Kamloops’ newest art gallery and studio space set to open this weekend

KAMLOOPS – Locals are about to finally get a peek into what several Kamloops artists have been working on for the last six months as owners of the city’s newest gallery prepare to showcase its first exhibition this weekend (Feb 20).

Over a year ago, Thompson Rivers University Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate Robin Hodgson, 31, looked for a space in the city that was wheelchair accessible, downtown and where he could work on his oil paintings but found few options. During his search he found an empty space downtown on Second Avenue but realized making it work would require a little TLC.

“Working out of your house is extremely hard with painting and having your materials spread out and canvases. I live in an apartment so I don’t have the room,” he says. “They had storage spaces for rent in the basement here and after doing some negotiating, the building owner suggested I rent one of the cubicle spaces in here. The space was completely gutted at the time.”

Hodgson says The spot was in need of drywall and existing walls were painted “hospital pink.” A cracked floor with partial brickwork led the way to his cubicle and there was an old bank vault at the end of the hall. Despite a much-needed renovation, he envisioned the whole space beyond his cubicle as something the Kamloops art community could benefit from.

He rented the entire space and decided to sublet it to five other artists serious about their craft, calling the location Padlock Studios.

“It’s been a year and a half and over the last six months we moved from having our art collective to having a gallery space. There was so much potential. There’s a void for this in Kamloops. Having a space for semi-professional and where talented emerging artists could show (their art).”

Hodgson and his co-owner Miranda Dean, 24, are fairly particular about who they sublet a space to. The $350 monthly price point is fairly reasonable for 24-hour access, but both expect those using the area to be committed to working as professional artists.

“It sort of fluctuates from month to month. Some are people putting a show together. We’re working together to put together a residency program to open it up internationally if anyone wants to come for an allotted amount of time to work on a body of work,” Hodgson says.

The art mediums vary across the gallery. Pictures from professional photographers, oil painters, graffiti artists and videographers are all waiting to be hanged up or installed. A young business owner used her rental to set up a sewing studio for her local legging company Tooth and Eye. Hodgson says her order volume is increasing steadily, leading her to put in more hours at Padlock.

Walking through the gallery both remark on the weekend projects they each took on to improve the look and feel of the location. Dean and Hodgson both say they’ve learned lots about home improvement and have relied on calls to Dad and how-to YouTube videos to get by. The hospital pink was replaced with stark white and the space now has a warehouse feel with cinderblock benches and painted floors. Dean comments they’re eyeing up the old vault as another installation opportunity.

“This show is incredibly diverse, almost too diverse to the point where we’re having a hard time as very amateur curators putting it together. We have so much different work. We want the show to have balance and rhythm as you walk through it,” Hodgson says.

“We have a few sculptures, we have an installation that’s going in and a projection film,” Dean says.

Both curators-in-training asked iNFOnews.ca to refrain from taking photos of the art to keep the opening reception a surprise, but here are a few things to watch for: A image cut out with a razor, a detailed poster drawn with a blue ball-point pen and Hodgson’s own Dali-inspired oil paintings.

In keeping with the new opportunity the gallery provides, the theme of its opening reception is The Case of the Space, which allows artists to show their own interpretation of what the concept of space means to them.

To check out the reception, visit the location at 175 Second Avenue in the same building as the Bank of Montreal on Saturday, February 20 at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit padlockstudios.squarespace.com

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