Av Isaacs was at one time the premiere art dealer in Toronto, operating both the Isaacs Gallery and The Innuit Gallery. I recall as a young art student going downtown to galleries, making the stop on Yonge St to see what was showing at Isaacs. There were so many fantastic exhibitions by the likes of Gord Rayner, Robert Markle, John Meredith, Joyce Wieland and many more, including horror sculptor Mark Prent. In my eyes as a young guy who wanted to be a painter, this was The Big Time. Some of the exhibitions I saw at The Isaacs Gallery while I was in high school showed me the magic of painting and made me think, I want to do this, I want to make paintings too.
Mr. Isaacs closed the doors to the Isaacs Gallery in 2001, having secured an important spot in Canada’s art history. Although I did meet him on a couple occasions, I didn’t know Av Isaacs except as a huge figure in the Toronto scene. One day back in the summer of 1982, when I was working at the Harbourfront Art Gallery I was introduced to him by then Harbourfront Gallery director, the late Anita Aarons. I remember being nervous because to me, Av Isaacs pretty much had rock star status in the Toronto art world. In fact he was soft-spoken and friendly and happy to chat. Mr. Isaacs passed on Friday at 89.