Thursday night, I had the pleasure of attending 100 Prints, a fundraiser gala held annually by the printmaker artists at Open Studio.
The event was held at Palais Royale, a beautiful, mansion-esque venue overlooking Toronto’s lakeshore. On an ultra-foggy and rainy evening like Thursday’s, the view resembled a painting of the east coast. It felt like being somewhere else.
As usual, the first thing I noticed was the bountiful display of food and the open bar, gravitating towards the latter. The works of art up for draw, including those shortlisted for the National Printmaking Awards, were positioned around the perimeter of the room. The first hour of the event was a preview, providing guests with some time to chose their top ten pieces and mark them off in the programs provided as later they would only have sixty seconds to chose the print they wished to take home. Off to the side, a Member’s Gallery was set up, displaying smaller pieces for sale created by Open Studio’s own members.
During this time, people walked around, ate good food, drank craft beer, and got a chance to speak with some of the artists who also walked around socializing. I did all of those, mostly gravitating around the cake table. Can you blame me?
At around 8pm, the crowd settled down and Jennifer Bhogal introduced the night with a short speech and a video showing artist testimonials of what Open Studio means to them and why it’s such an important hub of creativity. In this moment, you could see exactly why Open Studio is Canada’s leading printmaking studio and such a monumental part of Toronto’s creative community.
Following the video, the National Printmaking Awards went underway. Launched in 2008, these awards recognize Canadian talent and present monetary prizes to the top three submissions received each year. As a very coveted award, it only makes sense that its ceremony be tied together with the much-anticipated 100 Prints gala.
This year’s winners were Dan O’Neil’s Paintball Supper in third place, Doug Guilford’s Aquatic Two in second, and Dan Steeves in first place for his piece, I hope you have moments when you take heart. Fellow artists Elizabeth D’Agostino, Kurt Pammer, and Laura Widmer received honourable mentions.
After the awards distribution, 100 Prints introduced the highlight of the night and the print lottery began. Couples held on to their numbers excitedly as a ticket drum was spun and a participant was drawn. This went on until the last print was taken off the wall, guests leaving happily with full bellies, new friends, and a priceless work of art under their arm.
100 Prints was an incredibly successful event, bringing together some of Canada’s brightest printmakers and art enthusiasts, while raising money to preserve an essential location for printmakers everywhere. The atmosphere was permeated with an air of accomplishment and appreciation, the crowd composed of beautiful, driven individuals. It really was a highlight for the world of Canadian art.