Sidney-based photographer Helen B. Watt and gallery director Al Kohut show off one the pieces that is currently showing at Sidney’s new photographers GALLERY. It opened Tuesday (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

New photo gallery snaps into Sidney with a peak

Al Kohut says new downtown gallery aims to develop greater appreciation for photography

Artists would call it inspiration, others a spur-of-the-moment, but Al Kohut’s decision to stop outside an Sidney store front with a “big ‘for lease’ sign” last month has opened a new gallery this month.

“I peaked in the window and I thought that would make a perfect gallery for photographers,” he said. Weeks later, Kohut has opened the new photographers GALLERY in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue in what used to be a men’s clothing store and an art gallery some 15 years ago.

Kohut’s peak inside immediately revealed the advantages of the space. “This particular space is narrow,” he said.

“It’s like a shoe box, and it has three bays. So it lends itself to three featured artists. And because it is not a huge wide space, everything is visible from a reasonable distance.”

RELATED: Saanich Peninsula artists open their studio doors to public

At the same time, each of the bays offers a level of seclusion that allows visitors to experience the art, he added.

“Most galleries are really intimidating. You can’t relax. There is a little bit more focus here.”

What also drew Kohut to Sidney was the community’s status as an artistic hub. “There are just a lot of opportunities here for artists,” he said.

Kohut enters the gallery business without any prior experience in running a gallery, and by his own admission, with no grand design. “There is no plan,” he said, jokingly.

But he has 50 years of photography under his belt. “I wasn’t a professional photographer by no means, ” he said. “I was an amateur and then I started to sell my works and I became more professional. But that wasn’t my profession. I was a hydro-geologist and geologists take a lot of photos.”

Kohut also has a deep knowledge and awareness of photography as an art form, and one of the goals of his gallery is to raise the profile of photography as an art form.

“I think there needs to be more education,” he said. “Photography can change the world.”

RELATED: Sidney needs new artists for utility box makeovers

The nearby world of Vancouver Island is the focus of the first three photographers — Karoline Cullen, Helen B. Watt and Peter L. Ramos — showing at the gallery from now until Jan. 12. Cullen is showing Orcas swimming close to shore off Galiano Island, Watt presents her photos of the Inside Passage, as well as both coasts of Vancouver Island, while Ramos’ work highlights the western coast.

The spring of 2020 promises to be a visual feast for music fans when the gallery will present selections from the work of US-born Gerry Dieter.

He died in Victoria in 2005 after an iconic career during which he shot the bed-in by then-Beatle John Lennon and his new wife Yoko Ono in Montreal in 1969. Dieter’s pictures, famously, did not get a public showing until shortly before his death.

The gallery will also show photos by Douglas Gilbert, who accompanied Bob Dylan during his heydays as a New York folk hero before his decision to plug-in. LOOK Magazine rejected Gilbert’s work because Dylan looked “too scruffy” for its readership.

“These are two examples where two photographers were un-appreciated at the time,” said Kohut, who sees himself as a facilitator between artists and audience, as someone who can inspire others to advance their own craft.

This point rings through in his comments when asked about the economics of starting and running a gallery for photographers in an age where anyone can take a picture practically anywhere.

“Good question,” he replied. “What are they? That is not the purpose at this point. Whatever happens is going to happen.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria Flamenco Festival goes virtual for 2020 event

The show will go online from July 23 to 26

Metchosin bird card project finds its wings

On display at Metchosin ArtPod from July 10 to 12

UVic research team creating virus-resistant washbasins for post-pandemic world

Civil engineer Rishi Gupta hopes basins will be installed in public spaces

Walk for Peace takes a virtual turn for Victoria Hospice

Residents can still register for Gordy Dodd’s 11th annual fundraiser

United Way Greater Victoria launches Hi Neighbour program in Esquimalt

Feedback sought from residents about funding for micro community projects

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read