It’s tempting to make the claim that local art galleries are often overlooked. It seems like it would be a fair statement, doesn’t it? The small community gallery overshadowed by the nationally acclaimed and internationally recognized gallery in the heart of the big city? It certainly would make a great hook for a blog post, sure… but it simply isn’t true.
Local galleries are often the life and the beating heart of the communities they serve, because they are so much more than statues you can’t touch and ancient swirls of paint mounted on a wall. They are creativity and collaboration in a way that is accessible. They are art experiences rather than mere exhibitions. Station Gallery in Whitby embodies these ideals and more as a free public gallery, and encourages everyone to come and experience art in their own unique way.
“It’s an interesting place because there’s always something different happening,” says CEO Kerri King. “And it’s quite a diverse gallery for its size—we’re only about a ten thousand square foot space.” The gallery is a multi-dimensional attraction, offering fresh and exciting exhibits, art education, programs and classes for all ages, and special events.
Station Gallery is proudly celebrating its fiftieth anniversary next year. The building was originally the Whitby Junction station for the Grand Trunk Railway. After being slated for demolition, it was purchased in 1969 by Whitby Arts Incorporated, a group of passionate art enthusiasts formed two years prior. In 1970 the building was moved to its present location and the gallery opened to the public.
Today, Station Gallery is a popular destination for school groups, giving students an art experience they wouldn’t otherwise have in the classroom. There are also afternoon and evening classes for both children and adults. “There’s everything from pottery making to print making, figure drawings, acrylic… all different art forms,” Kerri explains. “That’s over and above the actual exhibitions that we host.”
Kerri herself is passionate about art the ability it has to ground oneself and forget about the rigours of life. “What I enjoy about being at the gallery is the power of art to connect people,” she says. “Kids love it because they can get lost in their own imaginations. I’ve just been starting to do artwork myself, too—in acrylic and mixed media. I’m finding that it’s a wonderful way to relax, destress and have fun.”
In a day and age where art education in the public school system is a hot topic amongst politicians, parent groups and educators, it is imperative for organizations like Station Gallery to keep creativity alive in kids—especially when there is fierce competition for their focus from the Internet and digital games. Yet when they’re in an artistic environment and encouraged to partake in tactile activities, every child responds and experiences art in his or her own way. “Yes, they want to play the video games, and that’s definitely something we compete with,” Kerri admits. “But we give them the tools and we’ve got three gorgeous studios, and they think it’s really cool and jump right in. They get to explore and have fun, and then they have something to take home that they made with their own hands and can be proud of.”
Station Gallery also offers a program called “corporate creating.” This is an exercise where Station Gallery staff come into a workplace and create art experiences for employees as a teambuilding exercise. “I’m really excited about that right now,” Kerri states. “More and more companies are embracing this idea of art as a way to relax, deal with anxieties and overcome challenges in the workplace. What I love about it is that it helps people connect. It’s a wonderful way of dealing with the stresses of the job and of everyday life.”
Being around art and artists is, for Kerri, a chance to expand one’s own consciousness. “It’s a way to realize that people have so many different perspectives in this world,” she says. “When people walk into an art gallery, they don’t have an agenda. They’re just there to enjoy themselves, to take in the beauty, or the ideas, or the inspiration from another human being. I think that’s a beautiful thing about being able to work in a gallery. It’s a beautiful thing to observe.”
Explore your own creativity at Station Gallery, or get inspired by the creativity of others. Station Gallery is located at 1450 Henry St., Whitby. To find out what events and programs the gallery has going on, or for more information, visit them online at www.stationgallery.ca or call (905) 668-4185.
Story by Katherine Ryalen