Open-source art show draws crowd to gallery planning reinvention

On June 12, Ottawa art gallery La Petite Mort hosted “Hit & Run 5″, the last of a series of shows that helped make the gallery distinct in the Ottawa art scene.

The idea behind the show was simple—a one-night-only opportunity for Ottawa artists to display their art for sale, while meeting with other artists and potential buyers. Veterans and newbies could collaborate and learn from each other, as well as from curator Guy Berube.

“It’s a bit overwhelming,” said Mark Stephenson, a life drawing artist new to the event. Stephenson said the turnout was fantastic, and one of the reasons he wanted to be a part of it.

“It’s a lot of fun to come and meet the other artists,” he said.

The experience in the room ranged from artists like Margo Blackell, who had a solo show at the same gallery in October, to artists like Kate Hardie, who was displaying her work for the first time. Hardie said her sister knew the organizer, Alex Almendrades, and had encouraged her to participate.

Almendrades joked that coercion is a big part of his job.

“Honestly, a lot of it is bending people’s arms, basically forcing them to get involved, to get over their fear of having their work up at a gallery like this,” Almendrades said. He has been involved with organizing “Hit & Run” since Berube hosted the first show seven years ago.

“It’s almost like someone who wants to be a public speaker—you gotta just do it, get it out of the way and then you’ll be good. So that’s what I try to do,” he said.

As it turns out, Almendrades had snuck a piece of his own into the show: a framed picture of Tara, his girlfriend of 10 years, with the words, “Will you marry me?” written across the glass in purple paint. The proposal captured the attention and applause of everyone in the gallery.

Almendrades said his now-fiancée, another art lover, had always been supportive of his collaboration with Berube and that made the setting even more appropriate.

“We have very different tastes in art, but both of us have loved this kind of event because we can see everything that we both enjoy . . . This was the right place to do it,” he said.

Berube is closing La Petite Mort Gallery at the end of August this year and reinventing it in the form of “LPM Projects.”

Berube would not comment on any future projects, saying the show was “more about love than art.” On the gallery’s website, writer and curator Adam Barbu wrote that the focus of LPM Projects will take on a more collaborative international perspective on socially engaged contemporary art projects.

“We figured “Hit & Run 5” was a great way to ring in the sort of twilight of La Petite Mort Gallery,” Almendrades said.

The physical gallery space will be closing officially on September 1st.