NEW CALGARY GALLERY HOPES TO SUPPORT EMERGING ARTISTS AND REINSTATE A LOVE FOR LONG-LASTING CRAFTSMANSHIP
Tucked in a strip mall across Elliston Park in southeast Calgary, LoveCraft Gallery is the latest art space and gallery in the city, an undiscovered gem about to become the new shiny rock you’ll be obsessed with for days on end.
I met up with LoveCraft Gallery directors Daria Fox and Tracy Sutherland at 1803 – 60 St. SE, the address for the to-be gallery. The car ride there was a long one, but in the end, getting to the other end of the city during rush hour was worth it just to see Fox’s and Sutherland’s excitement towards their new business into which they’ve poured their hearts and souls.
The gallery is still empty, yet it is easy to map the space’s potential by taking a look inside the gigantic space, similar to an industrial high-ceiling loft. It will be home to four artist studios – all already rented – as well as workshop space and an approximately 700 sq. ft. gallery space where artists will be able to showcase their art.
“Our primary focus is local emerging artists,” says Fox.
Fox is a well-spoken confident ball of energy. Her burgundy red velvet blazer brings out her green eyes that sparkle with excitement every time she talks about LoveCraft.
“We’ve signed 25 artists so far. They are in quite a variety of mediums. We do have painters and photographers. We also have glass-blowers [and] jewellers. I’m working on talking to an ironwork sculptor,” she says.
“Tracy has a fibre arts background, so we have quite a focus on making sure that craft is well represented as the art form that it is,” she adds.
The studios are rented out by an eclectic mix of artists that make LoveCraft sound like the creative place to be. The directors tell me there’s a photographer sharing a space with an ACAD graduate in one, a musician in another who was looking for a creative space where he could feel “the synergy of a group,” a painter in yet another, and, in the biggest studio, a kinetic arts group by the name of Design Your Flow.
“[Design Your Flow] is a performance troupe but [they] also [teach] workshops to other people interested in those sorts of techniques. [They] also focus on teaching other prop artists and performers how to promote themselves, which delved beautifully into some of the workshops that we offer,” says Fox.
Workshops are one of the many reasons LoveCraft will stand out in the Calgary art scene. Fox and Sutherland are both looking into getting jewelry making, textile dying, weaving and pottery workshops going.
But, the biggest workshop they have in mind is on how to run the business of art.
“We’re having a workshop, tentative date is May 17, on how to price your work and how to write a reflective artist statement. I’ve already got a lot of interest for it because so many artists don’t get that [training] in school and some artists don’t have the professional training. A lot of times, even people who have come out of ACAD or another art school still don’t feel prepared to navigate [that field],” says Sutherland.
“And so, that’s our big thing: to help them develop that way and to also support them from the gallery side of things where we are representing their work as best we can, really connect with the people and make it a really comfortable space to come in to and not feel intimidated,” she adds.
On other ways LoveCraft stands out, Sutherland is strongly opinionated on the topic of craft itself.
“I find that there are mainly two galleries out of the plethora we have in the city that actually show craft and show it effectively, and so that’s something that, as my background, I really want to focus on as well,” she says.
The main challenge remains drawing the downtown crowd to the retreated southeast location of the gallery, a challenge of which both Fox and Sutherland are aware and willing to take on.
“It’s all in the marketing. I mean, that’s standard for any business that’s outside of the downtown core,” says Sutherland.
“It’s really going to be reaching out, holding events, finding that thing that people are interested in [and] being that synergistic group,” she adds.
But with major business revitalization plans for southeast Calgary’s International Avenue, the future is looking bright for LoveCraft, not to mention that many artists do live in the Forest Lawn greater area, a fact of which most people are not aware.
“With Art Central having shut down, I think diversifying outside of downtown is vital. We have to get out of downtown because that’s just not feasible anymore with skyrocketing prices,” says Sutherland.
Fox agrees. Downtown is just not affordable for them as gallery-owners or for artists. And with the artists being the most important focus of LoveCraft, Fox wanted to stay away from taking disgusting commissions, as she puts it, from the artists.
“So we take 50/50, that’s it, that’s standard,” shares Sutherland.
Fox and Sutherland go on to share some of their favourite artists that LoveCraft will be showcasing. The excitement is addicting and can make anybody root for these women, their gallery and the great art that’s about to be showcased.
Their focus is on long-lasting art, or heirlooms, as they put it: art that is created with tender love and care, that you can touch and that took meticulous time to create.
For the directors, success won’t be about how much money they bring in at the end of the day. They are adamant on that and you can tell their business venture is more for the community than for their own profit-making selves.
“We care about our artists and we want to make sure they’re taken care of. I know what it’s like to be a struggling artist and I know what it’s like to feel like no one’s got your back [and having] galleries turn you away,” says Sutherland.
“It’s tough, so making sure that the artists are doing good and they’re able to pay their bills is what’s important [at the end of the day].”
LoveCraft Gallery opens its doors at 121, 1803 – 60 St. SE May 1. May 30 will be the Grand Opening night. Show your support by pledging to their Kickstarter campaign. For more info, visit lovecraftgallery.com.
By Claire Miglionico