The story of how Leah Erenberg became a Winnipeg art dealer


Leah O’Hara, a nude model in the Winnipeg art scene, looks at work by Tesia Coil at the Tiny Gallery show. THE PROJECTOR/ Amanda Emms

Tiny Gallery is hidden in the maids’ quarters of a heritage apartment in Wolseley, and it’s really small. Art dealer and gallery owner Leah Erenberg, 26, only advertises by word-of-mouth because the tiny space is also her home.

Erenberg studied politics in school but joined the art world after months of travel brought her to Miami. While living with Spanish painter Arturo Prins, he asked her to help sell his paintings, so they had a show.

“I always wanted to work with art when I was studying politics, because I just thought it was so much more effective,” said Erenberg.

Back in Winnipeg, she continued to connect with artists and now represents six. She had several shows over the past few months including her most recent, titled Community Show. Erenberg opened it up to 17 artists, who are not only from Winnipeg.

“I asked for kind of political-themed work,” said Erenberg.

One of those pieces is a poster designed by Michaela Rae made up of many different fruits and vegetables that form a bee, with a caption underneath that reads “What else will we lose?”

Friends stream in by knocking on the basement window to signal Erenberg.

Leah O’Hara, 23, scans the small room, complimenting various pieces and ends up buying a print by Raia Bryan.

“I think she’s really fantastic,” said O’Hara. “I kind of love her and stalk her from afar, but not in a creepy way – just in an Instagram way.”

Erenberg said Winnipeg is an easier market because the community is very supportive.

“Every show I’ve had, all the artists have sold something,” said Erenberg. “Every time has been – I would say – a success in various ways.”

Nik Friesen-Hughes, 26 is a student who said he would like to get into photography this summer. He buys two pictures at the show, one from Tesia Coil and another from his twin sister Kaethe Friesen-Hughes.

Erenberg live-streams the show on Facebook while people filter in throughout the night.

Her next move is to Churchill to work in a restaurant. She says she draws her inspiration from a change in landscapes.

“But I can work from anywhere, so my actual goal is to be a travelling art dealer where I have different art hubs around the world and I can go and check on them periodically,” said Erenberg.

She plans on bringing work that she shows in Tiny Gallery up with her to Churchill.