Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries (GOG) have announced their shortlist nominees for the 44th annual GOG awards, and Art Gallery of York University’s (AGYU) Allyson Adley has been nominated for the Public Program category.
The Ontario Association of Art Galleries officially rebranded as GOG during the 2020 awards ceremony. “Although the appearance and name have changed, we are still the same organization to provide advocacy, professional development, and networking services for all our members,” says Zainub Verjee, executive director of GOG.
Following suit from 2020, this year’s award ceremony will be virtual. Verjee says that GOG has decided to condense the awards from a 10 category ceremony to a six category ceremony. The awards to be received this year are the Exhibition of the Year Award (Budget over $50,000, Budget over $20,000, Budget under $20,000 and Budget under $10,000), Public Program Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Verjee also mentions how the pandemic affected galleries across Ontario. She comments that ”because of the pandemic and the government reopening plan, art galleries and museums in Ontario have spent half of 2021 with their doors closed to the public. During this time, galleries have changed their approach and the way they think of making exhibitions.
“They have taken the time to learn new skills and tools to use when approaching exhibition creation, such as making their exhibitions in virtual space,” Verjee continues. This is seen with this approach taken by GOG and their Virtual award ceremony, as well as the new measures taken by the AGYU.
Liz Ikiriko, curator of collections and contemporary engagement at the AGYU, shared similar sentiments as Verjee. “COVID-19 has had a profound effect on galleries and the opportunities we have had to show art in physical spaces. Public, artist-run, commercial and institutional galleries across the city were forced to close for long lengths of time and so it was necessary to direct focus to online programming.”
Ikiriko speaks of a new initiative they developed called Lead Time: “This program was to aid artists during this challenging period and allow them to connect with mentors to discuss artmaking and research practices online.” Ikiriko continues on to say the “AGYU hosted numerous online discussions and events from ‘Art on My Mind, Desire Lines’ to ‘This is Not Made of Language but Energy.’”
Allyson Adley, collection/education assistant at the AGYU, is nominated for the Public Program Award for the installation and curation of their program. “Art on My Mind 2020 was a virtual songwriting residency organized by the AGYU that took place during the summer.”
Aldley says the program “Hope You Relate” was a collective authorship by the artists Zakisha Brown, Terence Penny, NamedTobias, Nasim Asgari, Tracey Kayy, and producer Solitair.
Adley explains that the pandemic had affected the original plan but that they adapted through the use of Zoom. According to Adley, the songwriting residency was originally going to take place at Black Creek Community Farm until the pandemic hit, where it was decided to transform the program into a virtual residency due to health regulations. Over a collectively-selected beat, the artists wrote and performed the lyrics for the song together on Zoom, with Adley saying that it was a collaborative process with artists exchanging ideas, and with everyone ultimately agreeing on a theme, chorus, and title.
“Hope You Relate” grew out of a collective mediation of personal and societal struggles in growth. “The song charts the unique trajectories of each of the artists in their pursuit to overcome barriers, manifest their dreams, and fulfill their purpose. Advocating for social justice, the lyrics condemn police brutality and anti-black violence, and call for reparations for people of African descent,” says Adley.
The 44th annual GOG awards will be taking place November 29 at 6 p.m. online. Tickets can be purchased here.
With files from Sarah Garofalo