Welcome to the White Water Gallery (WWG) Archive. This large-scale website development project has been in the works for the past 2 years as WWG staff have been busy behind the scenes digitizing files and publishing content. Over this time we have recovered more than 2000 documents publishing them here. At the beginning of this project we believed that a total of 1000 documents existed and now we realize that there are still at least 2000 more to be documented. It is no surprise that an archive like this will never be completed as it grows with each new show conducted at our space. This website will be updated regularly and new content will continue to show up for years to come. We are very happy to be reflecting on our past and “Returning to our Roots” both as we look at the history of our organization and the ideology of what it means to be an Artist-Run Centre.
Looking through past exhibitions makes people nostalgic like they are swimming through memories. Every bit of information makes the viewer feel more immersed in the experience and gain a better understanding of the past. History is important to recognize especially in the Artist-Run Centre (ARC) movement, as we are always obsessed with newness and looking forward as opposed to looking back. Fynn Leitch has much to say in regards to positioning ARC and WWG as shown in her project Midlife Crisis. ARCs have a tendency to over analyze themselves and their peers, which ironically, is constantly talked about by ARCs. Looking at ourselves is both compulsive and intentional. It adds emphasis to our actions and promotes the ideologies of our artists. WWG has a history of being many things to many people and its history goes back more than 40 years. Over that time all sorts of initiatives have taken place in its many locations as it currently resides within location number 8 of its many public locations. Moving from location to location has become the practical reaction to the unstable nature of the Canadian funding systems or our lack of ability to adapt to them effectively. In any case, the gallery has migrated all over the downtown core of North Bay and though many of us dream of a permanent building being owned by the gallery, it may never actually happen. The idea of remaining temporary while operating in the absolute works very well in the current arts climate as it keeps our group appearing strong while allowing us to dynamically change with the seasons of funding and follow project funding aggressively. One thing that this posture affects greatly is the supplementary programming that has occurred in the gallery over the years.
WWG’ relevance to the North stands as both the outlet for local artists to find a way of reaching the larger arts community and the larger arts community reaching our local region. Without a connection to local artists an Artist-Run Centre becomes inaccessible and quickly begins to become insular. The local buy-in from the community is what gives emphasis to the artworks and aids in the success of each exhibition. In 2012 the project “Profiles” explored this exact theme and delved into the concepts of our locals connecting them with emerging curators as a way of giving voice to both the artists and work. The result was 5 artists juxtaposing their views in a sporadic display of brilliance. Although this project did not receive any project funding, it was a valuable addition to the programming year as it kept the gallery relevant to the local community.
During the 1980’s and 90’s WWG has its own television program on cable access. It was an ongoing broadcast where artists were featured and interviewed in relation to the artworks being presented. Often it featured the gallery staff or the artists working in tandem with WWG as they would create artworks specifically for the show. White Water Gallery TV was the launching ground for Media Arts broadcasting, performance art, critical discussion as well as experimental musical performances. Many of the episodes from this program have been recovered from old VHS tapes found on-site or donated by patrons of the gallery. The video can be found in the Video Archives of this website which holds more than 30 hours of viewing.
During the span of more than 40 years WWG has been a strong supporter of many arts practices from many cultural backgrounds. We have always been an equal opportunity gallery and presented many Aboriginal artists before Aboriginal art become a priority within government. Having an understanding of our community’s needs as well as being responsive and reactive to the art world has always been our priority but showing contemporary Aboriginal art during the 1970’s makes me very proud to work here. As WWG moves forward, there will be changes that are not unlike the ones we have undertaken before. One day the staff will change and the board will change and all the people currently affiliated will either die or move away. The White Water Gallery will always be here in the North working on advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts by producing public art exhibitions and presentations, and by providing a forum for qualified artists to exhibit, present, or perform their artistic works through participation in such events. The Archive will grow as long as great projects continue to take place through this place.