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Karsh-Masson Gallery

Location and hours

Karsh-Masson Gallery
City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 1J1

Open daily 9 am to 8 pm, including holidays.

Free admission. Wheelchair accessible. Parking available. 

613-580-2424 ext. 14167
TTY: 613-580-2401

Named for renowned portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh and painter Henri Masson, this municipal gallery features artwork by local, national and international professional artists working in various styles and mediums. 

Exhibits on display at Karsh-Masson Gallery have been selected by an independent, professional arts jury. The artwork, themes, points of view or comments conveyed in each exhibit are those of the artist and do not represent those of the City of Ottawa.

Current exhibition

In recognition of Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017, the City invited professional artists, artist collectives and curators working in visual arts, media arts and fine craft to propose exhibitions that address the theme of mapping.

“Mapping is a fundamental way of converting personal knowledge to transmittable knowledge.”-Arthur Howard Robinson, The Nature of Maps

Mapping includes ways of knowing, organizing and presenting the world as well as our place in it and in relation to others. It helps us track where we’ve been and where we’re going. In addition to cartography, the term mapping has been used in reference to biological, psychological and digital terrains, among others. Mapping can be physical, cultural and emotional. Like an art practice it is a process in constant transformation.

Continuum: Karsh Award artists welcome a new generation

Curator: Melissa Rombout

Artists: Joi T. Arcand, AM Dumouchel, Leslie Hossack, Olivia Johnston, Julia Martin, Meryl McMaster and Ruth Steinberg

September 14 to October 22, 2017
Vernissage: Thursday, September 14, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

The Continuum Talks: A discussion series

Tour with curator Melissa Rombout: Sunday, September 24, 2 p.m.
Presented in English at Karsh-Masson Gallery. Free admission.

Artist talk with ​AM Dumouchel & Michael Schreier: Thursday, September 28, 7 p.m.
Bilingual presentation at Daïmôn 78 Hanson Street, Gatineau. Free admission.

Panel discussion with Rosalie Favell, Tony Fouhse, Leslie Hossack & Olivia Johnston, moderated by Peter Simpson: Friday, October 13, 7 p.m.
Presented in English at the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa, 77 Pamilla Street. Free admission.

Julia Martin & Chantal Gervais in conversation, moderated by Melissa Rombout: Wednesday, October 18, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Presented in English with bilingual Q&A at the University of Ottawa, Department of Visual Arts, 600 Cumberland St./100 Laurier Ave. East, room 114.
Free admission.

Artist talk with Meryl McMaster & Ruth Steinberg: Thursday, October 19, 7 p.m.
Presented in English at Karsh-Masson Gallery. Free admission.

This special exhibition honours the artistic legacy of Yousuf and Malak Karsh while continuing an intergenerational chain of mentorship that fosters camera-based innovation.

Catalogue excerpt

Continuum is a project based on connecting many moments in time. It was conceived as a way to celebrate a new wave of emerging Ottawa artists during Canada’s sesquicentennial year. Recipients of the City of Ottawa’s prestigious Karsh Award were invited to choose a local Ottawa artist working with photography as a medium, a relative newcomer to stand in the spotlight.

The Karsh photographers, innovators stylistically, gracious in comportment and masters of film-based photography, would no doubt be astonished and delighted by the myriad of camera-based practices in this exhibition, and their roles as progenitors of a chain of connection radiating outward. These common threads of welcome entwine here.

- Excerpt from the essay by Melissa Rombout


Joi T. Arcand, "To the Depth of a Plow" I, II,
Joi T. Arcand, "To the Depth of a Plow" II

Joi T. Arcand, "To the Depth of a Plow" I, II, 2017, black and white photographs on fibre paper, 112 x 112 cm (each). Courtesy of the artist.

Joi T. Arcand is a photo-based artist and member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation. A graduate of University of Saskatchewan’s fine arts program, she founded the Indigenous arts journal kimiwan 'zine, and co-founded Red Shift Gallery (Saskatoon). Her work has been exhibited at the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (Montreal), Kenderdine Art Gallery and aka artist-run (Saskatoon), Access Gallery (Vancouver) and internationally in London, Bilbao, and the United States.

AM Dumouchel, Flesh and Stones I, II, III (triptych), 2017, scannography and digital collage mounted on acrylic, 203 x 51 cm (each). Courtesy of the artist.

AM Dumouchel completed a Master of Fine Arts in 2014 at the University of Ottawa and received the Michel Goulet Award, among others. The time she spent in Gatineau, Montreal and Ottawa has contributed to the evolution of her practice. She is represented by PDA Projects and has exhibited her work across Canada and internationally. Her creations can also be found in several private collections. In addition to her artistic practice, she teaches photography at the University of Ottawa.

