Re. the Advocate’s June 1 article, headlined Goodbye Bilton:
It appeared a little drastic but nevertheless true. It is a sad fact that the gallery is folding, despite Herculean efforts by Robert and Anita to keep the gallery open. They made every effort to keep it open as a viable proposition by paying for and bringing the artists (no matter how far they lived) that had their works on display with their own personal effort and expense. It made it a pleasure to meet the talented artists personally.
Robert and Anita also had a little party at the opening of each exhibit. The feast to the eyes to see the excellent artistic works, as well as the excellent gastronomic feasts with wines, cheese and other delights did not, however, unclench the closed fists of the visitors and go for their wallets and open them up!
It was unfortunate indeed and is a sad loss for the inhabitants of Central Alberta who nevertheless appreciated all the artwork displays. The gallery will be sadly missed.
Central Alberta has a wealth of talent, and paintings as well as other works of art are everywhere. There is more work out there that is on sale than there are the number of buyers making it difficult for artists to make a living selling art.
The competitive edge like the art displays at Kerry Wood Nature Centre, the museum and many of the other art galleries are only surviving thanks to the cultural grants and subsidies provided by the government. It also makes survival of privately owned art galleries rather difficult as they have no access to these funds.
The Bilton family still remains very prominent in Red Deer. I only have to point out the many charities that this family has a substantial input in, both here and in Innisfail. For example, the Red Deer Symphony, or The Festival of Trees, not forgetting the Christmas tree that is annually lit by Robert Bilton with a very substantial donation that we realize the enormous contribution that this generous family provides to the betterment of our society.
With regard to Anita, besides making a lovable mom, she utilizes her talents in music by playing the piano along with Cheryl Cooney and others at the Snell Gallery in the library, or the Art’s Centre, sometimes conducted by Maestro Claude Lapalme, she has made heroic efforts to keep the gallery open, and I have no doubt that this talented lady will utilize her time in another vocation with great success.
The staff at the gallery – Diana and Carla and others – have also been very active at the gallery and took a personal and keen interest and made outstanding efforts in trying to make the exhibits exciting, but it was to no avail.
It is indeed a sad day that the gallery is closing its doors, but perhaps it is a sign of today’s times.
However, it certainly is not a “Goodbye Bilton” as your headline shouts out as they will remain active in our community for many years to come, fortunately for us all.
I wish them all the best in their new ventures.
G. N. Bhadresa