By Leah Hansen
After 20 years in the same spot, Ryerson’s non-profit student art gallery has made a move that aims to get student work more public exposure.
The IMA Gallery, formerly located on the third floor of a walk-up at 80 Spadina Ave., moved to a spot next to the Gladstone Hotel at the beginning of September and has been renamed the Ryerson Artspace.
The lease for the IMA Gallery space was up in May, said gallery director Robyn Cumming. Although the option to stay in the building existed, much had changed over the years and the gallery location was no longer ideal.
“When they first got into 80 Spadina there were a lot more galleries in that building and it was sort of the gallery hub of Toronto,” Cumming said. “A lot has changed in terms of where the galleries are and the building doesn’t get as much traffic as it used to.”
And so the search was on for a space that would facilitate easier access to student exhibitions. An opportunity arose that put the brand new Ryerson Artspace next to the Gladstone Hotel, a well-known Toronto art destination.
The new space boasts a wealth of natural light, an entrance just off Queen Street West and 14-foot ceilings.
“It was difficult at 80 Spadina to get anyone just walking in off the street because they wouldn’t even know we were in the building,” Cumming said. “We’ve already seen, just from opening in the last couple days, how much more access we have to the public in the new space.”
As part of the new partnership, Artspace events will be included in marketing materials sent out by the Gladstone and some student gallery programming will extend into the upper floors of the hotel, Cumming said.
In addition, opening nights at the Artspace are planned to take place at the same time as Gladstone openings, giving student work more publicity. The Artspace’s grand opening was held Sept. 11 in conjunction with the grand opening of Hard Twist 9, a fibre optics installation at the Gladstone.
Andrew Savery-Whiteway, a fourth-year photography student, is part of the collective that is showing the first-ever exhibit in the new space. The Daytrip collective exhibition will hang in the gallery until Sept. 28 — it explores forgotten pieces of Canadiana that the group photographed in day trips away from the city.
Savery-Whiteway previously exhibited at the IMA Gallery alongside other members of his collective and said the new space was a definite improvement.
“Even just to see the tally of the amount of people that have come in, there’s no way we would have gotten that kind of traffic [at the IMA Gallery],” he said. “By square footage, it’s probably smaller than the last gallery, but it feels like a bigger space.”
The new space is further from campus than the 80 Spadina location, but Savery-Whiteway said venturing off Ryerson’s campus gives students a chance to discover Toronto’s art scene.
“It’s really important that you get used to the Toronto arts community and outside that ecosystem that Ryerson generates,” he said. “It’s nice to show students that this is a step towards being a professional outside of the Ryerson support group.”
The added distance aside, student work is sure to get a boost from the partnership with the Gladstone and access to widely-known Queen Street West after 20 years of being tucked away.
“Just the sheer audience that the students are able to get at this new location is immense,” said Cumming. “The students now have access to those people and are able to speak about their work and get public opinion which is really beneficial for them.”