Located just west of Main and Hastings, the Gam Gallery stands out. A storefront space in the bright ACME building, the interdisciplinary creative hub is an artist studio, a venue, a gallery, and a boutique brimming with goods made by local and emerging artists.
On East Hastings, the Gam's a Gem
its inception in 2009, curators Tarah Hogue and Julia Kreutz have crafted an inclusive, supportive space that reflects the community in which it is situated. Hogue and Kreutz have made it their business to maintain a comfortable, inspiring launch pad for emerging artists.
”Our vision for the space has always been to support artists who are just beginning their career,” Hogue says. The lack of accessible cultural spaces in the city, she adds, has made it nearly impossible for up-and-coming artists to hone their skills or become better established.
Their founding vision for the Gam is very much alive in how they run the space today. ”When we opened the Gam... it was right after 2008 when all of the arts funding in the city was getting cut leading up to the Olympics,” Hogue recalls. She and Kreutz opened the space with co- founders Jamie Reid and Jasmine Colette, both talented young artists. ”It became clear that there was a need for spaces for emerging artists in Vancouver.”
The Gam has experienced tremendous success in maintaining a functional gallery and studio space since it opened. But a general lack of arts resources and affordable real estate in Vancouver continue to set the future of the gallery on shaky ground. Hogue and Kreutz point to Downtown Eastside condo development as ”foreshadowing their own doom.”
Despite these fears, the Gam has proven to be an important artist center whose diverse programming is reflective of the unique interests of the artists who access the space, as well as the surrounding neighbourhood. The gallery’s spot in the heart of the Downtown Eastside has been instrumental in cultivating a communal, accepting and socially responsible space that mirrors the energy of the area.
Kreutz and Hogue’s harmonious approach to operating the gallery is part of the reason why The Gam has experienced continued success. The curators’ lack of pretention, their accepting nature, and their inclusive, supportive spirit have positioned the gallery as an important creative and social space within the city.
Moving into 2015, they hope to maintain a strong sense of community and creative support, in addition to highlighting the talent of emerging or underappreciated local artists.
The continued livelihood of the space, however, is dependent on people continuing to visit it. ”To support The Gam is to just be at The Gam—and to help foster a sense of community,” Kreutz says. ”Come to openings, or come to just hang out. We want you here.”
The Gam is open 1p.m. to 5p.m. every Friday and Saturday, or by appointment.