LANTERN is a contemporary art gallery founded by Perry Thompson and Paul Zacharias in 2014. Located in Winnipeg's historic Chinatown, it is situated next to the gallery district in the Exchange, in the heart of the city. At LANTERN we program curated solo exhibitions of select emerging and established artists. Exhibit openings commence upon the First Friday of every month and change monthly.
Regular programming runs from September to April open to the public
Fridays 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM Saturdays 1 to 5 PM
Private visits are available upon request.
The Chinese Benevolent Society building on Pacific Avenue has been a metaphysical fort of refuge for artists for decades. Nestled in the heart of Chinatown, it has been a sister to other iconic artist studio buildings that are in the exchange (the Belgo building, Art Space, the Ace Art/Plug In/Urban Shaman building). It has always had the cheapest artist studio rent and is loaded with eccentricities to reflect this. Late night gambling, a baffling electrical web that causes the stove on the second floor to cut out when someone burns toast on the first floor, Hydro bills that have no correlation to the power usage. Cars are parked on the lawn, and a basement that floods annually. It is close to Winnipeg's art hub in the Exchange district but in a culture on to itself (it is Chinatown after all).
Before we inherited this place it was Zsa Zsa West, an art gallery run by Andrew Harwood, and before that Golden City Fine Arts run by Ryan Carman. Both establishments had a Do It Yourself vibe that made many patrons of the arts plan to end up there after visiting the other art openings to drink a warm beer after midnight, which would still be hopping. Or perhaps not, but that didn't matter you were still welcome to come in check out the art and get in a heated debate about something. Both of those guys lived there, in the back, under a maze of furniture and art projects. They were great places to land in, and throw your jacket in a corner.
The Benevolent Society was founded in 1884 in British Columbia to fight the rampant anti Asian racism and unfair labor practices forced upon the Chinese rail line workers. The society fought hard and was successful. It fought for the marginalized, raising wages and living standards for their people through strikes and solidarity actions. Chapters sprung up in many cities across Canada and the United States. Our Building here has 1916 written into the basement concrete walls by hand, The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 occurring just three years later. We'd like to think that this building had a hand in that key moment in labor history. But further than that, (and this is impossible to prove): We'd like to think that the sentiments in the origins of the Benevolent Society has been extended to the artists of today’s Winnipeg in recognition as mutual outsiders. With art being a vocation that garners little to no money, the artist themselves must choose to rage against the economic models we live in. They stay up late, squatting in their studios, drinking cheap wine and talking politics...they plot, form unions and collectives (ie. The Royal Art Lodge, Too Sicks, Student Bolsheviks...). You see where we are going with this? Obviously the stakes are not as high for us middle class kids opting out of good career opportunities as the Chinese immigrant workers on the rail lines in the late 1800's. The circumstances are worlds apart and we have no wish to belittle the history in my comparison. Rather we propose that the ghosts of those revolutionary times still reside in this building, and speak to the artists.