Who is Ernie?
That is the question that Angela Bandelli, who operates and maintains the Sidewalk Gallery at the Rolgear Building on Railway Avenue in Ashcroft, is asking. Since 2011, Bandelli—who with her husband Rob Suter owns and operates Rolgear—has been displaying works by local artists in the windows of the building, with a new display going up on the first day of each month.
Usually Bandelli is dealing directly with the artist involved. However, this month the display features works by an artist known only as “Ernie”, several of whose paintings Bandelli purchased at the Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store two or three years ago. She liked the works, and admits that “I find the ‘mystery artist’ exciting.”
The idea for the Sidewalk Gallery came after Bandelli and her husband moved into the building on Railway in 2009. “We had these beautiful window fronts, and I wondered if we could do something with them.” Suter designed gates for the windows that could be opened and closed and upon which artwork could be hung, and Bandelli began looking for artwork to display.
“It just has to work,” she says of the artwork that goes up. “I like to try new and different things. It’s open to anybody.” Sometimes she approaches artists, and sometimes artists come to her, and there is no cost to the artist to have works displayed. Bandelli also does all the work of installing and displaying the pieces; artists merely need to drop their work off by the first of the month.
The display space is not restricted to artists working in two dimensions; Bandelli is open to crafts as well. “January was textiles, with quilts by Alice Durksen. If someone had beautiful old fossils I could have them in there with other things, as long as it fits. I’d love to have some beautiful Native art.”
She tries to make the displays fit with the time of the year. “At grey times I like to have colour, and in July and August I like to have something not so overpowering and more touristy.” Most of the works are for sale, with Bandelli taking no commission and not charging artists anything to display their works.
“Selling isn’t a big deal; that’s not the point. People see the artwork while they’re walking by or waiting for the bus, and I know it’s appreciated by a lot of people. We get a lot of positive feedback. And it does look good in the evening with the lights; the building is very bright.”
Bandelli is a long-time member of the Ashcroft Arts Club, and works in welding/sculpture, with her often whimsical creations on display at the annual Fine Art Show and Sale in April. “I try to take the time to show something there each year. But the gallery is really my hobby.”
Any artist who is interested in having her or his work displayed at the Sidewalk Gallery can contact Bandelli at email@example.com. And if you have any information about Ernie, let her know.