Thursday Q&A with Wall Space Gallery’s Patricia Barr

Patricia Barr admires a wheeled vase made by Brad Turner, part of previous exhibit of pop art at her Westboro gallery, Wall Space (Photo: Peter Simpson)

Patricia (Trish) Barr is the director of Wall Space Gallery and Framing, her family owned and operated business with its first location in Orleans and second in Westboro Village. Trish started framing in Ottawa at 16 and introduced her husband to the field. Prior to taking on media relations, community relations and co-curating the gallery, Patricia completed a BSc at McGill University and has worked in Seattle and Toronto.

OCS: Who are your style icons?

PB: Audrey Hepburn and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar in the TV version, of course)

OCS: What’s on your bedside table?

PB: What is not on my bedside table? I have a stack of magazines but I am saving a copy of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead to read again. I also have A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France on hold at the library and hope to read The Shoemaker and the Tea Party by Alfred F. Young during the Christmas break.

OCS: Best home accessory?

PB: That’s a toss-up between our coffee maker and our wine aerator.

OCS: Best recent fashion find?

PB: I love my black knitted shawl by the incredibly talented folks at Twiss and Weber. The cut and drape are amazing. It is perfect for keeping me warm at the gallery, has strategically designed pockets, and it covers the wobbly bits … genius!

OCS: Whom would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?

PB: Friends. When we’re open 7 days a week and have an active family life, it’s hard to get together with those in your own ’hood.

OCS: You can see the debut of any piece of music in history. What would it be?

PB: My son has aspirations to play in NYC. I’d like to see him play at Radio City Music Hall, on stage and not by the sidewalk.

OCS: What’s your earliest memory?

PB: Seeing Santa Claus (or my grandfather dressed as one) from my grandparents’ backyard balcony in the Philippines is the earliest memory. I must have been three at the time.

OCS: Your biggest fashion faux-pas, when, where and how?

PB: I showed up to my closest girlfriend’s engagement party in a yellow pajama short set. Gah! I had phoned ahead to find out what we were expected to wear to this backyard event and chatted with the future groom’s brother who mentioned he was wearing shorts. I was five months pregnant with my first at the time and had not made the leap to maternity clothes. My aunt had sent the yellow polo top and shorts with an elasticized waist band and only later told me it was a set of PJs. I spent most of the party on a bench in the shade, away from these glorious Greek women in fine clothing. The lamb was delicious, though.

OCS: Proudest moments?

PB: 1. Anything to do with our three children.

2. Celebrating our fifth year at Wall Space Gallery in Westboro Village. We opened in a recession, survived and we constantly get asked how are we doing? We work with a terrific team of talented people. We are doing fine, thank you.

OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?

PB: My bed?

I found a black stained school desk at the side of the road on my way into work one day with a post-it note on it, “FREE”. It now commands the office/den home, missing handles and all.

OCS: Qualities you most admire in a person?

PB: Honesty, being grounded, intelligence, confidence, humour, ability to multi-task. Sounds like a list for eHarmony.

OCS: With whom would you most like to work?

PB: I love installing art, clients’ art, whether it’s their own or from our gallery. It’s the one task where my husband and I can agree and work cohesively.

OCS: Describe a perfect day off (it can be anywhere in the world).

PB: We have had several. My favourite day off was our daughter’s ninth birthday. We walked the Highline in NYC to Chelsea, explored local galleries and shops off the beaten path, sampled food at a local market then had a late lunch at the newly opened terrace of birreria (on top of Eataly) overlooking the Empire State Building. I would bottle that feeling and prescribe a dose daily.

OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?

PB: At Wall Space Gallery? We represent all the artists that I favour.

In Canada? Jonathan Plante is brilliant. He made a draft table, lamp and chair for La Triennale québécoise at the Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal made out of scotch tape. My husband and I gifted each other a work on paper of his last year.

OCS: Favourite local artist?

PB: Hmm … how do you answer that one without hurting any feelings? I bumped into Oresta and Christopher Griffin at a house party. I asked Christopher about his trip to India as I had seen a video of the making of his bronze sculpture of canoe. By the end of the party, we had purchased our 19th anniversary gift.

OCS: Best book you read in the past year?

PB: The Hunger Games. My son told me to persist past the first 20 pages and I was rewarded.

OCS: Favourite food?

PB: Tapas.

OCS: Most-oft-played song on your iPod or MP3 player?

PB: I don’t have either. I do like anything by Bon Iver and for a while I would replay Dave Matthew’s You and Me because I love the first line.

OCS: Wine, beer or both?

PB: Wine.

OCS: Mac or PC?

PB: Smartphone. I need to be mobile.

OCS: Fine dining or plain old diners?

PB: This depends on my mood. I do like a good tablecloth.

OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?

PB: Currently, gezillig dining. I had a great meal at The Wakefield Inn during a conference. I love the vibe and offerings at two, six, (ate).

OCS: Person, place or thing that makes you proudest/happiest that you live in Ottawa?

PB: The streetscape of my ’hood of Westboro Village/Wellington West/Hintonburg has seen some great changes over the past 10 years. I love the diversity and the fact that Ottawa has largely embraced growth towards a locally engaged but a globally minded city.

OCS: Fave blog or website?

PB: does not get old.

Oh, should I mention

OCS: Twitter, Facebook or both?

PB: Twitter

OCS: What’s your guilty pleasure?

PB: Finding the best travel deals on-line and watching back to back episodes of Sherlock, the British version as well as Downton Abbey.

OCS: Favourite place to spend time?

PB: Travelling anywhere.

OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?

PB: Community builder. Philanthropist.

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