Sidney-based photographer Helen B. Watt and gallery director Al Kohut show off one the pieces that is currently showing at Sidney’s new photographers GALLERY. It opened Tuesday (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney-based photographer Helen B. Watt and gallery director Al Kohut show off one the pieces that is currently showing at Sidney’s new photographers GALLERY. It opened Tuesday (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

New photo gallery snaps into Sidney with a peak

Al Kohut says new downtown gallery aims to develop greater appreciation for photography

Artists would call it inspiration, others a spur-of-the-moment, but Al Kohut’s decision to stop outside an Sidney store front with a “big ‘for lease’ sign” last month has opened a new gallery this month.

“I peaked in the window and I thought that would make a perfect gallery for photographers,” he said. Weeks later, Kohut has opened the new photographers GALLERY in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue in what used to be a men’s clothing store and an art gallery some 15 years ago.

Kohut’s peak inside immediately revealed the advantages of the space. “This particular space is narrow,” he said.

“It’s like a shoe box, and it has three bays. So it lends itself to three featured artists. And because it is not a huge wide space, everything is visible from a reasonable distance.”

RELATED: Saanich Peninsula artists open their studio doors to public

At the same time, each of the bays offers a level of seclusion that allows visitors to experience the art, he added.

“Most galleries are really intimidating. You can’t relax. There is a little bit more focus here.”

What also drew Kohut to Sidney was the community’s status as an artistic hub. “There are just a lot of opportunities here for artists,” he said.

Kohut enters the gallery business without any prior experience in running a gallery, and by his own admission, with no grand design. “There is no plan,” he said, jokingly.

But he has 50 years of photography under his belt. “I wasn’t a professional photographer by no means, ” he said. “I was an amateur and then I started to sell my works and I became more professional. But that wasn’t my profession. I was a hydro-geologist and geologists take a lot of photos.”

Kohut also has a deep knowledge and awareness of photography as an art form, and one of the goals of his gallery is to raise the profile of photography as an art form.

“I think there needs to be more education,” he said. “Photography can change the world.”

RELATED: Sidney needs new artists for utility box makeovers

The nearby world of Vancouver Island is the focus of the first three photographers — Karoline Cullen, Helen B. Watt and Peter L. Ramos — showing at the gallery from now until Jan. 12. Cullen is showing Orcas swimming close to shore off Galiano Island, Watt presents her photos of the Inside Passage, as well as both coasts of Vancouver Island, while Ramos’ work highlights the western coast.

The spring of 2020 promises to be a visual feast for music fans when the gallery will present selections from the work of US-born Gerry Dieter.

He died in Victoria in 2005 after an iconic career during which he shot the bed-in by then-Beatle John Lennon and his new wife Yoko Ono in Montreal in 1969. Dieter’s pictures, famously, did not get a public showing until shortly before his death.

The gallery will also show photos by Douglas Gilbert, who accompanied Bob Dylan during his heydays as a New York folk hero before his decision to plug-in. LOOK Magazine rejected Gilbert’s work because Dylan looked “too scruffy” for its readership.

“These are two examples where two photographers were un-appreciated at the time,” said Kohut, who sees himself as a facilitator between artists and audience, as someone who can inspire others to advance their own craft.

This point rings through in his comments when asked about the economics of starting and running a gallery for photographers in an age where anyone can take a picture practically anywhere.

“Good question,” he replied. “What are they? That is not the purpose at this point. Whatever happens is going to happen.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)
8 old-growth logging protesters arrested in Fairy Creek watershed Friday

A total of 214 people have been arrested as of June 11

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read