Members of the Oceanside Community Arts Council have a gallery space outside the McMillan Arts Centre reserved for their work: the far wall of Arts Cafe in Parksville.
“It’s nice for us and the customers,” said cafe owner Ian Warren. “It keeps the place fresh.”
According to Warren, the OCAC started to sponsor the wall nearly a year ago in March 2014. Before that, the space hosted a large First Nations fish mural, which Warren and Preston moved to another part of the cafe.
Geri Rea, member of the OCAC gallery committee and facilitator of external exhibits, however, said that the wall is more than just an exhibition space with “excellent” lighting. “I think it’s very important,” she said of having places to show artwork outside of the MAC. “The OCAC is all about supporting the arts community and art in the community.”
Rea also said that with the MAC fully booked for 2015, the cafe’s wall offers more artists an opportunity to show their work.
“Those venues serve us very, very well,” said OCAC president Joe Straka.
The impact is not lost on Warren and co-owner and wife Rachael Preston. As artists themselves — she studied at Emily Carr College of Art and Design and is a published author and he is a photographer — Warren said they know “how difficult it is” to find gallery space, especially when you’re not an “established” artist. “It’s ideal,” he said. “It gave us the opportunity to do something we love.”
As the wall is sponsored by the OCAC, Rea said the space is reserved for its members only. Each month, one artist gets to hang 10-12 images, depending on the size of the works. Artists apply for the space through the OCAC, not Arts Cafe.
“There’s some amazing artists around here,” said Rea.
“I think it’s wonderful. It’s given us a boost,” said Donna Hales, who exhibited her work on the wall throughout the month of January. “I think the space is good as anywhere.”
Hales is a long-time OCAC member and well-established painter in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. She has painted for around 50 years.
This month, Ingrid Raw will have her work hanging on the wall. Rea said the space is booked with artists until June 2015 and gallery committee is looking for more people to fill up the remainder of the year. If you are interested in having your work in Arts Cafe, go to the MAC at 133 McMillan St. to fill out an OCAC membership form (if you aren’t a member already) and an application form for exhibitions.
Arts Cafe is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and is located at 147 Harrison Ave.
The OCAC also has exhibition space at the Oceanside Health Centre. Straka said the arts organization is currently speaking with the Quality Resort Bayside and The Beach Club Resort about expanding into those spaces too.