Stepping into Void gallery is like walking into the living room of your artsy friend’s house. I am greeted warmly by Michael Peterson, owner of Void, who shows me to a seat across his desk. We drink coffee and dive into conversation on the inner workings of the gallery.
My first question to him is “where did the name Void come from?” Michael tells me that the original space was a basement on Clarence and 8th Street (the same building as 8th Street Books & Comics). “It was hard to find,” he says. “And the three of us who started the gallery had a joke about how descending the stairs to the basement gallery was like walking into the ‘void’.”
Void was founded in 2012 by Michael, a printmaker who received his BFA at the University of Saskatchewan and MA at Emily Carr, along with Kris Kershaw, an abstract artist, and Nelson Fraser, a metal artist and jury member of the Craft Council. The gallery remained at the 8th Street location for three years then made a shift in the summer of 2015 to a building on Avenue B in Riversdale.
Void is a commercial-focused gallery that supports emerging artists. Michael explains, “It is very difficult for these artists to get into commercial galleries because you often need sales history to get in. But where do you start? How and where are you supposed to sell your work in the beginning?” Void offers a solution to this challenge. “The gallery accepts submissions at any time. The program committee reviews submissions then contacts artists whose work will then be displayed for commercial sale.”
But another way the owners felt they could support emerging artists was by building a workspace for them, a space that serves as a temporary location where artists can conceive a project then disband afterward without the worries of long-term rental agreements.
Michael leads me upstairs to “The Creative Commons”, a 1250- squarefoot room that right away evokes images of Andy Warhol’s Factory in my mind. The space contains equipment for printmaking including an etching press, a massive piece of machinery with a cost that can prevent many artists from dappling in printmaking in the first place. The etching press and other tools in The Creative Commons are open to use if artists are interested in booking the space.
Michael is also working on installing a small stage in the far corner of the room for musicians and poets to perform. As a musician myself, I thought about how lovely it would be to host an intimate performance here like a fundraiser or CD release party, where people are there ‘for the music’. Michael and I also talk about the potential of hosting multidisciplinary events in the space. “Some of my favorite shows I have attended were interdisciplinary events that combined visual, performance, and sound art,” I say. Michael agrees and adds, “There are more shows with overlap between artistic mediums than we realize.”
Rental fees are still being worked out but the space will be available for longer period bookings or day/night event bookings. The Creative
Commons will be open March 2016. Artists are encouraged to contact Michael at email@example.com if they are interested. He is already scheduling bookings for the year.
Void is a must-see destination for artists and art lovers in Saskatoon. One can appreciate and purchase work that is for sale in the main level of Void that includes paintings by Sandra Knoss, a farmer from Rockglen, fine art jewelry by Mary Lynn Podiluk, and even beeswax candles made out of 3D print molds by Vivian Orr. There is also a great selection of smaller items like posters, cards, and patches that would all make beautiful gifts. For the visual or performing artist, there are incredible opportunities for creating a project or showcasing your art through an event in The Creative Commons upstairs. Whatever your purpose, Void Gallery & The Creative Commons offer something for anyone interested in adding to Saskatoon’s underground and mainstream art scenes.