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The MacLaren Art Centre Welcomes New Curator Ben Portis

The MacLarenArtCentre in Barrie, Ontario, is pleased to welcome Ben Portis as its new Curator. Ben brings a diverse background as a visual artist, writer, and independent and institutional curator to his new role. His appointment commences April 5, 2010.

Ben Portis holds a M.A. in Curatorial Studies from Bard College in New York, a M.F.A. from The University of Chicago, and a B.F.A. from Queen’s University. Ben began his visual arts career as a working artist, but his work took a different path when he began writing art reviews for Parachute magazine and organized a museum exhibition, Civic Visions, World’s Fair, at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. These led him to consider that a career as a curator might be a fulfilling outlet for his creativity, and he enrolled in the graduate program for training contemporary art curators at Bard College.

From 2002 to 2009, Ben was Assistant Curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario. There he was known for his fresh eye on the museum’s permanent collection, his visible commitment to artists, his lucid writing, and the significant solo exhibitions and projects he organized by artists such as David Urban, Rebecca Belmore, Harun Farocki, Eddo Stern, Seth, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Denyse Thomasos, among many others. Ben is also an acclaimed writer whose essays, articles and reviews frequently appear in exhibition publications and art journals, including Canadian Art and Border Crossings. Earlier in his career, Ben was a curatorial assistant at The Dia Center for the Arts in New York, a curatorial intern at The Bronx Museum of the Art, and a gallery assistant at The Renaissance Society in Chicago. Recently, he was the curator of tandem exhibitions by Kent Monkman, which opened in Calgary in February 2010 at the Glenbow Museum and Trépanier Baer Gallery.

Executive Director Carolyn Bell Farrell comments, “Ben possesses an extraordinary intellectual curiosity, passion and engagement with the contemporary visual arts. We are delighted to have a curator and writer of his calibre join our artistic team at the MacLaren.”

Contact information for Ben Portis: 705-720-1044 ext 224 or

Photo: Curator Ben Portis


General Information

The MacLarenArtCentre is Simcoe County’s regional public art gallery. Located in downtown Barrie, the MacLaren is housed in an award-winning building that combines a renovated 1917 Carnegie library and a contemporary addition by Siamak Hariri. The complex includes multiple galleries, visible storage, an education centre, a sculpture courtyard, café, gift shop and framing department. The MacLaren presents a year-round programme of contemporary local, regional, national and international exhibitions. Education provides the unifying link that activates our collection and exhibitions, and fosters an appreciation of the visual arts.

Gallery Location: The MacLarenArtCentre is located at 37 Mulcaster Street, Barrie, Ontario, 90 km north of Toronto. From highway 400 north, exit at Dunlop Street East, continue on Dunlop Street through to Mulcaster Street, and turn left. We are one block north of Dunlop Street, on the south-east corner of Collier and Mulcaster.

Gallery Hours: The MacLarenArtCentre is open Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sunday noon to 4:00 pm. The MacLarenArtCentre is closed statutory holidays. Suggested admission $5.

Contact Information: For full details of exhibitions, programmes and events visit us at , call 705-721-9696 or e-mail

Acknowledgements: The MacLarenArtCentre gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of its members, benefactors, partners and donors, the City of Barrie, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.




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