A Seed: The Origins of The Emerging Artists by Emerging Curator Award

by Lex Barrie | January 29, 2022

Nurturing Seeds of Possibilities

Frances Patella knows the experiences of emerging artists in Toronto first-hand. Frances has been a member of Propeller Art Gallery for fifteen years. She has served on the Board in several roles including as a former Chair. In addition, Frances sat on the board of the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair (TOAF) for many years. In this capacity, Frances has encountered many young emerging artists who have found the Toronto art scene difficult to crack. 

Frances also worked for the late Canadian artist and filmmaker, Joyce Wieland who helped and encouraged young artists. In memory of her friend and mentor, Frances is motivated to nurture, as Joyce used to say, “seeds of possibilities“. Spreading opportunities for artists to expand and establish their own practices. Frances chose to carry on Wieland’s legacy of support and “can do” attitude, for current emerging artists and curators.  

Emerging Artists by Emerging Curator Award

Frances Patella recognized that it was hard for emerging artists to enter the art scene as very few opportunities existed. Therefore she initiated the Emerging Artists by Emerging Curator Award in 2016. Presented by TOAF, the award provides emerging artists with a professional exhibition opportunity at Propeller Art Gallery. 

The first curated pop-up show was put together by Frances herself at Propeller Art Gallery in 2016. It included artists Helen Dreifelds and anahita azrahimi. Though put together in a mere few weeks, this was an important first opportunity for these artists. It helped them to gain recognition and establish their abilities in the art industry. 

In past years, the Emerging Award was curated by former director of Propeller Art Gallery, Nathan Heuvingh; and by Karlene Ouellette, one of Propeller’s former interns and our current Marketing & Communications Coordinator. 

LtoR: Shaylah Marsh, David Brandy, Frances Patella, Ivanna Hreshchuk, Golrokh Daneshgar, Karlene Oulette, Tom Taylor

The inaugural Flavio Belli Curator Award & The Emerging Artists by Emerging Curator Exhibition at Propeller

In 2021, TOAF initiated the Emerging Curator Award with esteemed curator Flavio Belli. It’s an opportunity for emerging curators to submit exhibition proposals of works selected from TOAF’s annual emerging artist roster. The award is presented to an Emerging Curator whose proposal relates to social and cultural settings.

The award’s inaugural recipient is Abisola Oni. Flavio Belli has mentored Abisola to create the exhibition BEING +, featured January 12th-23rd, 2022 at Propeller. It showcases yet another collective, with a wide range of materiality, diversity in subject matter and expression of identities. 

Artists Empowering Artists

Frances Patella exemplifies Propeller’s motto “artists empowering artists”. Frances remains committed to providing continued advantages for emerging artists and curators. 

BEING+ demonstrates this motto through tough times, and individualism through wide ranges of expressionism. This is what emerging curators and artists need to see and experience; empowerment within the art community. Frances Patella continues to spread those endless seeds of possibilities and opportunities that her friends and mentors inspired her to start. 

View the archive of past Emerging Artist Exhibitions.

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