Artch: From abstract to accessible contemporary art

Multimedia exhibition welcomes emerging artists in Montreal

  • The Artch festival returned to Dorchester Square for its third edition. Photo Anthony-James Armstrong

One out of three artists does not live off their art after graduating due to a lack of resources for art professionalization, according to Artch’s director Sarah Kitzy Gineau-Delyon.

Every year, Artch holds an outdoor contemporary art exhibition in Dorchester Square made for young emerging artists.

The core purpose of this organization is to support new creators with an entrepreneurship training and a platform to showcase their work. Artch’s mission is also to popularize this art form with free exhibits and cultural mediators to bridge contemporary art, which can be abstract, to the population as well as enhancing the local art market by raising awareness on its relevance.

This initiative emerged in 2018 between Art Souterrain, the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Montréal Centre-Ville, and Jack Marketing. This inclusive project is developed in collaboration with Concordia, UQÀM, the RCAAQ and the RAAV.

“Each organization brings their own set of skills so if we support young artists, promote the art market to new investors and democratize contemporary art, we will make the Montreal artistic ecosystem durable,” said Gineau-Delyon.

Resources for emerging artists
For the third edition of Artch this fall, 19 selected creators received 50 hours of artistic entrepreneurship training. This helped them understand business models according to their careers goals, how to manage an exhibit, demystify the dynamics of the art markets, learn self-promotion, build a network, and so on.

“Being an artist is like being an entrepreneur. […] There is no defined path to live the art life but a thousand ways to be an artist,” said Gineau-Delyon. Art schools promote a conceptual approach, she explained, but there is a lack of education concerning art industries. Artch’s training guides emerging artists in understanding the direction in which they wish to pursue their career.

“Being an artist is like being an entrepreneur. […] There is no defined path to live the art life but a thousand ways to be an artist.”
Gineau-Delyon

In addition to this training, creators receive a $1,000 grant and the opportunity to interact with other creators which may lead to collaborations and constructive feedback since they are physically present to see the installations.

The artists were selling their work through the events and during the festival. Their pieces are available for sale on the Artch’s website.

Unlike most art galleries, Artch does not take any commission when artists are selling an art piece to encourage emerging artists to stand on their own two feet. The call for artists for next year is launched and artistic criteria are originality, innovation, risk-taking, accessibility and coherence, explained Gineau-Delyon.

Photographer Isabelle Parson, featured in the festival, is interested in the materiality of things from a poetic, scientific and philosophical perspective. Parson enjoyed interacting with the public to get feedback and exchange on attendees’ interpretations of her work. She wonders what alternative views we can find out of everyday objects.

For instance, in January she collected microbes from a tablet to cultivate them on a thin plastic layer that she replaced on the device two weeks later with a massive amount of germs. “The matter resonates,” she said. “I am sensitive to what it can evoke.”

From a post-COVID view, it is fascinating to realize how one’s interpretation of this artwork can be shaped by the pandemic context. Before, contamination was out of sight, but over time our perception of everyday objects radically changed and therefore influenced the meaning of the photo.

Democratizing elitist art
A sizeable part of the population is unfamiliar with this conceptual medium. There is a struggle of education and accessibility to interact with this type of art, acknowledged the Artch’s director. She indicated that contemporary art can be seen as elitist so one of their goals is to democratize it. Indeed, not everyone can afford entrance to museums and galleries, and fewer have the time to intellectualize an abstract piece of art.

Raising awareness on art is relevant to connect it with the street, explained Sarah-Kitzy Gineau-Delyon. This initiative has agency to promote equity.

The cultural mediators are there to help attendees connect with contemporary art through free guided tours. Their role is not to teach a subjective interpretation as well as giving a background on the artworks as traditional art guides. They make it accessible by promoting the audience’s reflections. They suggest questions such as: “How do you feel? What is that piece evoking for you?”

Dorchester Square is a free open space therefore contemporary art suddenly becomes accessible and the park’s tumult becomes a feature of this happening. There are also workshops, held online this year, to make the population mindful of this misunderstood art form which is more emotional than intellectual in the end.

Flourishing local art
Raising awareness is also meaningful to acknowledge the importance of art in the community. Dorchester Square is a strategic location for Artch because the park is grounded in the everyday life of many skyscrapers’ workers who can afford art. Raising awareness about the art market is important to motivate potential clients to invest in local creativity instead of Ikea items for instance, explained Gineau-Delyon. In order to do so, Artch held online workshops about buying artworks and introducing contemporary art.

With all those means of reinforcing Montreal-based contemporary art, they witness the impact on artists’ careers who were promoted by the organization whether they are exposed in galleries, launching solo exhibitions, or selling pieces in prestigious collections. Artch is a springboard for emerging creators.

To illustrate that, Myriam Simard Parent is a sculpture artist who was selected last year by Artch and has made a living off her art and also started a MFA in sculpture at Concordia. She is selling her work on her Instagram account which seems to be a great platform for entrepreneurship.

Every year, Artch creates opportunities for new artists to dive right into Montreal’s art scene.

By commenting on this page you agree to the terms of our Comments Policy.