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The SPAO Centre is home to the SPAO Centre Gallery, the Ottawa region's only independent and critical gallery space dedicated to photographic and video art. Located in the heart of Little Italy, within SPAO, the Gallery is close to Ottawa's new Light Rail Transit system, Dow's Lake, and the Arboretum. The Gallery is a short walk from other arts hubs, small businesses, museums, restaurants, nightlife and entertainment.

The SPAO Centre Gallery produces seven exhibitions per year celebrating the work of regional, national and international artists working in lens-based media. Four of these exhibitions pay CARFAC fees to professional exhibiting artists; the remaining three exhibition opportunities are provided to the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa as an opportunity to celebrate the 3 facets of its mentorship structure: the Photographic Arts and Production Program, Part-Time Studies, and International Artist Residency.

The SPAO Centre Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 12-5, or by chance. Holiday exceptions apply, and hours are subject to change without notice. There is no admission fee and the gallery is wheelchair accessible. 


  image detail by Angela Grauerholz

image detail by Angela Grauerholz

On May 11, 2018, the SPAO Centre will launch the SPAO Centre Gallery with the exhibition CANADIANA - Selections from the Art Bank Collection.

Featuring the work of Ed Burtynsky, David Craig, Denis Farley, Chris Gergley, Lorraine Gilbert, Angela Grauerholz, Mary Longman, Shelley Niro, and Greg Staats, this exhibition will be the SPAO Gallery’s inaugural Canadiana Exhibition, an annual showcase of artists from across the country presented in partnership with the Canadian Tulip Festival.

Where: 77 Pamilla Street, Ottawa (Little Italy)

In recognition of the fact that the Canadian Tulip Festival was created by the photographer Malak Karsh, the SPAO Centre is partnering with the festival for this important exhibition. An official Launch Soirée for the festival will be held in tandem with the Gallery launch at the SPAO Centre. The event is free and open to the public. The exhibition continues until July 1, Canada Day.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the SPAO Centre has commissioned Deborah Margo to create an Artist’s Garden on site, starting on May 11. It will grow and develop over a six month period as a part of Ottawa’s Garden Promenade. Inspired by the gardens in Little Italy, Margo’s installation will change configurations and heights as it is adapted to the growth of her selected palette of plants.

"Often associated with memorabilia or literature, the word Canadiana signifies that something is symbolic of this country and its culture. This term is problematic at best, especially in the current moment of intense debate about how we choose to define ourselves, which stories we choose to tell, as well as determining who speaks for whom.

The photographers in this exhibition have each turned their attention to the land - as a site of interaction, of conflict or of contemplation. They seek to trouble the notion of Canadiana by upending old mythologies and by telling new stories in their place. They invite the viewer to see the ordinary as extraordinary or to think about place as a continuum rather than as a location at a particular time and for a particular purpose. Each in their own way is interested in point of view, rather than a point on a map, or a line from the anthem.

We are extremely grateful to the Canada Council Art Bank for this opportunity to explore their collection. Canadiana is the first in a new series of annual exhibitions at the SPAO Centre." – Johanna Mizgala, Guest Curator

 thank you to our sponsors and partners!

thank you to our sponsors and partners!

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Join us on Saturday, June 16 from 5-7pm at the SPAO Centre for Parfocal Lens: Challenging Canadiana, the second session in our 2018 visiting artists’ lecture series. Enjoy refreshments, good company, and gain a deeper appreciation of the art on display in the exhibition currently on view (until July 1) in the SPAO Centre Gallery, CANADIANA: Selections from the Art Bank Collection.

The curator of the exhibition, Johanna Mizgala, will join exhibiting artists Denis Farley, Lorraine Gilbert and Angela Grauerholz in a far-ranging conversation about contemporary Canadian photography and sense of place. In her curatorial statement, Mizgala claims that the artists in the exhibition have turned their attention to the land “as a site of interaction, of conflict or of contemplation.” The conversation will redefine the terms of what constitutes Canadiana.

Lorraine Gilbert is currently the Graduate Program Director for Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa. Her works have been featured in solo, group and two-person exhibitions such as Global Nature and The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social.

Denis Farley lives and works as a professional artist and photographer in Montreal. His work has been exhibited in Canada, the United States and Europe, and is part of several private and public collections.

Angela Grauerholz is a German-born Canadian photographer, graphic designer and educator living in Montreal. She was won numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2014, and the prestigious Scotiabank Photography Award in 2015.

Johanna Mizgala, curator of the House of Commons Heritage Collection, is an educator and art critic who has lectured and published extensively on contemporary and photo-based art. She is committed to dialogue and interpretation of art and photography to a wide diversity of audiences.

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 L-R: Lorraine Gilbert, Deniz Farley, Angela Grauerholz, Johanna Mizgala

L-R: Lorraine Gilbert, Deniz Farley, Angela Grauerholz, Johanna Mizgala


The SPAO Centre is home to the SPAO Gallery, the Ottawa region's only independent and critical gallery space dedicated to photographic and video art. Located in the heart of Little Italy, within SPAO, the SPAO Gallery is close to Ottawa's new Light Rail Transit system, Dow's Lake, and the Arboretum. The Gallery is a short walk from other arts hubs, small businesses, museums, restaurants, nightlife and entertainment.

Gallery programming includes the exhibition of photographic and video art work by emerging and established artists, working locally, nationally and internationally. For inquiries or partnerships, contact info@spao.ca; for programming and submission details, please contact gallery@spao.ca.