The Bella Coola Valley Arts Council last week installed a large eye-catching sign outside the former Art House at the school entrance in Hagensborg as one step in changes ahead for the arts in the Valley community.
The installation of the new sign is part of an effort to make the gallery more prominent as the Council begins a project to convert the gallery into a lively venue both for showcasing Valley talent and marketing local artwork – as well as retaining the space for small-group performance events such as readings and small concerts.
Nuxalk Hereditary Chief Noel Pootlass, wearing his regalia, was on hand with Arts Council President Kathleen Booth to unveil the new ‘Vallery Gallery’ sign outside the former Art House in Hagensborg last week. Also present were young Nuxalk painter Theoran Evans, Arts Council Secretary Ernest Hall, Council pioneer Lucille Thompson, School District #49 Superintendent Norma Hart, and Council Treasurer Ray McIlwain. The Nuxalk image of the Sun, a symbol of enlightenment, was designed by Noel Pootlass, and the renaming of the venue as ‘Valley Gallery’ embodies the function of the space as an all-inclusive venue for the arts in the Valley community.
Also last week, the Council presented the 2013 Visual Art Show at the Gallery – an exhibition of more than 40 pieces by 15 of the Valley’s finest artists. Works included a large variety of paintings, photography, clay sculpture, and pottery by local artists – including six paintings by young Nuxalk artists Theoren Evans and Jim Tallio.
Recognizing the importance of encouraging young artists, the Council purchased paintings by Theoren and Jim to join the Council’s “Permanent Collection”. On hand at the Show’s opening were representatives of the Williams Lake and District Credit Union and School District #49, without whose support and encouragement, the Art House operation would probably have ended some time ago.
With the closing of the 10-day Show July 1, the Council is now at work installing shelving and creating display space, arranging the former teacher residence to handle a variety of artwork and fine crafts by local artisans who will operate the Gallery as a co-op of volunteers working in the “gallery shop” in exchange for marketing their work there.
To this end, the Council is calling on all Valley artists and crafters to consider participating in this exciting new development – intended to provide a variety of locally-created work at affordable prices that appeal to both Valley residents and visiting tourists.
These changes have come about because of financial concerns that prompted the Council to consider closing the former Art House this fall. Instead, the Council has decided to continuing maintaining the venue for another year (at least), but only if the operation can become more financially viable. To do this, volunteer commitment by the Valley arts community is essential. The Council also recognizes the necessity of the strong ongoing support of School District #49, particularly the enthusiasm of Superintendent Norma Hart who has assured the Council of the District’s interest in bolstering the arts in the Valley by providing the building to the Council at no cost. Norma’s input in the renovations under way is also invaluable.
Those wishing to get involved in these exciting developments can contact Council Secretary Ernest Hall at 982-2735 or through “Belco” on Facebook.