Founders Achievement Award


The Founders Achievement Award is presented annually to a person or organization which has over time made an exceptional contribution to the visual arts community in the greater Toronto area.


2016 Maia-Mari Sutnik

Maia-Mari Sutnik, former Curator of Photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario, began in 1979 to develop the photography program at the AGO, which now numbers over 60,00 items of unique historical significance. She has organized and curated over 70 exhibitions of photography, ranging from historical to contemporary subjects and edited the accompanying catalogues.

2015 David Liss

David Liss is the former Artistic Director and Curator of the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art. During his tenure, he developed MOCCA from an emerging gallery in North York to a Queen West institution, widely recognized for its significant contributions to art and culture in Toronto and beyond. The new museum is now called The Museum of Contemporary Art_Toronto_Canada.

2014 Stephen Smart

Stephen Smart has quietly had a significant impact on the greater Toronto visual arts community through his activities as a private collector, corporate collector, curator, lecturer, mentor and institutional advocate.

2013 Jessica Bradley

Curator of contemporary art, Commissioner for Canada of three Venice Biennales, Jessica Bradley is known for her exceptional talent in recognizing new and worthy artists.

2012 Ian Carr-Harris

Ian Carr-Harris is an internationally recognized sculpture/installation artist, writer and teacher. He has been on the faculty of OCA (now OCAD University) since 1975. His significant exhibitions include the Sydney Biennale, Documenta 8, Venice Biennale, National Gallery of Canada and The Power Plant. Carr-Harris was one of the founding directors of “A Space” in 1970, the first artist run centre in Toronto, as well as a founding director of The Power Plant.
He has served on the board of the AGO, The Harbourfront Corporation, CCCA and PACAP. Ian Carr-Harris was awarded the Governor General’s award in Visual and Media Arts in 2007.

2011 Sarah Milroy

Sarah Milroy is the former editor of Canadian Art Magazine and former arts critic for the Globe and Mail. Richard Rhodes describes Sarah as a "font of continual new ideas". She has embraced Toronto artists, never shying away from controversial work, championed Canadian Artists on the international scene and encouraged institutions such as the AGO to recognize and show emerging artists.

2010 Paul Duval

Mr. Duval showed early promise and began his career at the age of 7 with lessons from Arthur Lismer at the Toronto Art Gallery (AGO). Through his long career he has never left the world of art and has written over  20 books on Canadian Art. He began to review artists and exhibitions for  the Globe and Mail, Toronto Telegram and as art editor of Saturday Night Magazine. Throughout his long career, Mr. Duval has supported young artists, encouraging them in their work and writing many introductions to their catalogues. Paul Duval has been a dedicated and marvelously accomplished figure in the visual arts in Toronto.

2009 Artscape

ARTSCAPE's projects have provided working/living spaces for cash poor artists and in the process, also preserved historic buildings and have been a boon to the Toronto region. The opening of the ARTSCAPE Wychwood Barns is only the most recent success. It is an architectural accomplishment, offering new studios and spaces for artists and being a centre for several not-for-profit organizations making a vital addition to the local residential and business community. Some of ARTSCAPE's developements are Parkdale Arts and Cultural Centre 1998, ARTSCAPE Gibralter Point 1999, Distillery District Reborn 2003 and Queen West Triangle Partnership 2007. Today, ARTSCAPE works as an intermediary to generate projects that match the needs and aspirations of the creative community with those of city builders of many different stripes.

2008 Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky is acknowledged world-wide for his photography series dealing with nature transformed through industry, which show the effects of
our massive attacks on the natural world. A graduate of Ryerson University, he has received several honorary degrees, and was one of three inaugural
winners of the $100,000 TED prize. Toronto has benefitted greatly from his long-time commitment to education and the visual arts. In 1985 he founded
Toronto Image Works, and he serves as its President. It supplies dark-rooms, custom photo laboratories, digital imaging, and a media-computer
training centre to all members of the arts community. He is an Executive Director of Contact, the hugely successful annual photography festival; a
supporter of OCAD, Ryerson University, and the Art Gallery of Ontario; and is in great demand as a lecturer and educator. Through his art and his
educational work, Edward Burtynsky aims to create a productive global conversation about sustainability, and has greatly stimulated and enriched
our city's participation in this vital dialogue.

2007 Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects

Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects are recognized for their commitment to the public realm and cultural life. The recipients of more than 100 awards, their projects are found world- wide. The Toronto urban landscape has been greatly enriched by their work on such public spaces as the Roy Thomson Hall, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, the Gardiner Museum for Ceramic Art and the campus for Canada's National Ballet School among many others. Their buildings are distinguished by great sensitivity to site, intelligent functionality and an acute awareness of the needs of the visitor.

