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

Just Posted

Sewage installation to delay drivers along Sooke Road until early September

Construction starts Monday, August 10 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Langford boy wakes up from surgery to find stuffed puppy wearing the same cast

Hospital staff outfitted ‘Eddy’ the puppy to match the young patient

VIDEO: Annual artist studio tour goes virtual on Saanich Peninsula

ArtSea converts popular event to online format with personalized artist videos

Local Flavour: Youth take the lead in Victoria’s Pollinator Leadership Team

Guest writer Thompson Hygge, summer intern with Pollinator Partnership Canada

Flyover at B.C. Leg to commemorate National Peacekeepers’ Day

August 9 marks biggest single day loss of Canadian lives from peace operations

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

Most Read