Experimental studio gallery finds success 

White Dog Studio Gallery is performing beyond owner's expectations

click to enlarge Doggin' it
  • Doggin' it

One might expect a slow start for any new Whistler business, let alone an art gallery. Let alone an art gallery in Function Junction.

But after nearly six months, White Dog Studio Gallery owner Penny Eder says business is good and the experience so far has been very positive.

"It's going absolutely beyond my expectations," Eder says.

She opened White Dog in February to provide artists that she represents a space to create and host demonstrations and workshops for people who collect and appreciate art.

The intention was to create more interaction between owner, artist and buyer, offering insight into each artist's creative process, which, Eder says, adds another dimension into each buyer's appreciation of the art.

"They (will) in turn fall in love with the artist even more because everything has a story then," she says. "That has been my original intention and it hasn't really changed since then."

It seems to be working. Last week, she says she had the biggest sales day so far, selling half the gallery.

Eder says that when she first opened, she was nervous that it might not work out financially. She poured her entire life savings into the gallery, and with a slow economy and a host of other art galleries in town, there was a very real possibility that hers might flounder.

"It's like being the new girl at school. I hope everybody is going to like me," she jokes.

At the same time, she knew she had something unique to offer. Rather than selling the art, she's selling the artist. Eder, a ceramic artist herself had worked in other galleries in the past and found a "disconnect" between the artist and the people buying the art, and a "wall" between gallery owners and the artists. She saw a need for more interaction between artist, owner and buyer, and for the gallery to work more as a co-operative.So far, the approach seems to be working. Since opening, her sales have steadily risen, buoyed by regular artist demos and workshops that members of the community routinely participate in.

She represents 30 B.C. artists in all different mediums, including sculpture, paintings, ceramics and crochet mushrooms, courtesy of yarn-bombing enthusiast Hayley Wirsching.

Unlike other galleries, there is no exclusivity of artist representation. Artists can sell wherever they like outside of White Dog, as long as they don't show in another gallery in Whistler.

"A lot of them show in Pemberton or Squamish," she says. "It really is about the artist getting their work out there. Basically, I'm a facilitator for them and they're a facilitator for me."

"We all work together to make it work," she says. "it's sort of a new way of having a gallery, where the artists do their own self-promotion. I appreciate that and I need them to do that because if they're not promoting themselves then they're not promoting the gallery. I do the same for them."

This Saturday and Sunday, local painter Jennifer Zizman will be instructing a two-day painting workshop entitled "Painting Passionate Flowers." On Aug. 9, Roxsane Tiernan will in instruct a handmade paper collage workshop, "Chigiri-E." On Aug. 24, White Dog will host a "Sunsets of the BC Coast" art show.For more information on upcoming demonstrations and workshops, visit www.whitedogwhistler.com

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