Artrepreneur: For the Young at ‘Art

There’s a gorgeous new gallery in town.

You climb the stairs at the back of Triple J’s Music’s new location, past a potter’s wheel, past walls lovingly embellished with graffiti, past a purple bicycle with a purple-patterned velvet banana seat.

Then you come to the entrance of Gallery 22. Professional-quality vinyl lettering lists the artists showing, on a clean white wall.

Step into the space, and you’re transported to a high-end commercial gallery in the south. A wide-open space makes room for each art piece to sing from the white walls. Sculpture stands on plinths made of white-painted speaker cabinets.

The two-storey building at 308 Elliott Street can be found between the Hougen Centre parking lot and 4th Avenue. It’s been the Sears warehouse and housed Zola’s kitchen for a short while. But it’s never been a retail space. Until now.

Triple J’s has, in collaboration with the Hougens, put in glass doors and a better entrance. They painted the walls lots of funky colours and installed black slat wall. They’ve filled the shop with the vinyl, CDs, T-shirts, jewellery and tobacco paraphernalia they carried in their 4th Avenue location.

They’ve also expanded. They now host the Bang On T-shirt line, where you can choose your T-shirt design and have it printed on the T-shirt of your choice. That moved there from its 2nd Avenue location.

When Jordi Jones, owner of Triple J’s, contemplated moving to this space, she knew she’d have a piercing and tattooing studio on the second floor. But the upstairs was larger than that use required.

She discussed the matter with Dan Bushnell, her tattoo artist. They decided it had to be an art gallery.

Bushnell will curate the gallery and continue his tattooing practice.

He’s committed to keeping the gallery’s clean, professional look. He sees it as a way of respecting the art and the artists.

The gallery will host a series of month-long group and solo shows.

Artists who are interested in showing should contact Bushnell. He’s interested in new, edgy work.

Gallery 22 will also carry a stable of artists, likely posting their work online. They do not require exclusivity of their artists, but they want to show work that’s new to Whitehorse, even if those artists show elsewhere.

Currently they’re showing sculpture by Gisli Balzer, paintings by Emma Barr, Dan Bushnell and Ian Parker, serigraphs and photographs by Matty Marnik, and silkscreens by Rory O’Brien.

The gallery “isn’t exclusive at all.”

Bushnell is excited about reaching a younger demographic with the gallery. Triple J’s customers feel comfortable in the establishment, to the point of feeling a kind of ownership of it.

While I was talking with Bushnell, I heard some teens come up the stairs, check out the artwork, point things out to each other. Reaching youth is one of Bushnell’s “favourite benefits of the space”.

Bushnell’s visions include a show of artists with day jobs, people who might not actually call themselves artists, but “do amazing work” during their evenings and weekends.

Bushnell was born and raised in Whitehorse. He graduated from F. H. Collins and attended Emily Carr, and then the Vancouver Film School.

He spent 14 years working on large-scale community art projects in Vancouver and the lower Mainland.

He took up tattooing as an extracurricular activity, too worn out after days of coordinating hundreds of people into public art projects to paint or sculpt.

He loves the sense of culture and history in tattooing, both ancient and current.

He thinks the Yukon falls into a trap of focusing too much on its past. He thinks we should respect the past, but celebrate the future.

Celebrating art, especially the art of young people, seems to him a great way to do that.

Jordi Jones received the eviction notice at Triple J’s old location last August.

They needed to vacate the premises by May of 2010.

She knew they wanted to expand. She’s grateful that the Hougens “took a chance on us,” a store with a counter-culture kind of image.

She loves the contrast between the colourful, funky downstairs and the white walls upstairs, a quiet space where the art can “jump off the wall”.

“The sun hits your face, and you can see the mountains from the windows.”

She’ll be renting out the gallery space for yoga classes and wine-tasting sessions.

She’s been an art collector for years, and enjoys – though she sees it as a hazard – getting first dibs on the wonderful new works that come into the gallery.

Twenty-two is Jones’s favourite, lucky number. The gallery’s graphic was taken from the tattoo of the number on two of her fingers.

Dan Bushnell’s solo show of paintings, A Storytelling, will open April 15 and run until mid May.

In May, the gallery will host a show of artists who all work with Adam Green at Terra Firma.

Triple J’s will mark its sixth anniversary on May 1, with a weekend of sales and celebration.

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