W Projects Gallery Moves into the Del Mar Building and Opens Doors This Weekend

Off the mid-block alley of a less travelled Vancouver street, surrounded by bigger buildings and bearing the wise warning phrase, “Unlimited Growth Increases The Divide”, sits the historic Del Mar Inn. The Inn’s street level space, at 555 Hamilton Street, has been sitting empty for a while now. However, all that changes as of Saturday, June 3rd when W Projects moves in, installs their first exhibition, and opens doors to the public.

At the helm of W Projects are Emmy and Sam Wall. Both Emmy and Sam have deep (and complementary) backgrounds in the art world, and together they have the vision to revive the space to showcase local, national, and international contemporary artists with programming that provokes conversation, encourages engagement, and above all else – shows really good art

The inaugural exhibition for any gallery says a lot about its intentions. For W Projects, that exhibition will feature the works of Heather Cleary, a Los Angeles-based artist known for her thought-provoking photography. From the gallery:

In her photographic works, Cleary explores the experience of uncertainty as it pertains to the acts of perceiving, understanding and knowing. Each work—for example, a place setting, a door knocker, a still life—starts with an idea which is fabricated in the studio and precisely composed and lit for the camera.

For Cleary, photography offers an opportunity to consider the possibilities of framing and complicates the knowability of her chosen subjects. She states, “By extracting an object from its context a layer of mystery is added or a layer of knowability is removed. As two-dimensional representations of the three-dimensional world, photographs also make it harder to understand material. In image form, the surfaces of fabrications and constructions are more difficult to parse out. The image abstracts the true surface of an object articulating it onto a flat piece of paper. Both aspects of photography, the removal of context and the removal of texture, provide distance between seeing and knowing what one is seeing.” In deliberately seeking to complicate the ability to understand what it is we are encountering, her work examines the subjective and acknowledges the ever-present role of invention in interpretation.

Heather Cleary “The Evening, 2022”

The Del Mar has a long history of housing contemporary art galleries, dating back several decades. One of its early occupants was the Bau-Xi Gallery (now located at 3045 Granville Street and still going strong), which opened doors way back in 1965. The Contemporary Art Gallery also did a spell at this address, and the Vancouver Art Gallery set up their satellite location here in the early 2000s, followed by the artist-run OR Gallery (now in Chinatown). While some focused on representing local artists, and others explored international collaborations, combined these galleries (and more) showcased a diverse range of artistic practices, from painting and sculpture to photography and multimedia installations.

Art galleries are important places. Most obviously because they support artists by giving them a space to show their art, communicate their processes, and get feedback/recognition from patrons, the public, and their peers; perhaps less blatant are their roles as open places that encourage awareness, connection and inspiration – all things that Vancouver needs more of.

Congratulations to Emmy and Sam Wall – and thank you for taking a chance on Vancouver.

W Projects Opens on Saturday, June 3rd, 12-5pm | Regular gallery hours will be Saturdays 12-5 | 555 Hamilton Street | DETAILS.

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