Press Release issued by 20/20 Gallery on April 27, 1970: "20/20 Gallery Closes." Image credit: FCG Research Intern Lydia Teeple; FCG Archives at Western University Archives & Special Collections.
In the lead-up to our 50th Anniversary, FCG is fortunate to be hosting a Summer Research Intern, Lydia Teeple. Lydia has been exploring our archives in order to recover and share moments from our past five decades. One of the first materials Lydia encountered was the press release (dated April 27, 1970) announcing the closure of 20/20 Gallery. Eight pages in length, that announcement outlines 20/20 Gallery's five key purposes:
To provide a showcase for the exuberant and growing community of artists in London; nothing like that existed in 1966 and the existence of the artists provided the sense of a necessary function.
To bring to London the work of major Canadian artists -- and exhibits from further afield -- in comprehensive one-man shows. This was not being done. You could not at the time hope to see the type of show mounted by 20/20 in the London Art Gallery.
To initiate and play host to special events.
To stress the experimental in the arts, both among local artists, and in the work of artists brought into the city.
Since the gallery was to be artist-oriented, to involve artists actively in the organisation, policy and programme, of the gallery, and to become a focus for the active and professional arts community of the town, and to provide a place where their existence would be visible.
A listing of exhibitions and activities of 20/20 between 1966 and 1970 is provided, including many instances of an artist's first solo show or first London show. The press release also outlines the gallery's support (funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and public donations). The closing section of the announcement explains the decision to close the gallery: "The major reason for the gallery's closing is simple: the energy and ambition that initiated the gallery is no longer available."
Lydia was particularly struck by the final paragraph of this press release. Though it predates the founding of Forest City Gallery, the spirit and thread of connection between 20/20 and FCG is strongly felt:
We shall close the gallery in June with regret, feeling that there is still a need for 20/20 Gallery or something like it, whose major purpose is to show the work of serious and innovating artists from London and elsewhere, to discover, and encourage the new. As a focus for the artists of the city, as a place of assembly for the young, a place where poetry readings and film-shows take place, and artists speak free and freely to anyone interested in coming, the loss of 20/20 will be felt. But the greatest loss is this: 20/20 has always said to the young person who wants to be an artist, that it is indeed possible, and not merely something you read about in glossy magazines. We hope our place may be taken -- and soon.
We'll be sharing more of Lydia's research in the coming months as we approach December 2023 and our 50th Anniversary. FCG would like to thank the generous staff at Western Archives & Special Collections, particularly Archivist Amanda Jamieson, for their assistance. We would also like to thank the staff of the McIntosh Gallery, who are stewards of our archives.
Lydia Teeple is a second year History and Political Science student at Carleton University. In her spare time, she enjoys learning about different classical civilizations and reading fantasy books. Her internship with FCG was an especially intriguing opportunity due to her interest in pursuing archival work after undergrad. Published by Forest City Gallery, September 2023.