WEYBURN – The opening of the Weyburn Art Gallery in the Credit Union Spark Centre is part of the “new mindset” in the city, said curator Regan Lanning, as she welcomed a large crowd to the grand opening on Friday evening.
The official ceremony was held just after the opening of the 2022 James Weir People’s Choice exhibition on Wednesday, and the gallery included a second exhibition, a display of Courtney Milne photographs from the City of Weyburn’s Permament Art Collection.
Lanning said the opening was a celebration of allowing the arts and recreation to be together in one facility rather than separate as is often the case.
“Art and sport are often placed at opposite ends of the spectrum. The arts have their facilities and recreation have theirs,” she said. “In Weyburn, we are challenging the belief that art and sport don’t mix with the opening of the Credit Union Spark Centre.”
She added this facility is the start of a new era in Weyburn, with all of the city’s art programming under one roof, and not separate from the arts council’s main gallery, formerly in the Allie Griffin gallery on the lower level of the library.
The new gallery space alongside the new pottery studio and class spaces means they can now do programming that connects with exhibitions, all under one roof, Lanning said.
“With an AA-rated humidity and temperature control system, and LED stage lighting, our new gallery is a giant step forward in the variety of art exhibition and installations we can bring to Weyburn,” she added.
As the Spark Centre is located adjacent to Jubilee Park, they began to take advantage of this location with last summer’s art market held along the park pathways.
“This past summer proved that location does in fact matter, with attendance reaching an all-time high. The event was such a success that we plan to broaden the event next year, turning it into a multi-faceted event with recreation and culture front and centre,” said Lanning.
A new mural project will begin next spring, with murals to be painted on the 10 dugouts of the five ball diamonds in the park, and recently the City was awarded a grant through Southeast Connections “to help us create exhibition spaces along the paved walkway in Jubilee Park.”
She will be soon posting applications for exhibitions in the park space, part of a long-term plan to create a strong creative presence in the park by using existing recreational resources.
In addition to the two exhibitions in the gallery now, Lanning pointed out they also have an upper gallery space visible to users of the walking track on the second level, and this space will be programmed in six-month periods with a new exhibition every January and July.
Currently, one of the works is a large portrait of Tommy Douglas from the City’s Permament Art Collection, by an artist only identified as “Robin”. They have no other information on who the artist is, and she is hopeful someone will be able to pass on more information to her at the gallery.
The other two pieces are by the late artist David Johnson of the Tyvan area, also from the Permanent Collection.
A new painting was donated to the Permanent Collection also, which Lanning displayed, from Kelly Stephenson, winner of last year’s James Weir People’s Choice competition. It is a painting of an old barn with lightning flashing the sky behind it, and it was added to the collection as of Saturday.
Lanning noted that the Permanent Collection is housed in a temperature-controlled storage space next to her office in the gallery, which will make exhibitions much easier to curate in the new gallery space.
Many of those present for the grand opening took the opportunity to cast ballots for the James Weir competition, and the voting will be open until March 18. The closing reception and awards presentation will be held in the gallery on March 24 at 7 p.m.