So let's look way back at how Studio Visuals (which was a dream) came to be. It was just one of my dreams which I envisioned in 1993, when living and travelling in the Middle East and Africa, long before I met Mr Higgins . My travels made me painfully aware of how seriously lacking the Toronto the art scene was. By the time I returned to Toronto it was 1995, by the time recovered from my culture shock of returning to the west it was 1997.
By then Toronto had been blessed with Stella Fakiyesi's SOF Art House, which was in the business of providing cost-efficient studio and darkroom space to photographers and Ken Montague who had Wedge; a photographic exposition in his home. Their spirit added to my growing inspiration.
The reality of it all is that it takes about 10 to 20 years to build a solid reputation as an art gallery and you really need to be in the same place all that time. Renting or leasing a place was not an option. I had to buy a space and the business model would really be about investing in the building for the long haul , not selling art in the short run. Every night I would repeat my mantra over and over again "I need to find a space" "I need to find a space". In 2002 I found that space and by then I had had saved enough capital to buy 503 Queen St East. After some pretty serious renovations (Mr Higgins and Welshie # 3 in the picture before the renovations.).Studio Visuals opened in Nov 2002 with the works of Issac Wanzama, Shawn Skeir & Joshua Higgins and the fashion designs of Yvonne Welsh-Talbot. Victoriously I had pulled it off, but the next 4 years would be a long hard haul and the subject of another blog.
So let's fast forward to Summer 2007 and Celebration. Joshua & I envisioned Celebration! 5 years ago and believe me there were times I really believed it would not happen, but we pulled it off between Toronto, Kingston, Jamaica and Maryland. This has been the most successful show that Studio Visuals has ever presented.
In essence, innovative, dynamic planning and presenting art and artists who align with my mission and vision kept me sane and in focus . Yes there were many distractions along the way. I know my karma is good , because there were days when I wanted to sell this place, but the stars were aligned for me to keep it and not to mention this is what I wanted.I just could not picture myself living and working anywhere else.
I am glad that I adjusted my mission and vision over the five years so it gave me the freedom I needed to work with a wider variety of art and artists. As a result I have attracted and presented a well balanced program as dynamic as the planning has been. So at this milestone in the road it's the right place to look back to the past, so that we can plan for the future. It's time for a 5 year strategic plan. I was hoping to get the strategic plan writing experience at my day job , but looks like I have to put my gray matter to the test and being the key stakeholder and the main beneficiary of the plan it's a task that I must take on for the continued success of Studio Visuals .