Recent History – 2003
October 29, 2003
By Gary Rusak, Daily News Staff
Tuesday night was a night of celebration for the Dawson Creek Art Gallery.
An impressive crowd came together to mark the 20th anniversary of the current location of Dawson Creek’s own art enclave.
“I was hoping that this would be the result,” smiled Edna McPhail one of the driving forces behind relocating the museum to its current location inside a renovated grain elevator.
She recalled the moment the idea of relocating the elevator occurred to the Park Committee of which she was a member.
“We were just standing there looking at the skyline and we said ‘why don’t we just move the elevator?'” she said.
From that moment on the innovative idea of moving and saving the grain elevator and having an innovative space for the Dawson Creek Art Gallery was born.The 95-foot, 150-ton elevator was moved and less than one year and more than one million dollars later the Art Gallery opened in 1983. It was hailed as an artistic and historical achievement itself and won the 1984 Heritage of Canada Foundation Award of Merit.
“It’s still innovative 20 years later,” said Ellen Corea, the current curator for the gallery. “The people who made the decision where to put the new gallery had the foresight to save the grain elevator as well. It’s something we can be very proud of.”
Although the party, complete with live music, a birthday cake, and many Dawson Creek art community luminaries was meant to laud the achievements of the past, many used the occasion to look towards the future.
“I would like to see an elevator installed one day,” said McPhail who said that accessibility is an important issue for seniors who use the facility. “I would also like to see a permanent children’s gallery. I hope that somebody steps up and uses the momentum from the gallery to keep improving it.”
Ellen Corea echoed this view explaining that in her tenure the gallery has grown, but that it has not yet reached its potential. “We have seen it change from a local gallery to a significant regional gallery,” she said. “We have a number of new projects and have just hired an educational coordinator to help us develop more programs. We are looking at where we want to go in the future.”
Coun. Marilyn Belak also attended the party and was happy to share her thoughts on the importance of the building to the local community.
“It gives the people a place where they can appreciate beauty and talent,” she said. “It shows that artistic ability is a value in the north. It is truly a dynamic and inspirational place.”