Somewhere Gallery combines curation and care

Concordia grad aims to create a welcoming and inclusive space for Montreal’s emerging artists

Katherine Parthimos, founder and lead curator of Somewhere Gallery, has long, wavy-curly teal hair — as though a mermaid wandered into the city and started working in an art gallery.

In reality, Parthimos graduated in the middle of a pandemic, from Concordia University, with a Studio Arts degree; ready to start a career in a severely impacted industry. She spent the summer finding and figuring out what to do with the space on Park Avenue now known as Somewhere Gallery.

Since September, Parthimos has produced four vernissages highlighting the emerging arts community — alone, during a lockdown. The gallery’s fifth exhibit, Archiving Identity, a collaboration with the VAV Gallery, will feature the work of five Concordia artists. It’s the only in-person show of the VAV Gallery’s programming this academic year, though they have had online-only ones.

“For me it’s more about filling the needs of the emerging artist community,” says Parthimos, which she defines as artists in their last year of a relevant program, up to six years post-grad. The gallery doesn’t have the equipment to display digital works yet, and COVID is responsible for halting performance art, but pretty much every other medium is welcomed.

For the entire time Parthimos has run the gallery she’s always had to comply with the stricter regulations that provincial guidelines have required for public safety.

Suffice to say, Parthimos has been busy.

She began dabbling in curation during her final year of school, mostly collaborating with other students. Parthimos explained that while the Studio Arts program offers classes on topics like grant writing, there isn’t a clear track to pursue to become a curator.

“This is just as much of a learning opportunity for me as it is for the artist exhibiting at the space, so I think it’s an interesting conversation to have, emerging artist and emerging curator together,” she said, noting that the roles can create power imbalances.

“I consider this an art initiative over an art institution,” said Parthimos. Many commercial galleries take a commission of 40 to 50 per cent, which artists accept for the chance to show their work to a larger platform. Parthimos takes 25 per cent, which sustains the gallery but doesn’t make her a profit.

She does everything herself, from mounting the exhibitions, collecting the artist statements, creating the virtual tours, learning graphic design along the way, receiving visitors who have scheduled appointments, and then taking everything down to start again.

[blockquote align=”right” author=””]”Being an artist myself it was always just a jab in the gut to have to go to a gallery and have an exhibition, where if you sell your work you lose half your profits. That was always something that didn’t sit right with me,” she continued.[/blockquote]

“The concepts that I incorporate into my own painting and sculpture are based on community and people’s relationships. That’s a direct parallel to my focus in curation which is a focus on unifying community and bringing people together,” said Parthimos.

Nesreen Galal, a Concordia student double majoring in Computation and Studio Arts heard of Parthimos’s work at Somewhere Gallery through friends in the artistic community. She exhibited a series called Destruction in Digital Daydream, Somewhere Gallery’s fourth exhibit, in February. Galal contributed five Polaroid photos, rendered abstract through physical manipulation, similar to Photoshop editing made analogue.

“It’s the idea that art surprises me or that I have a mutual connection with art,” said Galal, a self-described perfectionist, also used to working with the control digital media provides.

“The [analogue] object itself has as much power as I do, so it surprises me and controls me and I control it too, and I feel like it’s a different relationship with art as well,” said Galal.

Galal used a variety of household products and objects, including bleach, to plan a few month-long experimental projects, which led to the production of colourful, expressive abstract forms bursting out of the classic white square Polaroid picture frames that were displayed at Somewhere Gallery and titled Destruction.

“It was my first ever [physical] exhibition, and it was awesome to showcase with different artists,” said Galal.

The traditions of art gallery openings, free wine and close conversations with the other artists weren’t possible because of government regulations, which Galal understood but was disappointed about. “I feel like considering COVID-19, [Parthimos] did a really good job with the reservations of two people. The process was very smooth,,” she said.

A number of the Polaroids, priced individually at $50, sold quickly.

