This month on a sunny afternoon, I decided to stroll over and check out the Cultural District. I was happy to discover a unique little neighbourhood of art galleries and shops.
Warehouse Gallery, at 1292 Ellis, opened just a few months ago.
Owner Stacey Huculiak used to own Tweaked & Yummy Vintage Apparel, where she displayed local art work along with the fashions.
She decided to focus on the art and opened her gallery last December.
She features local artists who paint in many different styles.
Her husband, Steve Huculiak, is one of the featured artists and his work has an intriguing poetic realism. I love his close-up paintings of natural subjects like plants and firelogs. Striking.
Perhaps Stacey’s most renowned artist is Wanda Lock, whose whimsical colour block paintings in soft colours will also be featured at the Kelowna airport in May.
Another featured painter, Wendy Porter, is well-known for her scenes of Okanagan summers—think sunbathers on beaches.
A new artist, Paul Butvila, airbrushes his canvases for a startlingly realistic style; he’s very popular in Las Vegas, where his work is currently featured in two galleries.
The youngest artist featured at the gallery is Liz Dumontet, in her early 20s and who paints striking acrylic montages.
Stacey has a great eye for art and has really gathered a beautiful collection of canvases.
Right next door at 1294 Ellis St. is Tangerine Trees Photography Gallery, which features stunning landscape photography.
I was blown away by the HDR (high dynamic range) images on display; the technique gives the photos an edgy, vibrant and rich magical 3-D quality.
Not only do they feature gorgeous photos of local scenes, but you’ll also find international photos with the same magical flair (I especially loved the ones of the Amalfi Coast in Italy and Sedona, Arizona).
The photography gallery also has an impressive collection of sports shots and some really fun portraits of children and babies.
Hambleton Gallery, 1290 Ellis St., has the distinction of being the first B.C. art gallery established outside the Lower Mainland.
Opened 50 years ago, Hambleton likes to say that they were “the first to bring culture to the Okanagan.”
Owner Stew Turcotte, an artist himself, tells me that the gallery has grown to represent over 80 artists from across Canada, ranging from young and emerging talents to older established ones.
Their most well-known artist is Daphne Odjig, who is one of the “Native Group of 7” and is still painting today at the age of 93.
Her work is highly regarded all over the world (Picasso actually owned one of her paintings) and she was the first aboriginal woman to have a one-person show at the National Gallery in Ottawa.
She puts her own unique spin on native art; her art is also featured in a clothing line at Justin Paul, a few doors away.
Other artists featured include Kenna Graf, Jan Crawford, Robert Genn (a West Coast landscape artist influenced by Lauren Harris of the Group of 7), Leona Amann, emerging artist Maryann Hendriks (whose large, splashy floral paintings would brighten any gloomy winter day)…the list is truly incredible.
The gallery also represents local sculptors Robert Dow Reid and Geert Maas. Stew tells me that they have a historical art section, and his gallery also does appraisals, cleaning, restoration and framing.
Around the corner from the Ellis galleries (in the back of the same building) are two more wonderful places to appreciate art—Turtle Island Gallery, which features native art and jewelry, and Freestone Spirit Photography, wedding and portrait photography owned by Mark and Sarah Coffey.
The Coffeys want to tell your story and preserve it through the art of photography. Mark is also an environmental conservation photographer, meaning his personal photos are purpose-driven; he hopes to raise awareness of different environmental issues by focusing his photos on them. The front part of their gallery features these photos. You can also view them by going to his website at markcoffey.ca.
Well, I’m on a “cultural high” now after my visit to all these amazing art galleries. I think I’ll just go have a cappuccino and process it all.
Jan Johnson is the co-owner of Tigerlily Fashions and Alleycat Fashion Outlet. If you have any news about downtown business openings and/or events, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-762-8384.