For the past 15 years, its brick exterior and storefront display has welcomed many to climb the stairs and see what’s inside.
Housed in the historic Winnipeg Union Bank building on Vernon’s 30th Avenue, Gallery Vertigo has not only offered a creative space for artists to work, it has opened its doors to those needing a cultural outlet, whether taking in an exhibition, concert or literary reading, or partaking in a class or workshop.
It’s always been a safe and inviting place for those to enjoy arts and culture. And it remains that way, even though the gallery’s physical presence is about to change.
Yes, Gallery Vertigo is moving.
“We have spent the last year looking for suitable spaces and of all the places we have seen, this new one has the most potential,” said Brigitte Red, secretary with the non-profit North Okanagan Artists Alternative (NOAA), which runs the gallery. “We are making people aware that we are still here.”
The move to the new location comes after the sale of the Winnipeg Union Bank building more than a year ago. The gallery was informed then that the new owner planned to turn the space into a private residence. However, those plans were put on hold and the gallery was able to stay at the location until two months ago, when told the lease would be ending March 1, said Red.
The election of a new NOAA board put the search for a new location into overdrive, and it was while some members were driving around downtown that they saw a for lease sign on a storefront located beside the A&E Community Market and Consignment Centre on 28th Avenue.
“Measuring 2,300 square feet, the new space is on the street level so there’s no stairs to worry about,” said Red. “It also has a large storefront and storage space for our permanent collection. There is room for a sitting area and a research area where people can go through our large collection of art books.”
The large front room, which will be used as the exhibition space, also features a stage, which will support performances, while the large open-plan back room has enough space for six artist studios.
“The new board is very proactive, is working on completing our strategic plan, and there are plans in place to revive some of the programs that were once a cornerstone of Gallery Vertigo,” said Red. “Moving to this new location will also help in our ability to do some innovative art such as videography.”
The NOAA is currently getting the new gallery space ready for its big fundraiser, the Almost Famous auction Feb. 26, and is seeking help from the community.
“So far Cloverdale Paint and Cal Richardson with Totem Painting have helped with some of the painting work needed, however, those with carpentry skills are required to help build walls, while some minor plumbing work is also needed,” said Red. “We are also hoping there are some building suppliers willing to donate some supplies. We plan to replace the current lighting with track lighting so a journeyman electrician willing to offer his services would also be of great help.
“The public can also help by coming to our fundraiser and buying a ticket.”