Leslie Hossack, 7:41:13 am, June 6th, Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer

Leslie Hossack, 7:41:13 am, June 6th, Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer, 2015, pigment ink on cotton fibre, 74 x 110 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Focusing on the built environment and related archival documents, Leslie Hossack has completed major studies of historic architecture in Vancouver, Paris, Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, London, Normandy and Vienna. In 2012, she participated in the Canadian Forces Artists Program and was deployed to Kosovo. Her books include: H-Hour; Registered; Charting Churchill; Testament; Cities of Stone, People of Dust and Berlin Studien.

Olivia Johnston, Madonna with Crescent Moon (Rachel),

Olivia Johnston, Madonna with Crescent Moon (Rachel), 2017, inkjet print on paper, custom-made MDF frame and imitation gold leaf, 77 x 54 x 3 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

A graduate of Carleton University’s art history program, Olivia Johnston teaches photographic history at the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa. Her photo-based and multi-media work explores questions concerning art history, photography, gender, identity, vulnerability, and identity. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, and her work can be found in numerous publications. In 2017, Johnston was shortlisted as a finalist for the RBC Emerging Artist Award.

Julia Martin, Prayer Spaces I and II (diptych)
Julia Martin, Prayer Spaces I and II (diptych)

Julia Martin, Prayer Spaces I and II (diptych), 2016, inkjet prints on paper, 101 x 76 cm (each). Courtesy of the artist.

Julia Martin creates personal work: she is as confident in her expertise in the subject matter as she is distressed by the depths in which we come to know ourselves. Her practice relies on and exploits the tensions between humour and tragedy, text and image, chance and deliberation. Martin's phone has become her studio. Likely an excuse not to leave her apartment. Martin earned an MFA from the University of Ottawa in 2015. It required leaving her apartment.

Meryl McMaster, Night Fragments

Meryl McMaster, Night Fragments, 2015, archival pigment print on watercolour paper, 76 x 114 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Meryl McMaster extends her practice beyond straight photography by incorporating the manual production of props or sculptural garments, performance and self-reflection. Her work explores questions of how we construct our sense of self through lineage, history and culture. A graduate in photography from the Ontario College of Art and Design University, McMaster was long listed for the 2016 Sobey Art Award.

Ruth Steinberg, Lindsay

Ruth Steinberg, Lindsay, 2014, digital archival print, 56 x 56 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Ruth Steinberg holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba and is a graduate of the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa. She created the series What the Body Remembers during her residency at Enriched Bread Artists in the autumn of 2014. Steinberg takes her inspiration from photographers working in a strong storytelling tradition, including Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, and Sally Mann.

A former photo historian at Library and Archives Canada, Melissa Rombout is an independent curator of national and international photo-based projects. She led an innovative re-examination of Yousuf Karsh’s work produced by the (then) Portrait Gallery of Canada and Canada Science and Technology Museum: Karsh: Image Maker, recipient of the Canadian Museums Association Award of Outstanding Achievement (2010). Rombout is a member of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, where she researches contemporary photography and political agency.

Upcoming exhibitions

Khadija Baker – Behind Walls/Maps 

November 2 to December 3, 2017

Vernissage & tour with the artist:
Thursday, November 2, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Tour begins at 6:00 p.m.

Khadija Baker is interested in how countries create official histories while unwanted memories of the marginalized are erased or suppressed to serve a new political agenda. The map is essentially an arbitrary, artificial notion that does not necessarily correspond to people’s day-to-reality. Baker’s work explores how the processes of exile, loss, and erasure affect the identity, memory and history of individuals and communities. 

 Artwork by Khadija Baker
Khadija Baker, Behind Walls/Maps (installation view), 2008, 80 clay spheres, strings spun from clothing, sand, audio and video, variable dimensions. Photo: Guy l'Heureux, courtesy of the artist.

Mélanie Myers – Ce qui touche au sol (What Touches the Ground)

December 14, 2017 to January 21, 2018
Vernissage: Thursday, December 14, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

Mélanie Myers uses drawing and the fabrication of objects to modify the all too familiar urban environment. This exhibition is an observation of systems and incentive measures put in place to ensure the adequate administration of a city. To highlight certain variances in conduct, the spaces assigned to the residence and the landscape, as well as to traffic and contemplation, are represented in a realistic yet improbable way.

 Artwork by Mélanie Myers
Mélanie Myers, Sans titre (eau), 2015, graphite on paper, 152 x 150 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Public consultation: 2018 exhibitions

Posted August 31, 2017

The 30 day consultation period is now closed. The final exhibition schedule for the Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery 2018 exhibition season will be announced in November 2017. More information about the 30 day public consultation process is included in section 4.2 of the Public Art Policy. Thank you for your participation in this review process.