“I was in awe. It felt surreal. [Parthimos] told me, ‘you sold some of your pieces!’ She knew it was my first physical exhibition. It got a very good reaction despite COVID. A lot of people were really interested to go and see the work,” continued Galal.

Destruction was unframed, like many pieces that have been displayed in Somewhere Gallery. This is worth noting  — art gallery conventions prescribe white walls, glass, matting and custom-cut frames to display the works.

But smaller, less established spaces like Somewhere Gallery, have the opportunity to reject or play with tradition. The gallery is small but sun-filled, measuring 15 by 9 feet, with one wall completely occupied by a window, which has an expansive view of Park Avenue’s cheerful chaos.

“My main goal is to have a unified and cohesive show to go through. Aesthetically I do try to find works that flow into each other, especially in such a small space. Putting together the show to make it physically unified, the size of artwork in relation to everything else, colour. In the past a lot of the shows I have put together have a colour palette that is apparent. Sometimes subtle colours, sometimes pops of colour. Formal artistic qualities like  [those ones] really offer a cohesiveness,” explained Parthimos.

“I try to incorporate the space as much as possible,” she continued.

An example of this was a 7-foot-tall painting by artist Trevor Bourke that was placed on the floor leaning, instead of hung up traditionally in the November 2020 exhibit, Current Location: Undefined. 

“Just little things like that are so interesting, because it kind of turned a wall piece into more of a sculptural thing,” said Parthimos. “Having a work that large in this space [provides] a different interpretation of the work than having it in a larger gallery where it seems like it fits the size of the wall. You wouldn’t feel it’s presence there in my opinion, as much as you would here. So that was something I was interested in playing with.”

The arts world, falling under ‘Culture’ was one of the worst affected industries in a 2020 StatsCan report on the Canadian economy in relation to the pandemic, which further detailed the increased disadvantages faced by women and young workers during this time.

“There is a lot of opportunity for you in school through the Concordia gallery and various festivals but once you leave school, you fall in this grey zone. You’re not really supported by the school anymore but you’re too emerging to be accepted by the artist-run centre community. That develops later on,” said Parthimos. “I think it’s really important to continue having these opportunities and continuing to exhibit your art to grow and to have that dialogue with people.”

Parthimos tries to create a warm, personal, experience for guests, rather than the sometimes sterile, faceless, environments big galleries have fostered in order to advance the idea of art as a commodity.

“I’ve always been really interested in community building initiatives and I was also part of the Fine Arts Student Alliance [at Concordia],” said Parthimos. “That really brought into my mind the significance of integrating communities, and offering back to the community you’re a part of.”

Archiving Identity is on display at Somewhere Gallery at 6830 Park Ave. #358 until March 25. Visitors can reserve an appointment by emailing


Photos by Kit Mergaert


Reuniting pre-Concordia alumni artists

Upcoming show will highlight the work of Sir George Williams University, Loyola College graduates

Jackie Rae Wloski graduated from Concordia in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in two fields that don’t usually go hand-in-hand: fine arts and biology.

At the time, Concordia didn’t actually exist. Sir George Williams University (SGWU) and Loyola College only merged to form Concordia University in 1974. Today, the multi-media artist works from her home studio and creates art pieces, mainly portraits, landscapes and master copies by commission.

Ten years ago, Wloski decided she wanted to organize an alumni art show to exhibit the work of her former university peers. The process has been a long one, but it has finally fallen into place. Backed by the Concordia University Alumni Association, the art show will take place Nov. 1 and 2 and will feature the works of 64 artists, including Mark Prent, Ann McCall and Suraj Sadan. Wloski will also be presenting two of her own pieces: Myriam in the Backyard and Don’t Worry – Pilot in Total Control.

Prent is a Polish-born sculptor and performance artist who graduated from SGWU in 1970. Since then, he has received several awards and significant recognition for his work, including the 1978 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. At the alumni art show, Prent will be showing War and Peace.

Jackie Rae Wloski will be showing her piece, Myriam in the Backyard at the event.
Convergence, a collograph by Ann McCall.
Suraj Sadan’s piece titled Trinity.


