Guide to Montreal’s Commercial Art Galleries

Posted on March 18th, 2014 by .

Have you ever visited a museum and wished it were a shop? Short of becoming a game-show millionaire, you may never be able to buy a Monet or a Borduas – but you can get close. Montreal has a slew of commercial galleries that enable both experienced collectors and more timid art lovers to invest in a masterpiece (or three) of their own. Here are some spots to start with…

Yves Laroche Art Gallery: This vast gallery on upper Saint-Laurent Boulevard, in Little Italy, serves up street-based art by international names like Gary Taxali, Ron English and Van Amo alongside locally created art. Take a look at the amazing masks by Montrealer Jason Botkin, or the hyper detailed surrealist paintings of Peter Ferguson – another of the city’s greatest talents.
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Arsenal: The city’s biggest contemporary commercial art complexes in terms of sheer size, the Arsenal in Griffintown is also one of the most important, as it shares its space with Division Gallery. The artists represented are both emerging and mid-career. Whether you treat yourself to a eerie portrait by Karel Funk or a moody photograph of the night by Montrealer Vincent Lafrance, either way you won’t regret your investment.

Galerie MX: This large, homey gallery two steps away from the the Palais des Congrès near Chinatown gives you a helping hand in figuring out whether the works on display will look good in your living room by providing modernist couches and fireplaces to set the mood. It represents many Québécois artists (Dominic Besner, Karine Léger, Patrick Rochon) among its international roster, and is part of an globe-spanning complex of galleries reaching from Belgium to the U.S.

Galerie D: Enter the gallery, view the art, and then look up – on the second floor is a glassed-in dentist’s office (yes, the “D’ in the gallery’s name stands for “dentist”). The gallery’s vocation is to exhibit emerging artists, which means the prices are definitely right, and the discoveries you can make are super exciting. Recent shows have included the luridly coloured, gestural works of Ian Gamache, a name to watch.
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Galerie Elca London: Right in the heart of Old Montreal, this is your source for Inuit sculpture both contemporary and historical. Passersby are welcome to come in and browse among the incredible treasures under glass – the owners not only purchase pieces from artists and Inuit collectives for resale, but also from auctions and galleries around the globe in order to continue building the impressive collection on view.

Canadian Guild of Crafts: This important and historic address in the Montreal art circuit is THE place to start if you’ve got a special gift to give – from jewelry to ceramics to sculptures, by either contemporary Canadian or First Nations artists, they’ve got it all and each piece is a unique work of art. In addition to the shop, located on Sherbrooke Street West near the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the guild also hosts groups, presents educational programs and has its own museum – and archive – on the second floor.

Want more? Lovers of Inuit art, keep hunting for the centerpiece of your living room at Galerie Héritage or Galerie Le Chariot, both in Old Montreal. Craft lovers will find amazing glass work, both decorative and utilitarian, at Espace Verre in Griffintown, while contemporary art lovers looking for a painting to wow visitors, look no further than Nuances Art Gallery, in Old Montreal.

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