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Exhibition combines nostalgia and art
Bonnie Luchtmeijer grew up working at a White Rose Gas Station, so when an old refurbished pump walked into her life last year she was awestruck.
A client at her store, the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply, wanted an article from The Parksville Qualicum Beach News framed, which showed a picture of himself with his art deco ’54 White Rose Gas pump.
“I could hardly talk to him about the framing because I was so interested in his gas pump,” said Luchtmeijer.
Since Shell bought out White Rose in 1964, there is little memorabilia available surrounding the old gas company. The client wanting the framing at the gallery that day, Geoff Stubbs, had been restoring old gas pumps as a hobby for years but was moving away and selling them off.
Luchtmeijer and her husband Bill had been looking for White Rose memorabilia for some time. Bonnie told Stubbs to hold off on the sale of the gas pump.
“So Bill walked in the door later and it was right around my birthday last year, and I said, ‘I never ask you to buy me jewelry for my birthday but would you buy me a gas pump?’” she laughed.
Bonnie started pumping gas, dipping ice cream and selling cigarettes at the age of 10. The second White Rose station her family owned was in a small town called Hillsdale in Ontario.
The store was opened from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day of the year, the only time they closed was for half a day on Christmas. The price of gas in 1957 was 27 cents per gallon, Bonnie said.
When Bonnie turned 18 she left the family business and pursued a nursing career. It was while working as an outpost nurse on the northern tip of Baffin Island that she met her husband Bill (now a town councillor), who was stationed there as an RCMP officer.
Bonnie first came to Vancouver Island to meet Bill’s parents, who owned a small art supply store in Qualicum Beach. Bill and Bonnie moved to Victoria for eight years where Bonnie worked at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital, before they moved to Qualicum Beach to take over the store for Bill’s parents 25 years ago.
At that time the store had a lot of craft supplies, but as the bigger craft shops moved into Nanaimo, the couple realized they had to make some adjustments.
“You have to sell a lot of pom poms and styrofoam balls to make a living,” Bonnie said.
The shop, which had been expanded, was reworked to allow for an art gallery.
“So we started right from the beginning supporting all the local artists,” said Bonnie. “The artists who had supported us over all these years.”
The gallery in the store continues to feature local artists on a rotating basis and also holds feature exhibitions.
With the new gas pump—which had been sandblasted, painted, re-chromed and fit with new decals—Bonnie hatched a plan to hold an art show called Nostalgia.
The show is just in time for the renowned Father’s Day Show and Shine in Qualicum Beach this Sunday June 15. That event takes place around Qualicum Beach but the gallery is located half a block beyond the show at 206 W. First Ave.
Although the gallery is not usually open on Sundays, this Father’s Day Sunday the Nostalgia show at The Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply will feature paintings, sculptures and other works of art reminiscent of the past, created by local artists. There will also be vintage clothing from Merlyn Patten’s collection and furniture from the Qualicum Beach store ReVived Vintage. Bonnie has a couple of pieces in the show including the top of an old oil drum that she discovered near Cameron Lake; she has touched it up and painted it with a Japanese proverb.
There will also be steam punk jewelry at the show and artists will be painting outside the store this Sunday, surrounded by a couple of vintage cars.
Nostalgia began June 9 and runs for a couple of months. The gallery will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday.
For more on the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply call 250-752-3471.