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Arts, culture, fun in London this weekend and beyond (Feb. 6-12) – The London Free Press



What’s happening in and around London this weekend and next week.

London’s New Cumberland perform their bluegrass, rock and folk flavorings Sunday at Chaucer’s Pub, 122 Carling St., presented by Cuckoo’s Nest Folk Club. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, available online at or in person at Centennial Hall box office, 550 Wellington St., Long & McQuade, 725 Fanshawe Park Rd. West, The Village Idiot in Wortley Village, and Chaucer’s/Marienbad Restaurant.

What’s happening in and around London this weekend and next week:


Chaucer’s Pub: Blue Valentines 3 with Paul Langille and Paul Sims, Thursday, 7:30 p.m., $20 advance or $25 at the door; New Cumberland, Sunday, 7:30 p.m., $20 advance  or $25 at the door; tickets available at Centennial Hall, Long and McQuade North, Village Idiot and Marienbad Restaurant; 122 Carling St.; 519-319-5847 or visit

Eastside Bar and Grill: The Defbombs, Friday, 10 p.m.; The Fish, Saturday, 10 p.m.; Blues Jam, Sunday, 3 p.m.; Eastside Open Jam Night, Wednesday, 8 p.m.; 750 Hamilton Rd.; 519-457-7467.

Jimbo’s Pub And Eatery: Karaoke Party hosted by Maggie, Fridays, 10 p.m. and Tuesdays, 8 p.m.; 920 Commissioners Rd. E.; 519-204-7991 or visit

London Music Club: Trainwreck Dup and Fog Blues, Brass Band, Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Larry Smith and Tara Dunphy, 8 p.m.; Shut The Front Door Improv, Friday, 7 p.m., Acoustic Open Mic, 7:30 p.m.; Arrogant Worms, Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Manzee, 7 p.m.; momondays, Monday, 6 p.m.; SOUP Ukulele Jam, Wednesday, 6:45 p.m.; 470 Colborne St.; 519-640-6996.

London Music Hall: Share the Land, Wednesday, 7 p.m., $20 available at Grooves Records, all ages; 185 Queens Ave.; 519-432-1107.

London Wine Bar: Jazz, blues, and folk with Lori Read, no cover; 420 Talbot St.; reservations by calling 519-913-3400 or e-mail; walk-ins welcome.

Mustang Sally’s: Electric Pop, Friday, 9:30 p.m.; Smile ‘N’ Wave, Saturday, 9:30 p.m.; Acoustic Jam with Alan Lynch, Bobby Keener, Jack Coveney, Don Oullette and Friends, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.; Lonnie Chicago, Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m.; 99 Belmont Drive, 519-649-7688.

Rum Runners: System Saturday with Cloverdale, Joel Demoor, Mikey the Kid, Saturday, 10 p.m., $10 available at Grooves Records, 19+; 178 Dundas St.; 519-432-1107.

St. Regis Tavern: Musical Chairs with Psalm Trees, Trusty Fox and Jenny Rensby, Saturday, 9 p.m., pay-what-you-will; 625 Dundas St.; 519-432-0162., Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., no cover; 420 Talbot St.; call 519-913-3400 or e-mail for reservations; walk-ins welcome.

Wortley Roadhouse: Hot Tub Hippies, Friday and Saturday, 10 p.m.; Journeymen of Soul, Sunday, 4-8 p.m.; 190 Wortley Rd.; 519-438-5141.


Coffee, Cake and Cha Cha Cha: An afternoon of live music, dancing, homemade cake and coffee, Sunday 2-5 p.m. at German Canadian Club, 1 Cove Rd.; admission: $7; 519-433-2901 or visit

Come Dancing: Ballroom, Latin and swing dancing with Wolfeman music host, Friday, 8 p.m. at Polish Hall, 554 Hill St.; admission: $10, snacks on tables; all welcome; 519-433-2579.

Forest City Eagles: Spot dances with prizes, karaoke, spaghetti dinner, Sunday at 500 First St.; tickets: $10, reserve by calling Agnes, 519 455 9270.

