Why you should give the gift of art this holiday season

A present of art is beautiful both for the giftee and the creator

CHRISTMAS SPICE at Paul Petro Contemporary Art (980 Queen West), December 2-23. 416-979-7874.

ARTIST PROOF SALE at Open Studio Gallery (401 Richmond West), December 1-23, reception 6-9 pm December 1. 416-504-8238.

PHOTORAMA at Gallery TPW (170 St. Helens), to December 3. 416-645-1066.

Art galleries’ holiday sales, in addition to supporting programming, allow new and veteran collectors to acquire fun, affordable artworks, and artists and galleries to give back to one another. 

We talk to three gallerists behind some of the city’s longest-running festive-season art events.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Paul Petro‘s Christmas Spice, which always includes an artist-decorated tree, this year by Life of a Craphead. 

“Many people come ostensibly to purchase gifts but end up finding things they like for themselves,” says Petro. “It usually balances out between the two impulses. We have collectors who’ve kept pace since the beginning, but it’s also a great way to introduce young collectors to the gallery. 

“Christmas Spice was predicated on the idea that someone may purchase their first work of art for as little as $2, or conversely purchase and gift a first work of art to someone, which is a beautiful prospect.

“I very much consider the show an opportunity to help out artists. And we have fun with it.”


Purchase works by Dennis Day at Paul Petro.

Sara Kelly, associate director of printmaking centre Open Studio, says the Artist Proof Sale (artist proofs are the tests made before a numbered edition of identical prints), which has been running for a whopping 32 years, attracts a mix of buyers, from students to established collectors, for prints ranging from $50 to $400. 

As many as 400 people usually attend the reception, where this year Dave Dyment’s specially commissioned print will be created live and sold hot off the presses.

“Artists and gallery generally split the fee 50/50,” says Kelly, “but some artists donate their fee to the gallery,” adding another layer of gifting to the season. 

Says Gallery TPW general manager Nicole Cropley, “We are seeing an increase in young collectors at Photorama,” which is celebrating its 30th year. Accessible prices for photos by emerging artists encourage new collectors.

“We do hear from many people that they’ll be giving the work as a gift. One print from this year’s sale will be making its way to New Zealand as a Christmas present.”

Artists decide how much of the sale is donated to the gallery, from 50 to 100 per cent. “Photorama is a significant source of funds for the gallery,” she say, “comprising up to 20 per cent of our income annually.”

more holiday shows

Here are some other holiday shows to check out. 

RYERSON ARTSPACE Bread & Butter raises funds for Ryerson’s image arts programs with photos by faculty, students and alumni, to Dec 11. 1214 Queen W. 416-538-3100.

PARTS GALLERY Holiday show has paintings, photos and more by gallery artists, to Dec 23. 1142 Queen East. 416-465-8500.

AKASHA ART PROJECTS #ARTival features works under $300 in many media, to Dec 23. 511 Church. 647-348-0104.

CANADIAN SCULPTURE CENTRE Holiday Spirit offers 3D art by Sculptors Society members, to Jan 6. 500 Church. 647-435-5858.

YELLOW HOUSE GALLERY We Are All Precious Snowflakes has art under $200 by local artists, to Jan 15. 921 Kingston. 416-792-8460.

LIKELY GENERAL Sagan Editions artists sell prints and select Flying Books publications that inspire them, party 6-8 pm Dec 1, to Dec 20. 389 Roncesvalles. saganeditions.com.

XPACE Girls Art League auction supports art programs for girls and women, 7-10:30 pm Dec 8. 303 Lansdowne. girlsartleague.com

#HASHTAG GALLERY 4X4 & A Little More includes 4-inch-square artworks for $25 and 6-inchers for $40, Dec 8-23. 830 Dundas W. 416-861-1866.

OCAD U Book Arts Fair features small-press and artist books and artisanal paper, 10 am-5 pm Dec 10. 100 McCaul. fb.com/bookartsfair.

PROPELLER Off The Wall allows you to preview the art Dec 14-17 and acquire a work for $125 at the gala, 6 pm Dec 17. 30 Abell. 416-504-7142.

Find complete Festive Season entries in art listings.

art@nowtoronto.com | @franschechter

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