Art gallery secures critical funding

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
January 13th, 2011

A $30,000 donation from the Grand Forks Credit Union arrived in time to ensure the completion of a permanent heritage exhibit in Gallery 2. After the withdrawal from the gallery of about the same amount in funding by the City of Grand Forks in late 2010, the gallery had been pressed to find a way to continue with the project already underway. This announcement was welcomed by the Grand Forks Art Gallery Society (GFAGS).

Kelly Thomas chief executive officer of the Credit Union presented the cheque for funding to Robert Morton, president of GFAGS along with many of the society’s and credit union’s board members.

“When the credit union looks at projects like this we have a couple of goals in mind. The first is to do what we could to support projects such as this that will have an economic impact in the community,” said Thomas. “Secondly, we believe that part of the heritage of the valley is the rich value of the co-operative system. The co-operative system has played a role in the development and heritage of the community, and there is a significant story to be told.”

The consultants engaged for the project, Roger Boulet, a curator, historian and writer, and Peter Galonski, known for his work on the museum displays in Touchstones Gallery in Nelson, were also on hand to give the crowd a sneak preview into their vision for the exhibit. Their goal is to tell the area’s history with pictures and text walking visitors through time.

“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate Grand Forks and there really isn’t a place to do that and tell the whole story,” said Galonski, “It’s all image driven, but it tells the whole story and history of Grand Forks. It doesn’t pivot around certain artifacts or items that segment the stories – it’s the whole story.”

Some of the Grand Forks area’s history that will be featured in the display include: First Nations culture, commerce, forestry, Doukhobor culture, agriculture, mining, industry, smelting, Christina Lake and World War eras.
In addition to the permanent exhibit, Gallery 2 will be hosting a rotating gallery that will provide more variety for gallery regulars.

“The other part of the development will be a rotating gallery,” explained Morton. “It will change once or twice a year depending on the content. People drive through town and notice ‘oh they’re growing stuff out there, there’s a smokestack over there,’ and they’re gone. But behind that there’s a lot going on here. That’s the sort of thing we want to develop (in the small gallery) as well as other historic themes.”

Morton added that GFAGS hopes to work closely with the Boundary Museum Society on the rotating displays.

The exhibit should be completed by June 30 of this year as the courthouse building housing the gallery celebrates its 100th birthday.