Hallelujah! The gorgeous new Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG) is opening with a gala celebration this Saturday (Nov. 17) from 5 to 7 p.m.
The former GPAG was 55 sq. metres and one level down from the street, making it accessible only by a steep set of stairs. This meant access issues for many. It had fairly low ceilings and was quite dark.
The new gallery, five months in the making, is at street level, and boasts two bright exhibition rooms with five-metre-high ceilings, natural light and 150 sq. metres of exhibit space. There is an ample gift shop just inside the entrance, a reception area, a large art library already boasting some impressive books on masters and contemporary artists, a board room and a large working office. Natural light has been maximized and the space cleverly designed.
Director Pat Drope is ecstatic about it all.
"It has been a long time coming, but we are so excited to finally be accessible," Drope said. "Our previous space had stairs that many could not cope with. Here, everyone will be able to come in and enjoy what the gallery has to offer."
The GPAG board decided to inaugurate the new gallery with an exhibit called Hallelujah in tribute to Canadian icon Leonard Cohen. When they discovered Cohen would be in Vancouver around the same time of the opening, they contacted his manager with an invitation for Cohen to make a personal appearance. Cohen had to decline, but remarkably, asked if the gift of an original limited edition pigment print called Grecian Woman would be accepted by the gallery instead.
They naturally accepted, and the print now belongs in their permanent collection. Grecian Woman will be unveiled at the gala opening celebration.
Hallelujah, curated by Manon Staiger, was open to all member artists for submissions and jury. Staiger received so many submissions she decided that each member could show at least one of their works.
"The space is wonderful. Its size creates great potential for showing larger works," Staiger said. "It's so great to be back hanging local work again."
The works were either to be inspired by or have something to do with the poetry, novels or songs of Cohen. Some artists made pieces specifically for this exhibit, others had existing pieces that referenced a tribute to or the influence of Cohen on their work and lives. There are paintings, photographs, prints, mixed media, sculptures in stone, metal and wood, hangings, installations, fabric pieces and a video or two, all intriguing and all looking very fine in this brand new space.
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