Trista Bassett stands in front of the Winnipeg Union Bank building

Trista Bassett stands in front of the Winnipeg Union Bank building

New home needed for Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo

New space is needed with recent sale of Vernon's Winnipeg Union Bank building, where Vertigo has been housed for the past 13 years.

For those who have looked up to culture in downtown Vernon, Gallery Vertigo has offered a place for artistic and creative endeavours for more than a decade.

However, that’s about to change as Vertigo is needing a new home due to the recent sale of the historic Winnipeg Union Bank building, where the gallery has been housed for the past 13 years.

“Since the new ownership,Vertigo has seen its rent double and the rent is about to  triple come January,” said Trista Bassett, the gallery’s current executive director. “We have stayed open to date largely because we have been paying far below market value for rent in our space. The new owner has been incredibly accommodating. Even at triple what we’ve been paying, it’s still under the market value.”

Operated by the non-profit North Okanagan Artists Alternative, established in 2001, the gallery grew out of a small group of local artists who wanted to feature emerging talent and add something different to the creative landscape in Vernon and area.

In the spring of 2002, a core group of those artists rented the second story of the historic Winnipeg Union Bank building at 30th Avenue and 31st Street in downtown Vernon. They renovated it at their own expense to launch what would become the North Okanagan’s first and only artist-run gallery.

Despite its changing membership and the financial challenges that come with running a not-for-profit arts organization, Gallery Vertigo has managed to last.

Artists have continued to work in the gallery’s studio spaces, and many have caught a musical or literary event, an art class or workshop, or have just gone up the stairs to look at the ever-changing art displays in its two exhibition spaces.

Vertigo’s directors and members have until spring before a move from the Winnipeg Union Bank building is imperative and are hoping to find another affordable space to rent downtown.

“Ideally we would like a space with windows for our studio artists who need natural light as well as a place to hold performances and exhibitions. We would prefer that it does not have residential above it.”

The new owner would also need to support the arts, added Bassett.

“We fill a role in the community that other arts organization aren’t filling. We provide opportunities for emerging and young artists. A lot of time, it’s their first time exhibiting in a solo exhibition and we provide them with the space. It’s also a place for artists to work independently.”

Plans are now in the works to preserve the future of the gallery, the most critical of which being Vertigo’s annual fundraiser, Almost Famous.

“This fundraiser will either make or break us,” said Bassett.

This year’s Almost Famous is being held in the boardroom above Century 21’s office at 2907 32nd St., Dec. 5 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Sponsored by Red Truck Brewery, the event will feature both a live and silent auction of replicated masterpieces and other artworks by the community (donations are still welcome), a cash bar as well as live entertainment by local acts Steel Wound, Small Kitchen Chaos and Tanya Lipscomb.

Tickets are $20 and available at the gallery or the Bean Scene.

Gallery Vertigo is also hosting a rescheduled show and sale of pottery donated by the estate of late Coldstream artist Ada Evelyn McMechan (1915-1990). It takes place during the downtown Vernon light up at the gallery on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 1 to 5:30 p.m.