The 401

Jennifer Bhogal keeps many balls in the air at Open Studio

For those of you who have not visited Open Studio, it is located at 401 Richmond West, just east from Spadina. 401 Richmond is a building devoted to the arts with many galleries, artists’ studios, and retail outlets. The wooden floors creak with age and glow in the sunlight. For me, the crown jewel of 401 is Open Studio under the loving care of Jennifer Bhogal, its Executive Director.

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     Open Studio is a charitable, non-profit, artist-run centre dedicated to the production, preservation, and promotion of contemporary fine art prints. Open Studio has been in operation since 1970. Membership costs $75.00 and access to the printmaking facilities for a month costs $275.00 dollars. Membership involves responsibilities to promote the studio. For example, giving credit to Open Studio for printing done at Open Studio. On the other hand, one of the perks for members is to promote their work in the Open Studio newsletter, Newsprint.   So, what are these “metaphorical” balls Ms. Bhogal must keep in the air?

     The most important one is maintaining the financial integrity of the studio through seeking out grants from the three levels of government and private institutions, maintaining membership levels, fundraisers, and print sales. The grant process can be quite nerve-wracking because of the complicated paperwork, the deadlines, and the competition. Grant dollars are scarce and highly sought after. Fundraisers require months of discussion about timing, format, and, most importantly, food. Bring on the sushi. Jennifer’s “smooze” arsenal is always at the ready.

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      In addition to her focus on revenue streams, cutting costs, and fighting Property Tax increases, Jennifer must oversee a staff , deal with schedules, and high maintenance collectors or artists. I do not consider myself a high maintenance collector, but others might. Once I get everyone’s undivided attention, my visits to Open Studio are visually rewarding and informative.  Do yourself a favour and visit Open Studio where art is not just a commodity but a collaborative experience, and where Jennifer Bhogal keeps it all together and happening.

Tom Maunder, gallery1007.com

     

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