SAW Grand Reopening Celebration

The artist-run centre SAW will reopen its completely renovated and expanded facility within Arts Court on July 19 with a lively three-part celebration featuring the opening of its inaugural exhibition, Sex Life: Homoeroticism in Drawing, a free outdoor concert with performances by LAL from Toronto, Perdu from Gatineau and many others, and the launch of Transformer, SAW’s new monthly queer dance party. This special evening of celebration is presented free-of-charge and is open to all.

A non-profit organization established in 1973, SAW is a research, production and presentation space dedicated to contemporary art in all its diverse forms of expression. Highlights of the new SAW include:

  • Fully accessible and expanded exhibition and presentation spaces;
  • Club SAW, a licensed, state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor performance and event venue;
  • The new Nordic Lab, an Indigenous-led international research and production hub for the facilitation of Northern and Nordic collaboration and exchange;
  • New SAW commissions and selected works from the City of Ottawa Art Collection, which are displayed throughout its new spaces.

SAW Outdoor Courtyard:

Opening remarks with special invited guests at 7:30PM, including guest of honour Clive Robertson (Kingston)

Exhibition spaces:

Opening reception for the exhibition Sex Life, with artists in attendance, and launch of HB Magazine’s special issue Sex Life


Food prepared by Chloé Berlanga (Gatineau) and Jabberwocky (Ottawa). Cocktails offered by Top Shelf Distillers.


Free childcare offered by the Ottawa Art Gallery to SAW patrons from 7PM to 9PM.

Launch of new SAW commissions and special acquisitions by:

Joi T. Arcand (Ottawa)
General Idea (Berlin)
PA System (Toronto)
Ningiukulu Teevee (Cape Dorset)

Selections from City of Ottawa Art Collection:

Annie Pootoogook (Ottawa)
Ramses Madina (Ottawa)
Nadia Myre (Montréal)
Carl Stewart (Ottawa)
Katherine Takpannie (Ottawa)
Guillermo Trejo (Ottawa)
Justin Wonnacott (Ottawa)

About the inaugural exhibition:

Sex Life : Homoeroticism in Drawing
July 19 – September 28, 2019

Artists: Cindy Baker (Lethbridge), Panos Balomenos (Athens/Helsinki), Dave Cooper (Ottawa), G.B. Jones (Toronto), Sholem Krishtalka (Berlin), Zachari Logan (Regina), Kent Monkman (Toronto), Diane Obomsawin (Montréal) and Mia Sandhu (Toronto)

Curator: Jason St-Laurent (Ottawa)

Presenting a range of perspectives on homoeroticism, desire and sex, Sex Life offers a view of intimate moments, both lived and imagined. Bringing together a diverse selection of drawing practices by contemporary artists, underground cartoonists and art-world outsiders, this exhibition presents same-sex eroticism from the intimate to the explicit. Cindy Baker’s delicate drawings, in which variously abled bodies are shown in intimate sexual, and non-sexual, moments in the bedroom, are juxtaposed with explicit images by Panos Balomenos that dare to venture into areas of uncomfortableness, and perhaps arousal. Kent Monkman also uses explicit depictions of sexual encounters to make visible, and play with, the power dynamics in the colonial encounter. Partly autobiographical, partly fictional and partly borrowed, Sholem Krishtalka’s works offer us a glimpse into the everyday erotic life of a gay man living in Berlin. Sex Life not only offers access to a world usually kept behind closed doors but also asks us to consider how we might live out and represent intimacy, sexual freedom, desire and pleasure, especially amidst the rise of right-wing politics and conservative movements worldwide.

Sex Life also focuses on the formation of queer communities, particularly alternative and underground subcultures as seen in G.B. Jones’s sketches of erotic encounters that explore drinking, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. The underground comic scene is represented by Diane Obomsawin’s comic On Loving Women, which articulates some of the complexities of coming out, along with drawings by Dave Cooper, whose “pillowy girls” have sex not only with other female bodies but also with plants and animals. Zachari Logan and Mia Sandhu also blend the eroticism of the natural world with that of the body. Both artists play with the politics of seeing, by hiding and revealing bodies in nature. In Logan’s images, the body is intertwined with the natural world, while Sandhu’s images offer up female bodies in natural environments, revealing parts of their anatomy usually kept concealed, linking female sexuality with the greater environment across cultures.

Sex Life explores sexual intimacy and lusty pleasures with reimagined formulations of homoeroticism through a variety of lenses, offering an expanded view of queer life and culture.