Viewpoint Gallery gets a complete overhaul

New exhibits, new artists, new hours — a bunch of fresh, new initiatives are planned to boost the profile of Red Deer’s tucked-away Viewpoint Gallery.

New exhibits, new artists, new hours — a bunch of fresh, new initiatives are planned to boost the profile of Red Deer’s tucked-away Viewpoint Gallery.

The small art gallery in the City of Red Deer’s Culture Services building at 3827 39th St. has often been overlooked by the viewing public — but Tanya Zuzak Collard is hoping that will soon change.

Zuzak Collard, community and program facilitator for the city, wants to create more buzz about the gallery by scheduling a more regular turnover of art exhibits.

She also wants the Viewpoint Gallery to join other art galleries in the city for the First Friday evening openings, and to increase the public’s accessibility to the space.

For years, the Viewpoint Gallery was only open during business hours, Monday to Friday, in a location without much walk-by traffic — unless you count students waiting for school buses.

While its location is staying the same, nearly everything else about the gallery is shifting — starting with the hours it’s open.

The Viewpoint will now be accessible on Saturdays and on any weekday evenings when city-run classes are being held in the building.

“We’re trying to reinvigorate it,” said Zuzak Collard, who’s happy to see new faces among the local artist collective that runs and exhibits works in the gallery.

“I think there’s new excitement about it already.”

Zuzak Collard recently met with the expanded group of artists to set a new 2014 schedule that will see exhibits change every two months.

The first new group show kicked off this week, featuring diverse works by painter and printmaker Erin Boake and ceramicist and mixed-media artist Alysse Bowd, as well as glass artist Darren Petersen, and jewelry designer Shirley Rimer.

Boake must have had warmer weather on her mind, as her wood-panel portraits of females have a bird’s nest, foliage and grass replacing their hair, while Bowd created fanciful ceramic scoops, whistles, flutes, and leaf-and-flower-decorated bells in spring colours as part of her noise-makers’ display.

These two up-and-coming artists are among those who applied for, and were accepted into, the gallery’s collective.

The other newbies — ceramicists Dawn Candy, mixed-media conceptual artist Robin Lambert, photographer Arto Djerdjerian, and sculptor Sally Smith — will join five more established artists who have been operating the gallery for the past seven to 12 years: Petersen, Rimer, Susan Woolgar, Andrew Glazebrook, Dawn Detarando and Brian McArthur.

The infusion of new blood will be great for the Viewpoint Gallery, predicted Zuzak Collard, who believes the more seasoned artists had gotten too successful to be able to devote themselves fully to gallery operations.

Allowing promising new artists into the collective will create a great dynamic, she believes — as well as more mentoring opportunities and chances to exhibit artworks.

Bowd and Boake, who both teach art classes for the city, say they look forward to working with the more experienced artists in running the gallery. “I expect it will be a bit of learning by osmosis how to run an art business … and it’s always great to have more display space,” said Bowd.

Boake considers the Viewpoint Gallery a “relevant” resource that exposes art students in the Culture Services building to new inspiration through various examples of artistic disciplines. Hopefully, it will also expose newer local artists to a wider audience, she added.

Among the planned changes is opening on the evening on First Friday, April 4, when other city galleries hold opening receptions.

Culture Services staff are also exploring options for expanding gallery space in future, said Zuzak Collard.

Other Red Deer-area artists interested in joining the collective that runs the Viewpoint Gallery can apply through www.reddeer.ca.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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