Goodbye Bilton

A gallery that was started to bring fine contemporary art to Red Deer is closing after failing to find commercial success.

A gallery that was started to bring fine contemporary art to Red Deer is closing after failing to find commercial success.

The bilton contemporary art gallery will take part in its final First Friday evening reception this week. Its last day of operation will be Saturday.

The exhibit space was opened in 2007 by Anita Bhadresa, who wanted to give Central Albertans access to higher-end paintings and sculptures by artists known locally and nationally.

The gallery displayed works by Montreal artist Eva Lapka, as well Teresa Posyniak of Calgary, David More of Benalto. and Red Deer College instructors Ian Cook and Jason Frizzell, among others.

Earlier this spring, the gallery at 4B, 5809 51st Ave. sought to get away from the practice of featuring only one artist in a show that runs for several weeks in a bid to offer viewers more choices.

A wealth of works by Central Alberta artists, including Vivian Bennett, Susan Woolgar and Pat Matheson, were being shown at the gallery, which also began representing artists including Kate More, Darren Petersen, Steve Coffey, Jim Coffey, Lori Lukasewich, Teresa Posyniak, Ray Van Lune in a bid to become more commercial.

“We’re hoping to better suit the tastes of the buying public,” the bilton’s co-ordinator Diana Anderson stated at the time.

But the effort seems to have been too late to save the gallery.

While staff promoted the “excellent mix” of art in the current exhibit in various mailouts, the sales “were not quite there,” said manager Carla Rebman, who feels the closure is sad for Red Deer, as bilton contemporary art “was a good creative outlet” for regional artists.

Other local gallery owners were similarly saddened by the loss of the bilton.

“It’s a shame,” said Erika Schulz, co-owner of Gallery IS, who feels the recent economic downturn has been hard on many local businesses. “It’s a tough go for any business in Red Deer right now, although it’s slowly starting to get better. . . . That’s the realities of the economy.”

As well as displaying original art, Gallery IS using its space for workshops and sells handmade jewelry and other items across wide price points to reach a broader market, said Schulz.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com