From a gallery in a spare bedroom to a public artwork along one of Vancouver’s luxury retail streets – there are plenty of new and vastly varying places to see art around town right now, including spaces that are giving opportunities to artists who haven’t exhibited in Vancouver before, and proving the necessity of art-creating, exhibiting and appreciation. Here are seven such spaces currently getting us excited…
A ROCK DIVIDED
Swedish artist Henrik Håkansson was recently in town to unveil his new public artwork commissioned for Alberni by Kengo Kuma, a new high-rise by Westbank in Downtown Vancouver. A Rock Divided features a 6,000lb granite boulder sourced from a quarry near Squamish, divided into quarters and suspended between two intersecting panes of glass. The rock appears to float among the surrounding bamboo and moss garden, and complements architect Kengo Kuma’s design philosophy of creating new relationships between humans, nature, and technology. From the Artist Statement: “The work seeks to reflect the seemingly static yet ever-changing relationship between the climate and our physical environment. The rock and its reflection floats, as if mirroring the moving planet, an expression of the measure of time, weight and value, contrasting with its surroundings and the sky to create its own unique ecology.”
Joining the growing block of 800 East Hastings Street (Prototype Coffee, Hype Chocolate, Flourist, The Garden, and Les Amis du Fromage) is Gallery 881, a gallery dedicated to contemporary lens-based art. John Goldsmith, an artist himself, is behind the new space, where he also runs his full service, fine art printing studio, PrintMaker Studio. While exhibition spaces and event venues are slim pickings in Vancouver, Gallery 881 aims to be both. Goldsmith views 881 as a space for collaboration, mentorship and community, and he welcomes both emerging curators and art school students. A portion of the space is dedicated to exhibiting rotating artwork for sale; there’s a wall for photography-related books and zines; and there are many ideas in the works. The gallery has so far presented its inaugural exhibition (a solo show by Geoffrey Lok-Fay Cheung), hosted live music events, and the first SlideNight (a curated salon where accomplished artists share new or in-process artwork in a slide show format) sold out. Coming up next is an exhibition of Cibachrome portraits by Launie Wong Fairbairn, opening on June 24th from 4-9pm (find out more). Give Gallery 881 a follow @gallery881_ to stay in the loop.
BIG TOP ART SCHOOL
Big Top Art School is a free, low barrier, drop-in art school taking place under a pop-up tent at Oppenheimer Park field house. An initiative dreamed up over a year ago by artists Andrew Dadson and Alex Tedlie-Stursberg (who share a studio in the area), Big Top is supported by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. It’s aim: to offer DTES residents the supplies and a space to create art. On board as teachers/facilitators are artists Dan Siney and Rayne Voyer. For now, the program runs every Sunday from 10am-1pm, rain or shine.
Open since Fall 2022, Pale Fire is a project space curated by Amy Kazmerchyk. It has so far presented three exhibitions: Graham Landin‘s Triangle Beach, Michael Drebert‘s Fresh Eyes, and most recently, Robin Arsenault and Maura Doyle‘s co-exhibit, IODAME. What makes the space really special, though, is its beautiful carved-wood salon which was designed and built by Landin in collaboration with Scott Cohen Design. Pale Fire is usually open Fridays and Saturdays from 12-10pm, but is currently closed until July 2023.
THE BLACK ARTS CENTRE
Founded in 2020, The Black Arts Centre officially opened doors to its gallery and art space beneath Surrey Central Station earlier this spring, on May 27th. The artist-run centre, cultural hub and community space is owned and operated by Black youth, and supports and celebrates Black art and artists across disciplines through exhibitions, performances, events, workshops, and other programs. The team of directors is comprised of artists, curators, filmmakers, writers (and more) Rebecca Bair, Olumoroti Soji-George, Arshi Chadha, Hafiz Akinlusi, and Vanessa Fajemisin. Members of the team also curated two exhibitions exploring the plurality of Blackness, at Surrey Art Gallery last Fall: Concealed Cultures: Visualizing the Black Vernacular and I see; I breathe; I am!. BLAC hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-6pm, and Saturdays from 11am-4pm. Follow @blackartscentre to keep up-to-speed on all the exciting events and programs to come.
A new gallery located in the ground-floor space of the historic Del Mar Inn continues the its legacy as a space for the arts. (Thanks to the building’s original owner, George Riste, whose unwavering commitment to the arts ensured that the street-facing retail space went to arts organizations at low rents, the space was previously home to the Belkin Satellite, Contemporary Art Gallery, Or Gallery, and most recently as a studio for internationally renowned artist, Rebecca Belmore.) Founded by Emmy and Sam Wall, W Projects (which opened earlier this month), aims to introduce international, national, and local artists to their new Vancouver audience. The gallery’s first exhibition is a solo show by Los Angeles-based artist, Heather Cleary, whose photography-based works blur painting and sculpture – a must-see in-person. Gallery hours are Saturdays from 12-5pm and by-appointment. Follow along @wprojectsyvr.
Located in the spare room of an East Van home, nap is an exhibition space is a perfect example of resourcefulness and/or necessity. Since Fall 2022, the gallery has presented solo exhibitions by Colette Stubbings, Mikaela Kautzky, and most recently, a group show titled Inside Voice(s), please, guest-curated by Lauren Lavery and Sungpil Yoon. DM @haveanap.info for the address and to schedule a time to view.