Latin Dance Night: Come out and do the Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton and Bachata with DJ Alexander, Saturday, 9 p.m., no cover; Jimbo’s Pub, 920 Commissioners Rd. E.; 519-204-7991 or visit

Royal Canadian Legion – Dorchester: Karaoke with the 2T’s, Saturday, 1-5 p.m. at 1227 Donnybrook Dr., Dorchester; free admission; 519-268-8538.

Royal Canadian Legion – Lambeth: Dance to the music of CW Country, Saturday, 2-5 p.m., free admission; 7097 Kilbourne Rd.; 519-652-3412.

Royal Canadian Legion – Victory: Dance to the music of Blackstone, Saturday, 8 p.m., $10 at main floor door; Wednesday Night Opry with County Road, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., $5 at main floor door; 311 Oakland Ave.

Singles Dance Party: Dance to music by Wolfeman DJ, Saturday, 8 p.m. in Big Hall at Marconi Club, 120 Clarke Rd.; admission: $13, all welcome; 519-433-2579.

Strathroy Jamboree: Play, dance, sing or listen, Thursday, 1-4 p.m. at 137 Frank St., Strathroy; lunch available for purchase from 11:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m.; everyone welcome; Harry and Elaine Hardy, 519-245-0906 or e-mail

Tuesday Tunes: Old time fiddle and traditional style country music, every Tuesday, 1-3:30 p.m. at Seaforth Community Centre, 122 Duke St., Seaforth; singers, musicians, dancers and listeners welcome, bring your own musical instruments; admission by donation; 519-357-1016.


Breakfast for YOU: Join business, community and government partners to help address our youth’s most pressing needs, Thursday, 7 a.m. at RBC Place, 300 York St.; tickets: $65 by calling 519-432-1112 ext. 351.

Finding Your Way: A lecture series on the psychology of everyday life, Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in Stevenson and Hunt Room A at Central Library, 251 Dundas St.; free, no registration required; Thrive: Positive Psychology Workshop, 9:30 a.m., Misconceptions of Psychopathy, 11 a.m., Recognizing the Effects of Trauma on Brain and Body, 11:30 a.m., Distress Tolerance, 1 p.m., The Complexity of Weight, Health and Well-Being, 1:45 p.m., Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety, 2:30 p.m., Navigating the Forensic Mental Health System, 4 p.m.; 519-661-4600 or visit

Murder Mystery Fundraiser Dinner: Brief walk through main house before entering Interpretive Centre, dinner by In Home Chef, Friday, 7 p.m. at Eldon House, 481 Ridout St. N.; tickets: $95, with proceeds to kitchen renovations to ensure continuation of education and programming events; call 519-661-5169 or visit to register.

The exterior of London’s oldest home, Eldon House (Free Press file photo)

Share the Love: Fundraiser featuring entertainment with Flamenco del Sur and Shout Sister Choir, food and refreshments, silent auction and more, Thursday, 7-9 p.m. at Innovation Works, 201 King St.

White Cane Week: Open house to learn about social activities, technology, and lifestyle of the blind and low vision community, Saturday, 2-4 p.m. at CNIB community hub, 171 Queens Ave. (entrance on Richmond Street); sponsored by Canadian Counsel of the Blind, London Ontario chapter; 519-357-5380.


Art Emporium: Work by regional artists and artisans working in many mediums and disciplines; featured artists for February are Deb Dicker, Ethel Mitrovic, Jacqueline Kinsey, Robin Baratta, Christa Oglan, Judy Ross and Michelle Boyer; winter hours: Saturday, Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. or by appointment; 177 Main St., Port Stanley; 226-658-1888 or visit

Eldon House: London’s oldest residence contains family heirlooms, furnishings and priceless treasures of the Harris Family; hours: Thursday to Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; admission by donation; 481 Ridout St. N.; 519-661-5169 or visit

Forest City Gallery: Through Clenched Teeth exhibition, ends Friday; 258 Richmond St.; visit

Gallery in the Grove: Connexions, exhibition celebrates artists who have shared in our 40-year evolution, runs till Feb. 22; 2618 Hamilton Rd. at Wildwood Park, Bright’s Grove; visit

The Great Beyond by artist Val Sabo is part of a new exhibition on at ArtWithPanache until Feb. 14.

Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre: Recent work by the Wild Woollies Rug Hooking Group, opening reception Sunday, 1-4 p.m. with opening remarks at 2 p.m., runs till March 1; free admission; hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 125 Centennial Lane in Victoria Park, Ingersoll; 519-485-4691 or visit

Jet Aircraft Museum: Cold War era jet aircraft and historic displays honouring Canadian aviation heritage; hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; admission by donation; 2465 Aviation Lane, Unit 2; 519-453-7000 or visit

McIntosh Gallery: Gerard Pas: Broken Body exhibition, runs till Feb. 22; hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, noon-4 p.m.; Western University, 1151 Richmond St.; 519-661-2111, ext. 87576.

Museum London: Realisms: Canadian Art, 1850 to the Present, runs till May 3; Dean Carson, runs till May 17; 100 Years of Nursing Education in London, runs till May 24; hours: Tuesday to Sunday, noon-5 p.m., Thursdays till 9 p.m.; admission by donation; 421 Ridout St. N.; 519-661-0333 or visit

Portside Gallery: Featured artists for February are Kit Cutting, Patricia Johnson and Gail Jongkind; 18 area artists displaying original paintings, photography, jewelry, hand-painted scarves and cards; hours: Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (weather permitting); 187 1/2 Main St., Port Stanley; 519-782-7066 or visit

St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre: Contemporary Selections from the Permanent Collection: Celebrating 50 Years, in Gallery One and Two and White Walls and Substantial Forms: Small Sculpture from the Permanent Collection, in Gallery Three, both exhibits run till Feb. 15; hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday, Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday, noon-4 p.m., Sunday, noon-3 p.m.; 301 Talbot St., St. Thomas; 519-631-4040.

Geoff Farnsworth’s Figure at a Picnic Table, is part of a new group exhibition, Winter Collection, on at Westland Gallery in Wortley Village until Feb. 15.

Westland Gallery: Winter Collection: London and more, featuring works by Dana Cowie, Geoff Farnsworth, Angie Quick, Maryann Hendriks, Curtis Doherty and Sam Chilvers, runs till Feb. 15; hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, noon-4 p.m.; 156 Wortley Rd.; 519-601-4420 or visit

Woodstock Art Gallery: Walk On: ongoing sculpture project of John McEwen, runs till June 27; 449 Dundas St., Woodstock; 519-539-6761.


Adrian Raso: Saturday, 8 p.m. at Aeolian Hall, 795 Dundas St.; tickets: $28 advance available at box office, Centennial Hall, Long and McQuade North, Village Idiot, online at or $33 at the door; 519-672-1522 or visit

Beer Store Money: Live in-store performance, Friday, 7-9 p.m. at Cheeky Monkey, 130 Christina St. N., Sarnia; also on display, Coastal, art show and exhibit by W. A. Walters; free admission; 519-332-0978.

Blue Rodeo: With Elliott Brood, Saturday, 8 p.m. at Budweiser Gardens, 99 Dundas St.; tickets: $48.50-$92.50 available at

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Blue Valentines 3: Paul Langille and Paul Sims, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. at Chaucer’s Pub, 122 Carling St.; tickets: $20 advance available at Centennial Hall, Long and McQuade North, Village Idiot and Marienbad Restaurant or $25 at the door; 519-319-5847.

Gailey and Noseworthy: Featuring India Yeshe Gailey, cello, and Andrew Noseworthy, guitar, Friday, 7:30 p.m. at St. James Presbyterian Church, 280 Oxford St. E.; admission: $15/pay-what-you-can at the door.

Giants of the Piano: Mark Payne celebrates the greatest piano artists of all time including Billy Joel, Elton John, Burton Cummings, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Nat King Cole, Liberace, Fats Domino, Floyd Cramer and more, Saturday, 7 p.m. at Church of the Ascension, 2060 Dundas St. E.; tickets: $20 by calling 519-451-7780 or e-mail; proceeds to support Youth Opportunities Unlimited and the Ministry of the Church.

