersnapper GalleryComplementing the tiny space, and fitting right in with their newly focused attitude, is Whippersnapper's extensive online component for each exhibition, which features a critical text, photo and video documentation of the installed work, and video interviews with the artist. It's intended to ramp up the level of viewer engagement, and is exemplary for how galleries can use the internet.

The other limitation of the small space is that Whippersnapper's famous social functions can no longer fit in the gallery. From rambunctious opening parties, to music shows and other offshoot events, the space became known as a spot where fun things happened, for better or for worse. Adrian explained that the gallery sometimes found it hard to be taken seriously by others when the focus wasn't always on the art. And, there had been a maturing process: "When we were 21 and starting out with Whippersnapper, we wanted to experience art in a fun and social way. After a few years of that, we began to look for the gallery's next step."

Whippersnapper GalleryJosh stresses that the special events aren't over for Whippersnapper, but it made sense to separate them from the art. Off-site programming is in the works, and as the gallery gets to know its new neighbours and peers, they hope to do collaborations in the future. The Kensington scene is known for having its own flavour, and it seems that Whippersnapper will not only fit right in-- it may have found its spiritual home.

Whippersnapper Gallery TorontoWriting by Elena Potter. Photographs by the author, Whippersnapper Gallery and Istoica.

Discussion

19 Comments

Derek / February 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm
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Feeling shame for an egregious typo, I thought I might doubly stress that Whippersnapper takes no commissions from artists, despite what an earlier version of this review suggested.
o_O / February 27, 2009 at 02:59 pm
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Whippersnapper, Luke and the others who run it do a fan-freakin-tastic job. The Arts Council and other funders should be lining up around the block to support these guys.
Paul / February 27, 2009 at 08:20 pm
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I'm sorry that my art tastes are not "refined"; am I the only one who doesn't see the artistic value in WHIPPERSNAPPER written a million times in a Bart Simpson-esque way?




Derek / February 27, 2009 at 09:13 pm
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I don't think it's an issue of being refined, so not to worry. The "Whippersnapper" text lines the stairwell up to the gallery, where one finds the more "serious" art.
Andrea / February 28, 2009 at 01:23 pm
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Shouldn't this article include credits for the artwork being used?
Derek / February 28, 2009 at 02:37 pm
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Is there a particular piece you'd like more information about? I'd be more than happy to provide it.
L. and J. Ollner / March 9, 2009 at 05:26 am
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Impressive exhibition. We love the Bear on the couch.
joel sweet / April 7, 2009 at 05:17 pm
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lookin to book a show! tele 416 710 1404 Joel_canadian@hotmail.com
Jenny Beeee / April 9, 2009 at 12:20 am
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Whippersnapper is possibly my favorite gallery in the city! Shine on your crazy diamond!
Jennifer Herd / April 30, 2009 at 08:44 pm
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Also looking to book a show! http://www.jenniferherd.com

My work is on display from May 1-3 at the Toronto Clothing Show. Come check it out! Only $10 at the door and lots to see!
Crystal replying to a comment from Derek / November 4, 2009 at 12:19 pm
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Hi I was wondering if you could tell me who painted the bear sitting on the sofa?
-Thanks!
pb / November 22, 2010 at 10:40 pm
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im about to break the window .. why display dead animals real or fake?
i walk with my kid sister by there all the time
T2 replying to a comment from pb / November 23, 2010 at 09:12 am
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If you walk around Dundas and Spadina regularly, chances are you've seen plenty of dead rats and birds. Use the installation to explain the circle of life to your sibling.
Ursual / November 23, 2010 at 09:44 am
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I agree with T2, art is about starting a dialogue, and this particular artist Nader Hasan is doing just that. Instead of acting out violently against the show I would suggest giving the artist a call and voicing your concerns, his phone number is up on the window and he can explain his work in more depth.
Deanster / November 23, 2010 at 02:43 pm
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So... no more concerts at the back? :(
GinaTO / November 25, 2010 at 10:36 pm
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Not an art gallery aficionado, but walked by Whippersnapper this week on my way home and stopped to look (actually stare) at the taxidermy exhibit. Shock value at first sight, but after reading the description of the artist's intentions on the note taped to the door, I was really interested. Some explanation is indeed needed to put the exhibit in context - Nader Hasan seems like an artist with genuine convictions and a true vision. Love the big, well lit window, will definitely come by again when it's open.
sunjye / June 23, 2011 at 03:43 pm
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Whippersnappergallery is acting just like a public art piece because it is basically just a storefront window. We could use alot more of these types of gallery. The responsibilities of providing visual experiences for people who live work and play in the neighborhood are many. It is near impossible to not take in whatever they are offering at this gallery if you walk by and I hope the curators and collaborators are aware of this. I notice about half the time the space is in a state of transition and careless disarray and is inbetween shows I assume. Want some curtains? Thank you for your work.
mariclaire / August 23, 2011 at 04:58 pm
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Studio 561 on Bloor Street west is new Whippersnapper in the city, super cool venue, events and soon an artist cafe so we will be able to just hang out and network and create at the same time. Check them out, I think this is there web: www.studio561.net
suffah naeem / April 16, 2012 at 05:46 am
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em looking forward to exhibit in this gallery.... do let me know abt the procedure.

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