After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

The Art Market website launches "for all Canadians"

Merete Kristiansen (bottom) and Kate Barron (top), business partners in

Merete Kristiansen and Kate Barron may be on the verge of revolutionizing the Canadian art world.  They have created a website for like nothing that exists anywhere else.  And they’ve created it to bridge the gap between artists, art collectors, amateur art enthusiasts and art dealers.  It’s called and it launches today.  

A combination of Plenty of Fish and Craigslist for collectors and artist alike, the site could become the meet and greet of the visual art world.  For the past 18 months and with the support of a private investor, Merete and Kate have spent their off-hours (Merete works as a gallerist on South Granville and Kate is back in school studying real estate) pounding the pavement, going to events and meeting artists and dealers to show their support of the arts community. 

These two Vancouver childhood friends, each coming together around an interest in art from different angles, perceived problems in the art world.  For Kate, who describes herself as outside the art world, it was access to the galleries.  For Merete, who is an insider, it was finding artists and connecting to the larger Canadian art world. “We decided that rather than complain about it, we would try to fix it."

Kate, the more outspoken of the two, said “I have friends who want to buy art but they think the art world is closed off to them.  They think that if they don’t have $10,000 to spend they won’t be able to find any work to purchase and the galleries won’t be interested in them. That’s just not true.”

When Merete moved back to Vancouver from her time studying at Southeby’s Institute of Art in NYC, she was shocked by how difficult it was to find national information about artists and galleries online.  The two friends became business partners and set about creating a website that opens the often heavy door into the art world by giving galleries and artists a free place to advertise their work and events. While the site is called the Art Market, it is not a place to buy and sell. 

The site includes images and information from individual artists, galleries, museums, auction houses and art foundations from all over Canada. Awards, grants and competitions are included.  They even have an area dedicated to schools—not just art schools but all schools with art programs. 

“Functionality is key,” says Kate enthusiastically.  As an example she explained that you can search for art programs by province and/or specialty.  You can select art by price range or location.  If you find an artist you like, you can look at the work of other artists whose work is similar.  And if you are really serious, you can create your own private art lover profile, with a calendar of upcoming events, your favorite artists, etc. 

Equally excited when talking about the site, Merete said “The art world is based on physical relationships and it is hard to build these relationships.  Rather than taking the human out of the process, we hope to bring people together, to introduce them online.”

More in Art

Giacometti & peers: "no lack of void”

Van Art Gallery show places mid-20th century master in cultural context

Move over Van Gogh: A New York City artist has re-emerged in Vancouver

Original, illuminating, Bhaskar Krag's 6x6 foot abstract paintings will rock your world. Krag's studio, along with many others, will be open this soon, part of Eastside Culture Crawl.

Canzine West 2016: giant zine fest hits Vancouver on Nov 5

Free festival showcases the best in zine and DIY art
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.