McCall received her BFA from Concordia in 1978. The artist has had 10 solo exhibitions and participated in over 20 group exhibitions since 2008. Most recently, McCall won the Rideau Prize award for printmaking in visual art. Much of her work is inspired by the environment, from her seasonal series C’est l’hiver, based on the winter forest and animals of rural Quebec, to the complex environmental issues in Arborescence, which focuses on deforestation.

McCall will be showing and selling two pieces, Convergence and Arbes Hivernaux, made using the printmaking process of collography.

Sadan graduated from Concordia in 1980 with a master’s degree in art education. In 2011, he received an India Empire NRI Award for promotion of peace through art in New Delhi. His work is greatly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, whom he met at a refugee camp in 1947, according to Concordia University Magazine. Sadan is a portrait artist and has completed over 20 portraits of Gandhi, one of which was made into an international stamp and featured on the cover of UNESCO Courier in October 1969.

According to Wloski, the art show is an opportunity for alumni to gain exposure while reuniting with old peers. Wloski said she hopes the show will inspire young artists and students outside of the fine arts department to seek out opportunities post-graduation. “There is no need to study to practice,” she said. “We’re artists, and we’d like to show people what we do.”

The Pre-Concordia Alumni Art Show will be open for two days in the new conference centre on the ninth floor of John Molson School of Business. The vernissage will be on Nov. 1 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The show will be open until 9 p.m. on Wednesday, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Photos courtesy of Jackie Rae Wloski

Student Life

Catching up with Concordia alumni in Beijing

A recent reunion in China’s capital offers a glimpse of what former Concordians have to offer.

As the scorching sun set on Beijing’s busy Chaoyang District, about 30 Concordia alumni living in China’s capital gathered at the local Hilton hotel for their annual summer reunion on June 14. Amidst tables of appetizers and drinks, the alumni reminisced about their time in Montreal, and chatted with university administration officials and current Concordia students studying abroad in China for the summer.

The reunion—organized and paid for by Concordia Advancement and Alumni Relations—is one of two official receptions hosted in Beijing every year. The winter event usually includes a visit from the university’s president, Alan Shepard. This reunion, however, began with a visit from Canada’s new ambassador to China, John McCallum. He mingled with the crowd before giving a speech highlighting the benefits of such a gathering. “It is wonderful to have a group like this in China,” McCallum said, referring to the alumni turnout. He departed soon after, leaving most of the attendees feeling a bit in awe.

With over 200,000 alumni spread out over 110 countries, Concordia University prides itself on its vast alumni circle, and emphasizes the importance of strong alumni relations, according to Leisha LeCouvie. LeCouvie is the university’s senior director of alumni relations, and oversees all the events and programs offered to the university’s alumni. The development of Concordia’s facilities and global reputation, coupled with the efforts of the alumni relations department, has made it increasingly easy to draw former students to these events and keep them engaged in the university community, LeCouvie said.

Concordia’s Beijing alumni chapter was founded in 2003 by Chen Zhang and Winston Kan. Now the chapter president, Zhang graduated from Concordia in 1998 with a bachelor of commerce and, later, in 2003, with an master of business administration. “We are very glad that the university supports our activities,” Zhang said. When he and Kan, who graduated with a BComm in 1981, created the chapter, there were only about a dozen alumni involved.

From left to right: Graham Carr, Leisha LeCouvie, Chen Zhang, and Bram Freedman. Photo by Elisa Barbier.

The chapter now gets about 10 to 20 new graduates every year, and its 200 members gather three to five times throughout the year for dinners, picnics and official reunions. Zhang said some members also meet casually for coffee on occasion, and keep in touch through WeChat—a Chinese social app similar to WhatsApp—or via the chapter’s bi-annual newsletter. “It is always a pleasure to meet for annual reunions and see the administration members,” Zhang said as he greeted arriving members with a welcoming smile on his face.

