It’s a gallery that came to exist because of strong volunteer support and the hope is that it will continue to enrich Kentville’s cultural tapestry for years to come.
Hardware Gallery director Sasha Nelson said the doors opened in March of last year but the not-for-profit society behind it, the Kentville Art Gallery Society, has been incorporated since January 2017.
The PRISMS exhibit, opening on Feb. 21, features the work of artists Jody Rhodenizer and Miyoshi Kondo. This is the eleventh exhibit the gallery has showcased. Nelson said they have tried a couple of six-week exhibits but they usually host a given show for a month.
“Upon moving here, I came to meet a lot of artists and people interested in the arts but I don’t think I quite realized how many artists were kind of chomping at the bit for some kind of hub or place to share and network,” Nelson said.
It soon became obvious to him that there was a niche or void that needed to be filled. Although the gallery sells art, it concentrates on displaying and promoting works, encouraging people to experience “cultural phenomena” that they may not have seen before.
For example, the PRISMS exhibit features several pieces of sculpture created by Rhodenizer using crochet techniques. The gallery has also featured video, web art and other non-traditional genres alongside paintings, drawings and traditional forms of sculpture.
Nelson, who has studied art history and has a deep appreciation for the traditional, said he prefers contemporary practices.
“I really like pushing the forefront of what is happening in the art world,” he said.
However, Nelson is quick to point out that decisions regarding what art to showcase in the gallery are not his alone. They jury each show, asking various art experts to help decide.
He said the response from the public has been very positive with about 300 people visiting the gallery each month. Many are excited to see culture coming to the forefront in Kentville. Nelson said culture in all of its forms is “absolutely fundamental” to human existence.
“In my opinion and I think in a lot of people’s opinion, what really creates a town or city’s sense of place is its relationship to culture,” he said.
Nelson said the many volunteers behind the gallery want to see it flourish for as long as possible and they hope that the strong support provided by the Town of Kentville to this point will continue. Nelson hopes that those people who appreciate having it in town will voice that opinion to Kentville’s elected officials and staff.
The genesis of a gallery
Nelson has a fine arts background, having studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and completing his master’s degree at the University of Waterloo. He started a family and left the art field for a while, becoming a carpenter.
Nelson started looking for art-related opportunities again after moving to Kentville. He considered opening a gallery in the former Bucky’s Barber Shop building on West Main Street when another opportunity presented itself.
Nelson was speaking with representatives of the Town of Kentville about his plans when he was invited to submit a proposal for space in the town’s recently acquired Calkin Building on Cornwallis Street.
It was at this point that he decided to form the not-for-profit society along with four friends. He said the group members have wide-ranging expertise. With some help, Nelson put his carpentry skills to work renovating the space.
“We had an amazing donation of materials and time by Erik Deal via the Kentville Community Fund,” Nelson said.
The donation included state-of-the-art track lighting fixtures. Deal helped paint and renovate and had the hardwood floor sanded. Nelson said Deal “believed in our purpose before there was anything to look at.”
Nelson said they’ve had lots of submissions from Valley artists, many from across Nova Scotia and some from as far away as Ontario.
IF YOU GO:
- The Hardware Gallery is located at 36 Cornwallis St., Kentville.
- It is open on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Starting in March, the gallery will be open from Tuesdays to Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- The gallery features a boutique retail space where artists’ wares are sold. Proceeds help the gallery cover expenses.
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