Tell me about the Pendulum Gallery and what is does.
The gallery evolved out of an agreement between the City of Vancouver and the original owner of the building to provide a public cultural facility when it was constructed in 1986. First envisioned as a performance venue, a moveable wall and display case system were added in the mid 1990’s, at which point the space became focused on the visual arts and the Pendulum Gallery was born.
Our focus is twofold : to open up the programming to allow for outside groups or individuals to mount exhibitions and to put together a number of gallery-initiated projects and collaborations. Here you can see shows you might not normally see in a gallery setting – public art projects, historical photos, fashion, graphic, architecture and urban design, little-known or underrepresented artists and arts communities from the region.
I see the Pendulum Gallery as a public-facing, non-traditional space with a plurality of audiences with a range of art gallery experiences – some people may wander in to have a quick look , or come across the gallery as they visit downtown – others are dedicated art people who come to the Pendulum to see a particular show. It is important that we make the experience engaging and welcome to all.
When did you get involved?
In 2006 I was approached by the City and was asked if I was interested in developing and implementing a vision for the space. At that time, I was working as a landscape architect and I was also helping run my wife’s gallery, the Tracey Lawrence Gallery, in Vancouver. I started working with the Pendulum as their curator in 2007.
As I became more involved with the Gallery, I recognized there was potential, not just as a curatorial opportunity but also the range and scope of possible exhibitions. I got to understand the role of the gallery in the community as an important cultural facility and the opportunities to shine a spotlight on lesser-known artists who may not have had much exposure, but who are doing interesting work.
In 2010 I started working with Architect Marco Simcic to explore what could be done to transform the Pendulum into a cutting-edge exhibition space with flexibility to mount a range of exhibitions and displays. The design and budget required the approval from both the Board of the Pendulum Gallery and the City of Vancouver.
This took quite a long time as there are many stakeholders and the display system had to function in multiple ways. We were also exploring some new ideas of how the gallery systems could be updated and utilized effectively. This included an earth magnet hanging, RRIF wireless security, moveable walls, flexible storage systems and dedicated and programmable lighting. It took until 2015 to complete design and construction.
What is your role as curator?
I act as the program curator, and curator of selected exhibitions. Curating the program entails collaborating with the broader arts community in Vancouver, incorporating these groups and organizations into our programming whenever possible. We work with major arts organizations – Arts Umbrella, Capture Photography Festival, East Side Culture Crawl as well as artists groups and artists with less formal affiliations. We’ve also opened our programming to include pop-ups in conjunction with commercial galleries from around the region who provide interesting curated exhibitions that appeal to our public while supporting the private gallery component of the Visual Art ecosystem in the City.
Interspersed with these shows are 3-4 exhibitions that I curate each year. These may be one, two or more person shows. Sometimes they may be topical – such as Mercy Mercy Me, an exhibition on artists responses to climate change from 2022. Or based around a theme, such as Holding On, a photography show dealing with Vancouver’s constantly changing urban fabric, from 2021. I particularly like two person shows as you can get an interesting dialogue going between the artists, and space to show a good number of works from each artist.
My curatorial approach is less about imposing my ideas, it’s about looking to see what’s out there, sharpening those ideas and collaborating with artists to bring out the best of what they’re doing.