During the reunion, a video created for the gathered alumni was played, featuring current Concordia students from China explaining what they love about Montreal and Concordia, and discussing the differences they’ve noticed between China and Canada. Some of the students expressed gratitude at being offered a scholarship to the university, and many said they were eager to join the alumni chapter after they graduated. The video also included shots of Montreal and the university campuses, which put a smile on more than one face in the crowd. However, nothing compared to the audience’s unanimous “aww” as an image of poutine flashed on the screen.

For Bram Freedman, the vice-president of advancement and external affairs, Concordia’s alumni are like cement to the university’s foundation. They bring new ideas, opportunities, funding and a stronger reputation to the university, he said. This is of particular importance in Asia, with more than 17 per cent of the university’s international students coming from the continent, according to Concordia’s administration. In fact, the university’s first self-organized alumni group was created in Hong Kong 35 years ago.

Beyond reunion events, such as the ones in Beijing, the university offers several alumni programs that allow future graduates to prepare for their professional life. Alumni Matters, for example, is a bi-annual event held at Concordia in March and November. The conference hosts discussions from selected alumni on topics of interest to students, including debt and contract negotiation.

The university also recently developed Go Global, a one-night networking event with Concordia ambassadors, held in 10 cities around the world. Concordia also provides on-campus career services with online programs, webinars and a new chatroom software, Brazen, to connect alumni with alumni-to-be.

Graham Carr, provost of Concordia, speaking at Beijing’s annual alumni summer reunion. Photo by Elisa Barbier.

“When I say to somebody who graduated in 1980 that the university has now close to 47,000 students, they nearly fall off their seat,” LeCouvie said, expressing her delight at the connection many alumni still have with the university. Freedman shared a similar enthusiasm for alumni reunions. “[Alumni] have warm feelings toward Concordia. I am always happy to reach out and connect,” he said. “They are our best ambassadors.”

According to Freedman, former students often want to give back to their university community, either by becoming mentors, providing work opportunities for current students or making donations to the school. In November, Concordia will launch one of its largest fundraising events in the hope of attracting generous alumni. “Quebec government funds make good universities, but private funds make great universities,” Freedman said, adding that donations from alumni allow the university to expand its facilities and programs beyond what could be done with government funds.

“Alumni can open doors,” said Graham Carr, the provost and vice-president of academic affairs, who also attended the Beijing reunion. As someone who oversees academic life and programs, Carr believes alumni chapters also offer the university a lot of innovation, such as suggesting changes to programs based on their experiences.

Concordia students studying at the Communication University of China for the summer. From left to right, Ana Hernandez, Sebastian Molina Calvo, Grégoire Bergeron Chiasson and Moises Espinosa. Photo by Elisa Barbier.

Concordia already offers a summer program in China that allows students from all departments to study Mandarin at the Communication University of China in immersion for two months. However, Carr said he hopes to see the development of international partnership programs that allow business and engineering students, for example, to work with companies abroad. During the reunion, Carr spent a lot of time talking to the students studying in China this summer, curious about their opinions and experiences in China so far.

The Beijing reunion offered a glimpse at the possibilities such a large group of international alumni can offer Concordia. Not only can proud alumni help build the university’s reputation in foreign countries through word of mouth, but they also have the opportunity to work with current students to better their own university experience. “The global world is a big place,” Carr said in a speech at the reunion. “We can make it smaller by keeping in touch.”


“Forgiveness is a long hard road.”

“‘All you hear here are tales of lust, hate and despair,’ she continued. Every word she spoke was said slowly, weighted by her heart and soul. ‘You know what they say? Shit flows downhill and well, there’s the hill up there.’ She pointed at the antenna at the top of Mount Royal.”

Ian Truman, a graduate of Concordia’s creative writing program, released his second novel, Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair, this past summer, about a man from Montreal named Samuel Lee who is serving a life sentence in prison.

The story is a long letter to his 18-year-old daughter, Melody, detailing how he became a murderer back in 1996.

