A catalyst for cultural activity in Katarokwi / Kingston, Ontario, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre is in its 45th year of operations, incorporated as Kingston Artists' Association Inc. (K.A.A.I.) on 12 October 1977.
At conception, the aim of the K.A.A.I. was to operate as a focal organization for artists and the public, by providing a gallery for exhibition purposes, collecting and disseminating information about local artists, and serving as a site for discussion about alternative art forms.
In 1979, K.A.A.I. amalgamated with Another Space Gallery and soon moved to 21A Queen Street, re-naming itself Kingston Artists' Association Inc. & Gallery. It opened alongside the Kingston Art Event which featured four days of free public exhibitions, video production and screenings, workshops, art walks, dance classes, performances, talks and more. The new association provided art exhibitions, performance events, art festivals, newsletters, and an artists' resource index. Project highlights in the '80s and '90s include the literary series Cargo Kulture, the performance series Performable Art Events, and the environmental installation series The Millennium Project.
In 1989, the former Kingston Artists' Association Inc. adopted the name Modern Fuel Gallery for its exhibition space and newsletter. The Gallery was then situated in a heritage limestone building that was constructed in 1848 to house the City of Kingston Gaslight Company. In 1849 George Herchmer Markland sold 1/5 acre to the City of Kingston Gaslight Co. which was bought by the City of Kingston in 1904. It is this company that advertised "GAS" as "THE MODERN FUEL" at the turn of the century, a slogan which remains painted to this day on the side of the building at 21 Queen St; hence the origin of the name, the Modern Fuel Gallery. At the unveiling of the new Gallery sign in 1995, then K.A.A.I. President Sandra Jass said: "If GAS is the modern fuel of industry, then ART is the modern fuel of the imagination."
The K.A.A.I., formally renamed Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre in 1995, has augmented its objectives in recent years to maintain relevance on the national and international level and continues to develop innovative ways to support alternative art production and diversity in the local community. The principle on which the original Kingston Artists' Association Inc. was founded - to provide a focal organization for local artists and support for the presentation, interpretation and production of their work - continues today.
On 12 October 2012, Modern Fuel celebrated 35 years of incorporation and honoured it with a plaque unveiling at Little Cataraqui Creek in honour of the Millenium Project that occurred at the Conservation area from 1990-2000. The plaque was unveiled at the Two Tattoos installation by artist Bill Vazan.
In December 2014, Modern Fuel moved to the newly redeveloped Tett Centre for Creativity & Learning at 370 King St. West. We share this creative hub with seven other arts non-profits, as well as eight residence artists.
For a more in-depth look at Modern Fuels past, check out our online archives.