HISTORY OF HOPE ARTS GALLERY - written 2021
Beginning…..in 1997, a group gathered at the Rainbow Junction, then the name for the old Hope Station House at the corner of Water Avenue and Hwy 3. In the typical pre covid19 way, conversation and appetizers were shared. On the main floor a dozen artists, both raw beginners and seasoned pros, were either strangely quiet, or too loud. We entertained our family and guests with some difficulty. Upstairs, magic was happening and a gallery was being created. Bang of hammer. Laughter. Were they laughing at our amateur work?
One by one, each artist was called and went up the stairs in the presence of Ed Hill. Minutes later, the artist came down, flushed, teary eyed and glowing, to invite their guests upstairs. These artists had completed an acrylic painting class taught by Ed, and were viewing the paintings professionally matted, framed and hung in public for the first time.
Ed recounts, “The show was a very emotional event for a lot of the artists/students. The crowd was invited to come upstairs and each artist was with their work to be unveiled. It was a great event and I think that very energy was a spark that gave birth to the gallery. It was only a few days later when the group met again. They couldn't see this end just like that. We had to form an Artists' Guild and create a gallery.”
On April 27, 1998, the energy created by that core group organized the Hope Arts Gallery at 349 Fort Street. After a couple of practice days, we celebrated our official opening on May 1st, 1998. In 2004, the Hope Artists' Guild became a registered society DBA as the Hope Arts Gallery. At present the Hope Arts Gallery is a project under the umbrella of the Hope & District Arts Council.
While paintings were the first art the gallery displayed, we now exhibit art of many disciplines. Woodblock prints, decorative and functional pottery, paper arts, digital photography and painting, fibre arts, jewellery, metal sculpture, pine needle work and books fill the gallery with colour. Our card rack has to be seen! And all this magic is created by local artists.
Now in its twenty third year, the gallery is still going strong. We host visitors from around the world. A volunteer has opened the front door on Fort Street, to the public, more than thirty five hundred times. More than two hundred and twenty five monthly 'Back Room Shows’ have featured local and out of town artists. Raw beginners from the Art Machine and Hope Secondary, and the more accomplished internationally awarded sculptor, John Henry Weaver, and art professor/hotelier George Rychter, have filled the Back Room with their visions.
Years after that nerve wracking start in 1998, our artists still face the trepidation and thrill when they see their artwork displayed. Beyond the work that each artist and volunteer contributes, our success is reliant on the good will and encouragement of our town, and visitors passing through. Hope Arts Gallery is fortunate to receive substantial support from Hope’s business community who advertise in our ‘Art Walk’ map and from the District of Hope. Hope’s citizens bring visiting family and friends in to view artwork. Proudly Canadian, we are gratified to see tourists take home a bit of Canada with them. When locals do the same, we are delighted to have connected on such a personal note.