Location and hours
Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West
613-580-2424 ext. 14167 (TTY: 613-580-2401)
Open daily 9 am to 8 pm, including holidays.
Free admission to exhibitions and events.
Wheelchair accessible. Paid parking available.
FREE PARKING available at the City Hall garage on weekday evenings after 6 pm and all day on weekends.
While at City Hall, be sure to visit City Hall Art Gallery, featuring contemporary exhibitions by professional artists.
This 1,500 square-foot gallery is proudly named after photographer Yousuf Karsh and painter Henri Masson in honour of their contributions to Canadian art. Exhibitions are selected annually by a peer assessment committee.
The gallery is temporarily closed and all exhibitions are postponed until further notice. We wish you good health and thank you for your continued support.
Call for proposals: 2021 exhibitions
Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery
(left) Gabriela Avila-Yiptong, Rachel Gray and Lea Hamilton – I Came Back and Things Were Different (installation view at City Hall Art Gallery); (right) Luce Meunier, Sarah Rooney and Monica Tap – Abstract Networks, curated by Jakub Zdebik (installation view at Karsh-Masson Gallery), photos: Julia Martin
Deadline: Wednesday, May 13, 2020, 12:00 pm EDT
Information meeting: This event has been cancelled.
The City of Ottawa Public Art Program is now accepting exhibition proposals from professional artists and curators working in all media. Applications will be reviewed by a peer assessment committee and selected exhibitions will be presented at either Karsh-Masson Gallery or City Hall Art Gallery in 2021. All applications will be considered for both galleries. A preference to exhibit at either gallery may be indicated, however the Public Art Program will determine the final schedule and location of each successful exhibition.
About Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery
Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery 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 and are wheelchair accessible. Admission is free.
Exhibitions at Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery feature the work of professional artists working in all media and include solo, group and curated exhibitions, exhibitions from the diplomatic sector, and circulating exhibitions from other institutions. Both galleries present a combined total of approximately 10 exhibitions annually, each of which lasts approximately eight weeks. Annual programming consists of artist talks and tours and an exhibition featuring the City of Ottawa Art Collection. An exhibition related to the Karsh Award is presented every two years at Karsh-Masson Gallery and the next one will occur in 2022. Although City Hall has 24/7 security, gallery staff are not onsite daily therefore exhibitions must be self-sufficient and cannot require regular maintenance.
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 practices. These exhibitions are presented in the public domain allowing for an appreciation, understanding and interpretation of our past and present through gallery programming.
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. The City of Ottawa is committed to supporting cultural activities that respond to the Calls to Action put forward in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. Applications from First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists and curators are welcome and encouraged. The City of Ottawa recognizes both official languages as having the same rights, status and privileges.
Personal information in your application is collected under the authority of the City Council approved Public Art Policy. Personal information will only be used for evaluating your application 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 applications and the deliberations of the committee as confidential.
- This call for proposals is open to professional artists and curators working in all media. 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.
- National and international applicants are eligible, however priority is given to applicants who live, or have lived, within a 150 km radius of Ottawa or who have a local connection, such as participating in the local arts community. Successful applicants will be responsible for all costs related to shipping artwork to and from the gallery, travel and accommodation.
- Applicants who have exhibited at Karsh-Masson Gallery or City Hall Art Gallery within the last two consecutive years are not eligible to apply.
Only one proposal per applicant will be considered. City of Ottawa employees or elected representatives are not eligible to apply.
Artworks with electrical components:
- Artworks that require electricity must be approved by an accredited certification or evaluation agency prior to being installed at Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery. The object(s) must have an official certification mark or label indicating that the product has been independently assessed for safety. A list of recognized certification marks and labels is available at www.esasafe.com/electricalproducts/marks.
- For more information, visit the Electrical Safety Authority at www.esasafe.com or call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233).
- Any costs associated with meeting the certification requirement are the sole responsibility of the artist.
- Applicants must provide documentation that their artwork(s) meets ESA standards (i.e. certification mark) in their proposal.
- Exhibiting artists will be paid an exhibition fee in accordance with the 2021 CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule, Section 1 (Exhibition and Screening Royalty Schedule, Institutional Category I). Curators will receive a professional fee.
- The exhibition fee and the curatorial fee include all professional services related to the preparation, installation, consultation, writing tasks, and production of artwork(s) associated with the exhibition.
