Art First! marks its one-year milestone

Posted by editor on April 16, 2011 · 1 Comment 

By David F. Rooney

Revelstoke has, in recent years, gained a well-deserved reputation as a community that welcomes artists. Not only is there an active Visual Arts Centre and a municipal Public Art Committee but an artists’ cooperative that maintains an impressive gallery on First Street West.

That gallery, Art First!, celebrated its first birthday on Friday with a party that was well attended by local artists and art patrons. Here are a few photos from that party that we thought you’d like to see:

City’s first artists’ co-op opens

Posted by editor on April 4, 2010 · 3 Comments 

By David F. Rooney

Being an artist can be tough. Not the creative part — that’s pretty easy. But it’s tough selling art, particularly when there isn’t a commercial art gallery in town.

That situation changed dramatically on Saturday for 16 local artists when they opened their own gallery — Art First! — at #1 -113 First Street West. Art First! is owned and operated by the new North Columbia Artists’ Co-operative and is now open to the public.

The Co-op members held a celebration on Saturday night for 160 friends and family members and actually sold five works before the evening was over.

“This has been a lot of hard work,” Co-op Chairwoman Jacquie Pendergast said at the opening. “But the result, as you can see, is well worth it.”

The co-op was born as a result of a conversation a few months ago between Pendergast and native sculptress Audrey Nanimahoo, who had then just announced that she was closing her gallery because she wanted to return to sculpting full-time. Neither of them wanted to see that prime location snapped up by yet another heli-skiing operation or snowboard shop. They both knew the city’s visual artists needed a commercial gallery in which they could sell their work. The Visual Arts Centre is a huge advantage for all of Revelstoke’s artists but it is a non-profit society and its location means most tourists and even some local residents never visit it.

Pendergast decided that forming an artists’ co-operative would be the way to go and picked 16 artists as the core group. Everyone bought a share in the co-operative and pays a portion of the monthly rent. Members receive all but two per cent on the sale of their works. The two per cent is retained by the co-operative as a group and goes towards operation of the gallery.

Art First! opened to the general public on Sunday morning and will be open seven days a week until 6:30 pm — later int he summer.

Artists Rachel Kelly and Andrew Stacey were hard at work getting the new North Columbia Artists' Coop art gallery, Art First!, ready. (Well, judging by his posture, Andrew MIGHT have been supervising and letting Rachel do all the heavy lifting.) The gallery will show works by 16 of Revelstoke's best artists. Located at 1-113 First Street West, it will open to the public in about nine days. David F. Rooney photo

Art First! to open in nine days

By David F. Rooney

Sixteen painters, sculptors and jewellers are forging an artists’ cooperative — the city’s first — that will open its doors downtown in a month or two.

The seed for this idea was planted during a discussion Jacquie Pendergast and Audrey Nanimahoo had shortly after the Cree sculptress decided to close her gallery on First Street West. Momentum rapidly grew and on Tuesday evening 16 painters, sculptors and jewellers gathered in — Oh, how appropriate this setting was! — in the garrett of Castle Joe Books to hash out a rough plan for the cooperative.

The coop will tentatively be called Art on First and will feature work by the members. Each member will pay an up-front fee towards the start-up costs for the coop. They’ll also pay a monthly fee that pays for the rent, utilities and other costs.

The coop will not compete with the Visual Arts Centre. All of its members are Centre members, too, and many have for years been mainstays of The Centre’s exhibitions by local artists. However, The Centre does not have a permanent exhibition space dedicated solely to local artists. The coop will fulfill that need. And its location at 113 First Street right next door to the Nickelodeon is a prime location that will greatly increase the visibility of work by local artists.

The founding members of the coop are: Jacquie Pendergast, Chistina Romeo, Rachel Kelly, Audrey Nanimahoo, Andrew Stacey, Rob Buchanan, Sue Davies, Cherie Van Overbeke, Tina Lindegaard, Gwen Lips, Nicola McGarry, Jennifer Hedge, Arleigh Kurucz, Suzanne Spisani, Nancy Geismar and David Rooney. Their collective skills encompass all of the major artistic media.

Membership may in the future be extended to other artists but for now it will be limited to these 16 painters, sculptors, photographers and ceramists.

16 artists to form downtown artists’ cooperative