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Okotoks merchant opens downtown art gallery

The moment an Okotoks artist stepped into the basement of her friend’s downtown store she had a realization.
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Local artist Cheryl Taylor rests in the Rabbit Hole Gallery located in the basement of Okotoks store Emporium of Impossible Things. The first exhibit Rage Against Beige is on
Local artist Cheryl Taylor rests in the Rabbit Hole Gallery located in the basement of Okotoks store Emporium of Impossible Things. The first exhibit Rage Against Beige is on display until June 21.

The moment an Okotoks artist stepped into the basement of her friend’s downtown store she had a realization.

Local painter Cheryl Taylor envisioned the large room in her friend Melody Enman’s store Emporium of Impossible Things as the prefect venue to showcase the creations of local artists.

“When I saw it the idea popped into my head,” said Taylor. “That room is just perfect for some of the brighter colourful work.”

Taylor and Enman came up with an agreement to make the space into an art gallery that would help support Okotoks and area artists, with Taylor working as the curator.

Enman opened Emporium of Impossible Things on Railway Street last November. The building was previously The Wine Station, which closed about two years ago and the room the gallery is set up in now was used for wine tasting, said Taylor.

Taylor and Enman call it the Rabbit Hole Gallery, fitting with the Alice in Wonderland theme Enman created in her store’s basement featuring characters from the famous book.

The basement is where Enman offers a variety of art classes, including scrapbooking and painting while the upper level of the store features a wide variety of consignment vintage items.

Enman said having an art gallery in the lower level fits perfectly with her store.

“I want to make this into a community store and this community is so rich with artists,” she said. “I have the space so why not utilize it.”

The first exhibit to be showcased in the Rabbit Hole Gallery is one frequent visitors to the Okotoks Art Gallery might recognize — the Okotoks-grown Rage Against Beige collection.

This exhibit has been displayed in the Okotoks Art Gallery four times, each time with additional artists and pieces showcased, said Taylor.

Rage Against Beige opened on May 10 featuring a variety of landscapes, still life, abstract and wildlife art in acrylic, oil and mixed media from Calgary artists Aaron Sidorenko, Elana Goodfellow and Michelle Austen, Okotoks artists Janifer Calvez, Erica Neumann and Melanie Pope and Black Diamond artist MaryAnne Jespersen. Taylor’s work will also be on display.

Taylor said the collection, titled after the description she gives her own work due to its vibrant colours, represents art that is out of the ordinary, whether it’s artists tackling a new technique or taking on projects that vary greatly from other artists’ pieces.

Rabbit Hole Gallery provides an opportunity to present the collection in another venue and gives Okotoks something it has always needed — another art gallery, she said.

Taylor said there can never be too many galleries to support the work of local artists.

She also hopes to support artists whose work is displayed in Rage Against Beige by putting the collection in art galleries across the province following its almost two-month showcase at Rabbit Hole Gallery.

“We would eventually love to take the show elsewhere to other communities and maybe work with other community artists with the same idea of keeping things fresh for your own artistic education and progress and trying different things so they don’t become rote and serial,” she said.

Rage Against Beige will be available for viewing in the Rabbit Hole Gallery Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until June 21.




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Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at OkotoksToday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact trollie@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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