Call for proposals: 2018 exhibitions

Public Art Program – Karsh-Masson‎ Gallery & City Hall Art Gallery

Photos (left to right): Karina Bergmans – Ligaments and Ligatures, City Hall Art Gallery; Full Catastrophe, Karsh-Masson Gallery

Deadline: Monday, May 1, 2017

Information meeting: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 7 pm
Karsh-Masson Gallery, 110 Laurier Avenue West, main floor
A short presentation in English will be followed by a bilingual question and answer period.

The City of Ottawa invites professional artists and curators to propose exhibitions. Proposals are reviewed by a peer assessment committee and selected exhibitions will be presented at Karsh-Masson Gallery or City Hall Art Gallery in 2018.

Exhibitions at Karsh-Masson and City Hall art galleries feature the work of professional artists working in visual art, media art and fine craft, including solo, two-person and group exhibitions; curated exhibitions; exhibitions from the diplomatic sector, and circulating exhibitions from other institutions. Annual programming includes artist talks, tours and panel discussions as well as one exhibition of the City of Ottawa Art Collection and one exhibition of artwork by a graduating student from the University of Ottawa MFA program.

Karsh-Masson and City Hall art galleries are located on the main level at Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West. Both galleries are open daily from 9 am to 8 pm. Admission is free.

A public gallery is a forum for the exploration of diverse ideas. The City of Ottawa exhibits artwork in all media that are of interest and importance to the community, that foster a sense of who we are, and that reflect current artistic practice. These exhibitions are presented in the public domain allowing for an appreciation, understanding and interpretation of our past and present through gallery programming.

Gallery Floor Plans

New this year!

All documents can be sent electronically via WeTransfer. 


  • This call for proposals is open to professional visual artists and curators who are emerging, mid-career or established, and working in visual art, media art, fine craft, design and other new art forms. A professional artist is someone who has specialized training in his or her artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions), who is recognized by his or her peers as such, is committed to his or her artistic activity, and has a history of public presentation.
  • Applicants who have exhibited at Karsh-Masson Gallery within the last two consecutive years are not eligible to apply. City of Ottawa employees and elected representatives are not eligible to apply.

Only one proposal per applicant will be considered.

Artwork exhibited at Karsh-Masson and City Hall art galleries that requires electrical components must be approved and inspected in accordance with the rules defined in the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC), as well as Canadian Standards Association (CSA) prior to acceptance by or installation at the Gallery. For more information, visit the Electrical Safety Authority at

The City of Ottawa supports cultural activity that is inclusive of Ottawa's diverse community, including people from diverse ancestries, abilities, ages, countries of origin, cultures, genders, incomes, languages, races and sexual orientations. The City of Ottawa recognizes the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation as Ottawa’s Indigenous Host Nation. Applications from artists and curators of diverse origins including First Nations, Inuit and Métis are welcome and encouraged. The City of Ottawa recognizes both official languages as having the same rights, status and privileges.


All eligible proposals are reviewed by a peer assessment committee based on the following criteria:

  • artistic merit and professionalism
  • regional importance and innovation
  • quality and cohesiveness of the artwork examples and the written proposal statement
  • appropriateness of the proposal to the public nature of the gallery space

Each peer assessment committee consists of three art professionals. Individual committee members first review the proposals independently then meet to review them together. The composition of each committee aims to balance representation of artistic specialization, practice, style and philosophy, as well as fair representation of official languages, gender, geographic areas and culture-specific communities. Peer assessment committee members are invited to participate by City employees based on their knowledge and experience, fair and objective opinions, ability to articulate ideas, and ability to work in a team environment. Committee members change with every competition. If you are interested in participating as a committee member, please email


Send your proposal by WeTransfer or by mail:

  • WeTransfer
    Send all support material electronically using WeTransfer to
  • Mail
    Send a CD, DVD or USB device containing your support material to the mailing address below. Include your name, mailing address, telephone number and email address on or with the CD, DVD or USB device.

Call for proposals: 2018 exhibitions
City of Ottawa Public Art Program
172 Guigues Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 5H9

Proposals can also be delivered in person to the Routhier Community Centre first floor customer service desk, 172 Guigues Avenue, 613-244-4470. Do not deliver your proposal directly to Karsh-Masson Gallery or to City Hall Art Gallery.

Proposal guidelines & requirements

  • A complete proposal must include the support material listed below.
  • Support material may be written in English or French.
  • Proposals are considered for both galleries.
  • Files must be saved in a format compatible with Windows 7.
  • To format a PDF document utilize Save as, or Export, from a Word or similar text based document.
  • Support material items 1, 3, and 4 can be saved as one PDF.

Support material

1. Proposal statement
Describe the proposed exhibition’s content and a coherent theme for your show. Two pages or 800 words maximum. Save as a PDF.

2. Proposal synopsis
Summarize the proposal statement. The peer assessment committee will refer to the synopsis as a quick reference during deliberations. 80 words maximum. Save as a PDF.

