It is with great respect and sadness that we honour the life of Toronto gallerist Katharine Mulherin, who died on July 14, 2019. Katharine’s contribution to the creative spirit that underpins so much of Queen Street West is immeasurable.
She left a legacy that began in 1998 with the opening of BUSgallery, where many local artists had their first shows. Later moving to 1086 Queen Street West, she built an incredible stable of artists while honing her role as an art dealer and opening a few more art venues next door. Her galleries gave the entire street a sense of place; one that embraced its century-old history, and which still continues to attract creative entrepreneurs and solo shop owners just like her.
DesignTO Board Chair Shaun Moore met Katharine in 1999, and was instantly won over by her generosity and love for her artists. “At first, I was an art admirer, then later a collector,” he says. “We soon became friends. For me, and for the city, her influence has been huge. Toronto would not be the creative city it is today without her contributions.”
Artistic Director Deborah Wang worked with Katharine between 2009 and 2011. “Through that experience, I became part of the Queen Street West art community,” says Wang, who co-founded the festival with Moore, Christina Zeidler, and 4 others during that time. “Like many have already expressed, Katharine was the real deal. I learned so much working alongside her.”
Katharine will be remembered by many, including everyone at DesignTO, who deeply admired her DIY spirit, creative hustle, and perseverance. We are grateful to her for championing local art, and for her sense of urbanism. She understood inherently that art is essential to the vibrancy of a street, and by extension to empowering a community.
A Party For Katharine Mulherin, open to friends, family and the community, is being held at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), on Friday, August 2, from 4 to 10pm. A gofundme campaign has also been launched, in support of her family.