Dealing Art from Toronto to the Rest of the World
We’re in the era of the art fair, and Toronto-based dealer Christopher Cutts is taking full advantage. Over the past ten years, he’s participated in Milan’s Milart, New York City’s Armory Show, Basel’s Scope, Cologne’s Art Fair Cologne, Montreal’s Papier 16, and more. Still, he’s devoted to his space in Dundas West, where he exhibits many Canadian artists and mounts monthly exhibitions. Until July 29th, check out the Director’s Choice show, which juxtaposes painting, sculpture, and photography by Richard Stipl, Drew Simpson, Gordon Anderson, and Matthew Carver. While you can certainly find work by Cutts’s artists at venues around the world, a gallery visit is always more intimate than a day under a fair tent. Stop by before they close in August.
I read that the gallery has been around since 1986. Since then, what are the biggest ways in which you’ve seen the city’s art scene change?
When I began dealing art in the mid to late 80s, there were two particular galleries, from my perspective, that were better than the rest. That was the Isaacs Gallery and the Carmen Lammana Gallery. By 1992, both had closed. I had moved out to Morrow Avenue from the King and Dufferin area in 1990 and I was a young man full of hopes. I had this feeling that there was “a changing of the guard,” and indeed a number of artists that exhibited with those venerable galleries started to look for new dealers. I was fortunate to pick up some wonderful artists.
Morrow Avenue was somewhat in the hinterlands of West Toronto. Today, MOCCA is moving to Sterling Ave just a stone’s throw from the gallery and a number of excellent galleries are as far west as me and slightly north.
You participate in art fairs around the world. How does your business and clientele differ in your brick and mortar location vs. at these events?
When you do art fairs outside of your city, business is more spontaneous. You want to sell at the fair, to at least cover your expenses, which are considerable. In Toronto, you have a clientele that knows you and your program. Often, you have some core collectors that help move things along. You have all the time you need to develop relationships. You can do that to a lesser degree internationally, but geography makes it difficult.
Where are your favorite places to scout new artists? Anywhere particular in Toronto?
You never know where or when something is going to catch your attention. Can’t say I have any particular “scouting ground”. You often become aware of an artist by an introduction.
Favorite spots in the Dundas West neighborhood? For post-opening celebrations, after work dinner, taking a walk, etc.?
I do most of my entertaining at the gallery. I have a nice kitchen and I like cooking for my friends and artists. Walks? Roncesvalles, Sourauren, and, of course, High Park.