3. Artistic résumé
Include your name, mailing address, telephone number and email address. If multiple artists are involved, include each artist’s résumé and indicate one contact person. Three pages maximum (per artist). Save as a PDF.

4. Image/media list
Include the following information about each image/media file submitted: file number, artist’s name, artwork title, date of work (year), medium and support, metric dimensions, and duration of artwork (if applicable). One page maximum. Save as a PDF.

5. Digital images and/or video or time-based media files
Ten digital image files or ten minutes total of video/media content that support the proposal statement and follow the guidelines listed below.

  • At least half of the images/media files submitted must be artwork that will be included in your final exhibition should your proposal be successful.
  • Curated, two-person and group exhibitions: send ten files maximum.
  • Applicants who wish to include a combination of digital images and video/new media files: send ten files maximum with no more than ten minutes of content total. For each minute of video/media content, remove one digital image. 
  • Strict adherence to naming convention is necessary for images to be successfully viewed during the peer assessment committee meeting.

Image files must be:

  • Saved as JPG, TIFF or BMP
  • 72 dpi, no larger than 2 MB each. RGB format with a maximum of 1240 pixels (length or width).
  • Named with the corresponding image list number, artwork title, date of work (year), medium and support, and metric dimensions, each separated by an underscore. Do not leave a space before or after the underscore. For example:
    01_Xylophage_2014_wood and paint_20 x 30 x 40 cm.jpg            
    02_The Mountain_2014_graphite, acrylic and metal_96 x 106 cm.jpg
    03_Untitled 2_2013_chromogenic print on paper_206 x 122 cm.tiff
    04_Untitled 2 detail_2013_chromogenic print on paper_206 x 122 cm.tiff
    05_Untitled 2 alternate view_2013_chromogenic print on paper_206 x 122 cm.tiff
    06_Untitled 3_2010_LED and resin_1 x 4 x 7 m.jpg
    07_Untitled 3 view at night_2010_LED and resin_1 x 4 x 7 m.bmp
    08_Untitled 4 framed_ 2006_oil paint on canvas_85 x 95 cm.bmp
    09_Installation at Karsh-Masson Gallery_2005_mixed media_variable dimensions.jpg
    10_Reason Over Passion_1968_quilted cloth assemblage_257 x 302 cm.jpg

Video/time-based media files must be:

  • Saved as MP4, MOV, AVI or WMV
  • Viewable in Windows Media Player or VLC
  • No larger than 500 MB each
  • Named with the corresponding media list number, artwork title, date of work (year), medium, and duration, each separated by an underscore. Do not leave a space before or after the underscore. For example:
    01_Memorial_2012_looped video_2 min.mp4
    02_Echelles_2014_video_4 min 30
    03_Diaries_2014_video_6 min.avi

Support material that requires specialized software, plug-ins, extensions, or other executables that need to be downloaded or installed (e.g. website hyperlinks or presentations such as PowerPoint) will not be reviewed. Applicants are responsible for testing support materials to ensure readability. The City of Ottawa is not responsible for any loss or damage to support material. CDs, DVDs and USB devices will not be returned. Please retain a copy for your records.

Deadline and notification

Proposals must be received by Monday, May 1, 2017 or postmarked on or before this date. Late or incomplete proposals will not be accepted.

Receipt of your application will be acknowledged by email. This email does not confirm that your application is eligible. Applicants will be notified of the peer assessment committee’s decisions by email approximately three months after the proposal deadline. Artistic feedback will not be provided.


Exhibiting artists will be paid an exhibition fee as outlined by the 2018 CARFAC Fee Schedule.  Curators will receive a professional curatorial fee.

The City of Ottawa Public Art Program does not reimburse expenses related to travel, transportation of artwork and accommodation, nor are per diem fees paid.

Public consultation

Following the peer assessment committee’s deliberations, the selected exhibitions will be announced on Members of the public are invited to bring forward, within a 30 day period, any concern that the peer assessment committee did not follow the publicly announced criteria and procedures.

Confidentiality of information

Personal Information in your submission is collected under the authority of the City Council approved Public Art Policy.  

Personal information will only be used for evaluating your submission and administering the City of Ottawa Public Art Program. City of Ottawa employees and peer assessment committee members are required to treat both the content of submissions and the deliberations of the committee as confidential.

Copyright and moral rights

The artist shall retain the copyright of the artworks. Moral rights also remain with the artist. The City of Ottawa will seek copyright permission to reproduce images of the artwork for non-commercial purposes.

Contact us

Karsh-Masson and City Hall Art galleries are operated by the City of Ottawa Public Art Program.

Accessible formats and communication supports are available upon request. If you are unable to view documents or require alternative file formats, please complete an Accessible Formats Document Request Form.

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