London Jazz Society: The Stephen Holowitz and Barry Usher Quartet featuring vocalist Laurraine Segouin, Sunday, 2 p.m. at Mocha Shrine Centre, 468 Colborne St.; tickets: members $7, non-members $14 at the door; all are welcome; visit

Midwinter Gala: Fundraising evening features gastronomical delights and eclectic song set about weather events, silent auction and more, Saturday, 7 p.m. at Western’s WindEEE Dome, 2535 Advanced Ave.; tickets: $135 advance only available online at; hosted by Amabile Men of Primus.

New Cumberland: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. at Chaucer’s Pub, 122 Carling St.; tickets: $20 advance available at Centennial Hall, Long and McQuade North, Village Idiot and Marienbad Restaurant or $25 at the door; 519-319-5847.


Field Naturalist Meeting: A Yukon River Canoeing Adventure with speaker Joe Stephenson, Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Knox Church, St. Thomas; 519-633-5440.

Kettle Creek Conservation Authority General Meeting: Studying the Lake Erie Shoreline in a Changing Climate, with guest speaker Peter Zuzek, president of Zuzek Inc., Feb. 19, 9:30 a.m. at St. Thomas Public Library; RSVP before Wednesday to Jessica, 519-631-1270 ext. 221 or e-mail

Nature in the City: Predator – Prey Interactions, illustrated talk by Western Professor Liana Zanette, Department of Biology, to help us understand healthy human and animal relationships in our urban ecosystems, Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Wolf Performance Hall, Central Library, 251 Dundas St., free admission; co-sponsored by Nature London and London Public Library.

Saturday Morning Walks: Walk through Westminster Ponds, meet behind the Information Centre, 696 Wellington Rd.; walks are approximately one hour; families with children are welcome, no dogs; John Clark, 519-641-0442 or visit

Winter Wonderland: Pull on your winter gear and get in on the fun – scenic wagon rides, broomball, see trees being tapped, stop by the Blacksmith Shop, take photos in a sleigh, make snow angels, build snowman or for, try snowshoeing (weather permitting) and snow painting, do winter science experiments, and play the winter games, Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Fanshawe Pioneer Village, 2609 Fanshawe Park Rd. E.; admission: $5 or $15 per family; refreshments available for purchase (cash); 519-457-1296 ext. 811.


Art Show: Exhibition features acrylic, oil, and water colour paintings by London artist Richard Thompson, runs till April 1 at Hillside London’s cafe space, 138 Thompson Rd.; free admission.

ArtVenture Art Studio: Fusion – a journey through paint and textile, featuring works by Cynthia McNair, runs till Feb. 29; hours: Monday to Thursday, 4-8 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; 1438 Aldersbrook Rd.; 519-471-4278 or visit

John Labatt Visual Arts Centre: Launch of Femme Art Review’s inaugural print issue as well as the launch of the Western University Museum Studies Collective’s 2020 winter journal, Thursday, 6-7:30 p.m. in Cohen Commons; 604-396-3355 or visit


Aylmer Community Theatre: Secrets of a Soccer Mom by Kathleen Clark, Thursday to Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m., runs till Feb. 15; tickets: adults $20, students $15; Old Town Hall Theatre, 38 John St. S., Aylmer.

Grand Theatre: Every Brilliant Thing, ends Saturday on McManus Stage; Honour Beat, runs till Feb. 22 on Spriet Stage; 471 Richmond St.; 519-672-9030 or visit

London Community Players: Veritas by Lynda Martens, directed by Dale Hirlehey, Thursday to Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m.; Palace Theatre, 710 Dundas St.; tickets: adults $28, seniors/students $26, youth $16 available at box office, by calling 519-432-1029 or online

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Canada Council 2022 Open Call for Purchases – Canada Council for the Arts