Samuel relates how he first went to prison for two years for beating up a police officer who was attacking a friend of his. His stint in prison means leaving his pregnant girlfriend Alice behind, who — having no money — finds an infamous coke dealer to support her and her daughter.

Samuel learns all of this after leaving prison, and decides that he must do everything in his power to be with his daughter. With the help of his only loyal friend, Mikey, he comes up with a plan to get his daughter and girlfriend back.

This violent story shows us a side of Montreal few have seen before; one that is filled with poverty, drugs, and street gangs. The descriptive tale paints a new picture in our minds of places we thought we knew, places like Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and St-Michel, and even the downtown Concordia University campus.

This story of friendship, love and, most of all, revenge proves captivating.

The book is written in the first person point of view, and reminiscent of the style of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye with more swearing and much, much more blood. It takes a few pages to get used to the style, but once you do, it becomes almost impossible to stop reading. Samuel’s voice is raw, angry and emotional. It feels like he’s speaking directly to the reader rather than his daughter, using flashbacks to explain how he got to be where he is today. He also sometimes imagines what life would be like if he had a house, a wife and children; a life far away from his current life of crime.

The story did have a few typos and grammar issues, as well as some awkward sentence structure at times. A quick edit would definitely make this novel a much smoother read.

Overall, this action-packed and heartbreaking novel was a page-turner. Although we know that Samuel will become a murderer from the start, the story keeps us on our toes the entire time wondering who he will kill, how he will do it, and why. This story is definitely unique and while not for the faint of heart, this noir-style tale definitely deserves a read.

Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair is available on Amazon for $2.99 in electronic format.


The way we used to Cut and Paste

Pancakes, collage, 2011.

Amanda Durepos graduated from Concordia this June from the Art History and Studio Art program. The Concordian sat down with Durepos to discuss her new art exhibit and the inspiration behind her fascinating work.

Q. (A.S) What did you take away from your time at Concordia?

A. (A.D) I learned to allow myself to be vulnerable and to worry less about a finished piece and more about paying attention to the process and experimentation. I initially felt pressure to have a coherent and established style but soon realized that I was (and still am) undergoing a lot of self-discovery.

Q. (A.S) When or where did the inspiration for this project begin?

A. (A.D) I’ve always had a bit of an interest in technology, and a few months ago I began reading a lot about Google and how the company has completely changed the way we distribute and receive information. I also was surprised by the results that came up when I Googled my own name and spent a long time disabling and cancelling accounts on various websites; accounts which were long dormant and no longer representative of who I am today.

Q. (A.S)  In your statement you say that your practice often deals with “the paradoxes introduced in our lives through technology”, can you specify what some of these paradoxes are?

Oh, my ears and whiskers! Collage, 2012.

A. (A.D) It seems to me that recent history has been marked by a widespread adoption of technology in everyday life. Our increasingly symbiotic relationship with technology yields a paradoxical influence both on the way experience interpersonal relationships and the ways in which we access and process information.

For example, I am thrilled that the internet enables me to connect to my faraway family members. Although I have only met my newborn niece twice, my frequent video chatting with her has brought me closer into her life than would otherwise be possible. Conversely, some days I get home from work and can spend hours browsing forums, Reddit or countless other black holes of content and in the process completely neglect my boyfriend. In this sense, technology has the potential to bring us closer together from a distance, but can simultaneously alienate us from our immediate surroundings.

The Fallow Deer, framed print, 2012.

In my collage Dürer’s Rhinoceros, I am referencing a woodcut from the 16th century by Albrecht Dürer. Despite never having seen a rhinoceros himself, Dürer worked from a written description of someone else to create the woodcut. The interesting thing about the woodcut is that although it vaguely looks like a rhinoceros, there are a many incorrect or invented anatomical features. Nonetheless, the woodcut was very popular in Europe, was used in encyclopaedias, copied frequently and considered for centuries by Westerners as being a true representation of a rhinoceros. Today, we access information from a multiplicity of sources on the web and tend to think of the internet as providing democratic and more accurate and immediately accessible access to information. What we sometimes don’t address is the fact that the way this wealth of information is sorted is not always ideal. When one Google searches a subject to learn about it, the result that rises to the top is not necessarily the most accurate but the most popular, which reminded me a lot of Durer’s woodcut. Could it be that even in an age where we have access to many different standpoints, we could still be exposed to inaccurate information?

