Eclectic Gallery changes hands

New owners Chris and Anne-Louise Taylor carry on the gallery’s distinct local medley

Eclectic Gallery Owners John and Vijaya Taylor pass the torch to new owners this spring after running the gallery on Oak Bay Avenue for nine years. Chris and Anne-Louise Brooks moved from Alberta last year and jumped at the opportunity to own their favourite Oak Bay gallery.

“[Anne-Louise and I] had been in a few times and bought a few things. I saw a for sale sign up one day and started thinking about it, and decided to go for it,” Chris Brooks said, days after the gallery’s exhibition reception and transitional meet-and-greet. Regular visitors express concerns about whether the gallery will change its eclectic aesthetic or turn out longtime artists. John Taylor says that will not be an issue.

“We have over 100 local artists in the gallery and when we did the transition to Chris and Anne-Louise, we asked all of our artists if they wanted to take their things back or if they wanted to stay,” Taylor said. “All but one of them stayed.”

He says the transition will be relatively seamless. “It’s like stepping into a gallery that’s all set and running.”

The goal remains the same: to showcase local art in a wide range of styles and mediums – a concept which caught on quickly in Oak Bay when the Taylors first opened.

“It was the right idea at the right time, and it’s been really wonderful the way word of mouth has reached the community,” Taylor said. “That’s really what sustains a small business: having local customers and local clients.”

Since the launch of Eclectic Gallery, the Taylors have practiced thoughtful art selection. While the gallery follows its namesake with jewelry, prints, pottery, and more, a high degree of care can be found in the selection and display of items. “We’ve really expanded over the years. One of the areas we’ve expanded is jewelry – we have a wonderful collection of contemporary jewelry now, and we just got notice that we were nominated for our jewelry in an English wedding planning magazine,” Taylor said.

Through the end of June, collections by contemporary printmaker Avis Rasmussen and encaustic and mixed media artist Alanna Sparanese are on prominent display.

“We visited Avis’ studio and she must have three hundred pieces of art that are framed,” Taylor said. Twenty of Rasmussen’s prints hang this month, covering themes like women in jazz and the summer Olympics. Rasmussen’s small edition reduction linocuts are carved in reverse and printed one colour at a time on BFK Rives rag paper.

Sparanese’s collection hangs opposite with encaustic scenes on board. Sparanese brings her admiration of nature, the movement of birds and her surroundings to life through the 2000-year-old technique of layering bees wax, resin and oil pigment and setting her compositions by blow torch. Taylor says the gallery always appreciates having her work on display. “She’s a really accomplished artist. People see it for the first time and come back and start making collections of her work because [the pieces] group together so well.”

Visit the works of Rasmussen and Sparanese through June and new owners Chris and Anne-Louise Brooks at Eclectic Gallery, 2170 Oak Bay Avenue.

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