In 1973 three women placed an ad on a billboard at a women-artist centred shop/gathering place called The Flaming Apron. This was a call out to women artists who were interested in meeting and discussing the difficulty finding exhibition space for their work. This is how Powerhouse was born. During the first eight months the gallery operated thanks to the hard work of supporters, members, and exhibiting artists. The gallery was two exhibition rooms on the 2nd floor of a four-room apartment at 1210 Greene Avenue. The founding members were: Elizabeth Bertoldi, Leslie Busch, Isobel Dowler-Gow, Margaret Griffin, Clara Gutshe, Billie-Joe Mericle, Stasje Plantenga and Pat Walsh.
The first exhibition was presented from May 20th to June 21st 1973. One year later, on May 24th 1974, the gallery incorporated under the name of Powerhouse Gallery & Studio Galerie et atelier la Centrale Électrique Galerie et atelier la Centrale Électrique Since then, the centre has moved many times, and most recently to a storefront window on the main!
The Centrale galerie Powerhouse is an artist-run centre dedicated to the dissemination and development of multidisciplinary feminist practices. We are committed to supporting practices and artists that are not very visible in the dominant cultural institutions, and this at various stages of their careers. Our programming dialogues with feminisms and supports intersectionality and social justice.
One of the first artist-run centres in Canada, La Centrale is a non-hierarchical organization. The members play a decisive role in the decision-making processes and in the programming. Dedicated to dissemination and creation, the centre leaves a major place for experimentation.
In close connection with its gallery programming, La Centrale is developing professional exchange networks on a local, national and international scale. Educational actions and mentoring aim to share new knowledge-located in current art and they allow a constant opening towards new audiences.
The centre participates in the development of the history of feminist artistic practices and in the construction of a community of united artists who question the hegemonic values and criteria of art.
La Centrale adapted its mandate at the end of 2016 and also set up a mission to assert a clear position for the coming years. This reformulation allowed us to introduce terms that more accurately reflect our intersectional concerns and our commitments, without changing our primary orientation: the dissemination of artists' practices dialoguing with feminisms. The reformulation does not appear on our letters patent at this time, but the process is underway.