“We’re finally coming of age here,” says Jennifer Winsor, director of Vancouver’s Winsor Gallery. She’s talking about the emerging arts district, named The Flats, on the city’s east side.
Several of Vancouver’s notable contemporary art galleries, including Winsor, have moved from the long-established South Granville Gallery Row to this rapidly evolving neighborhood near the intersection of Main Street and 1st Avenue, a short drive (or quick cab ride) from downtown. Four major galleries and several smaller art spaces now share the streets with stocky industrial warehouses, artists’ live-work buildings, new microbreweries, and lots of ongoing construction projects. Here’s what new and cool out in The Flats.
“If somebody wants to exhibit a tank, I’d be able to do that,” quips Winsor, about her 7,000-square-foot gallery on East 1st Avenue. Relocated from South Granville in late 2012, the Winsor Gallery represents Canadian and international artists, from sculptor Alexander Caldwell to videographer Paul Wong. From February 19 through March 29, the gallery will exhibit new works by Vancouver painter Fiona Ackerman in a show entitled It’s Not You, It’s Me. Later this spring (April 3 to May 3) is Concurrent 20/20, a group exhibition in which the 20 artists chosen to exhibit work will each invite an artist to present alongside them. A show featuring works by noted British Columbia-based sculptor Martha Sturdy opens May 8.
The largest gallery in the area, Equinox set up shop in a former tractor company facility on Great Northern Way, now painted an attention-grabbing orange-red. The 14,000-square-foot space with soaring ceilings has enough room to show large-scale works; its inaugural show was a major retrospective of color photographs by noted Vancouver artist Fred Herzog, and in June, the gallery will exhibit works by Egyptian-Canadian sculptor Marie Khouri, including a 75-footlong bench that’s in the shape of the Arabic words “Let’s Sit and Talk.” On the gallery walls through March 15 are paintings by Vancouver-based artist Erin McSavaney.
Sharing the same orange-red building as Equinox, this former South Granville gallery relocated to The Flats in February 2013. Owner Monte Clark wasn’t initially looking to move, according to Lindsay Inouye, the gallery’s managing director, but “Andy Sylvester (director of the Equinox Gallery) suggested Monte come to check out the building, and Monte loved the space.” Representing a number of contemporary Canadian artists including Roy Arden, Greg Girard and Scott McFarland, the gallery now has 3,500 square feet for exhibits, spread out on two levels. Later this spring, look for a solo exhibition by Toronto-based mixed media artist Jay Isaac, which will be on view from May 3 to 31.
Other neighborhood galleries
Several other art spaces are scattered throughout the neighborhood. Catriona Jeffries Gallery, next to Winsor Gallery on East 1st Avenue, was the first gallery to make the move from South Granville, back in 2006. Also check out several galleries along East 2nd Avenue, including Macaulay Fine Art, Gallery 295 (the entrance is in the lane behind the building), and the compact Grunt Gallery, in an artists’ live-work building.
Up the hill on Main Street, near East 6th Avenue, Hot Art Wet City features emerging local artists and also hosts an assortment of eclectic arts-related events such as workshops and talks. Nearby on East 8th Avenue, artist-run Western Front showcases both contemporary art and new music.
Inouye of the Monte Clark Gallery says that The Flats is becoming more of a destination than their former South Granville location, noting that “many people make an afternoon of it and come down to tour all the galleries at once.” In July, the galleries in the district plan to host a neighborhood open house, too — just another reason to add The Flats to your Vancouver art itinerary.
Photos Courtesy of Monte Clark Gallery and DavidJames, and Monte Clark Gallery and Greg Girard