Art Lending of Ottawa shows to have new home at Jim Durrell Centre

Art Lending of Ottawa shows to have new home at Jim Durrell Centre

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An Ottawa art collective dedicated to making high-quality art affordable has a new home for the four shows it presents each year. 

After many years exhibiting at the R.A. Centre, Art Lending of Ottawa will now host events at the recently renovated Jim Durrell Recreation Centre, starting in March. 

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Leslie Firth, one of the artist members of the not-for-profit cooperative, said the group was bumped from the facility on Riverside Drive last year. The decision was part of the R.A. Centre management’s multi-year plan to renew its commitment to sports, fitness and physical rehabilitation. 

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Firth said it was a challenge to find a suitable location, partly because many event spaces in the city are reserved for weddings on Saturdays. 

But the group is happy with the “big, bright room” it found at the Durrell Centre, 1265 Walkley Rd., she said, noting that it’s a wheelchair-accessible site with free parking. The first show will take place March 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Formed in 1970, Art Lending of Ottawa was designed to provide an affordable way for people to own original artwork. Art enthusiasts can pick out a piece at a show (or online) to rent for three months, and either bring it back or re-rent it at the next show. There’s also a rent-to-buy option. 

The cost for three months is based on the purchase price of the art, ranging from $36 for a piece valued up to $100, to $120 for a piece priced at  $1,500. 

Firth said she discovered the collective years ago, when shows were held in her former neighbourhood in the west end.

“My husband and I were walking in the area, saw the sign and went in, and that was how we had art on our walls for the first couple of years,” she recalled. “With a mortgage we couldn’t afford to buy art.” 

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She became a member after retirement, when she had time to paint, but still likes to rent pieces that catch her eye. 

“I like it because you don’t have to be wealthy and you don’t have to make a life-long commitment to a piece. You can try it out,” said the former librarian, adding that “some people just like to change it up every once in a while.”

The group has never had its own gallery or studio space; instead, members work on their own and are invited to bring six pieces to the quarterly shows. There are currently close to three dozen members. 

Membership is determined by a jury during an annual intake process. Although most member artists work in painting or photography, other forms of art are welcome, too. Younger applicants are also encouraged. 

To see the artwork, or to find out about renting art or becoming a member, go to artlendingofottawa.ca.

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