Commercial Alley Art Gallery

A downtown alley has become a place for artistic and creative expression for street artists.

Back Alley is an Art Gallery

In June 2014, a new outdoor art gallery was established in Commercial Alley to add vitality to the area while retaining the alley’s use by local businesses. Located in the 500 Block of Yates and Bastion Square, the outdoor gallery allows for four, 1.2-metre x 2.4-metre panels, showcasing a temporary art installation annually.

The Commercial Alley Art Gallery is a City of Victoria public art initiative that provides a place for artistic and creative expression by local emerging artists. Previous installations have featured original artwork by Other (a.k.a. Troy Lovegates), Roy Green, Liz P. Dempsey, and Daniel Ellingsen.

"Newtopia" by Kai Choufour, 2017-2018 Installation 

Kai Choufour's "Newtopia" is the Commercial Alley Art Gallery’s fifth installation which will be introduced during the annual Integrate Arts Festival the weekend of August 25-27, 2017. The outdoor gallery is located on the west wall of the Youth Empowerment Society building on the 500 Block of Yates Street.

"Newtopia" is comprised of four, 1.2 metre by 2.4 metre artwork panels featuring colourful shapes expressed with childish grandeur to convey fiction, play, kindness and positivity. Inspired by utopian ideals and 1970s eco- architecture, the artwork depicts four characters: “Spring Fairy”, “Green Future”, “Pink Turtle”, and “Magic Cat”.

Check out "Newtopia" which will be showcased at the Commercial Alley Art Gallery until August 2018.

Meet the Artist
The community will have the opportunity to meet Kai Choufour when he presents an Artist Talk at the Integrate Arts Festival pop-up gallery on Saturday, August 26 from 2:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. at the Victoria Arts Council at the Bay Centre (636 Fort Street near fountain) to launch the installation.

Choufour’s artwork proposal was one of 11 submissions the City received in response to a juried Call to Artists process for emerging artists and artist teams. Choufour received $2,000 and a $250 stipend for shipping the artwork to the location, funded by the Arts, Culture and Events department’s operating budget.

A conceptual artist, Vancouver-born Choufour currently resides in Victoria, BC. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University (2015), has co-directed multiple short-term gallery spaces such as TAG Contemporary (the Emily Carr student gallery) and has exhibited at various galleries in Vancouver. Recently, Choufour oversaw the installation of his first permanent public artwork titled Hide and Seek, a large-scale, steel-plated sculpture in Delta, BC.

2017 Call to Artists

Emerging artists and artist teams residing in the Capital Region were invited to submit proposals for the fifth Commercial Alley installation and to give a talk at an opening reception. The artwork will be showcased from August 2017 to August 2018.

The artwork is to be presented as a series of four, 1.2 metre by 2.4 metre panels, however the artist can cut and reshape the panels within structural limitations.

Proposals were to include a statement of interest, a description of the artwork, a brief artist biography and curriculum vitae, and five images of the artist’s past and current work. If the proposal was to be submitted by an artist team, it needed to include information/samples from each of the members.

The selected artist/artist team will be paid $2,000 and a $250 stipend for shipping the artwork to the location. Installation of the artwork will be provided by the City of Victoria. Representatives from the City of Victoria Art in Public Places Committee and the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society reviewed proposals that met submission guidelines.

Submission Deadline

Proposals were to be emailed to culture@victoria.ca by 4 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Proposals were evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Artistic merit of the artwork proposed
  • Consistency with the parameters established for the competition
  • Appropriateness to the site
  • Technical feasibility – can the work be built as designed
  • Public safety considerations/risk management concerns
  • Vandalism
  • Ability of the artist to complete the work as submitted

 For more information, contact Connor Buchanan at cbuchanan@victoria.ca.

Fourth Installation - Artist Daniel Ellingsen

The gallery's fourth installation was created by Daniel Ellingsen. Coastal Reports stylistically reflected west coast culture through image and text. His thought-provoking artwork featured cut-outs, gold leaf, and texture to highlight his observations of west coast socio-cultural issues and topics, combining references from film and pop culture media. The artwork was exhibited from August 2016 to August 2017.

Born in the United Kingdom and raised in Tasmania and coastal British Columbia, Ellingsen’s work treads the line between playful and irreverent, profound and topical, making his commentaries relevant and full of wit – inviting interpretation. His work has been exhibited in Canada, the United States and abroad.

Third Installation -- Artist Liz P. Dempsey

Liz P. Dempsey’s four-panel artwork featured hybrid, human-animal creatures that were both mystical and regal. The dynamic artwork captured the charged and raw energy of Vancouver Island, offering a rich array of symbols and visual imagery for the viewer to ponder.

Dempsey was drawn to Victoria by the magic of the Pacific North West Coast, and has been gaining artistic recognition around the city. Her work has been featured in many group and individual exhibits, she has been nominated for a Monday Magazine award, created custom pieces for businesses, including the "anime wall" in Metropol Industries Chinatown studio, and is the cover artist in Vancouver’s Mania Magazine summer issue.

Second Installation -- Artist Roy Green

The second installation showcased Roy Green's commissioned artwork, featuring four birds both iconic and indigenous to Vancouver Island; the Great blue heron, the Red-winged blackbird, the Pileated woodpecker, and the Rufous hummingbird. The artwork was unveiled August 2014, timed with the Integrate Arts Festival. Roy Green is a Victoria-based painter, poet and performance artist. He was born in Lethbridge, Alberta and graduated from the Emily Carr College of Art in 1984.

Inaugural Installation -- Artist Other (a.k.a Troy Lovegates)

The inaugural artwork installation by Other (Troy Lovegates) depicted four patterned, black-and-white figures punctuated by bold red shapes. The art was created during the Reclaim the Streets: A Symposium on Art and Public Space, which was hosted in 2014 by Open Space. Other is a nomadic folk artist whose bright paintings cross the globe on the sides of rail cars and appear on walls around the world. He has called many places home, including Montreal, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Toronto, and most recently, San Francisco. (See top image.)