Crawling the best new indie galleries in Vancouver

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With so much art going on in the city, it can be daunting to decide just which shows to check out on opening night. Things can get a bit cluttered when mapping out the smaller independent scene. Annual events like SWARM can help through their plotted-out studio crawls, but it’s hard to fit in every option. Considering how new galleries pop up all the time, here are a few recent favourites.

Project Space
222 East Georgia Street, projectspace.ca/

Project Space executive director Tracy Stefanucci opened up the multipurpose venue last fall as a book shop with some studio space in the back, and began hosting art shows this past March. It’s a move the gallerist feels is unifying different sectors of Vancouver’s cultural landscape. “Our goal is to bring the visual arts, the literary arts, and the graphic-design communities together because they are having a lot of parallel conversations. These communities tend to work in isolation from each other, and we want to expose the overlaps,” she told the Straight. “That means having a physical space in which we have readings, artist’s talks, and even just social events.”

The walls of this slender room have been graced with art shows ranging from a group event displaying multiple variations on the poetry chapbook to a combination book launch–record release for local rockers Hard Drugs’ Party Foreverer, which packaged singer-guitarist Jeffry Lee’s illustrations and a download code for the music. Project Space is currently running Randy Grskovic’s Money Is Just Paperwork exhibit, a group of collage-style pieces that question capitalism by juxtaposing natural scenes with cutouts of coins and bills (until September 29).

Good Luck Art Gallery
243 Union Street, goodluckart.tumblr.com/

Having just opened, the Good Luck Art Gallery is one of Vancouver’s newest show spots, but owner Randy Grskovic is an old pro at the curating game. (He’s also an artist—see item above.) Over the last few years, he has run pop-up shops around town, including Hotel, South Granville’s Age of Info(rmation), and the Cutty Contemporary Art Gallery. His latest venture is a commercial gallery that aspires to show off local artists, with work being changed every couple of days. He notes the difficulty of acquiring studio space in the city as part of the reason why he has a local focus, and also explains why he bounces from spot to spot.

“It’s tough for emerging and mid-career artists. You can’t afford a space to invite people [over]. Most the artists I work with work from their homes.”

The Good Luck Art Gallery’s first event mounted pieces from Ben Frey, Jessica Bell, and Andy Dixon, among others, all of whom will also be showcased in a series of weekly openings this fall. Figure-painter Zoe Pawlak starts off the series with an exhibition tomorrow (September 21).

“She’s going to bring in a model to the gallery and we’ll have a live-model drawing session,” Grskovic confirmed.

Positive Negative
436 Columbia Street, positivenegativegallery.com/

Positive Negative gallery owner Adam Lupton tackled his current position on a whim. “Honestly, I never thought about opening a gallery when I was going to art school and design school,” he confided. “I was just browsing through Craigslist one day, killing some time, and I came across a listing for the space.”

Since opening the Downtown Eastside location this past February, though, the artsy entrepreneur has hosted a series of events showcasing local photographers and painters that have consistently packed out the small room, not to mention the sidewalk outside. One highlight from Positive Negative’s summer schedule was their Juvenile show, which juxtaposed the cartoony absurdism of illustrator Tylor MacMillan with some seriously disturbing drawings by a pair of six-year-olds named Quentin and Jacob.

Up next is photographer Tristan Casey’s The Forest Gave Us the City, running from Friday (September 21) to October 6, which Lupton says will help people “rediscover how beautiful B.C. is”.

Exercise
147 Main Street, exercisecanada.com/

Situated near the northern foot of Main Street is Nicole Ondre and Vanessa Disler’s Exercise. Opened in late 2011, the fully independent, artist-run space shows international and local artists in the storefront. The gallerists offset monthly costs by supplying artist-studio space in the back of the building, and by prepping special editions to go along with each art show.

“Either we’ll make a print, Vanessa and I, in collaboration with the artist, or the artist will make them,” Ondre explained, adding it’s a little bit different every time. For Tiziana [La Melia]’s edition, we’re publishing a small book and a poster of a poem that she wrote that’s the framework for the exhibition.”

Up next for Exercise is a solo show by L.A.–based photographer-sculptor Marina Pinsky. Ondre noted that the space also has poetry readings and film screenings in the works.

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Hazlit
Hi Gregory,

Some of us wish that Van had MUCH BETTER visual art. I think gallery reviews are great. Is there a way that the Straight could change its online gallery listings to give brief descriptions of the current shows? For the moment you can only see those listings in the complete list--which is too long. The gallery listing shows merely a list of galleries--not useful for those of us who actually want to see something.
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