This is a story of innocence. And courage. And possibly chutzpa. And a LOT of hard work! Here we are (Chris Weingarth and Karen Gimbel) in 2010, just before we made a big leap in our lives.
We were happily living in the downstairs of Karen's parents' house in Calgary. Karen was making art, and working part-time in the family business. I (Karen) answered the phone one day, and it was Evonne Smulders calling. She asked if I could be interested in buying the gallery and my life said YES! Happily Chris concurred, and we became partners in business. And 6 weeks later, on June 1, 2010, we were the new owners of the gallery!
Here are Karen, Neil Liske, and Evonne. Their shared history through the past few decades is one of the ways that everyone has stayed connected. Evonne represented Neil's work (he's a ceramic artist) and Karen had lived with Neil in the 90s (he's her daughters' "other father").
And as the river continues to run to the sea, and time goes by, here are Evonne and Karen today in the gallery! We are both now "seasoned" in the business of running a gallery in a small town in southern Alberta (each of us with our different eras) - and we are still working together to support local artists in our region in many different ways. See Evonne's pottery behind us - and one of her mugs (lower left shelf above Karen's hand in the photo) says "Do Epic Shit". Isn't that fitting?
Perhaps, if you're reading this, you are the next in this lineage of gallery owners. We are proof that you don't have to have "done it before" nor have extensive experience in the realm of "art"...
Also - we thank you - all of you who have been part of this story: artists, patrons, supporters who spread the word, friends who bring their friends, and any of you reading this story. We could not do any of this without you and your ongoing participation, love and enthusiasm for the creative spirit.
My feeling is that the fine art and fine craft in the gallery space is part of the heart and soul of Black Diamond now. As the shoe repair business and Woo’s General Store was to the early oil and gas development in the province, so our arts organizations are to Alberta’s diversifying economy. I believe that the gallery will continue to thrive as this “small town” grows.
(Coming soon - a link to Evonne's story on her blog - check back here soon!)
And here is our Bluerock family on a recent (and very exciting) visit to Jeff deBoer's studio in Calgary!
l-r Desta Davies, Karen Gimbel, Annika Clennan, and Shelly Faulkner
With thanks to Gary Clennan who shot this stunning photo in early Spring 2018 (before the window boxes were planted with new flowers for the summer)!
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