The Pride in Art Society (PiA) is a professional multidisciplinary art organization dedicated to the presentation and promotion of queer art and artists; inspiring recognition, respect, and visibility of people who transgress gender and sexual norms. Through curated exhibitions, performing arts presentations, readings, artist talks, panels, workshops, and screenings, we bring diverse communities together to support artistic risk-taking, incite creative collaboration and experimentation, and celebrate the rich heritage of queer artists and art. PiA produces the Queer Arts Festival (QAF), recognized as one of the top 5 festivals of its kind worldwide (Melbourne Herald Sun). QAF produces, presents & exhibits with a curatorial vision favouring challenging, thought-provoking work that pushes boundaries & initiates dialogue. QAF has a strong record of culturally diverse programming within its LGBT2SQ mandate, emphasizing prominent representation of artists, staff, and membership from communities who have called the DTES home—notably Asian-Canadian (specifically Chinese and Japanese) and Indigenous communities. Since 1998, PiA has presented 1,735 artists in more than 220 events, welcomed 61,500 patrons & incited the creation of dozens of new Canadian works through commissions, premières & curation. QAF’s programming has garnered wide acclaim as “easily one of the best art exhibitions of the year” (Vancouver Sun), “concise, brilliant and moving” (Georgia Straight) & “on the forefront of aesthetic and cultural dialogue today” (Xtra).
In 1958, inside the Parisian Iris Clert Gallery, French avant-garde movement artist Yves Klein emptied an entire exhibition space of an art gallery. Visitors upon lifting the blue curtains at the entrance, enter an empty exhibition hall. Although Klien’s original intention was to provide viewers a monochromatic visual experience, he simultaneously became the pioneer of taking the space known as the “White Cube” as the subject of the exhibition itself. Two years later, in 1960, Arman, a distinctive figure of Neo-Realist art, filled an entire exhibition space of the same gallery with discarded materials, but visitors were required to view the exhibition outside of closed doors and display windows. The invitation to this exhibition, titled Full-Up, was a sardine can full of handwritten texts. To this day, the term “White Cube” has become synonymous with art galleries and spaces; nevertheless, it is no longer an adequate description for today’s non-profit artist-run centers. We hope to replace the word “space” with “sardine,” because other than exhibitions, a non-profit artist-run center also carries curatorial and publishing functions, as it can also be a site for artist residencies and bookstores among many other roles.
This institution is found by Vancouver based artists originally from Canton, China, hence the name “Canton-sardine.”