Places + Spaces: daphne, Montreal

The Canadian art landscape is ever-changing. Akimbo keeps you apprised of the standard-bearers as well as the upstarts in our monthly series on exhibition spaces from across the country. This month, we speak with Gallery Director Lori Beavis of daphne, a non-profit Indigenous artist-run centre committed to serving the needs of emerging, mid-career, and established Indigenous artists.

What is the history of your gallery?

Hannah Claus, Skawennati, Caroline Monnet, Nadia Myre, And Now Our Minds are One / Et maintenant nos esprits ne font qu’un /  Eh káti’naióhton ne onkwa’nikòn:ra / Mì àjaye ki midonenindjiganan pejigwan

In 2018, two Anishnaabe and two Kanien’kehá:ka kwe artists came together to create daphne, Tiohtià:ke/ Mooniyang/Montreal’s first Indigenous contemporary artist-run exhibition centre. Co-founders Hannah Claus, Caroline Monnet, Nadia Myre, and Skawennati are all prolific artists and Indigenous arts advocates working across borders nationally and globally while living and working on the unceded lands  known as Tiohtià:ke by the Kanien’kehá:ka; and as Mooniyang by the Anishinaabe, or Montreal. daphne was established as a legal and financial entity on April 1, 2019. In its inaugural year, the gallery was invited by Toronto’s A-Space Artist-Run Centre to curate an exhibition of Wendat artist Ludovic Boney’s work for the visual art component of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. The Canada Council for the Arts awarded the gallery a grant for our first year of programming beginning in September 2020. In March 2020 I was hired as Gallery Director. And in the autumn of 2020 daphne started renting gallery space, and began programming and exhibitions.

Ludovic Boney, Under the Catkins, 2018

What is a highlight of your neighbourhood?

We are located in the Plateau Borough, in the sector identified as Mile End. It’s a mixed-use neighbourhood, a combination of old-school textile manufacturing and tech/gaming companies – so lots of skater boys, but also really good coffee! We are in a similarly mixed-use building that houses schmatta trade (textiles/clothing manufacture and retail), artist studios, and cultural workers (for example, film production companies, book designers, and clothing designers), as well as companies fulfilling on-line services.

It’s a good neighbourhood. There are lots of cafés for coffee and lunches. It’s a short stroll to Boulevard Saint-Laurent with all the good bars – loud or cozy – and Fairmont Avenue where the best bagels just keep coming out of the oven all day long. On the other side of daphne is Avenue de Gaspé and the Pied Carré with many artist-run centres like Centre Clark, Dazibao, OPTICA, etc.

What is your favourite part about running an art gallery?

A workshop at daphne

I love meeting the artists and planning who we will present in the gallery. I love giving tours of the exhibitions and introducing the work of contemporary Indigenous artists to people of all ages who are really eager to know more about contemporary Indigenous art practice.

How do you find out about new artists?

Through our relationships with artists, cultural workers, and scholars across the country. Plus, every two years, we also put out a call for artist and curator proposals. The network of Indigenous artist-run centres across the Nations and territories of what is now called Canada is small, and we keep in contact with one another.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé, Shii’it Süh / Crying in their heart / Pleurer dans leur cœur

We are already in our second gallery space. In May 2023, we opened our new 4300 square-foot space with exhibitions of work by an early career artist, Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé, and an exhibition of work by our co-founders curated by Michelle McGeough.

In five years, we will still be in this space at 5425 Avenue Casgain, but we will have gone through our second round of renovations. We will have a closed studio for artist residencies, a defined storage space, and other elements that we have been dreaming of – for example, a multi-purpose space that lends itself to meetings and workshops and feasts!

What excites you about your upcoming exhibitions?

Cedar Eve

Our current exhibitions, Cheyenne Rain LeGrande ᑭᒥᐘᐣ: Mullyanne ᓃᒥᐦᐃᑐᐤ and Cedar Eve: Mnidoo Gammi, continue until June 8. These two exhibitions, both with early career artists, are exactly what daphne is about – solo exhibitions for artists at any level of their career, presenting strong and meaningful work that examines Indigenous experience and art practice from many vantage points.

Our upcoming exhibition, Resist with Love: The Xtopias of Solomon Enos runs from June 21 until August 19, and brings Hawaiian Indigenous Futurism to Tiohtià;ke. He is daphne’s first international artist and we are looking forward to creating another world inside our gallery.