- Each exhibition is allotted one presentation fee in accordance with the 2021 CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule, Section 4 (C.2.0 – Presentation and Consultation fees, Flat rate per half day, under 4 hours).
- The City of Ottawa Public Art Program does not cover expenses related to travel, accommodation, per diems and the transportation of artwork(s).
- Complex installations of any kind requiring special equipment or specific support beyond the City of Ottawa Public Art Program’s budget are the sole responsibility of the artist.
Assessment criteria and process
All eligible applications are reviewed by a peer assessment committee based on the following criteria:
- Artistic merit, originality and professionalism
- Cohesiveness of the artwork examples and the written proposal statement
- Appropriateness and suitability of the proposal to the highly public nature of the gallery spaces
- Technical and physical feasibility
Peer assessment committee members first review eligible applications individually 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 chosen based on their knowledge and experience, fair and objective opinions, ability to articulate ideas, and ability to work in a team environment. Members of the committee change with every competition. City employees are responsible for the selection of peer assessment committee members. If you are interested in participating as a peer assessment committee member, please email email@example.com.
- A complete application must include the support material listed below
- Support material may be written in English or French
- Files must be saved in a format compatible with Windows 10
- To format a PDF document, utilize “Save as” or “Export” from a Word or similar text-based document
Save items 2, 3 and 4 as one PDF.
1. Proposal synopsis (80 words maximum)
Summarize the proposal statement. The peer assessment committee will refer to the synopsis as a quick reference during deliberations.
2. Proposal statement (two pages or 1,000 words maximum)
- Describe the proposed exhibition’s content and theme, and how you will situate your artwork within the gallery space. A clear understanding of both spaces is necessary for the committee to visualize your exhibition (see gallery floor plans for reference).
- Two-person and group exhibitions must clearly outline a cohesive theme and rationale.
- Applications will be considered for both galleries. Requests to exhibit at either gallery must be explained in the proposal statement, however not all requests are granted.
- Due to the highly public nature of the galleries, proposed exhibitions must be as self-sufficient as possible.
3. Artistic resumé (three pages or 1,500 words maximum per artist)
If multiple artists are involved, include each artist’s resumé.
4. Image/media list (two pages maximum)
List the following information about each image/media file included in your application: artist’s name, artwork title, date, material and support, dimensions, and duration of artwork (if applicable). This list may also include additional information or a description about the individual artworks.
5. Digital image files and time-based media files
Upload ten digital image files or ten minutes total of time-based media content (or a combination of both) 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 application be successful.
- Curated, two-person and group exhibitions: send ten files maximum.
- Applicants who wish to include a combination of digital images and media files: send ten files maximum with no more than ten minutes of content total. For each minute of video/audio content, remove one digital image (i.e. send 6 jpg images and one video file that is 4 minutes long or send 6 jpgs and 2 video files that are 2 minutes long each).
- Strict adherence to the naming convention outlined below is necessary for images to be uploaded into our database and successfully viewed during the peer assessment committee meeting.
Image files must be:
- Saved as JPG at 72 dpi and no larger than 1 MB each
- Named with the corresponding image list number, title, date, medium and dimensions, each separated by an underscore. Do not leave a space before or after the underscore. File names must not exceed 150 characters.
Format for naming image files:
01_The Mountain_2014_graphite, acrylic and metal_96 x 106 inches.jpg
02_Untitled 3 detail_2013_chromogenic print on paper_206 x 122 cm.jpg
03_Installation at Karsh-Masson Gallery_2005_mixed media_variable dimensions.jpg
Time-based media files must be:
- Shared using a web link to each video or audio file. If the web link does not work, the content will not be viewed.
- Cued to the excerpt you want presented to the committee (or provide detailed cue instructions in the description field).
Support material that requires specialized software, plug-ins, extensions, or other executables that need to be downloaded or installed will not be reviewed. Applicants are responsible for testing support materials to ensure readability.
How to apply
NEW! Please send all support material electronically using our online application form. Please have your content ready for inputting as the form does not save your information if you leave or refresh the page. Google Chrome is the preferred browser.
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.
