Artcite marks milestone 40th anniversary with archival exhibit

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A fixture in the local arts community for the last 40 years, the artist-run Artcite Inc. gallery is marking the landmark event with a journey down memory lane while raising funds to support budding artists.

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The gallery, established in 1982 by a local group of artists was created through “an act of solidarity and activism,” to fill a void in display space for the contemporary and experimental genres of arts, said executive director Teajai Travis.

Travis estimates that over the last four decades, thousands of artists’ have exhibited work — first in a space in Mackenzie Hall on the city’s west side and for many years in the current space in the Capitol Theater building downtown.

Christine Burchnall, who served as executive director from 1994 to 2017 and program co-ordinator from 1984 to 1990, called it a testing lab and welcoming ground for artists.

“We did a lot of public art projects, getting the art outside of the gallery and into the community,” Burchnall said. “Just trying to do something different.

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“Contemporary art’s all about communicating ideas and that’s what we tried to do.

“We tried to highlight social or societal issues, environmental issues, etc.”

Teajai Travis, Executive Director of Artcite Inc. is shown at the downtown Windsor space on Wednesday, April 6, 2022.
Teajai Travis, Executive Director of Artcite Inc. is shown at the downtown Windsor space on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

She credits the “generous passion and vision” of the founding members in making the gallery a success.

“They sacrificed financially and with hours and hours of volunteer time originally to keep Artcite going,” Burchnall recalled.

Travis said the gallery is marking the milestone anniversary with an archival installation titled Vestiges & Remains, programmed by Toronto-based artist Morris Fox. It showcases the history of the organization with displays of items that have been stored for years in the basement of the gallery. .

“What he’s done is he’s activated our archives,” Travis said. “Many of the things that were tucked away in our basement for a long time are now showcased in our gallery and the community is invited to come in.”

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In addition, a fundraising initiative has been launched to mark the gallery’s 40th anniversary.

With a goal of $40,000, Travis said, half the funds raised will go towards micro grants and scholarships and the other half to community.

“We’re starting to step into the next phases of what I think an artist-run center should be doing for our community and that’s the continuous support of emerging artists in contemporary arts,” he said.

“We would like to support artists by being able to provide micro grants and scholarships for local artists who are going into creative arts programs — kind of play the role of a facilitator organization.”

Travis joined the organization as executive director in the middle of the pandemic.

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“So for my first year with the organization, we were on and off again as far as being able to open our door. And now we’re on again, hopefully for a long time.

“But using this opportunity to really connect the community.”

He’s initiated an event that’s held every Friday from 5 to 7 pm, called the Artcite Community Connector. Open to the public, there are poetry readings, drum circles and plenty of conversations.

“The main reason for it is to have conversations about how we can move Artcite as an organization forward. How Artcite can be the artist-run center that the community deserves.

“We know that the community is changing so we want to make sure that we are representative of that community.

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“We’re an organization for artists, run by artists — 40 years later, hopefully coming out of the other side of a global pandemic and still functioning.”

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The art gallery is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 pm, Fridays from 2 to 7 pm and Saturdays from noon to 6 pm, at 109 University Ave. W. Admission is free.

The 40th anniversary exhibit Vestiges & Remains runs through April 20.

Donations can be made by visiting and clicking on the gofundme link or by e-transfer or dropped off at the gallery. Charitable tax receipts are available.


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