3 reasons to visit studio 21 if you only have 1 afternoon to explore halifax’s art scene.
Author: Grace Lane Smith
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Halifax as a city has much to offer. A midsize city with a vibrant downtown, it was recently named by Maclean's magazine as the best place to live in Canada. Mayor Mike Savage says it doesn't really matter where it ranks as long as it continues to be an attractive place to live. But why is Halifax growing? Well, it has a tech hub, an active arts and culture scene and easy access natural wilderness. You can hear more about life in Halifax by tuning into James Mullinger’s engaging interview with the mayor in Episode 8: Mayor Mike Savage, in the Mullinger Meets Canadians podcast. The episode is especially worth listening to hear more about what the mayor values – equity for Black communities, studies to explore what it means to defund the police and valuing green technology. It made me love Halifax even more.
Specifically, this article is about the arts scene. If you’re like me and only have limited time when travelling to Halifax, it’s important to narrow down the list of places to visit and things to do to only a handful to get the most out of your visit.
HERE ARE THREE REASONS TO VISIT STUDIO 21 IF YOU ONLY HAVE ONE AFTERNOON TO EXPLORE HALIFAX’S ART SCENE
1. it is a warm and welcoming place.
When you walk through the doors you're immediately greeted by Lindsey, the Director of Communications & Marketing. I was immediately struck by just how friendly and welcoming the gallery is (and this has happened more than once!).
Some people are shy when visiting galleries and prefer to soak in the art quietly. Usually that’s me, but Lindsey was great, giving me time to wander and coming up occasionally to share more about the art and artists. Studio 21 went above and beyond by taking the time to really ask if I’d like to know about certain paintings on the wall and answer questions. They even offered to show me to a little back area to meet one of the artists, Alex Sutcliffe, who was present. He was packing his art for shipping at the time and kindly answered questions about his packing process on how he protects large work. Alex makes energizing paintings ‘transformed by digital interfaces’. You can see more of his work here.
2. the art and shows are enthralling.
Another reason to visit the gallery is to see the shows on display. Director Deborah Carver takes special care in choosing which artists to pair together when putting on a show. The show I saw recently was by Kristina Søbstad and Igor Kolodin. The two artists’ styles paired really well together. The flowy and bold textures on canvas (with some of its original weave showing) representing mountains in Kristina’s work, complimented the uniformity in Igor’s ‘Manhattan’ city work.
I was intrigued by how glossy Igor’s canvas paintings were, almost like polished stone in the texture of its appearance. It made me want to reach out and touch the surface to feel if it really was as solid as it looked, without the usual woven bumps in canvas material. You can see more from Kristina Søbstad’s show ‘When Time is New’ here, and Igor Kolodin’s ‘Manhattan’ work here.
Studio 21 also has a room dedicated to ceramics laden on shelves. Standing in the middle and turning slowly to take it in is a visual treat. My favourites are the works by Heather Pitts. She creates these gorgeous ceramics that have a very organic feel to them, different from anything I've ever seen. I like how they have this very delicate translucent feel to them, minimalist and fun at the same time. You can see the works she has at the gallery here, as well as new and exciting work on her Instagram. Heather also has an interior design account that’s worth checking out - her aesthetic is dramatic, minimalist and beautiful, always an inspiration.
Since I don't live in Halifax, I signed up for the gallery’s newsletter. You can too at the bottom of their website. Newsletters tend to showcase the types of shows being installed. They put on many shows so there is always something new to see. A show that was particularly memorable happened last fall, and was the work of Vicki DaSilva. Her photography is really interesting with its play on light, almost mysterious in feel. You can see an interview and video of her work here.
3. a wide range of services offered.
The third reason to visit Studio 21 is because they offer many services, one of which is art consulting. I got to witness firsthand on a Friday afternoon (as a fly-on-the-wall) just how helpful the staff are when selling work in person. They're very attentive. And they took the time to pull art from storage to show their collectors other work that might be of interest. It was neat to observe the level of care shown to their collectors, but that’s not all the gallery offers.
They also offer lease to purchase financing. So, if you're a business or an individual looking to buy art for your office or home, there are options to make it very doable. Their website states that any inventory over $1,000 qualifies for a payment plan.
The gallery offers installation support if you need help putting up art (for locals), but if you’re not from the area, they can pack and ship all over Canada and internationally. They also provide custom framing. If you want your piece framed, this can be a really helpful option as it can save a lot of work in carefully moving the art around and seeking out a framer, or shopping for frames on your own (especially when it comes to big art).
The gallery space itself is available for rent, which is a great option if you’re looking to host an event in downtown Halifax. It is a large space so there’s plenty of room for special celebrations or corporate gatherings.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO HALIFAX
Studio 21 is worth planning a visit to on your next trip to Halifax. Nova Scotia has a vibrant arts and culture scene and the gallery is definitely worth a visit. I will be sharing a little bit about my own personal trip through Halifax and what else you can do in a limited time in an upcoming newsletter. Even if you’re local, some of these may be fun ideas for you too! Join the newsletter for studio updates below.
Like this post? Pin it to your list of places for your next trip to Halifax! Happy travels.