Confidentiality of information
Personal information in your application is collected under the authority of the City Council approved Public Art Policy. Personal information will only be used for evaluating your application 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 applications and the deliberations of the committee as confidential. Committee members turn in their copies of materials for shredding and delete their computer files at the end of the peer assessment meeting.
Deadline and notification
Applications must be received by Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 12:00 pm (noon) EDT for electronic applications.
Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
The Public Art Program will send applicants a confirmation email when your application has been received and processed. If you do not receive an email from the Public Art Program two weeks after your submission, please contact us for confirmation.
Applicants will be notified of the peer assessment committee’s decisions by email within three months of the deadline date.
Due to the volume of applications received for this competition, artistic feedback will not be provided.
Following the peer assessment committee’s deliberations, the selected exhibitions will be announced on ottawa.ca. Members of the public are invited to bring forward, within a 30-day period, any concern that the peer assessment committee did not comply with the publicly-announced criteria and procedures of the selection process.
Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery 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 Documents Request Form.
Public Art Program – newsletter sign up form
By signing up for our newsletter, you will receive calls and announcements regarding the City of Ottawa Art Collection, public art commissions, and exhibitions at Karsh-Masson Gallery, City Hall Art Gallery and Corridor 45|75 all in one place.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How long is each exhibit timeslot?
Timeslots are approximately 8 weeks. We also allot about a week in between shows for tear-down and installation.
Could the number of timeslots be affected because of the Coronavirus?
It is possible that the number of timeslots for the 2021 season could be affected if shows from our 2020 season are postponed.
Is it possible to choose which space you want to exhibit in?
You can indicate which gallery you would prefer, but it’s up to the Public Art Officer and the City to decide which space is suitable for your exhibition. If there’s a specific reason to exhibit in one space over the other, then definitely include that information in your proposal. Artists whose proposals are accepted will be asked for their schedules and we will do our best to accommodate.
If you submit a group show or work in a variety of media, do you need to submit 10 images per artist or per medium or do you need to submit 10 in total?
Ten in total, not 10 per artist or 10 per medium.
Do the installation technicians decide where to put your work?
No, they are there to assist you with placing your work in the gallery. You will ultimately decide where it goes, in consultation with the Public Art Officer, but they have the expertise to know how and where it can/should be installed, any safety concerns, etc.
Does the artist have to tell the selection committee exactly how many paintings they will be showing or how the paintings will be laid out?No, you don’t have to have a complete plan before you apply – if your proposal is accepted, that’s one of the things that can be discussed with the Public Art Officer. We can go around the space, discuss options and decide what works best in the gallery. However, at least half of the ten images you submit need to be finished pieces that will be included in your show, if selected.
What’s the rough timeline of the selection process from when we apply?
It’s about three months from the deadline of the Call to when we announce the results. We will typically have the results in July and notify applicants at that time. By the end of September, we will have made a schedule and programmed for 2021. Note that this timeline might be pushed back by a month due to the delays in programming cause by the Corona virus.
Do artists have to pay for paint if they want to paint the gallery walls?
Artists wishing to paint the gallery walls a colour other than white have to incur that cost.
Can I still send in my application by mail?
Due to COVID-19 we are encouraging applicants to apply using our online form only this year. Please let us know if you need help filling out the online form.
Compliance review: 2020 exhibitions
Posted August 30, 2019 at 4 pm
The 30-day Compliance Review process is now closed. The final exhibition schedule for the Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery 2020 exhibition season will be announced in November 2019. More information about this 30-day process is included in section 4.2 of the Public Art Policy. Thank you for your interest in this review process.
Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien – LifeCycle Conversations
Judith Parker, curatorial collaborator
November 8, 2018 to January 9, 2019
Vernissage: Thursday, November 8, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Death Café: Wednesday, November 21, 5:00 to 7:45 pm in the exhibition
Death Café is an opportunity to talk about all aspects of death over a cup of tea, coffee and cake.
Seats are limited, RSVP to reserve a place: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information: deathcafe.com or facebook.com/deathcafeottawa
Artists’ tour and catalogue launch: Sunday, December 2, 2:00 pm
Curatorial talk: Sunday, January 6, 2:00 pm
Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien, She Remembers Me, 2017, archival pigment print (photograph of a collaborative clay sculpture installation), 160 x 106 cm. Courtesy of the artists.
Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien, She Remembers Me (detail), 2017, archival pigment print (photograph of a collaborative clay sculpture installation), 160 x 106 cm. Courtesy of the artists.
LifeCycle Conversations is inspired by the theme of memento mori – a reminder of human fragility, mortality and the inevitability of death. In traditional Western painting it is represented symbolically by flowers, fruit and other objects, but here memento mori has been transposed into immersive installations created collaboratively by Barbara Brown and Cynthia O’Brien.
This is the first time that Barbara Brown (photography) and Cynthia O’Brien (clay sculpture) have chosen to work in a collaborative manner – their new works are the fruit of their combined artistic vision. Though the artists work in different media, both employ the changing beauty and delicacy of plants and flowers as a commemorative act and as an observance of transience, loss, memory, decline and rejuvenation in all living things. Brown and O’Brien’s installations also reflect the emotional impact that working as artists in a long-term care residence, where they befriend individuals who are near the end of their lives, has had. Their work reveals profound insights gained from this experience.
Barbara Brown’s recent exhibitions include Red Oak Labyrinth, an outdoor installation in Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens, Experimental Farm, Ottawa, 2014 (Canadensis Botanical Garden Society), and Desire for Acadia, a solo exhibition at David Kaye Gallery, Toronto, 2018 (Contact Photography Festival). Residencies include Kingsbrae International Residence for the Arts, Saint Andrews, NB, 2017; the Art Collaborative Residency, Jaipur, India, 2017; and Alchemy: An Artist-Led Residency, Hillier, ON, 2018. Recent grants include support from the Ontario Arts Council.
Cynthia O’Brien’s clay sculpture is collected by the Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan, the Canada Council Art Bank and the City of Ottawa. O’Brien’s recent grants include the Explore and Create Program, Canada Council for the Arts, 2018 and Arts Funding, City of Ottawa, 2015. Residencies include Tanks Arts Centre, Australia, 2012; Watershed, USA, 2013; Ayatana Artists’ Research Program and CPAWS-OV Dumoine River Art Camp, Quebec, 2017; and MASS MoCA, USA, 2018.
Judith Parker is a curator and art historian. Exhibitions include: co-curator, Beyond the Edge: Artists’ Gardens, Experimental Farm, Ottawa, 2014 (Canadensis Botanical Garden Society); two artist-in-residence exhibitions at the Bytown Museum, Michèle Provost – Rebranding Bytown, 2012, and Cindy Stelmackowich – Dearly Departed, 2011; and Freedom of Association: Dennis Tourbin and Other Artists, Ottawa Art Gallery, 2012. Residencies include Elsewhere – Living Museum, North Carolina, USA, 2014. The Ontario Arts Council has supported her work.
Adrienne Scott – Magpie Landscapes
September 13 to October 31, 2018
Vernissage: Thursday, September 13, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Artist talk: Sunday, October 21, 2:00 pm
Adrienne Scott, Conkers, 2016, inkjet print on paper, 60 x 90 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Adrienne Scott, Mouths, 2016, inkjet print on paper, 60 x 80 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Adrienne Scott’s way of collecting hints at a deeper understanding of the significance and potential contentiousness of imposing rigid codifications on—and claiming authority over—the world and its knowledge, an approach traditionally adopted by museums and archival institutions. As the artist gathers her ephemeral inventory, she “underscores the nature of all archival materials as found yet constructed, factual yet fictive.” [Hal Foster, “An Archival Impulse”, October, Vol. 110 (Fall 2004), The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 5.] It’s as though her fluid taxonomies support obscure fantasies tinged with a personal nostalgia for unspoiled ecosystems. In this sense, Magpie Landscapes can be read as an abstract catalogue of the world’s impermanent textures.
Adrienne Scott is an artist currently working in Toronto, ON. She is a graduate of the BFA program at the University of Ottawa (2016) and a recipient of the Edmund and Isobel Ryan Scholarship in photography. She has also participated in interdisciplinary projects through programs such as the 2017 Montreal Contemporary Music Lab (LMCML). She has participated in exhibitions throughout Ontario, including at Voix Visuelle (Ottawa, ON), the Gladstone Hotel (Toronto, ON) and Idea Exchange (Cambridge, ON).
René Price – The Art of City Building
July 12 to September 4, 2018
Vernissage: Thursday, July 12, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Artist talk and walkabout: Sunday, August 19, 2:00 pm
Image of found baseball cap by Petra Halkes. Courtesy of the artist.
