Red Deer artist Michael Huyzer is following his dreams by opening a gallery.
Skeptics might think launching a commercial art gallery during an economic down-turn is a risky plan.
But Huyzer feels the decision was really made for him, since he promised his mother on her deathbed that he would be true to his own aspirations.
His mom, Antonia Dorcas, was told a year ago that she had pancreatic cancer and only a few months to live. “That was quite a journey,” said Huyzer. “It was hard, but it gave my mom and myself time to really talk.”
The Edmonton daycare worker had supported her son’s artistic pursuits since his childhood. She never wanted to admit to anyone she was dying last winter. “But we all knew,” said Huyzer, who recalled how thin and pale she was near the end. “It took every once of her effort to talk.”
Before Dorcas passed away on Feb, 15, she told him: “You have the opportunity to shine. If you pass up doing something you are passionate about, you will always regret it,” he recalled.
His new A+ Art Gallery, upstairs at 203, 4919 49th St., sprang out of that last conversation — as well as Huyzer’s conviction that Red Deer needs more exhibition opportunities for local artists.
The new gallery “has my mom all over it,” said Huyzer, glancing at a photo of Dorcas that sits on a fireplace mantle in the cozy space.
His own graphic, detailed abstract artworks — including landscapes, animal and figure paintings — now hang on the walls. But Huyzer said he plans to rotate the art every month, highlighting other up-and-coming local artists.
As someone who’s shown and sold his works in Red Deer and Edmonton, he would like to help mentor artists who have questions about getting started.
“This will not be a typical art gallery with white walls and little stickers on the walls,” he added. The walls in A+ Art Gallery are painted in warm colours and a seating bench with pillows line one side of the space.
Besides selling original art, there are blown glass items and wall clocks that Huyzer’s partner and gallery manager, Randy Jackson, has collected. The two plan to hold family painting classes on Saturday afternoons and adult classes on Saturday evenings.
Huyzer, who teaches art to the community at The Hub on Ross on Wednesdays, is a mostly self-taught artist who’s benefited from various classes and workshops over the years.
He said he loves the idea of bringing more creative “quirkiness” to downtown Red Deer.
For more information, please call 403-896-8882.