About Us

Purpose of the Ottawa Art Association

  • To encourage the appreciation of art in the community; and,
  • To encourage members in the practice of original fine art in the categories of Oil, Watercolour, Acrylic, Pastel, Mixed Media and Other media such as handprints, graphite, ink, coloured pencil, charcoal and painting on silk.

The Association's Constitution reiterates these aims.

Major Activities

For nine months of the year, members exhibit their work in the Foyer of the Ottawa Little Theatre at 400 King Edward Avenue, Ottawa. The Art Submissions occur on a Saturday morning in which members participate to submit, register, and hang the works. This is a friendly event that some members follow with Brunch. Two of these months are devoted to the Fall and Spring Awards shows.

We also have nine scheduled presentations (Summer and December excepted) in which to meet other members, and hear a lecture, demonstration or critique of our submitted art work. Non members are invited to attend and will be charged a small fee of $5 at the door. These presentations are scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm., at the Heron Road Community Centre 1480 Heron Road, Ottawa, K1V6A5.

The newsletter and website keep everyone up to date. Outings are regularly arranged and normally advertised in the newsletter.


In 1918 the Women’s Art Association was founded. It would later be known as theArt Association of Ottawa. They held their monthly meetings at Earnscliffe, the home of Lady Flood, who was wife to the British High Commissioner.

During their meetings, members would paint under the instruction of some well-known local artists. Between 1936-39, Fred Varley of the “Group of Seven” was in charge of classes. The Association disbanded in 1944 because of the War, but was reconstituted in 1951 with the inaugural meeting held at the home of Senator Cairine Wilson. The first Board of Directors was elected, with Kenneth W. Drysdale as President and Robert Hyndman as Vice President.

The aims of the Association were “fostering of Art in the Ottawa Valley and to promote the interests of the artists.” The slogan “An Original Painting in Every Home” was adopted.

The first meeting was held at the Ottawa Teacher’s College in April 1951. A.Y. Jackson of the famous “Group of Seven” was the guest speaker. Some of the other distinguished artists who spoke at future meetings were: Goodridge Roberts, Kenneth W. Drysdale, Dr. Andre Bieler, Henry Masson and William Winter.

The Association members held their first exhibition in June 1951 at the Ottawa Teacher’s College. At another one in December 1952, Begum Mohammed Ali donated a silver rose bowl to be awarded at the annual awards shows. Another award was the Blyth MacDonald trophy presented to the Association by Mrs. MacDonald in memory of her husband.

In 1953, the association changed its name to the Ottawa Art Association. To celebrate the 85th anniversary in 2004, the OAA funded a scholarship at the Ottawa School of Art, which would be awarded to the most deserving full-time student. This has continued on an annual basis.

The Association continues to display member’s artworks at the Ottawa Little Theatre, changing on a monthly basis for 9 months of the year. Members receive 9 newsletters a year announcing events of the OAA and its members, as well as discussing art opportunities and other items of interest to its members.

There are two Award shows each year. At the Fall Awards Show reception, members vote for their favourites in each of the four categories: Watercolour, Pastel, Oil, Acrylic, Mixed Media and Other Media. An independent paid jury judges the winners in these same categories at the Spring Awards Show.

OAA Practice

The practice of the OAA in recent years has been to concentrate its interest on the history, theory and practice of the visual arts, interpreted to date by the Association to include painting and sketching, original work, in all popular media, in particular oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolours. In this we have been largely influenced by our regular use of the Little Theatre, where the facilities lend themselves to the display of medium sized paintings or wall hangings, but not to larger items or self standing sculptures.

With respect to sculptures, they are only accepted for exhibition at the Ottawa Little Theatre if they can be safely and securely hung using the same chain system used for paintings. This means that the weight must be no more than 22 lbs and the means of hanging them must be securely attached to the artwork. There is no capability to display free-standing artwork at the Ottawa Little Theatre. The decision on the acceptance of a sculpture, based on the above criteria, is solely at the discretion of the Gallery Coordinator(s).