Revelstoke’s Visual Arts Centre had a big year after COVID. (Zachary Delaney/Revelstoke Review)

Revelstoke’s Visual Arts Centre had a big year after COVID. (Zachary Delaney/Revelstoke Review)

A busy year for Revelstoke’s Visual Arts Centre

With more applications from artists than ever, RVAC grew in 2022

This article was originally published in the Revelstoke TIMES Magazine, available now at your local coffee shop, book store, or any other business in downtown Revelstoke.

The cover of latest edition of the Revelstoke TIMES Magazine. (Revelstoke Review)

The cover of latest edition of the Revelstoke TIMES Magazine. (Revelstoke Review)

It’s been a successful year for the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre (RVAC), filled with multiple exhibition openings, new artists, and more engagement after a few tough COVID years.

If you missed out on any of the six exhibition openings at RVAC this year, you missed a crowd of people, tasty local food, and a community invested in the advancement of the arts in Revelstoke. While the events were enjoyed, many of the attendees – who weren’t volunteers – mightn’t be aware of the administrative, physical, and organizational effort it took to pull off every opening.

Where to Start

“This year we had a record number of exhibition applications,” said Meghan Porath, executive director of RVAC.

For every exhibition, the process begins several months in advance of the opening. It starts late in the preceding year when the exhibition committee meets to go over the applications. Last year, they met for a “four-hour session” in November

With time and wine, the group analyzed every single application submitted, searching for work that fit their goal for the year. Once they had an idea of which artists they wanted, then theyd figure out when each artist would be featured.

“We had Turbo Bambi in the gallery in July this year. And the reason we had her in July is because her show was very skateboard centric,” said Porath.

Every artist is hand-picked, and their exhibit is carefully curated.

While the exhibits have blossomed this year, they aren’t a new feature for the centre.

The History

Part of RVAC’s growth year upon year comes from a deep institutional memory. Firmly rooted in its own history, with eyes to future, the organization remembers where it came from and uses that knowledge to continue to forge ahead. The institutional memory is defined by dedicated community members like Ken Talbot who’s been a volunteer with the group for 18 years.

“I got involved here about five years before I was planning on retiring,” said Talbot.

Talbot knew, as he finished a 35-year career in forestry around Revelstoke, that once he was retired, he’d need something else.

“You gotta have purpose, you gotta have a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” said Talbot.

So, Talbot started volunteering with the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre in the early days of their new home, in the former RCMP precinct. At the time, the organization was the Revelstoke Art Group. Over time the group grew, creating a demand for more administrative help. The Revelstoke Visual Arts Society merged with the existing Revelstoke Art Group, where Talbot served as chair of the board for several years.

“I’m still here, I’m still churning out the time putting in the time supporting the place,” said Talbot with a chuckle.

In his time with the organization, Talbot has worn many hats, serving in whatever role he could help with. From head of the board, to upkeeping the interior and exterior of the building, to overseeing the woodshop. The latter has been Talbot’s most consistent role for the past several years.

Talbot figures he’s delivered the woodshop safety rundown more than 500 times in his tenure as the attendant. In that time, he’s had the opportunity to meet and mentor several artists. Stepping into the mentorship role is “what it’s all about” for Talbot.

As someone who’s been with the organization for so long, Talbot has helped shape the form that RVAC taken, and helped lay the stones for the path to come, including the success of the gallery.

“It’s just an amazing energy,” said Talbot.

The energy of the events is a byproduct of an event going well, which only happens with careful planning.

The Process

Once the lineup of artists is established, the work begins for assembling what’s needed for each individual exhibit.

Taylor Sandell’s title at RVAC is gallery attendant, but as she described it, she does “kind of a little bit of everything.” Her role includes, manning the front desk when the centre’s open, programming for events, social media, and shipping and receiving everything.

“Whenever people come into the gallery, it always looks kind of chill, especially if it’s just me there, but there’s always a crazy amount of things kind of going on behind the scenes,” said Sandell.

Sandell also works with Porath, the artists, and a small-but-mighty army of volunteers who comprise the Exhibition Hanging Committee. The group works to spot-fill and spot-paint the whole gallery once an exhibition finishes, and then hang all the new art. The group work to make sure that the artwork is displayed perfectly.

“It feels good when you walk into the gallery and feels good but you don’t know why,” said Porath.

There’s a magic number that makes a gallery feel right, and despite what Douglas Adams would have you believe, it isn’t 42. When hanging the art, the committee must remember 57.

“That is the average height of an average person’s eyes,” said Porath.

From the ground to the center of a piece, the gallery standard hanging height suggests that the artwork should be about 57 inches from the ground, ensuring most people will look at the artwork at eye-level.

The hanging height is just one example of how much more work goes into the centre than it seems. While Porath, Sandell, and Talbot are all happy with the centre’s success this year, they still have eyes to what they can do better.

The Future

Growth for Porath means “turning towards education.” As a beacon of artistic talent in Revelstoke, RVAC wants to inspire others.

“Workshops for kids, for teens, for adults and families in different mediums as well,” said Porath.

As for the exhibitions, RVAC is already working through the new roster for next year and just like this year, they set a new record for the number of applications.

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@ZacharyDelaney
zach.delaney@revelstokereview.com

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