René Price, Towers of Power series, 2010-2017, mixed media, variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artist.
Reacting to the never-ending controversial development plans in Ottawa, satiric artist René Price has built a model utopian city, “OTTOWA” that will be presented on the floor, sprawling out from the middle of the gallery, giving the viewer an overview of it all, zoning and OMB permitting. Profit, growth, gentrification, human foibles and luck, all play a part in mapping out our collective future.
The Art of City Building is a modelled city, not a model city. Instead of a speculative representation of carefully planned and rationally managed development, it presents us with haphazard hoarded collections of juxtaposed, manipulated, and hacked objects that resemble and parody the city we know. But what city do we know?
René Price is an Ideaguy/inventor, Quirky Mockartist, Scribbler, Rascal, Non-smoking cyber Luddite and Grand Amateur. He has shown his art stuff from Sainte-Foy (Quebec) to Montreal, Ottawa, Cornwall, Toronto, Hamilton, London (Ontario), Sault Ste. Marie, Winnipeg (twice) and Calgary. He has been reviewed in Border Crossings, Art Papers (USA), Espace, Artichoke and various newspapers. His artworks are in the odd collection. He wants to create MORCA (Museum of René’s Contemporary Art) in the Ottawa area, sometime soon!
René Price gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.
Jennifer Anne Norman – Forest for the trees
April 26 to July 4, 2018
Vernissage: Thursday, April 26, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Artist talk: Sunday, May 6, 2:00 pm
Jennifer Anne Norman’s graphite and mixed-media drawings depict the assemblages she creates by repurposing post-consumer waste to repair and redress fragile tree branches. Norman carefully wraps the knotted limbs of broken branches with pieces of local debris, a tender gesture that invites us to consider our responsibility towards the natural world.
Jennifer Anne Norman, Becks, 2017, graphite and mixed media on paper, 48 x 61 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Jennifer Anne Norman, Reclaim (work in progress), 2017. Courtesy of the artist.
Jennifer Anne Norman is a multidisciplinary artist with ecological motivations. She hails proudly from Northern Ontario and is currently based in Toronto. She received her BFA from OCAD University, and her MFA from the University of Ottawa. Norman has received multiple grants from the Ontario Arts Council for the production of her work and has participated in numerous national and international artist residencies. She has exhibited in Canada, Scotland, Italy, Korea and the USA, and her work is included in numerous private and public collections including the National Art Bank of Canada.
Jennifer Anne Norman gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.
Andrew Ooi – Anatomy of Resilience
February 8 to April 18, 2018
Vernissage: Thursday, February 8, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Andrew Ooi, Matrix 2, 2015, acrylic on gampi, 25 (diameter) x 2 cm. Photo: Natalie Shahinian, courtesy of the artist.
Andrew Ooi, Trinity, 2015, acrylic and ink on gampi paper, 19 x 35 x 3 cm. Photo: Natalie Shahinian, courtesy of the artist.
Andrew Ooi has chosen an unpretentious material to work with, even if his paper is Japanese gampi, made by hand from the inner bark of a bush. He cuts it into strips, then into small rectangles before drawing and painting it; after that comes the folding, gluing, and assembling. This is patient work, the gradual building occurring over many hours, and there is, I imagine, a playful element here, something of the concentrating child sitting cross-legged on the floor. This painting and folding seems a simple practice, but what Ooi produces isn’t simple at all. This is the first of the many contradictions in his work.
Self-taught in matters of art and origami, Andrew Ooi made his debut in the interior design community who quickly took notice of his radiant objects. The works were published in Illuminate: Contemporary Craft Lighting (Bloomsbury Publishing) and 1,000 Product Designs: Form, Function, and Technology from Around the World (Rockport Publishers), after touring at events and exhibits in Ontario, Canada and Jyväskylä, Finland. Exhibiting in galleries introduced him to the potential freedom of pursuing a visual art practice, which has led him to explore paint and paper; colour, and especially pattern. Andrew Ooi’s artworks have been exhibited in group and solo shows in the US and in Canada where he is currently based. His work is represented by L.A. Pai Gallery in Ottawa, ON and by BoxHeart Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA.
Andrew Ooi gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council.