Article by Craig Francis Power; Photo by Joel Upshall
Hillary Winter has been involved with the city’s visual art community since 2008—as an artist, co-founder of the Pick Me Up Artist Collective, arts editor at Riddle Fence, the local arts and culture magazine, and as a board member with VANL-CARFAC – the local affiliate of the national organization which represents visual artists in Canada.
A graduate of Grenfell’s visual art program, Winter’s inspiration for starting Gallery 24 came from two things: hearing Clarke’s Beach artist Peter Wilkins describe how he developed a commercially successful visual art practice (in Winter’s words: “He just… did it. He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t let anything get in his way, he just created. And he created constantly.”), and attending a talk by Christina Parker of Christina Parker Gallery and Mary MacDonald of Eastern Edge gallery in which Parker described how she began what has become one of the most successful commercial galleries in the province in a small room on Queens Road. “I left Eastern Edge that evening more inspired than I think I’ve ever been, and I went home and started writing my business plan,” Winter says.
That Newfoundland’s writerly and theatrical communities have no problem promoting themselves is not really in dispute, but whatever it is about our visual artists, they just don’t seem to roll the same way. That’s why what Winter is doing with Gallery 24 is so vital to an emerging generation of the province’s visual artists. It also goes to the heart of how visual culture has developed in Canada: independent artists and curators who begin making and/or exhibiting work either in their own homes or refurbished commercial spaces in a way that is nurturing and collaborative with the local visual art community. It’s the definition of grassroots. “I found that in the last few years I began meeting more and more artists whose work didn’t seem to have a place commercially in the city: the content was a little more non-traditional or they were emerging and were unsure of how to break into the market. I also found a lot of new art buyers were looking to outfit their homes and collect some original and/or local work but couldn’t afford the price tags at the larger galleries.”
With financing from Futurepreneur, Winter quickly put together a roster of local artists who make compelling contemporary work, and who have been slightly underrepresented in local commercial spaces. “First to sign on were Jennah Turpin, Candace Fulford, Kathy Oke, and Benjamin Allain, all four are amazing artists and good friends. Once things began to take shape a little more I rounded things out by signing Ashley Smallwood: creator of Snack Paintings, Noah Bender, Kyle Bustin, and Patrick Canning.”
All of the above will be represented at the grand opening exhibition on May 8th, 7-10pm. To keep things affordable and offer new methods of income for emerging artists, the gallery will offer some works as reproductive prints, and lay-away options will be available as well. A website with lots of purchasing opportunities is in the works, and hopefully when this goes to print it’ll be all done: www.gallery24.ca.
Hillary Winter deserves mad respect for taking on this gutsy, independent initiative and is fully deserving of local support. Given our increased efforts to buy local, her timing couldn’t be better.
Gallery 24 is located at 71 Casey Street