Painting the town red at Ottawa Art Gallery's Give to Get Art Auction

Proceeds from signature fundraiser help toward maintaining free public access, educational programming at downtown municipal art gallery
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Alexandra Badzak, director and CEO of the Ottawa Art Gallery, with board chair Mark Schaan, associate assistant deputy minister at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The opening night gala for the OAG's Give to Get Art Auction painted a very rosy picture of our city's arts and cultural scene Friday as hundreds of art lovers and collectors turned out for a night of bidding, imbibing and lively banter.

The signature fundraiser for the Ottawa Art Gallery has become our city's art party of the year since its inception more than 20 years ago. The benefit was back in person for the first time in three years and featured more than 95 pieces of donated art from regional artists. 

Nobody was more jazzed about it than OAG director and CEO Alexandra Badzak. “It’s great to see everybody out here tonight,” she told OBJ.social at the start of the night. “We’re going to have a full house, and that’s exactly what we were hoping for.”

There was a positive energy and excitement in the air. “It feels like there’s a pent-up demand from people who really want to see and feel art,” said OAG board chair Mark Schaan, associate assistant deputy minister at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

“The OAG is really about community in so many ways and, while you can do some of that online and the art still looks beautiful, it’s so different when you can actually be amongst peers. Artists can meet patrons, patrons can meet artists. You can discuss the art, you can bring your friends.

“It’s really about creating those relationships, which is what the gallery is all about.”

The art auction, which continued throughout the weekend with online bidding, sees half the auction proceeds go back to the artists and the other half go toward maintaining free public access to the gallery, exhibitions, workshops and artist talks, ongoing public and educational programming, and the care and preservation of the OAG’s collection, as well as opportunities and supports for artists and artisans from the Ottawa-Gatineau area. Give to Get Art achieved its goal by raising $110,000 from ticket sales and the art auction. 

The OAG also hosted a weekend-long Give to Get Art Market that transformed the building into an art market. 

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The Ottawa Art Gallery's opening night gala for its Give to Get Art Auction on Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The Ottawa Art Gallery's opening night gala for its Give to Get Art Auction on Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

When selecting pieces for Give to Get Art, organizers looked for artists at different stages of their career, such as emerging, mid-career and established. They also chose artwork that reflects the diversity of the community, said Badzak. “We certainly check our blinders in terms of who’s out there."

Sasha Suda, director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, attended, as did outgoing Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who has listed the completed expansion in 2018 of the Ottawa Art Gallery and Arts Court as a project he's particularly proud of during his time as mayor. Also seen was Andrew Peck, who’s about six months into his new role as executive director of the Downtown Rideau BIA, which considers the OAG an important part of its neighbourhood. “This is such an incredible hotspot for creativity," he said.

Peter Tilley was there from The Ottawa Mission, a nonprofit organization located kitty-corner to the OAG. It feeds and shelters the homeless, as well as offers programs and services. Its social enterprise, Chef Ric’s, was helping to cater the opening night gala for the OAG, which has been known to run art therapy classes for service users of The Mission.

Don Masters, president and creative director of Mediaplus Advertising, and his wife, Lynn Buffone, were among the patrons who’ve been attending the annual art auction since the beginning, even participating in last year’s virtual option (they were highest bidders on a Christopher Griffin painting).

“I like this event because it supports local art and, honestly, we’ve decorated a lot of the walls in our house with artwork from this event,” said Masters. “We’re running out of space.”

Familiar faces included Lindsay Taub, wife of Shopify president Harley Finkelstein, Studio Sixty Six gallery director Carrie Colton, former TV journalists Don Newman and Tom Clark (his wife, Jane Clark, is on the OAG board), and Engel & Völkers real estate agent Sarah Grand, who was among those on day seven without power due to the recent deadly and destructive storm. Urban landscape artist Eryn O'Neill, who had a piece in the show, is starting her Master's in Architecture at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University this fall.

Artists also included Don Kwan, recent recipient of the Ottawa Arts Council’s Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award. He was there with his brother Ed Kwan, who's a performing artist in his own right as China Doll.

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From left, Ottawa Art Gallery board member and visual artist Guillermo Trejo with Alexandra Badzak, director and CEO of the Ottawa Art Gallery, and Mayor Jim Watson at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, National Gallery of Canada director and CEO Sasha Suda with Alexandra Badzak, director and CEO of the Ottawa Art Gallery, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ottawa Art Gallery board member Jane Clark with daughters Atlee Clark (director at Shopify) and Alexandra Clark (VP of strategic initiatives at Shopify) and former broadcast journalist Tom Clark, chair of Global Public Affairs, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Lindsay Taub with Emily Segal and Monica Singhal alongside a piece by Ottawa artist Pat Durr that Segal had her eye on, at the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction opening night gala, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillip
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Andrew Peck, executive director of the Downtown Rideau BIA, with his wife, Erin Connell, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Studio Sixty Six gallery director Carrie Colton, with Caribbean-Canadian Ottawa-based artist Stéphane Alexis and Ottawa Art Gallery director/CEO Alexandra Badzak alongside Alexis’s piece, Crochet Locs, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Don Masters, president and creative director at Mediaplus Advertising, with his wife, Lynn Buffone, from Canadian Heritage, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022 at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, leadership coach, facilitator and sculptor Dominique Dennery with two of her fellow Ottawa Art Gallery board members, political journalist Althia Raj and Barry Fong, an intellectual property lawyer and partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ottawa urban landscape artist Eryn O’Neill at the Give to Get Art Auction with Ottawa Art Gallery board member Sylvia Dreaver, who’s just joined the Canada Council for the Arts in its grant program for Indigenous artists. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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New parents Margaux McDonald, head of the Afghanistan Task Force with Global Affairs Canada, and Patrick Kennedy, principal at Earnscliffe Strategies, enjoyed a night out together  at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Shannon Day-Newman and former broadcast journalist Don Newman, executive vice president at Rubicon Strategy, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022 at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Peter Tilley, CEO of The Ottawa Mission, with Alexandra Badzak, director and CEO of the Ottawa Art Gallery, on the terrace at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Don Kwan, recent recipient of the Ottawa Arts Council’s Peter Honeywell Mid-Career Artist Award with his brother, Ed Kwan (a.k.a China Doll), at the Ottawa Art Gallery's Give to Get Art Auction. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Emma Gilfillan, national account manager at Panasonic Professional AV, with Sarah Grand, real estate agent at Engel & Völkers, at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ottawa artists Marisa Gallemit, Christopher Griffin and Zainab Hussain at the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, held Friday, May 27, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Lydia Blanchard, director of community engagement at CHEO Foundation, attended the opening night gala for the OAG’s Give to Get Art Auction, with her husband, Guillaume Blanchard. Photo by Caroline Phillips

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caroline@obj.ca