blank canvas toronto

Toronto art world upset after gallery owner tasered by cops

The Toronto art world is taking to social media in support of Blank Canvas Gallery. The Omit Limitations collective opened it last spring as a "safe, unique and inclusive space for creatives to help bridge the gap between emerging artists and professionals in Toronto."

However, as Canadian Art writes, on New Year's Eve, Blank Canvas co-owner John Samuels was tasered by police. And a few days later, as documented on Instagram, Blank Canvas's locks were changed. The gallery remains closed.

I arrived at @blankcanvasgallery today to realize that our locks have been changed. I thought maybe my keys were not working, maybe it’s because of the cold…I always found myself jimmying it once or twice because it was old, but when I wedged my key in the lock for about the 8th time, the grave realities of this world became very clear. Due to an incident it has ultimately led to Blank Canvas gallery being locked down until further notice. I want to apologize to my community for this unfortunate event. My hearts heavy to how a system can find ways to make you out to be the bad guy if they really want to and how this can corner you in positions no matter how good your intentions are. Even though they will board up our beautiful safe space, and lock away our artwork nothing can take away the love, the vibrations, the history, the beautiful artwork and people that occupied our home. And for this I will thank you forever. They really won’t let us have anything, it’s always been like this, I’ve tolerated thier games for too long, I’ve trusted people Non-acceptance will hold it’s weight, we will flow, we will adapt, we will move on we will overcome. Now it’s time that we get bigger and better get rid of the old and allow new things to come into our lives. We have a community that knows the vibration of Blank Canvas will ring out from the Junction to Queen St. from Scarborough to Kensington or wherever we wish to take its energy, and believe me in the mean time we’re going to take our Blank hearts all around the city and build even more. The Blank Canvas initiative lives within the people and the community it can never be silenced, it can never be shut down, and we can only prevail and overcome. Something so organic can never be replicated only repelled until new grounds demand for it to flourish once again. Donate and share to our new beginnings today (link in bio)

A photo posted by Just John (@justjohnforreal) on

It's still unclear what led to the incident with the Toronto Police on December 31, but according to Canadian Art, it had to do with a check for a Special Occasion Permit. Samuels will reportedly appear in court on February 8.

Blank Canvas has since started an Indiegogo campaign in order to support the gallery's legal fees and its search for a new home, among other endeavours.

Other Toronto galleries have been raising awareness of the campaign by sharing it social media.

Lead photo by


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