Toronto-based Artist Ginette Lapalme Opens New Gallery
February 15, 2022
Ginette Lapalme is a Toronto-based multi-media artist whose work is truly multi, taking the shape of comics, prints, paintings, toys, sculptures, teeny-tiny books, cootie-catchers, jewelry, driftwood, t-shirts, and more (phew!). A graduate of the OCAD U Illustration program and a member of the much-loved, but now disbanded, illustrator collective and contemporary comics anthology Wowee Zonk (with Chris Kuzma and Patrick Kyle). Ginette’s work has pop potency that refigures the flotsam and jetsam of quotidian and cute into her own unique vision that has garnered her a big following. Recently she took the huge step of opening her own gallery/studio/shop space at 998 Bathurst St, in Toronto ,during a pandemic no less. We reached out to her to see what inspired the endeavour.
Toutoune occupies the former space of Jonathan Petersen’s beloved Weird Things Gallery. How did this come to pass, or, in other words, what is the origin story of Toutoune?
Well I feel very lucky that when Jonny P. realised he was ready to leave Toronto he reached out to me to take over the lease. I didn't foresee this opportunity at all and when it was offered up to me, I knew I had to just go for it because I likely wouldn't get this chance again.
I really cared about Weird Things and definitely felt an attachment to the physical space as well as to the people that congregated around it so it really feels like a blessing to be able to extend that same clubhouse feeling further. I know plenty of folks were worried when we heard Weird Things was closing up! It was one of the few (or maybe the only place??) for 'weird art.’
Why Toutoune? For our readers not up on Quebecois slang, perhaps you could describe its meaning and how it relates to the gallery?
Toutoune was my maternal grandmother's nickname throughout her life. I always called her Memere Toutoune and I hardly ever heard anyone use her real name, Liliane. I knew for a few months that I was going to open up this store and I kept putting off trying to think of a name for it. Weird Things is a hard one to beat. It's so descriptive and self-explanatory! I feel really deficient at verbal communication (why I much prefer visual art to writing) and even the thought of brainstorming store names was daunting. Toutoune came up in my mind at some point and it felt personal and also very fun and once I thought about using it I couldn't bear to think of anything better! For the non-francophone, the term is one of endearment, in my personal experience, and it roughly translates to chubby woman. Some folks might think it derogatory but it definitely is NOT.
What is your vision or mission statement for Toutoune, where do you see it a few years down the road?
Wow I kind of still can't believe I'm living through having my own shop even though I'm already in my third month here, so it's kind of wild to think about how it might look a few years down the road!
My main mission really is to showcase the art of my friends, the work of people I am a big fan of, as well as my own pieces! I hope to eventually hold workshops here (hopefully sometime in the spring) and just keep putting on fun art shows.
How does Toutoune fit into your own artistic practice?
At the moment it's been largely an exercise in curation. I love to arrange objects and I'm a big collector of 'things.' Eventually I hope to start working on new paintings while I'm sitting in the studio/office. I'm lucky this space previously belonged to Jonny P. because he constructed this great little enclosure at the back of the gallery (with a window opening) which acts like a great checkout counter as well as a window to peer into a 'studio' space.
Where can our readers find out more about Toutoune and your work?