Avalanche!, a brand-new art space along Macleod Trail — you can see it from the LRT, between City Hall station and the Stampede grounds — officially omits the word “gallery” from its name for a reason.
“We like the idea that people can pass it on the train and be like, ‘What the fuck is that place?’” says administrative director Cassandra Paul. “It brings in a different audience than just the arts and culture crowd.”
And it isn’t a typical art gallery. Its exhibitions focus on emerging artists, with an emphasis on installation art — that is, art created to fit a specific space.
“You can encompass many other kinds of art into installation, and you’re bringing in the space and the viewer in a very different way than more traditional art forms do,” says programming director Nate McLeod. “The viewer really becomes a part of the work. We’re actually really stoked on having such a tiny little space, because it creates an opportunity for people to really take advantage of that kind of artwork.”
The somewhat derelict building (as Paul describes it) also houses studio space for six artists. “I think it’s really cool that people can see a finished product and they can also come back here and see a bunch of the in-progress, nitty-gritty, day-to-day stuff that goes on,” says Paul. She and McLeod, along with Matthew Mark Bourree, are part of The Bakery art group that previously worked in the East Village Seafood Market. With the closure of that building, this was one way for the group to find new studio space.
In Avalance! (which had most recently been a hot dog shop), Paul and McLeod plan to host a new exhibition every month, starting with the geometric patterns of Jesse Stilwell’s Nightrider, which features a large floor-to-ceiling piece called “Blue Magic,” round, mesmerizing canvases cheekily titled “Donnie Darko” and “A Clockwork Orange,” as well as other works created directly on the gallery walls.
This is a commercial gallery, so everything is for sale — even the installation pieces that were custom made for Avalanche’s space. “Not a lot of [commercial] galleries show a lot of installation work, and obviously that’s something that’s tricky for somebody to buy,” says McLeod, referring specifically to “Blue Magic.” “It’s difficult to put it up, have it on and get some feedback, then tear it all down and throw it out. It’s nice to consider it as something that doesn’t have to be that temporary — it can move into another space and continue to exist.
A final, special touch is that each show will include a limited edition print.
“[It’s] an avenue for artists to sell something,” explains Paul. “ If you’re going to a gallery and you love this $900 painting, it’s like, ‘Okay, well I can’t have that, but I can have a little piece of the artist and I can buy a $200 print.’”