Ottawa, August 10, 2022—The Canada Council is pleased to have launched an open call by its Art Bank for the purchase of new artworks from artists in Canada. With a dedicated purchase budget of $600,000, this next Art Bank purchase, which is part of the Canada Council’s strategy to establish a collection that is truly representative of Canada, has been timed to coincide with the Art Bank’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Individual artists (groups and collaborations) and artists’ representatives are encouraged to apply by September 14, 2022, for the opportunity to become a part of the Art Bank’s next 50 years.  To be eligible for purchase, their artworks must have been created within the last five years and be by living Canadian artists or permanent residents of Canada. Submissions must be made directly by the artist or the artist’s representative to the Art Bank. The purchase program guidelines and the submission forms are available for download from the Canada Council Art Bank Purchase Program webpage; those interested in applying may also email the Art Bank directly for more information.

In addition to prioritizing the acquisition of works by artists that are not currently included in the Art Bank collection, the current open call strives to acquire artworks by artists who self-identify as Indigenous, Black, racialized, Deaf, or having a disability, from official language minority communities, youth, 2SLGBTQ, gender-diverse and women, including artists at the intersections of these identities.

This is the first open call for Art Bank purchases since 2011. The last call selected from 1,875 submissions and resulted in the acquisition of 52 new works by Canadian artists, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, and drawings, worth a total value of $303,025.

On June 16, 2022, the Art Bank kicked off its 50th anniversary celebration with the promise of this current open call for art purchase at the exhibition opening of Looking the World in the Face, an exhibit that will remain open at Âjagemô throughout this year and into 2023.

As the Art Bank celebrations continue to unfold, the public is encouraged to follow and use the hashtag #ArtBank50.

About the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder. The mandate of the Canada Council is to “foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts.”

The Canada Council’s Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts through exhibition and outreach activities.

The Canada Council’s investments foster greater engagement in the arts among international audiences and within Canada. This contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene and supports the presence of this scene across Canada and around the world.

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Tehran unveils Western art masterpieces hidden for decades – Mountain View TODAY



TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Some of the world’s most prized works of contemporary Western art have been unveiled for the first time in decades — in Tehran.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric, rails against the influence of the West. Authorities have lashed out at “deviant” artists for “attacking Iran’s revolutionary culture.” And the Islamic Republic has plunged further into confrontation with the United States and Europe as it rapidly accelerates its nuclear program and diplomatic efforts stall.

But contradictions abound in the Iranian capital, where thousands of well-heeled men and hijab-clad women marveled at 19th- and 20th-century American and European minimalist and conceptual masterpieces on display this summer for the first time at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

On a recent August afternoon, art critics and students were delighted at Marcel Duchamp’s see-through 1915 mural, “The Large Glass,” long interpreted as an exploration of erotic frustration.

They gazed at a rare 4-meter (13-foot) untitled sculpture by American minimalist pioneer Donald Judd and one of Sol Lewitt’s best-known serial pieces, “Open Cube,” among other important works. The Judd sculpture, consisting of a horizontal array of lacquered brass and aluminum panels, is likely worth millions of dollars.

“Setting up a show with such a theme and such works is a bold move that takes a lot of courage,” said Babak Bahari, 62, who was viewing the exhibit of 130 works for the fourth time since it opened in late June. “Even in the West these works are at the heart of discussions and dialogue.”

The government of Iran’s Western-backed shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and his wife, the former Empress Farah Pahlavi, built the museum and acquired the multibillion-dollar collection in the late 1970s, when oil boomed and Western economies stagnated. Upon opening, it showed sensational works by Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock and other heavyweights, enhancing Iran’s cultural standing on the world stage.

But just two years later, in 1979, Shiite clerics ousted the shah and packed away the art in the museum’s vault. Some paintings — cubist, surrealist, impressionist, even pop art — sat untouched for decades to avoid offending Islamic values and catering to Western sensibilities.

But during a thaw in Iran’s hard-line politics, the art started to resurface. While Andy Warhol’s paintings of the Pahlavis and some choice nudes are still hidden in the basement, much of the museum’s collection has been brought out to great fanfare as Iran’s cultural restrictions have eased.

