Art gallery celebrates downtown re-opening

Brooklyn Moir admires Ian Garrioch’s Reflections on the Cosmic Self at the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s downtown location during its grand re-opening celebration on May 9. - Nicholas Pescod
Brooklyn Moir admires Ian Garrioch’s Reflections on the Cosmic Self at the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s downtown location during its grand re-opening celebration on May 9.
— image credit: Nicholas Pescod

After years of planning, months of construction and some minor setbacks the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s downtown site is once again open to the public.

This past Friday, the art gallery’s 150 Commercial St. location held its official grand re-opening ceremony and kicked off its newest exhibit, Ekphrasis: Writing the Collection.

Rob Bos, downtown coordinator at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, said he is thrilled that the building is open to the public again.

“It’s really exciting to see it all finally coming together,” Bos said. “It has been a long wait. Being a part of it and actually seeing it happen is really fantastic and it looks great.”

The downtown campus underwent more than $100,000 in renovations, which included a brand-new track lighting system

Nanaimo Art Gallery artistic director, Jesse Birch explained that lighting was one of the most important upgrades to the building.

“It used to be a bank, so it wasn’t designed for showing art, except for whatever was maybe behind the banker’s desks ... we had to add a whole new track lighting system in to hit the artwork from different angles, because if you hit a painting from directly above it and it has a big frame it will cast a shadow right onto the artwork,” Birch said.

One of the new additions to the downtown gallery is an Art Lab learning space.

Art education coordinator Jennifer Van de Pol said Nanaimo has never had a dedicated art learning space like Art Lab before.

“Art Lab is where all art education activities, programs, and initiatives will take place,” Van de Pol said.

The Nanaimo Art Gallery believes that Art Lab will provide visitors with the opportunity to look, learn and experience art in a variety of different ways.

“It’s to engage people in a broader sense with how they’re asking questions about art, how they’re looking at art, how they make art, so that people can ... make art in a lot of different ways in this space. This space is for experimenting and exploring art,” Bos explained.

The Ekphrasis exhibit features visual art along with poetic responses from several local authors.

“The goal of this show is to show this work from our permanent collection and show people’s responses to them and create a three-way dialogue, where there is the art work, which is saying something. There is the poet that is saying something and then there is what the audience member brings to it. So it kind of just adds a depth to conversation,” said Bos.

With the downtown location open to the public, Birch explained that people can expect a wide variety of exhibits from the art gallery.

“Don’t think you’re always going to get the same thing when you come, because you’re not,” Birch said. “We really hope that what we can do here is allow the city of Nanaimo to take ownership of their gallery in a lot of ways.”

Ekphrasis: Writing the Collection runs until June 7.


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