Spence Gallery: Exploring the Diasporic Canvas

23 Feb 2009


Spence Gallery is a trendy art space, located in Mirvish Village, where Toronto art lovers can get a taste of contemporary expression from artists of Caribbean, Latin-American and African backgrounds.

The gallery’s founder, Joan Spence, sought to fill a void within the city’s vibrant art galleries landscape. “I have this sort of mission” she told AfroToronto.com. While not an artist herself, she is a consummate art lover who wants to encourage “people to make art more central in their lives.” Being of Afro-Caribbean origin herself, she particularly hopes to encourage people from Toronto’s black community to embrace art more. People need to realize that they can actually own art and take it home.

In a city so multicultural as Toronto, Spence wanted to make a space available for displaying good art originating from different cultures. Her gallery, which opened in July 2005, has been a vibrant hub for showcasing and promoting multi-cultural artists.

Joan Spence promotes the work of close to 30 artists. With such a large roster, and running her gallery on a part-time basis, she isn’t currently looking for new artists. She says it’s akin to having 30 employees. Spence has established a wide array of contacts through the many shows she takes part in annually both in Canada and the United-States.

While some of her artists garner a lot in interest in the United-States given the generally heightened welcoming of the arts south of the border, she has no plans of abandoning Toronto.

A stroll though Spence Gallery will offer visitors a varied array of figurative art, portraiture, urban landscapes, as well as eye-catching mixed media pieces.

Currently showing at Spence Gallery, until April 5th, is “Island Views”. It’s a show featuring three artists from three different Caribbean islands. Rosslyn Berot-Burns (Trinidad), Julio Ferrer (Cuba), Tamara Natalie Madden (Jamaica) take us along on their artistic journeys back to their former homeland. The exhibition helps us to appreciate and understand both the uniqueness and similarities of these Caribbean islands.

SPENCE GALLERY  is located at 600 Markham (Bathurst & Bloor). For further information, please contact: Joan Spence, Director – 416 795 2787


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