The art world can be an intimidating place to a newcomer. When I started dating my husband, who is an artist, I bought a fancy little black dress and prepared for all the black-tie art openings we were sure to be attending. I never got to wear it. I learned pretty quickly that while there are prestigious art shows happening in town, the Edmonton art community in general is much more relaxed and accessible — and more exciting than I expected. The best way to understand art is to learn about it. The best way to learn about it is to meet and talk with the artists who create, and the gallery staff who exhibit those creations. In the summer, there’s the Whyte Avenue Art Walk. In the spring and fall you can take a guided Gallery Walk throughout the 124 Street area. But if you’ve missed the summer and fall walks this year, and need some colour in your life as the fall goes grey, fear not! You can conduct your own “do-it-yourself Art Gallery Walk” by spending a Saturday afternoon on 124 Street, between Stony Plain Road and 103 Avenue.
Daffodil Gallery (10412 124 St.)
A good place to begin your Gallery Walk is at the top of the street, at the Daffodil Gallery. Paintings, sculpture and jewelry created by (mostly) local artists fill the warmly coloured walls of this cozy space. The gallery works with early- and mid-career artists, and welcomes first-time art buyers. In addition to the art on regular display, Daffodil also provides a portrait commission service, and hosts tea and watercolour evenings, and live music concerts. There’s even a gift registry, so you can let your friends and family know when you’ve found that must-have piece!
Douglas Udell Gallery (10332 124 St.)
An Edmonton art fixture for more than 45 years, the Udell gallery showcases local and international artists, and contemporary and historical artwork. The gallery is housed in its own building, midway down the west side of 124 Street. With new shows every two weeks during the fall and spring seasons, including three group shows per year, there is always new and fascinating works to discuss with the friendly and available gallery staff.
Lando Gallery (10310 124 St.)
After a quick stop for refreshment at Remedy Cafe, you can head around the corner to Lando Gallery. This gallery showcases local and international artists, whose works include painting, sculpture, wearable art and photography. The staff are happy to answer questions about the colourful pieces on display, which are continually changing as multi-artist shows are hosted and pieces are sold. For the more adventurous art-lover, there are also Lando Art Auctions three times a year, featuring different pieces from private collections and estates.
West End Gallery (10337 124 St.)
At this point, your walk takes you across 124 Street, to West End Gallery. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the gallery is larger inside than you would think. Showcasing Canadian artists specifically, the gallery’s collection includes works by painters and glass artists. Solo and group shows are held every two weeks during the fall and spring seasons, but even during the season break from December to January, the galley’s new space (since March 2015) is filled with colourful and eclectic artwork.
Bugera Matheson Gallery (10345 124 St.)
Having moved from their Jasper Avenue location in 2013, the Bugera Matheson gallery occupies a long, narrow space with an open beam ceiling and a warm bamboo floor. Paintings, sculptures and jewelry from Canadian artists, both from Alberta and across Canada, fill the space. The works are a mix of traditional, modern and post-modern, in an intimate and casual environment. Artists are featured in five solo and group shows per year, but the staff are happy to chat any time.
Peter Robertson Gallery (12323 104 Ave.)
With an open space, white walls and quiet music, the Peter Robertson is a classy, yet approachable gallery. Artists are featured in solo exhibitions every three weeks, and guests can also get a peek at the 1,000-piece inventory housed in the back. Buyers who aren’t sure if their chosen piece will be the right fit for their space can sometimes try art “on approval” before they commit to the purchase. The staff are happy to discuss the exciting mix of artists they are proud to represent.
Front Gallery (12323 104 Ave.)
While it shares window and building space with the Peter Robertson Gallery, the Front Gallery is a unique gallery all its own. Front features an eclectic mix of mostly local artists, featured in solo shows every few weeks. The space has a cozy, friendly feeling, which is emphasized by the artists themselves, who are happy to meet with clients and talk about not only their own work, but also the other artists’ works that are featured in the gallery.
Bearclaw Gallery (10403 124 St.)
This gallery has been representing and showcasing Canadian First Nations artists, including Inuit and West Coast artists, for 40 years. Bearclaw holds a stunning inventory of fine art paintings, silver and bone jewelry, leatherwork and an impressive number of beautiful soapstone sculptures. There’s so much to see in this bright, friendly space, with pieces from both established, award-winning artists and exciting new up-and-comers.
Scott Gallery (10411 124 St.)
Your Gallery Walk ends back at the top of the street with Scott Gallery. Under new management since December 2012, this gallery is evolving to reflect changes in both the artistic community and the art-buying culture while recognizing and maintaining quality works. Featuring established, mid-career, and emerging artists, Scott strikes a balance between local and international. The welcoming gallery staff are excited to chat about the artists currently featured in exhibitions and the works held in their inventory, and they are happy to bring pieces out for you to view.
Your DIY Gallery Walk can bring you out of a cold November afternoon into warm spaces filled with colour and beauty. And this is just a sample of the art in Edmonton — you can check out other DIY public art tours through a portion of the river valley (best done on a bike) and along the Alberta Avenue area too on the blog.