The ongoing exhibit on minimalism, featuring 34 Western artists, has captured particular attention. Over 17,000 people have made the trip since it opened, the museum said — nearly double the footfall of past shows.

Curator Behrang Samadzadegan credits a recent renewed interest in conceptual art, which first shocked audiences in the 1960s by drawing on political themes and taking art out of traditional galleries and into the wider world.

The museum’s spokesperson, Hasan Noferesti, said the size of the crowds coming to the exhibition, which lasts until mid-September, shows the thrill of experiencing long-hidden modern masterpieces.

It also attests to the enduring appetite for art among Iran’s young generation. Over 50% of the country’s roughly 85 million people are under 30 years old.

Despite their country’s deepening global isolation, and fears that their already limited social and cultural freedoms may be further curtailed under the hard-line government elected a year ago, young Iranians are increasingly exploring the international art world on social media. New galleries are buzzing. Art and architecture schools are thriving.

“These are good works of art, you don’t want to imitate them,” said Mohammad Shahsavari, a 20-year-old architecture student standing before Lewitt’s cube structure. “Rather, you get inspiration from them.”


Associated Press writer Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed.

Nasser Karimi And Mehdi Fattahi, The Associated Press

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Want to own a piece of original artwork for just $5? You should play this lotto –



Left: an acrylic and oil painting by Montreal-based painter David Bellemare, titled 21st Century Nagual. Right: handblown glass vase by Kayla Francis Della-Nebbia. (David Bellemare/Kayla Francis Della-Nebbia)

We all know original art can be expensive. But what if I told you that for just five bucks — and a little luck — you could buy an original work of art, while also supporting the artist as well as an important cause within the community? If that sounds too good to be true, well, then you just don’t know about ArtLotto yet.

Like so many artists, ArtLotto’s founder, Gabriel Baribeau, has struggled with an existential matter throughout his career. “Why am I doing this?” the artist will ask himself. “What is this for?” 

He wonders: “How can I make my art serve the people? How can I make my art politically powerful?” And, at the same time, he wonders: how can he make his art accessible?

Primarily known as a painter, Baribeau has had success in commercial settings before — but he doesn’t want to sell his work only to the wealthy. He wants to share it with friends and family, he says. But his labour requires compensation.

“I’m sitting there often feeling absurd, having multiple people say, ‘Oh, I wish I could own your art.’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah, well, here’s my hilarious price. Can you meet that?'”

So, disenchanted with traditional models of art commerce, Baribeau has come up with what seems to be a winning DIY solution: what if you raffle the art?

A sculptural jewelry holder with earrings by artist Jesse Hiss. (Jesse Hiss)

The Hamilton-based artist began ArtLotto in January 2021, launching the experiment with an oil painting of his own. (It pictured a person bobbing for apples, which, if coincidence, is an apt one.) ArtLotto has since raffled the work of some 20 other creators, raising thousands of dollars for the artists as well as thousands more for community causes close to their hearts. Entry tickets to win the artworks — some of which could fetch hundreds or even thousands if sold by a dealer — cost just $5 each. 

“It is built to be a disruptor of the single-wealthy-buyer model that the art world runs on,” Baribeau says. He emphasizes, though, that it doesn’t dispel the idea that art ownership is mainly for the rich. The raffle can only give people a small chance to play in the game.

Beyond its novel luck-of-the-draw feature, what really sets ArtLotto apart is the way it splits the revenue pie. Typically, galleries take half the sticker price of an artwork, leaving the other half for the art-maker. ArtLotto, on the other hand, takes 20 per cent (or $1 from each ticket) of raffle proceeds to cover base costs, like shipping and website maintenance. The remaining 80 per cent is then split between the artist and a social initiative of their choosing.

