By David F. Rooney
Being an artist can be tough. Not the creative part — that’s pretty easy. But it’s tough selling art, particularly when there isn’t a commercial art gallery in town.
That situation changed dramatically on Saturday for 16 local artists when they opened their own gallery — Art First! — at #1 -113 First Street West. Art First! is owned and operated by the new North Columbia Artists’ Co-operative and is now open to the public.
The Co-op members held a celebration on Saturday night for 160 friends and family members and actually sold five works before the evening was over.
“This has been a lot of hard work,” Co-op Chairwoman Jacquie Pendergast said at the opening. “But the result, as you can see, is well worth it.”
The co-op was born as a result of a conversation a few months ago between Pendergast and native sculptress Audrey Nanimahoo, who had then just announced that she was closing her gallery because she wanted to return to sculpting full-time. Neither of them wanted to see that prime location snapped up by yet another heli-skiing operation or snowboard shop. They both knew the city’s visual artists needed a commercial gallery in which they could sell their work. The Visual Arts Centre is a huge advantage for all of Revelstoke’s artists but it is a non-profit society and its location means most tourists and even some local residents never visit it.
Pendergast decided that forming an artists’ co-operative would be the way to go and picked 16 artists as the core group. Everyone bought a share in the co-operative and pays a portion of the monthly rent. Members receive all but two per cent on the sale of their works. The two per cent is retained by the co-operative as a group and goes towards operation of the gallery.
Art First! opened to the general public on Sunday morning and will be open seven days a week until 6:30 pm — later int he summer.