Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar has been showcasing art for the past 40 years

Kootenay Gallery of Art has a rotating schedule of contemporary visual art

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Kootenay Gallery of Art has been showcasing art to the rural community of Castlegar for the last 40 years.

Kootenay Gallery of Art has been showcasing art to the rural community of Castlegar for the last 40 years. — Photo courtesy Kootenay Gallery of Art

Generally, when searching for impressive art and architecture, large urban centres receive the lion’s share of attention. To combat this notion, the federal government funded and built 23 art galleries in 1979. The government then went on to initiate a program of travelling exhibitions that circulated between these galleries to provide opportunities for those living in smaller rural communities to experience exhibitions typically available only in larger urban centres. One of these constructions was the West Kootenay National Exhibition Centre in Castlegar, B.C., now known as Kootenay Gallery of Art.

“For the past 40 years, this gallery has successfully offered a consistent roster of unique exhibitions and programming that address both community and global interests from a contemporary, critical art perspective,” said Maggie Shirley, curator and gallery assistant for Kootenay Gallery of Art. “Many visitors call the gallery a hidden gem.”

The galleries inside Kootenay Gallery of Art are uniquely shaped hexagons. Gallery-goers can see several works of art layered against each other from different angles, bringing an unusual perspective to the art—all of which is showcased with carefully crafted lighting. Thanks to its noteworthy design, the building boasts exceptional acoustics, enhancing the beautiful music that plays in the gallery to sound even more magnificent.

Kootenay Gallery of Art has a rotating schedule of contemporary visual art, which changes every few weeks. Art shows often feature regional artists or themes of interest to local folks.

“We do an exceptional job of choosing a balance of artists of different mediums and themes and representing regional artists in the gallery, alongside artists from beyond the Kootenays,” Shirley said. “I love working with artists and seeing visitors’ reactions to the artwork.”

Kootenay Gallery of Art’s gift shop sells handmade pottery, art, woodwork, books and jewelery by Kootenay artisans.

Kootenay Gallery of Art’s gift shop sells handmade pottery, art, woodwork, books and jewelery by Kootenay artisans. — Photo courtesy Kootenay Gallery of Art

A popular attraction at Kootenay Gallery of Art is the gift shop, which features handmade pottery, art, woodwork, books and jewelery by Kootenay artisans. Gift shop vendors come in with new stock often, so there is always something new to see with every visit.

The gallery provides programming for kids art camps and adult workshops such as life drawing, felting and print-making.

“Castlegar’s artistic style has a lot of grassroots artists,” Shirley said. “The community is very supportive and takes a lot of pride in local artists and crafters. It is exciting that Castlegar is growing with younger people moving here. There is a sense of opportunity and potential that is very conducive to creativity and art.”

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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