City’s first artists’ co-op opens

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.

The city's newest art gallery, Art First!, opened its doors on Saturday with a by-invitation-only party. By the end of the evening at least 160 people had dropped by for wine, appetizers and an opportunity to see and buy works by some of Revelstoke's finest artists. David F. Rooney photo
North Columbia Artists' Co-operative Chairwoman Jacquie Pendergast (right) welcomes people to Art First! at the start of the evening's celebration. David F. Rooney photo
Guest Andrew Clark (left) and artists Christina Romeo and Keisha Treber listen to Jacquie Pendergast's opening comments. David F. Rooney photo
Much of the work to prepare the gallery for full-time operation (it is open seven days a week) was performed by sculptor Andrew Stacey and volunteers from within the co-op. David F. Rooney photo
The Art First! gallery was pretty jammed for much of the evening. David F. Rooney photo
Sculptress Audrey Nanimahoo (right) and a friend examine a work by Chloe Kim. David F. Rooney photo
Art First! is owned and operated by the new North Columbia Artists' Cooperative. Its 16 members include two jewellers, a photographer, a potter, two sculptors, a fabric artist and 9 painters. David F. Rooney photo and
Marg Stovel (center) and Clarice Caywood check out the works on offer at Art First! David F. Rooney photo
Guest Alan Chell (left) talks with artist Chloe Kim who has a number of lovely and intriguing works on display at Art First! David F. Rooney photo
Is that Jacquie Pendergast committing artistic suicide? Naw! Just an odd perspective as fellow artists Nicola McGarry and Gwen Lips mug for the camera. David F. Rooney photo