Commercial Alley Art Gallery

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

Commercial Alley Art Gallery Call to Artists

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 between 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, Daniel Ellingsen, Kai Choufour and Austin Clay Willis.

The City of Victoria is now looking for the seventh istallation of artwork to be displayed in the Commercial Alley Art Gallery. The emerging artist or artist team selected to present their work will be contracted from April 2019 to August 2020. 

Selection Criteria:

Artist's proposals will be evaluated by the Selection Panel on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Artistic merit of the artwork proposal
  • Consistency with the parameters established for the competition
  • Appropriatness to the site
  • Technical feasibility
  • Public safety considerations
  • Likelihood of vandalism
  • Ability of the artist to complete the work as submitted


This competition is open to emerging artists and artist teams residing in the Capital Region, including the Gulf Islands. The following disciplines will be accepted: visual and multi-media. Please note that artist teams must share the total commission awarded.

Artist Fee

The successful artist or artist team will be paid $2,250 in addition to a shipping stipend of up to $250. 

Submission Requirements

The deadline for submissions is 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Submissions must be uploaded electronically at Hard copies and emailed submissions will not be accepted.

For detailed submission requirements and further background information, please carefully read the Call to Artists package below.

Drop-in Info Sessions

Three informal drop-in information sessions will be offered to provide artists/artist teams an opportunity to meet with City staff to learn more and ask questions about the three public art opportunities. Complimentary refreshments will be served.

Friday, March 22
2.30 - 5.30 p.m.
Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (Boardroom)
930 Balmoral Road

Tuesday, March 26
4 - 7 p.m.
Victoria City Hall (Esquimalt Nation Room)

Friday, March 29
9 a.m. - noon
Songhees Wellness Centre (Boardroom) 
1100 Admirals Road

Questions/Answers from the Drop-In Sessions

  • Q: Can I apply for more than one Art Call?  A: Yes
  • Q: Can I supply low-res images in the application package, and submit high-res images if selected?  A: Yes
  • Q: Where are the bus shelters for Commute? A: Along Yates Street, from Broad Street to Fernwood Road.
  • Q: Will the Selection Panel pick more than one image from artists for Commute? A: Possibly.  It will depend on the art submitted and the Selection Panel's preferences.  They have the option to choose a suite of images or as individuals.
  • Q: For Commute, should the submitted images be landscape or portrait orientation? A: Portrait
  • Q: For Commercial Alley, will the coating applied to the boards affect or limit the materials used to create the art? A: Likely not, but the coating may cause the colours to shift.
  • Q: For Commute, can I submit digital images of 3D objects, such as sculpture or jewellery?  A: Yes. 
  • Q: What happens if I'm submitting and the 4:00 pm deadline passes? Will I be able to complete my submission? A: No.  The portal will automatically close at 4:00 pm. 

 For information, please email

Sixth Installation - Artist Austin Clay Willis

Austin Clay Willis' original artwork now adorns the Commerical Alley Outdoor Gallery. His artwork for the four-panel 1.2-metre by 2.4-metre installation utilizes bright colours, bold lines, and shapes to create fun, yet intense energy.

The four panels work together as one installation, taking into account the red brick wall by pairing it with bright yellows, pinks, and other colours, as well as incorporating similar reds within the works themselves.The paintings juxtapose intense, convoluted patches of line and pattern with solid blocks of colour, allowing for the image to play with space and composition in interesting and dynamic ways. The artworks will be available for viewing until August 2019.

Originally from Piedmont, California, Willis moved here to attend the University of Victoria’s Visual Arts Program in 2015. He tends to focus on bright colors and bold lines in pursuit of energetic positivity, love, and happiness. Currently Willis is working in a more abstract fashion, using shape, space, colour and line in order to play with spatial illusions and the pictorial shifts between foreground and background.

Visit Austin's website,, for progress pictures and more information about his artwork.

Fifth Installation - Artist Kai Choufour

"Newtopia" was 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 depicted four characters: “Spring Fairy”, “Green Future”, “Pink Turtle”, and “Magic Cat”.

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.

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.


For more information, please email