BY RAFFY BOUDJIKANIAN
A new art gallery in the West Island is a pioneer in its field as the only place that rents out space for artists to exhibit their work with no commission fees whatsoever. "This is such an opportunity for artists to exhibit their work," said the gallery's director, Helena Scheffer. She said the fact that the gallery takes no percentage out of any sales by the artist should be a huge incentive for artists to exhibit their work there. "We did a lot of renovation to this place," said Scheffer, surrounded by the high white walls and shiny wooden floor of her gallery in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. A restored building from 1875 that straddles the corner of St. Thomas and Christie streets, it has served for years as apartments for students who attended nearby John Abbott College. "It was an absolute slum," said Scheffer, adding that she and her husband repainted and refurnished both the inside and outside of the place.
At the gallery's opening vernissage, Scheffer hung paintings by her late friend, Jennifer Amiel, over the walls of the gallery. The artist's repertoire expands from landscapes to self-portraits and images of her family. "I see her exuberance and her kindness, her smile," said Scheffer, looking at her friend's work. "I really like this one in particular," she said, pausing in front of one called Snow, a completely white canvas with tiny, black silhouettes of a small group of people standing out in stark contrast.
Scheffer's gallery uses a safe way to hang up paintings. With a system of small, steel pincers to grab hold of canvasses and bars suspended from the ceiling to hang them on, there is no need to make holes in an artist's work or the gallery's walls. "The system they have to hang up works is fast and easy," said Pointe Claire artist William Campbell, an oil paintings artist whose exhibition, "More Travels with my brush," was held recently at the gallery. "It's such a beautiful place," he said, praising the gallery's lighting as well.
Campbell's work consists largely of landscapes based on different travels he has made across the world, from countries in Northern Africa such as Morocco to the highlands of Scotland, as well as scenes of Canadian wilderness. "I suppose it comes from the fact that when I was a boy, my father had a job in Pakistan, Campbell said.
Scheffer, an artist herself, said she would hang up some of her own quilts at the end of January. She characterized her work as largely abstract. "It's a way for artists that are not well-known to show their work," said Scheffer of her gallery, explaining that she is open to showing any kind of art.
For more information call Scheffer at 514-695-8249.
BY RAFFY BOUDJIKANIAN