The Gallerists Seminar: SPEAKERS

Joan Spence founded and has been operating Spence Gallery since 2005. What started as a curious hobby has become a most worthwhile adventure. Joan started the gallery to inject some diversity in the Toronto art scene which at the time was very homogeneous. It has evolved into a thriving gallery boasting a roster of over 30 artists and participating in approximately six international art fairs annually.

Joan is driven to maintain a non-intimidating gallery that features innovative art and supports the career of its artists.

“As someone without an art background, I’m impressed, inspired and motivated by the creativity and discipline that our artists bring to their profession every day.”

Phil Emond studied business administration and human resources at the University of Ottawa and worked in the municipal and provincial sectors in human resources while setting up the first gallery. Phil started to manage Gordon’s art in 2002.  The journey started out of a basement and then moved to the artist’s first studio until 2007 when Phil opened the first small gallery in the Byward market and subsequently located on Sussex Drive, also in the Byward market. Developing your own vision and constantly finding innovative ways to stay connected with your clients and particularly allowing the artists to do what they do best – that is to create – are key elements for success. In 2009, Phil and Gordon chose to build a lakehouse in the Laurentians Québec.  The lakehouse operates as a bed and breakfast and artist studio and welcomes people from all over the world. An art inspiration program for young children was developed to allow young children to appreciate art.
Their mailing list has grown from 40 to 14,000 clients today. The revenues have grown from $30,000 to over one million annually. Throughout the years they have met amazing people and continue to do so.  Art connects wonderful people together.

John Gagné owner of Gagné Contemporary works with artists across New York City, USA and Toronto, Canada. Part of an art advisory that includes gallery shows, studio visits, artist representation and a curatorial practice.
What began in NYC as a side hustle – leading art walks through Lower East Side and Chelsea galleries, volunteering with Brooklyn arts organizations, conducting studio visits with artists and art collectors – soon became his true passion and a fully viable business. Warmly embraced by the arts community, he began curating exhibitions in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Returning to Toronto in 2020, John established Gagné Contemporary in a former stable in the Leslieville neighbourhood where he’s been presenting solo and group shows. John also manages two online sites that allow him to sell and ship artwork internationally, as well as support the gallery shows.