Owners of The Art Exchange & Westland Gallery
In my past life I was a construction technologist who worked as a construction superintendent for 15 years. After the demise of my first marriage, I decided to start a home-based business to allow me the time to share in the raising of my two small children.
I collected my first piece of art in high school. It has been a lifelong obsession since. In 1998 l took a picture framing course in Barrie and I opened The Art Exchange on Albert Street. It was a picture framing shop that took framed or laminated reproductions as a trade for a store credit. l and my two children lived in the building for two years before I met my wife and partner to be, Karen.
By this time the picture framing aspect of the business was growing steadily, but the art business was changing. Artists were approaching me and wanting to display their work, so I started to feature original work and eventually turned to showing only original work.
At the end of five years, I bought a building in Wortley Village and moved our home and business there. The Art Exchange was both our framing shop and art gallery until 2012 when we bought the Westland Building in the heart of Wortley Village.
At this point we opened Westland Gallery as a stand alone gallery and The Art Exchange became my framing shop, small gallery, art storage and home.
For the next few years, I would curate and hang the shows at Westland in the evenings or on weekends and run the Art Exchange through the days.
Karen and Troy, then Karen and Danielle ran the Westland for the first few years until I eventually hired a brilliant framer by the name of Meredith Milton to help me at the Art Exchange, which allows me to split my time between the two.
My journey into the art world was not a straight line but rather more of a serendipitous curve. I have always had a passion for sewing from a young age. I graduated from two different colleges, with a Fashion Design diploma and an Apparel Manufacturing Management diploma. I worked as a Management Consultant in the apparel industry in Toronto until free trade changed the industry and my job was eliminated. From there I moved to London, ON and started a business called Gunners Adventure Wear. GAW produced and sold spirit clothing to the high school market. I had always been an entrepreneur. Working for someone else didn’t work for me.
Around 1998~99 I met Al Stewart. Al had recently opened The Art Exchange and I joined on him on his journey. Though the goodness of others we were able to purchase and create Westland Gallery in Wortley VIllage, London ON.
That is where you will find me most days, greeting you as you walk through the door.
The Exchange Staff
Art has always been part of my life. I grew up with an artist father and a mother who shared his love of collecting. As a toddler I would set up my paint-box and pad adjacent to my father’s work space. I grew out of dollhouses and Barbies but never art. I continued my passion at Bealart in London and then at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD) where I graduated with a degree in Fine Art and minored in Art History. My studies furthered my understanding of a variety of art mediums and aesthetics. Today I have my own collection of drawings, prints, textiles, paintings and ceramics by a variety of Canadian artists.
Through collecting and producing my own work I was introduced to framing. I have been framing my own pieces since high school and have refined my skills over the years. My studies of aesthetic and design go hand in hand with choosing the right frame moulding and matting for pieces. I have been employed for six years as a framing consultant and assembler. I love how every work day is different and I enjoy consulting one on one with clients to create a design to fit their individual style and budget. It is rewarding to share my passion of art while contributing to the evolution of a piece.
Started September 28, 2021
The newest addition to our staff is Tucker a Havanese puppy. Since starting, he has shown a wonderful ability to greet guests. Our staff are currently working on the basic commands; "sit", "stay" and "come". We are delighted to say that Tucker is catching on fast, and we're look forward to seeing how he progresses with new tricks and doggy knowledge. Clients can visit Tucker at both locations as owners Al and Karen are showing him the ropes.
Check out The Art Exchange's and Westland Gallery's Facebook and Instagram to see new updates on Tucker.
May 2008 - January 2021
I've been a key figure in the shop for thirteen years or since puppyhood. I am a cross between a poodle/Shih Tzu and a Jack Russell terrier. My job at The Art Exchange has always been to welcome our clients. In my younger days I would tour the gallery space with customers. I now spend most of my time lounging in The Art Exchange's windows or on my comfy chair, conserving all my energy for my morning and afternoon W-A-L-K. Sometimes I'll greet you with a bark or a wagging tail. I just love the attention I get when I'm at work.
Westland Gallery Staff
As a child, I always favoured arts and crafts time over sports, and had many creative pursuits throughout my childhood and teen years. I attended the University of Waterloo and received my Bachelor of Art: Honours Studio Thesis in 2014. While at university I discovered a passion for sharing the joys of the art world with others. I love taking friends and family through an exhibit and talking about the artist, the mark-making, the creative process and the ideas that are shared through the artwork. At Westland Gallery, I enjoy working with our artists and clients, promoting our shows and hosting our artists talks.
I have been with Westland Gallery for over 6 years now and have been steadily moving my home closer and closer to Wortley Village through that time! As a ceramic artist, I create decorative sculptural and tile works from my home studio and at the London Clay Art Centre here in London.
Emma is from London, ON and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Brock University. Emma was the Arts and Culture Assistant Editor and Editor-in-Chief at The Brock Press during her undergraduate degree. She enjoys abstract paintings and loves being a part of the community in Wortley Village.
In fall 2019, I joined this warm and welcoming hub for art, inspiration and connection -- all essential elements of good living in my books.
I completed my Honours BA at Trent University, followed up by a post-grad certificate in communications and PR. With a career primarily in sales and communications, Westland Gallery is a new chapter! And it feels like a natural evolution -- I've always been interested in continual learning, art, and creative pursuits.
I grew up in London, and as a kid I loved making things, drawing, baking, and spending hours outdoors. I’ve been in Old South for 15 years and continue to feed these interests -- hiking with our dog, taking courses and simply enjoying so much that our community has to offer.
I love working with others to bring art into their worlds, and seeing the appreciation for the artistic talent right here in London and beyond -- it's nothing short of inspiring and fun!
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