David Brace (BFA 90)

Artwork hanging illuminated on wall.

Image: Exhibition view of Andy Fabo’s The James Street Gang, 2012.
On view at b contemporary March 2-31, 2012. 

After I graduated from Queen’s I returned to my home town of Hamilton Ontario. From 1990 to 1994 I worked at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, first as a gallery attendant and later as the assistant preparator. I went on to work for the Hamilton Children’s Museum and the Peel Museum and Art Gallery as an exhibit designer and preparator. The early ‘90s were hard on the arts. The recession of the late ‘80s were causing governments to claw back funding to public galleries and museums. Jobs were few. I needed a plan.

My experience at the AGH was like a Masters program. I was working with some of the top artists and curators in the country. When I was laid off a curator took me aside and gave me some terrific advice. He told me that I had all the tools I needed to make my own way: time to start my own gallery.

By 1996 I was working at a commercial picture framing shop. When I had confidence in my craft I set out on my own. I opened my first gallery with a partner in 2001 (transit gallery.) I left the partnership in 2010 to start b contemporary.

The new gallery, b contemporary, is located on James Street North in Hamilton. This area is the bustling hub of a vibrant art scene. There are a lot of advantages to working in a city like Hamilton. There is a lot of room here. Experimentation runs rampant. Young artists are entrepreneurs. New spaces are opening all the time in every conceivable business model. It’s got a bit of a Wild West vibe. I have had the pleasure of showing some amazing artists in the last decade. Andy Fabo, Harold Klunder, Gary Michael Dault, Michael Davidson, Nicole Collins, Michael Allgoewer to name a few. I am trying to keep a balance between supporting established artists and emerging artists. I show work that I believe is making a significant contribution to the culture of Canada.

The business of art in Canada is still new. The marketplace is small. Art in this country is a start-up business. We are all pioneers. I have continued to make art when time allows.