DAVID Karasiewicz, the artistic director of the Definitely Superior Art Gallery has a different view of what constitutes gentrification, but we agreed that the addition of the gallery to the stretch on Algoma between Red River and the Marina Overpass could have similar benefits as they have had with the block that defines the downtown North Core — namely adding a bit of needed dynamism.
Yet the street still has that not-quite-dead look of the offshoot strip of Algoma which needs some sprucing up. A line of trees down the strip would be magnificent. And some paint. The gallery will definitely take a central cultural role along the strip and bring with it an arts cache. With Bliss Cafe, the Body Mind Centre, a children’s dance studio, lawyers offices, Safeway, LCBO, Stan’s Pizza, McDonalds, On Deck, another little gallery space and easy access to Prince Arthur’s Landing, the couple square blocks is pretty active.
This awkward strip, seemingly at cross purposes with the liquor store and addiction treatment centres is not quite “street” in the American sense of the word, but is diverse enough to have a veneer of culture. So gentrification would be a good thing. And everyone who knows has apparently agreed to call the area the Warehouse District.
The former Cumberland Cinema Centre at 115 Cumberland St. N., with its five cinemas, was last active as a repertoire cinema where low budget and foreign films were brought to Thunder Bay by the North of Superior Film Association. Sadly the space had to be given up and for ten years sat dormant, but now it has been magnificently renovated.
Now the space itself has an amazing new interior. Beyond the long wall of doors is a foyer with a high ceiling, perfect for installation pieces and large works of art. Off the foyer are routes to storage, workrooms and office space. The long hall that stretches past the former entrances to the theatres is itself big enough to double as a proper gallery space, with the possibility of creating little viewing stations where steps lead to individual theatres. And then there are the unused theatre spaces just begging to be reused in some artistic manner. Herein lies even bigger opportunities.
As of April the gallery will be operating with the Die Active Art Collective and the Neechee Studio, the diverse youth wings of their operation. Def-Sup says they are advancing their “programming initiatives in new and exciting and positive directions.” In turn this will “continue to push the boundaries of contemporary art and spark critical dialogue through the diverse range of artworks that represent the best of regional/ national/ international artists.”
With an incredibly successful track record, garnering provincial awards and attracting great talent the gallery may soon act as a vibrant hub for youthful activity and creativity.
Make sure you get to the grand opening next month on Friday, April 3 at 7 p.m. for their inaugural exhibition, 20-20 Future Vision.
Duncan Weller is a children’s book writer and visual artist. His work can be seen Saturday mornings at the Country Market and at his gallery and studio at 118 Cumberland St. You can write to him through his website at www.duncanweller.com.
(This column originally appeared March 5, 2020)