A rendering of art-work displayed in the alleys of downtown Revelstoke. Weatherproof solar-powered LED billboard lights or outdoor commercial lights would be repurposed into gallery-style picture lights. Photo: Art Alleries.

A new Art Alleries initiative proposes transforming Revelstoke’s alleyways into outdoor art galleries. By putting the spotlight on unique and lasting artwork, the proponents hope to transform the city’s darkest places into thriving public spaces.

The Art Alleries proposal was approved by the Public Art Committee on Friday, March 29. The committee will go on to recommend the project to the council, likely in April.

The co-founder of the project says the Art Alleries is not limited to improving aesthetics in the downtown core. Victoria Strange believes that the project is multi-faceted and could benefit the town in various ways.

“It’s not simply about putting artwork up,” she explained. “It’s about making the city a safer place by reducing crime, diverting traffic and releasing bottlenecks in the city because we’ll have new areas for tourists to walk down.”

Art Alleries plans to marry the authentic and industrial feel of an alley, with the aesthetics of an art gallery. Photo: Art Alleries

How it will work

The project is initially proposed for two alleyways downtown. Depending on the amount of funding secured, the project would have room to expand and create a network of art alleyways in the downtown core.

The idea is that the alleyways will showcase durable artwork from local artists and literally light-up dark corners of the city. The project proposes that each piece of art would be displayed for at least ten years.

Art themes could range from Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism to Dada. Photo: Art Alleries

The murals are non-traditional in the sense that they are not fixed to set location. They will be framed and easy to transport should the need arise. The art itself will be original pieces contributed by local artists. The original mural will be replaced with a powder-coated reproduction aluminum panel from a high-resolution digital image.

The brains behind the frames

Local artist Rob Buchanan was the founder of the original project. Rob initially presented the idea for the first LUNA arts festival back in 2017. The festival panel (consisting of Victoria Strange, Miriam Manly, and Jana Thompson) initially felt that there wasn’t the capacity to see the project through in that first year of runnign LUNA.

Victoria Strange, former Executive Director of the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, had concerns that the project would not work well as transient art – it, instead, offered something more durable.

“We wanted to explore how this legacy piece could be transformed into something more than just a one-off,” said Victoria. “We’d hoped that in future years it would be a standout project whereby we would call out to artists to contribute to this specific project.”

LUNA festival served as something of a test-run for the project, with multiple pieces of art breathing new life into previously derelict spaces. Seeing the festival’s success over the past two years, Victoria and Rob felt it was time to kickstart phase one of the Art Alleries project.

FIle photo of Revelstoke’s LUNA Festival in 2017. Rain didn’t stop anyone from taking a stroll down Umbrella Alley, created by Lucie Bergeron.
Photo: Matthew Timmins

Moving forward

The proponents are hoping to see the project happen within a year. They have already secured a large amount of funding through the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) public art grant program, as well as approval from the Public Art Committee.

Phase one of the project is looking positive so far, however, the next step for them will be gaining approval and funding from the City of Revelstoke.

The non-traditional murals will fuse together powder coated aluminum with water-based inks. This means they will be resilient against weather conditions and/or graffiti and vandalism. Photo: Art Alleries