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Propeller’s Origins

96 SPADINA AVENUE #303 Darling Building
96 SPADINA AVENUE #303 Darling Building

Propeller was originally a one-off group show in 1996 organized by artists: Dale Thompson, Astrid Ho, Maya Kulenovic, Mashid Farhoudi, Mija Kim, Ki Kim, Mei Lee Fong and myself, (we were all students at OCA). After a successful opening some of us were brainstorming how to keep it going, so we came up with a plan to invite more artists and keep the space at 96 Spadina #303. Propeller came out of the need for artists to be able to gain exposure affordably in what at the time, was one of the busier arts neighbourhoods (King and Spadina). It was an exciting and energized time where DIY was the only way to get visibility. 

There wasn’t really any place for young artists to show in 1996.  We were still at OCA at the time and a few of us banded together to do a show at 96 Spadina Ave. in the Darling building.  The show was so successful, with people spilling out of the space that we decided that there was a real need and we formed a collective. We pooled together in a common cause and applied for non-profit status.  Whoever had $500 and a passion for the arts was in!  Remember that $500 a year was a lot of money at that time – it got members a 2-week show.  Most of us were struggling and to come up with that money was a real commitment.  The Darling building was very artist-friendly, with the super Rameesh, helping us with lighting and fixing the space at #303.  It’s amazing that Propeller is still going!  I feel happy that something that I helped spark is still going and is in the hands of great people. Great idea to move to the new space at 30 Abell in the Artscape building.  It’s a brand new start for Propeller!

​That’s it in a nutshell.  

Ross Bonfanti    


Propeller is building an archive of past exhibitions. Here’s what we have so far for the Spadina Avenue years.

Special thanks to our community partners and ongoing sponsors. 

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