There’s a new art space in downtown Red Deer called Riverlands Gallery.
Local artist Carol Lynn Gilchrist has transformed the former Gallery IS at 5123 – 48 St. (Alexander Way) into her own art studio and display room.
While running a commercial art gallery in the middle of a pandemic could be considered a risky venture, Gilchrist said she couldn’t miss an opportunity to takeover the location after former Gallery IS operator, artist Jeri Lynn Ing, moved to Calgary.
“Over the last few years I felt constrained by my six-foot by five-foot home studio — yes, it really is that small,” said the artist. “It felt like the right time to support my artistic practice.”
Gilchrist, a retired community planner, has been painting full-time since 2011, holding her first solo show in 2013. The landscape artist said she tries to communicate her deep respect and love for the natural world through her art, which is evolving to a more impressionistic style.
Her intention in starting a studio/gallery was to be able to display and sell her work as it was developed. “I believe that a downtown fine art gallery is needed and also that having a storefront may be an added bonus.”
Gilchrist admitted the pandemic has taken a toll on the entire creative community with cancelled exhibits and artists driven to showing their work online. She was personally feeling disconnected and isolated at home.
“I feel there’s still a place for a physical gallery in the art world, especially when attached to a studio where… the painting can come to life, so to speak.”
With so many other talented artists in Red Deer, Gilchrist decided “to create community through opportunities for myself and others.”
Her Riverlands Gallery is spotlighting the works of different artists monthly, to help raise their profiles. The gallery is also participating in First Friday evening exhibit openings.
Gilchrist said she’s slowly been making improvements to the space, with additional lighting and window displays, and plans exterior signage in the new year. “My long-term goal is to find a studio partner to share the space with,” she said. Until then, she’s willing to rent part of the space to another artist who has also outgrown a home studio.
Riverlands Gallery will, meanwhile, be opening to the public every Wednesday afternoon, or by appointment.
Whenever people enter, Gilchrist hopes to give them a glimpse into the creative process, “the messiness, the struggle, and the real work that goes into making art.”