by Myka Burke
Gallery director Carrie Colton started Studio Sixty Six in 2013 after many years working as a professional artist and designer in Ottawa and Montreal in an effort to create a different kind of commercial gallery space, one that she felt was respectful to its artists and accessible to its audience.
Carrie Colton was a founding partner and curator at Exposure Gallery in 2009, along with Sheila Whyte of Thyme and Again. Exposure Gallery was dedicated to contemporary art photography for the first two years of its operation and contributed strongly to the then burgeoning, arts-infused cultural landscape of Wellington Street West. Fast-forward to 2013: Colton opened Studio Sixty Six when the opportunity arose and carved out a niche for the gallery as one that is “dedicated to Canada’s newest and brightest creators” and to experimenting with work that is not shown anywhere else in the city. As this concept evolved, a series of group shows was tied together by specific mediums: New Painters, New Photographers and New Printmakers. Solo exhibitions followed that provided a more complete “first show” experience for the artists and gallery customers alike.
Today, Studio Sixty Six is known for its community involvement and a focus on both cultural and artistic diversity. Founder Carrie Colten’s vision of a space that showcases unique, thought-provoking (and often pioneering) art by emerging Canadian artists has grown from her passion and involvement in the arts community in Ottawa. Throughout the years, the exhibitions have maintained focus on the artists, their materials, processes, concepts and inspirations.
Here’s what Studio Sixty Six founder and director Carrie Colten had to say about the move to the new Bank Street location:
“Four and a half years ago Studio Sixty Six was founded at 66 Muriel St., Unit 202. It is a wonderful space, yet in an off-the-beaten-path location. This is where we established our plan to exhibit and support new, up-and-coming, emerging Canadian artists. Studio Sixty Six is now well received and well established. We are excited to move to a more central downtown location, to provide our artists with greater exposure and to further increase our profile within the Ottawa market.
“In the first few years I was interested in adding something new to the visual arts landscape of Ottawa. My motivations were also very much to help Ottawa and Canadian artists by providing another professional exhibition space to show their work, offering them programmes to support their careers in the form of advice, editing of artist texts and providing the utmost in a respectful experience and environment. I was also testing the Ottawa art-market waters to see if they would be receptive to new, modern and pioneering works of art. As it turns out, yes! They were! Ottawa is super cool and ready for the best of everything culturally i.e., food, music, museums, fashion and art as I believed Ottawa would be! And yes, all of these purposes are still relevant today and going forward.
“I think the Ottawa art scene has become more and more cutting edge and vibrant in the past five years with the opening of other small and potent art spaces such as Central Art Garage, Possible Worlds and PDA Projects; and now with the newly renovated Ottawa Art Gallery opening, these are extremely exciting artistic times for Ottawa!
“May’s exhibition entitled ‘Post Neo’ at our new location, 858 Bank Street, Unit 101, will feature works of art by Manon Labrosse, an abstract landscape painter from Ottawa and Julia Campisi, a figurative photo-based artist from Toronto. These are two burgeoning young, professional female artists both working in different yet traditional genres, figurative and landscape, yet pushing the envelope in how they approach their work. Additionally, we will continue to share our artists’ work through win-win relationships with other community businesses such as Magpie and the Ottawa Art Gallery via their sales and rental program. In general, we are excited to work with the Bank Street BIA and all the other wonderful retailers along Bank Street.”
Myka Burke is a PhD student, an arts journalist and host of a weekly radio show on CHIN Radio Ottawa. She founded artspace613, a local arts organization that connects people with the arts. She writes about arts news at www.artspace613.org/notable.
Studio Sixty Six
858 Bank St., Suite 101
Phone: 613.800.1641 office, 613.355.0359 cell
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.