UNIT/PITT Society for Art and Critical Awareness is a charitable non-profit artist-run organization located on the traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations, in Vancouver BC. After 3 years of remote operations, UNIT/PITT has moved into its new permanent facility at 2954 West 4th Ave in Vancouver, BC on September 1, 2023. We will be presenting exhibitions in our gallery and in our outdoor garden space, and continuing to present our mail art and virtual programs. UNIT/PITT is also the publisher of ReIssue.pub, an online art writing magazine.
UNIT/PITT is honoured to receive annual assistance from the British Columbia Arts Council and City of Vancouver. Thank you Vancouver Foundation’s Systems Change Grant for supporting ReIssue.pub, and Canada Council for the Arts for supporting UNIT/PITT with project grants throughout 2022-23. We also acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the BC Community Gaming Society.
UNIT/PITT is particularly grateful to the individual donors, volunteers, artists, and cultural workers that give purpose to our programs.
2954 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, British Columbia
UNIT/PITT is a charitable non-profit artist-run organization that supports art and critical awareness by offering the tools, space, resources, and mentorship for emerging artists and members of their neighbouring communities to engage in experimental creative work that advances a more expansive, inclusive reality for art and cultural production.
UNIT/PITT’s mission is to empower collective, cumulative action through art, resistance, advocacy, and critical awareness-raising by supporting emerging artists and their diverse communities of practice. We do this work on the ancestral, traditional, unceded, and occupied territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, and in particular, the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations, in a spirit of solidarity and resistance alongside the Chinatown and Downtown Eastside Vancouver communities.
UNIT/PITT’s vision is to support the evolution of a self-reflective community of artists and activists working in a spirit of experimentation, inclusion, and critical awareness that moves us closer to a decolonized reality in which diverse lived experiences are centred and valued.
UNIT/PITT began in 1975 as the Helen Pitt Gallery, founded by students of the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design). Helen Pitt Gallery merged with Unit 206 Society for the Democratization of the Arts in the early 1980s, and briefly adopted the name “Unit Pitt” for the first time. Over its 45+ year history, and across many name changes, UNIT/PITT has maintained a commitment to supporting emerging artists, artist-curators and writers through a synthesis of subcultural production, visual art, D.I.Y publishing, underground music, and arts advocacy.
In the ’80s, the gallery played a vital role in the rise of Vancouver punk around Jim Cummings and I, Braineater, which intersected with local and national political and queer art movements. UNIT/PITT was an incubator for artist projects and advocacy, publishing Issue Magazine (1983-85/2014-16), hosting Wrong Wave Festival (1984-present), helping launch the Vancouver Artists’ League and Strategies for Survival conference (1986), and contributing to the formation of the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres.
Throughout the ’90s, the gallery continued to host exhibitions, performances and residencies centring queer and political themes, and Indigenous artists and curators.
In the aughts and early 2010s, UNIT/PITT endured through several cycles of funding crises, eventually reemerging as a vocal advocate and support for emerging and student artists in the lead-up to and following the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, which precipitated the rapid gentrification of low-income neighbourhoods where artists lived and worked, and where UNIT/PITT is based.
At the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, UNIT/PITT left its physical gallery space and transitioned to mail art and virtual programs, including I Spy… A Disposable Camera Project, Helen’s Quarantine Cookbook, and La Commune 2021 Free School & Artist Residency. In January 2021, UNIT/PITT launched ReIssue.pub, an online art writing magazine in the spirit of Issue Magazine, with support from VIVO Media Arts Centre and Vancouver Foundation. UNIT/PITT presented the 8th edition of Wrong Wave Festival in July 2022 at various sites across Vancouver, Victoria, Roberts Creek and Sointula.
In September 2023, UNIT/PITT moved into its new permanent gallery location at 2954 West 4th Avenue, returning to gallery exhibitions and in-person gatherings, and expanding the local geographical distribution of artist-run centres in the city. This location features an outdoor garden, formerly cultivated by the Garden Don’t Care collective of artists, and which will feature presentations by artists in the years to come. This move was facilitated by Tobin Gibson of Unit 17 gallery, who initially fostered community around this unique space.
UNIT/PITT has shown and supported the work of dozens of local and internationally renowned names, including Jim Breukelman, Carol Sawyer, Dana Claxton, Âhasiw K. Maskêgon-Iskwêw, Stan Lake, Peter Culley, Glenn Alteen, Jayce Salloum, Joe Sarahan, Deanna Bowen, Julia Feyrer, Ron Tran, Vanessa Kwan, Raymond Boisjoly, Rebecca Brewer, Julian Hou, Cindy Mochizuki, Nicolas Sassoon, Colleen Heslin, Zoe Kreye, Patrick Cruz, Soledad Muñoz, NuZi Collective, and so many others.
UNIT/PITT is a proud member of the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres, PAARC.