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ICYMI: Squamish's beloved Brackendale Art Gallery relaunches with a creative splash

‘This place is going to be magical’: How the BAG is revitalizing tradition by merging its strengthened arts and culture mandate with its heritage.

Everything old is new again. 

In terms of its appearance, it is pretty much the same Brackendale Art Gallery (BAG), only fresher and more polished—as if it went on vacation, got some good sleep, got some sun and exercise, ate good food, and is back looking and feeling better than ever. 

The Brackendale Art Gallery: Cafe and Culture Centre (see, the same name, with a slight rebrand), has reopened. 

The refreshed mandate is to become even more of a community, arts and culture hub for Squamish.

The first events were held the weekend of March 22, and the calendar for the coming months is loading up quickly.

Trivia nights have started, a workshop is on the schedule, and the Daily Café is open this week. 

Co-owner Jessica Rigg said there's a "full breadth of arts programming" too. 

On April 4, there will be a free public event, The April Show Opening Reception—the first art show since its reopening. 

Jon Rigg, Jessica’s partner, has done much work behind the scenes on the renovations. He says many changes made during the months-long closure are behind the walls and below the wood floor, where the 50-something-year-old building was brought up to 2024 building standards. 

The co-owners, which also includes Adrian Blachut, and a crew of devoted helpers, have worked tirelessly for several months, navigating construction and red tape hurdles to reach this point.

Now, among a laundry list of other upgrades, the building has a commercial-grade kitchen, a new accessible washroom, and a modern sound system.

There are new gutters, better drainage, new stairways, arches, stone pathways, and railings.

Heritage highlighted

But the changes have highlighted rather than muted the place's unique charm, which was born from former owners Dorte and the late Thor Froslev.

Turn a corner, and there is a wooden carving that looks remarkably like Thor, dusted off and put on display. 

Artistic metalwork has been uncovered and installed in new railings made of repurposed wood, continuing the former owners' tradition of upcycling.

The Casting Wall of Faces has been cleaned up, and the famous white unicorn has its full horn once again and has been repainted. 

The art gallery upstairs is opened up, using what was once the Froslev's private living quarters to create a bright, unique space. 

The deck upstairs has tables and chairs and a new railing. It displays the unique glass jar wall that was previously seen only by friends invited into the personal space. 

Jessica said with a laugh that Blachut finally gets the rooftop deck he always wanted at his former Zephyr Café downtown. 

The caravan Thor lived in while he was building the place more than five decades ago sits at the back of the east garden, watching over the entire facility. 

Perhaps someone will be able to convert that caravan into a display for folks to enjoy, Blachut said. 

There’s still more to do and plans the owners are excited about, including opening up the former chapel for classes and kids' programming. 

’Going to be magical’

The rebuild and relaunch have been no easy task, acknowledges Blachut, but the labour pain phase of birthing the new BAG is mostly behind them now. 

"Every time I've done this—I have done it a couple of times now—every time at this point, I think that I'm never going to ever do it again ... and then turns into, ‘This place is going to be magical,’" he said.

"We're excited to show everybody all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that went into this."

It takes a community

The owners will continue to work with Trickster's Hideout to co-ordinate events at both venues.

When the planned first show, The Paperboys, on March 16 couldn't be held at the BAG because it wasn't quite ready to be open, Trickster's stepped up and held the show.

And after Surf Hat's show on Friday, a shuttle will take attendees to Trickster's for an after-party.

"It's nice to have two arts venues that work together to provide a wide breadth of locations and activities,” Jessica said.

The owners noted how touching it has been to see the number of people who pulled together to help the facility get to this point, from individuals to builders Blue Water Concepts to suppliers, District staff, and even other local business owners who offered advice and support.

Even on social media, Jessica noted that the comments have been supportive through any timing setbacks.

But, now that the work is done, the venue is open, and the calendar is filling up, it is up to people to make it thrive.

"We really need people to show up," said Jessica.

Blachut added, "Everything's going to be opened up. And the more that we have these community spaces, these places for people to hang out, and the more they're used—the more a boon—the more they become viable and possible for everybody else. If we could set that standard, that would be great."

While they all have ideas about what they want to host and do at the BAG, the owners say they continue to want to hear from the community about what individuals would like to see there. 

"We're open to ideas," Blachut said.

The facility's owners said it has a talented and solid core staff and is hiring more folks. (Reach out to find out more.)

Further, those who are able, can also help out and get perks through the BAG's membership program.

"I'm just really excited to see this place ... have lots of cool, creative, flourishing things happen out of it. So when people come by, they're excited … to put their little mark on it," Jon said.

Keep up with all that is happening at the BAG on its refreshed website, and Facebook, and Instagram pages.