When she was in her early 20s, Laura Munz didn’t want to go to post-secondary school. Instead, she left her tiny town of Heidelberg — a pin-drop outside of St. Jacobs — and travelled the world. In her travels, Munz was most attracted to markets and galleries, where communities would gather over art.
When she returned back to Waterloo Region nine years ago, her love of art became her full-time career, as she decided to begin representing her brother, local painter Jonathan Munz. Munz opened her first gallery, uptown Waterloo staple Paint by Munzy.
Now, as a well-respected gallery owner in the community, Munz has decided to begin a new project — one that has been in the back of her mind for several years. Artsy Canada, an online, curated gallery that features the work of Canadian artists in our own community, has recently launched and is ready to accept orders.
“I’ve always wanted the opportunity to represent more artists, to help them gain exposure for their work,” Munz said.
“Artsy Canada is a curated, online art gallery. I’m hoping that it will give Canadian art lovers an easy way to shop and support local artists that are in their communities.”
Munz explained that she saw a gap that needed to be filled in regards to online art galleries. So many of them are oversaturated, not leaving room for new or emerging artists to grow or have their work recognized. Artsy Canada is curated with thoughtful pieces from Canadian artists that Munz is excited to work with and showcase. Their online gallery allows you to shop by artist, region, style or orientation.
“I want to give people a reason to not shop generic art at big box stores. I want to give them that same opportunity to have amazing art, but to actually support someone in their local community,” Munz said.
Artsy Canada launched with artwork from 15 artists, all with ties to Waterloo Region. The artwork for sale are reproductions, keeping prices more affordable than if the site were to sell originals.
“I just met all these incredible people over the years, and to be honest, I was kind of nervous sending out the proposal to some of our local artists in town because it felt really vulnerable. I wanted them to participate so badly…everyone was so excited,” Munz said.
Artists such as Dan Nash Gottfried, Morag Bee and Salma Nasr El Din can be found on Artsy Canada, among the diverse artists included. There are vintage-inspired pieces, pieces featuring Canadian places and landmarks and incredible photography, to describe a few.
“The way the website is curated is to put together these collections to showcase the distinctive styles from every artist — because they’re all so unique in their own style, they’re all so talented, [it’s] just going to raise each other up, being featured on the same website,” Munz said.
Artsy Canada will also provide mentorship to emerging artists who might lack experience when it comes to selling their work. As an experienced gallery owner, Munz is excited to assist artists when it comes to pricing their work, having high-resolution photos taken of their work and ultimately, marketing their art. She hopes to help break down any boundaries that may be in place for artists to make money off their work.
“The website was created because I felt over the years that there was a lack of representation for artists. When I say representation, there are a million options for artists to put their artwork on these giant websites, but they’re not necessarily receiving the support or mentorship that they need from there,” Munz said.
Ultimately, Munz hopes that the new project will encourage consumers to support local artists in their community while providing artists with a platform that will set them up to succeed.
“[Artsy Canada is] thinking of the artist first,” Munz said, “but it will create an easy shopping experience where, really, I want our buyers to not even think twice anymore.”
Beth is the former Editor in Chief of the Community Edition. She held this position from October 2017 - November 2019. When she's not writing, she's usually knocking back too many coffees at Princess Café, searching for new craft beer in the Region or forcing one of her foster cats to love her. Follow her on Twitter @angryelbows.