Some of you may have noticed a collection of art in some large windows on Niagara Street south, across from Mill Street. I’ve been watching the faces as they drive, bike, and walk by, and many seem a bit surprised to see this in a building that many have seen as apparently abandoned for many years. I’m sure many are wondering “What is opening up there?” or who is responsible for the art display.
Unsurprisingly to many locals in our community, this was an effort by a couple members of the BLX. This is what is known as a “phantom gallery”: these are the use of empty retail or commercial space used to exhibit artwork, and there are examples of this being done in such places as Los Angeles and Vancouver. This is done to not only display artwork to the public in a non-traditional gallery setting, where some would gain exposure to artwork that might have normally, but can also be utilized to showcase properties potentially for sale and lease, and to improve the appearance of neighbourhoods.
In this case, the owner of the property allowed use of the display windows at this particular location, and a collection of artwork from BLX members as well as others is now on display for all who are traveling along Niagara Street in the Downtown West area, a neighbourhood that has the potential to be its own small Rive Gauche, or “The Left Bank” of Welland. Much of this artwork was in collections of the artists themselves, and there is featured photography, painting, and other visual art forms of various styles and subjects. The purpose of this particular gallery at the present moment is to simply fill some window space on a well-traveled street, bring some more art to the public, and shed further light on the artwork of the local creative talent.
One must remember that this phantom gallery is not like a typical or traditional gallery: it does not open its doors, it does not operate under any business hours, it does not host art events (yet), and its only purpose is to display artwork in the general public only by way of street viewing. We hope you enjoy this public art display, and expect to see more things happening in more places soon from local artists.