2006 Jeanne Parkin

Jeanne Parkin has been a part of the visual arts in Toronto for sixty years. After completing her art education in Toronto and Boston, in 1946 she went to work at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now AGO) with its staff of ten under Director Martin Baldwin. Jeanne worked with the Women’s Committee, an influential and knowledgeable group who were among the first to promote and purchase the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. Jeanne has recounted how the Women’s Committee volunteers were vital to developing Toronto’s art scene in its early days. In the 1960’s Jeanne joined the Women’s Committee herself, chairing several acquisition committees. Contemporary art captured Jeanne’s imagination and she became an avid collector. Her interest led to the establishment of the Gallery’s collection of the New York School and to supporting young Canadian artists by founding Art Rental.

Jeanne rejoined her “professional” career in 1972, organizing the watershed 10th International Sculpture Conference showcased throughout Toronto, continuing to build art collections, supporting emerging artists, issuing publications and running projects to benefit the public space. She volunteers on public gallery boards and not-for-profits. Jeanne Parkin lives by her philosophy: “An open mind and a fresh eye are essential.”

2005 Michael Snow

Michael Snow’s career has spanned over fifty years and been remarkably varied. He began in film in the 1950’s and has worked since in experimental film, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, holography, video, sound installation, jazz, improvised music, bookworks and public art. He has worked at all of these simultaneously and cyclically. Moving to New York in 1962, over the next ten years he produced seminal underground films, notably Wavelength in 1967. He played jazz, and developed his ongoing Walking Woman project, involving every possible conceptual framework and medium. Returning to Toronto where he still lives, Michael Snow has pursued an international career exhibiting and engaging audiences, including students. He has continued to provide us with metaphors for seeing; framing, fragmenting and heightening our perceptions and sparking our imaginations. Michael Snow’s best known public art works are in Toronto: Flight Stop (1979), a flock of photographic geese in the Eaton Centre, and wildly gesticulating fans in The Audience (1988) at the Rogers Centre (SkyDome). Michael Snow has received many prestigious honours throughout the course of his long career.

2004 Ydessa Hendeles

Ydessa Hendeles is an acknowledged international leader in contemporary art collecting and in curatorial excellence and innovation. She continues to inspire the Toronto art community through her Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, established in 1988. Through this Foundation she has shared her growing collection with Torontonians and provided insight into its demanding concepts through her inventive and original curatorial vision. Ydessa Hendeles has, through donations of art and financial contribution, supported the visual arts in Canada through its museums and educational institutions. She has held honorary positions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Jewish Museum and the Dia Council in New York, the Tate International Council in London and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She has been included in the international art press’s “Top 50” collectors and persons of influence in the art world.

2003 Richard Rhodes

Richard Rhodes, former editor of Canadian Art Magazine, is an author, arts journalist, curator, educator, photographer and general agent provocateur, a person who seems to be everywhere. Richard Rhodes has been curator of the Power Plant in Toronto, founder of the visual arts publication C Magazine, a regular contributor to Artforum magazine in New York, a popular lecturer and teacher at Ryerson University and the Ontario College of Art and Design. As a photographer he has illustrated the City Sites and Material World columns at Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper. He is the author of a popular and successful book on the history of Canadian art for young people.

2002 AA Bronson

AA Bronson and his partners Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal were the artistic genius behind the thoughtful and irreverent art collective General Idea. For 25 years their metaphoric cocktails grabbed our attention with signature images of perky coiffed poodles and later, outsized, colourful pills. G.I. poked audacious fun at our mass media propelled environment and raised an ironic mirror to the health and pharmaceutical establishments. Together they co-founded the influential periodical FILE and shortly after, in 1974, developed the collecting, dissemination and exhibiting centre for conceptual art multiples, Art Metropole. After the deaths of his partners in 1994, AA Bronson has continued to work and exhibit as an artist, producing solo shows at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and the MIT Arts Centre in Boston. He has promoted innovative, distribution-based projects and advanced the international scope of Art Metropole’s activities (such as artists’ publications, video and performance documentation). In 1997 Art Metropole’s archive of over 13,000 items was transferred to the National Gallery of Canada. AA Bronson has been a pioneer in the development of conceptual art in Toronto, and an international agent for its dissemination.

2001 Loretta Yarlow

Loretta Yarlow, former Director/Curator of the Art Gallery of York University, has had a significant impact on Toronto’s visual arts scene since arriving from Boston in 1974. A determined advocate of artists and their work, she has been an innovative educator, curator and art dealer, bringing to Toronto cutting edge art and new trends. As co-owner and co-director of the Yarlow/Saltzman Gallery (1974-84) she premiered exhibitions in Canada by leading international artists (such as Tony Cragg, Jannis Kounelis and Mel Bochner) and showed Canadian artists (Greg Curnoe, Guido Molinari, Lynne Cohen) on an equal footing. She has been an art critic, an early champion of photography, Commissioner for the 1997 Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (Rodney Graham) and since 1988 has developed an internationally renowned exhibition program and gallery at York University. Here, she established one of the most innovative fine arts education programmes in North America and played a significant role in the intellectual life and cultural context of the Toronto art scene. Loretta Yarlow now lives and continues her work in the United States.