New art gallery brings life to street

NEWTON – One man’s detritus fills a storefront space on 137th Street, and people are pretty excited about it.Dirt-stained passports, rusted tools, a battered real estate sign, an embalmed deer head – all there for the viewing as part of "Gross Density Parcel," an exhibit pulled together with great speed for the opening of AgentC Gallery Thursday evening (July 23).The new "pop-up" gallery is devoted to the kind of contemporary art that excites some and may puzzle others."This is exactly what we’ve wanted to see in Newton for a very long time," said Jude Hannah, a founder of the community group ReNewton, at the exhibit opening."This street has such potential, and this is just fabulous – a wonderful art space, some amazing art."For "Gross Density Parcel," 10 artists sifted through a small mountain of debris at a vacant lot in White Rock, resulting in an intriguing mix of sculptures, films, photographs and multimedia works curated by Debbie Westergaard Tuepah and Rhys Edwards, the AgentC Projects leads.The artists began visiting the site back in March, said Polly Gibbons, a South Surrey-based artist."It was like an archeological dig trying to find out about this one man’s life, and it kept raising more questions," Gibbons said. "Like, what happened here? Why is this man’s passport and cancelled cheques in the ground? Why are the (photographic) slides of his children buried in the earth? It was quite exciting."Artist Carlyn Yandle made a giant "Charm Bracelet" from rusted bed springs and assorted old tools, including a machete, saw, grinder and wood plane.The exhibit curators first met with City of Surrey officials about six weeks ago."It was all kind of a perfect storm, with the support of the city, a great group of artists, the curators," Tuepah said.The city will pay close to $11,000 for the lease, insurance and marketing of the galleryspace over the next six months, according to Sheila McKinnon, Surrey’s manager of arts services, with additional funding possible in the next budget."The city," added Tuepah, "has been open-minded enough and forward-thinking enough to understand what kind of impact culture has on a community – particularly a community like this that has had some negative things happen over the past year or so. I think culture really has the ability to transform an area like this."In a related project, as part of Surrey’s "cultural corridor" concept, nearby storefront windows will soon be transformed with art installations, Coun. Judy Villeneuve told the Now."I’m very thrilled about it because these are all local artists with a gallery to now call their own," Villeneuve said."Gross Density Parcel" is on view until Oct. 1 at the gallery, located on 137th Street just south of 72A Avenue. More details can be found at Agentcprojects.com.

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