Art in the Street

September 2, 2017
Marleen Morris and Laurie Gray
Marleen Morris from UNBC's Community Development Institute and Laurie Gray from the Ice House Gallery in Prince Rupert were two of the proponents behind the 3rd Avenue Art Project in Prince Rupert.

Prince Rupert’s Third Avenue got a sharp new look this summer as it hosted British Columbia’s longest art gallery.

Through a partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia’s Community Development Institute (CDI), the Ice House Gallery and the Tribal Resources Investment Corporation (TRICORP), locally produced art was displayed from building windows all along the downtown Prince Rupert thoroughfare.

Launched July 8, the 3rd Avenue Art Project featured work by dozens of local artists in storefronts from Second Street to Fifth Street. The paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, carvings, sculptures, jewlery and much more will remained on display until the end of August.

“Sprucing up Third Avenue is a great way for local artists to demonstrate the contribution that the arts and culture sector can make to the community,” says Laurie Gray, Ice House Gallery Vice-President. “Having tourists and residents stroll along Third Avenue to view the art will contribute to the economic vibrancy of the business district and to the quality of life in Prince Rupert.”

Local artists benefit by having their work prominently displayed and much of the art will be for sale through the Ice House Gallery. The gallery will also accept submissions for pieces of artwork on display.

The project comes during a busy year for tourism in the community with 25 cruise ships carrying approximately 17,000 passengers expected to call upon the North Coast community this season. With so many tourists milling around Prince Rupert, the 3rd Avenue Art Project is a natural attraction to boost pedestrian traffic, which can lead to more people visiting local businesses.

The 3rd Avenue Art Project did more than beautify the street; it also provided employment opportunities for young people who will help set up and maintain the gallery and provide interpretive tours for visitors. It employed five youth through TRICORP’s Aboriginal Skills, Employment and Training program.

“TRICORP is very pleased to be a partner in the 3rd Avenue Art Project. We are very happy to be able to support five Aboriginal youth in gaining experience cultural economy,” says Jacquie Ridley, TRICORP chief operating officer. “This sector is rapidly expanding, particularly for First Nations artists, many of who are attending the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art in Terrace.”

The project would not have been possible with the support of building owners, who are opening up their window space. The art will not just be on display in stores, but also in some vacant buildings, potentially making them more attractive for future tenants.

“The 3rd Avenue Art Project is a wonderful example of community economic development in action,” says Marleen Morris, CDI co-director. “Bringing together the Ice House Gallery, local artists, TRICORP First Nations youth and local businesses, we have been able to launch this unique and innovative project. The UNBC Community Development Institute will continue to work with the arts and culture sector to grow the creative economy in Prince Rupert.”