Left: an acrylic painting by Montreal-based artist Katie McDonald titled Release. Right: a diorama by Hamilton-based artist Andrea Flockhart, titled The Sin Eater. (Katie McDonald/Andrea Flockhart)

This added dimension seeks partly to answer that ever-present ache: “What is this for?” The act of art-making alone “isn’t in any way altruistic,” Baribeau says. “That’s the problem that leaves a lot of these artists who want to be good people squirming.” Giving the art a social mission, as ArtLotto does, enables the artist’s work to do good directly in their community — and do it without costing the artist their livelihood. Some of the causes ArtLotto has benefitted thus far include the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, Sex Workers’ Action Program Hamilton and Resilience Montreal. One of the first questions Baribeau asks any prospective raffle artist is who would they like to help. 

As for the art on offer, ArtLotto’s curatorial tastes are eclectic, with an inclination toward the psychedelic and the adventurous. Baribeau selects the artists himself, featuring creators whose work he admires with nary a concern for CV highlights or exhibition credentials. That means a wildly talented high school student might star in one lotto, while the work of an MFA who’s shown internationally might comprise another. Baribeau invites the artist to contribute whatever work they want, whether it’s their most saleable, something new and challenging, or a piece they’d just really like to liquidate. Some works would be gallery darlings, while some would never make it through the doorways of a traditional commercial space. But ArtLotto “levels the playing field,” Baribeau says.

Usually, I’m at a market and I’m talking to hundreds of people and I’m really hustling to get that sale…This process involved none of that.– Sonali Menezes, artist

Without the white cube’s high art context, ticket buyers respond to raffle items simply because they admire them, and appreciation alone establishes value. A charcoal drawing by the London, U.K.-based artist Sara Anstis, for example, inspired another Londoner — “presumably a collector,” Baribeau says — to snatch up a ton of tickets. “They were buying the win,” he says. But ArtLotto’s randomizer favoured a different admirer. When Baribeau reached out to congratulate the winner, he shared a bit about the artist’s impressive background with them. And they said: “I’m glad you told me, cuz I was gonna Scotch tape it to my kid’s wall…. I just liked it.”

Perhaps ArtLotto’s biggest success, however, is the fact that it’s more or less sustainable for artists. Participants are not offering up their works at a painful discount — the raffle model often raises roughly the target price they would regularly receive for the item, Baribeau says. “And, in some cases, it hits way above that mark.”

Sonali Menezes, whose interdisciplinary practice includes printmaking, zinemaking, performance, video and poetry, was one of ArtLotto’s very first artists. “Usually, I’m at a market and I’m talking to hundreds of people and I’m really hustling to get that sale,” she says, “to make up the tabling cost and the transportation costs, the printing costs, my lunch. There’s a fair bit of stress and anxiety around ‘Will I break even? Will I make a profit?’ And this process involved none of that.” Her print, The Hairy Bather, raised more than double its target price. 

Another successful lotto featured Hamilton-based painter Kareem-Anthony Ferreira, whose star has grown internationally over the past few years (yes, that’s his work hanging in LeBron James’ dining room). Ferreira contributed a print portrait of his Aunty Pam with raffle proceeds supporting the Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra, the local steelpan band his mom co-founded nearly 20 years ago. The art was about family and the raffle supported a cause dear to the family, so the Ferreiras and their community supported the lotto enthusiastically.

“It’s this kind of continuous thing,” Ferreira says, “giving back to the community, using my talent and heritage to give back to that program, which is itself giving back … I’ve already told Gabe to slot me in again.”

A silkscreen print by Hamilton-based artist Kareem-Anthony Ferreira called Aunty Pam. (Kareem-Anthony Ferreira)

Baribeau considers this a rare example of a “closed loop” — when all stakeholders (the artist, the social cause and the audience) are intimately connected. It is a powerful dynamic, and one he’d like to emulate in future raffles. In fact, as the project grows, Baribeau would like ArtLotto to do less of the sort of philanthropic work that simply airdrops one-time donations to area charities and organizations and do more direct service within the community that ArtLotto is itself building. He can imagine classes, workshops, grants and sponsorships all funded by ArtLotto. This sort of social development, after all, is the true strength of the project.

The raffle will not overturn the way the larger art market does business, but that was never its mission. Instead, ArtLotto emphasizes that “there are artists everywhere in your community,” Baribeau says. “Its goal is to show that and to better connect artists to their community.”

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