Q. (A.S) Could you tell me about how the ‘profile’ or, way we represent ourselves online is represented in the exhibit?

A. (A.D) My boyfriend and I met on a picture rating website when we were 15 years old. Because the history of the forum is stored chronologically, I discovered that I could time travel backwards in the forums and read interactions between us before we had met. It was fascinating for me to see the formal way in which we addressed one another, and how this differs drastically from who we are today and the ways that we interact. In this way, I have found that my self from 7 years ago has left quite a trace online. What is notable (and embarrassing) about it is the fact that I can go back and see quite tangibly who I was at that time. Before the internet, our memories of our old selves or old friends are pieced together perhaps through photos or home videos. When we were 15, we all said things we would be embarrassed about today, but I have the misfortune of having that dialogue in a public cyberspace. And as I have discovered, erasing a blog can be more difficult than the ridding of a diary book!

To have an online profile is to define something static about a self that is always in flux. Although we can update our profiles to match the changes that take place in our lives, some aspects remain, concretized in cyberspace. Anyone who has ever Googled themselves can see that there are sometimes things that you wish were not there.

Alter Egos (series), prints, 2012.

As an artist, I sometimes feel pressure to establish an online presence, and to plan for exhibits to showcase what I am working on. However, just as I am constantly growing and changing, so is my work. Collage is very playful and when I work with it, I am without intent. It is a very stream-of-consciousness process, very much like living life or breathing. It becomes complicated when I have to frame it or define it.

Q. (A.S) I found the Alter egos series to be particularly striking because it was done with computer technology and all your other pieces were done by hand, a literal cut and paste. Why is this? What made you choose to do this series differently?

A. (A.D) A struggle I face in wanting to work with original vintage material is that it is difficult to come across very large source material. The initial collages for the Alter Egos series were 4 x 6” and were done manually. It is interesting to me, that upon enlarging them and thereby converting them to a digital equivalent, they are likely to last longer. That is to say, my collages are created with source material which is already mouldy and yellowed, and are likely to have a much shorter life, like a fleeting memory. These prints have been digitalized and are therefore immortal!

Q. (A.S) I noticed that the pieces were displayed with little polish, some of the pieces coming off from their backgrounds, curling etc. Was this intentional, if so why?

A. (A.D) Creating a collage is very spontaneous for me and I can work very swiftly. I do not like to revisit collages I make and do not “touch them up”. Additionally, I like the character of curled and yellow paper and want people to be able to see the pieces as more than just flat images, but rather as objects on paper, wherein the paper is an important aspect. I have fun when I create my collages and I do not want them to be seen as precious images.

Q. (A.S) Can you talk about Slowness Japanese bound-book?

Slowness, Japanese-bound book, 2012.

A. (A.D) The book was created as an assignment for a drawing class at Concordia. I was thinking about the way the internet affects the way we absorb and process information. Before the internet, one would have no choice but to go to the library, take out an encyclopaedia and read it in a linear fashion, and then condense the information later. Linear, and slow appreciation of text seems to be falling out of fashion.

For my piece Slowness, I cut up Milan Kundera’s novel Slowness, using words from the novel itself to piece together the Wikipedia article. I was taking this idea to an extreme and envisioning a hypothetical time in which even pleasure reading (which is necessarily slow and linear by definition) is fractured, a victim of instant gratification. I chose this book in particular because Kundera suggests in it that speed is linked to forgetting and only slow, uninterrupted appreciation can submit something to memory.

This interview has been edited for length.

Amanda Durepos’ exhibit Cut and Paste is on display at Papeterie Nota Bene 3416 Du Parc until June 1, with a vernissage taking place May 31 from 5-8pm.

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