Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Years for Fine Arts Magazine Galleries West

Fine arts magazine reaches milestone
Galleries West, the magazine that "strives to heighten awareness of the visual arts scene in Western Canada," hits its 10-year milestone with its latest issue. Publisher Tom Tait launched the indie mag a decade ago because he felt the need for a fine arts publication featuring the works, artists and galleries of Western Canada. He also had a passion and the know-how to make it happen. 

Publisher Tom Tait knows the magazine biz
The former publisher of Where Calgary magazine (which is now owned by big-gun St. Joseph's media), Tom is no stranger to magazine publishing. He's been in the biz for 30-some years, and he understands what it takes to succeed, particularly in the Alberta market. (For a detailed account of Tom's career, have a read of David Parker's column in the Herald.)

He's one of the few people who really gets how the magazine market works here, and he has not only successfully created a magazine, but a stellar custom distribution system for it. I still remember watching with amazement as Tom once flummoxed a couple of Canadian Heritage officials who could not counter his argument that a controlled circulation model is by no means inferior to a paid model. (Too bad his argument didn't take hold as controlled circ mags still do not qualify for funding through the Canadian Periodical Fund.)

The magazine is an art form in and of itself
Galleries West continues to be a fantastic advocate for the arts, and its design and presentation are an art form in and of itself. I always looked forward to seeing the newest issue arrive to the AMPA office because it was so well laid out. Kudos to art director Wendy Pease for her great work.

To this day, one of my favourite spreads is still the feature on Brian Jungen about his Prototypes for New Understanding series where the Vancouver-based artist used pieces from Nike Air Jordan sneakers to create semblances of West Coast Aboriginal masks, whales, falcons, and more. The artwork was genius, but so too was design of the story. If I remember correctly, it won a Showcase Award that year, and we had the entry hanging in our offices for years. I just loved it.

And I love that Galleries West continues to thrive. Congrats Tom; 10 years is a big deal, even if you won't toot your own horn. So I will. Rock on. You are a star.

---Colleen Seto
AMPA Blogger-in-Residence