Wil Aballe Art Projects (WAAP) is starting the new year with a bold new move.
Aballe is relocating WAAP to a larger exhibition space, one that is based a bit further east from its former Scotia St. location. WAAP will now be nestled into the the heart of East Van - shouting distance away from the myriad of industrial artist studio spaces like Parker Street Studios and the Mergatroid Building. Proximity to these spaces is but one factor that contributed to Aballe's decision to move his project space.
VIA met up with Wil Aballe last week to catch a sneak preview of the inaugural exhibition at the new space and to find out what the new year has in store for WAAP. Aballe opened his project space in 2013, a decision that added curating, programming, editions and exhibiting to his interest in collecting contemporary art. From its inception, the gallery has maintained a strong interest in emerging Vancouver based art practices. Aballe plans to continue along a similar trajectory and focus, but has high hopes that his new space will allow for even more ambitious projects.
Aballe's tiny former gallery space on Scotia Street presented many exhibition challenges. It was also Aballe's home and therefore accommodated not only art, but also furniture and personal effects. Exhibitions were not only an invitation into a public space, but very much a private home. Large scale works and group exhibits were particularly challenging. His apartment as an exhibition space was successful in that it allowed Aballe to build networks, a collector base, and create strong ties with local artists. Interested in building a network of collectors who want to acquire work for their homes and offices, this apartment setting was ideal, collectors easily visualised the work in similar environments.
Aballe is not the first person, nor will he be the last, to convert his home into an exhibition space in Vancouver. YACTAC Gallery was run out of a house for three years until recently, and the Apartment Gallery exhibited for seven years in a domestic setting. With exhibition space at a premium, there are most likely several other spaces in existence. What was interesting about WAAP's apartment version was that it's miniature size lead to creative ways to show work. Two such exhibitions that come to mind are The Season's Have Changed, But We Have Not and Dream Homes. The former, an ambitious group exhibition that surveyed contemporary flora, the latter an exhibition employing 3D rendering to create new architectural spaces.
Sensing that his apartment and the programming had run through a great deal of many permutations that an apartment space can offer. Aballe set his sights on a new space with a whole new set of exhibition parameters to apply. Located on Frances Street, WAAP is more than quadruple the size of its former space and features high ceilings, a great deal more wall space, and dramatic spotlighting for the art. Several of WAAP's scheduled 2015 artists have begun to rethink their work in this new setting. With more space to explore, the results should most definitely be most industrious.
In addition to the hundreds of artist studios, East Vancouver is home to a multitude of creative small and locally run businesses embarking on a plethora of entrepreneurial projects. Aballe looks forward to getting to know his neighbourhood and hopes to benefit from all this creative energy and connectivity.
Aballe has regularly received inquiries from artists who are interested in official representation, an idea that he has toyed with, but not yet committed to. Weighing the pros and cons of representing artists he hopes to find a way to continue two things: focus on a critical emerging generation of artists in Vancouver, and exhibit challenging work that doesn't always have an exhibition platform. Represented artists may fit into this recipe, time will tell...
Of course, Aballe's primary focus for this week is launching two exhibitions in his new space. Everyone is invited to join him this Thursday!
WIL ABALLE ART PROJECTS - INAUGURAL EXHIBITION
WAAP - 105 - 1356 Frances Street, Vancouver, BC
Thursday, January 29th, 7-10pm
ON EXHIBIT UNTIL FEB 28:
GENTLE GROOVE: ANGELA TENG
Gentle Groove is a painting/non-painting exhibition that features wall based sculptural works made from crocheting strips of acrylic paint into shapes and patterns, and from applying acrylic onto crocheted surfaces. Teng's work references minimalist painting, the materiality of painting, and gives cheeky nods to craft practices. Folded into her show are many dichotomous ripples including art/craft, high-culture/low-culture, painting/sculpture and minimalist/maximalist/op-art aesthetics. Get up close to each piece, the variety of acrylic paint threads that Teng uses are fascinating. Two favourites from the show: Hubba Bubba and Banger.
BECAUSE UNFATHOMABLE: MATTHEW BROWN, MAEGAN HILL-CARROLL, SCOTT MASSEY AND JADE YUMANG
Because Unfathomable is a group exhibition featuring sculpture, photography and painting. The works are interconnected by way of a quote from Henry David Thoreau Walden. "At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable. That land and sea be indefinitely wild. Unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable."