Prince Rupert’s downtown strip was hit with a touch of art last Saturday, July 8, as the Ice House Gallery launched the 3rd Avenue Art Project in conjunction with TRICORP and the University of Northern British Columbia’s Community Development Institute.
Approximately 50 people gathered at Prince Rupert City Hall’s fountain plaza where cake was cut and balloons were popped in celebration of the project’s launch.
The 3rd Avenue Art Project will place the work of North Coast painters, sculpters, fabricators and photographers in the front windows of businesses along 3rd Avenue for July and August.
“One of my goals is to make local artists names become household names,” said Laurie Gray, North Coast Artist Cooperative vice-president. “So if I ask someone on the street in Prince Rupert to name a local artist they could, and this helps with that.”
The project was the brain child of Gray along with Community Development Institute co-director Marleen Morris and TRICORP Aboriginal Business Development Chief Operating Officer Jacquie Ridley. Morris said they wanted to find a way to make Third Avenue a bigger draw for tourists visiting Prince Rupert.
“For years we’d heard people say 3rd Avenue wasn’t a draw for people in the community,” she said. “The idea all stemmed from making Third Avenue an attractive place for visitors to stroll. Let’s showcase the incredible arts and business community we have here.”
Gray and Ridley, who are parts of the Prince Rupert arts and business communities, were able to get artists and business owners involved.
A call for art went out in May, and Gray said the response was overwhelmingly positive. The group received more than 100 submissions from creators who were excited about the opportunity to have a place to display their work for people to see.
“Just the word ‘gallery’ intimidates people and they might not go in,” she said. “And so it’s a way for artists to have a broader population see their work.”
Morris said the response from businesses that participated in the project was positive also, adding that people were stopping and looking at the art in the windows.
“When they’re stopping and looking at the art, they’re looking at the other things that are in the window,” she said. “So they’re getting to enjoy Third Avenue again.”
The project will run until the end of the summer, during which time Morris says people will have an opportunity to buy the art they see in the business windows.
She also said if there are other artists interested in submitting pieces, she would be happy to display them.
“In our wildest dreams, all of the art would disappear,” she said.