Must-Visit Art Galleries in Gastown, Vancouver

Matthew Keyte

The Gastown area of Vancouver has the reputation of being something of a haven for bohemians. Located on the south side of Vancouver harbour, the area is packed with restaurants, nightclubs, and artists’ studios and galleries. The range of styles represented by the Gastown galleries is huge—everything from traditional and contemporary Inuit to antique Asian and African artwork is displayed. Here are the best galleries worth a visit.

Choboter Fine Art

Situated on Alexander Street is Choboter Fine Art – the exhibition space devoted to the work of the painter Donald Choboter. Choboter started life in business until the 1960s when the turned to art and began training as a painter, experimenting with different styles and approaches until he found his particular mixture of Realist and Impressionist elements. Choboter Fine Art showcases his work from the 1970s until present day and in doing so offers a rare opportunity to watch the style of an artist develop and mature. Much of Choboter’s work begins as a drip painting, which he then builds realistic imagery upon.
Choboter Fine Art, Alexander Street, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada,+1 604 688 0145

Inuit Gallery of Vancouver

The Inuit Gallery of Vancouver was established in 1979 as a place to display the work of master Inuit craftsmen and artists from the Pacific Northwest Coast. The gallery has established a tradition of showcasing the finest aboriginal art from Canada by both established and younger artists. Located on the corner of Cambie Street and Water Street, the gallery stands in the heart of Gastown close to the famous Gastown Steam Clock. Visitors here will encounter Inuit sculpture, drawings and prints that often focus on natural imagery such as fish, bears, moose, and the landscape itself. Recent exhibitions have displayed sculptures from artists from the Kitikmeot region—the area from which the great Inuit sculptor Karoo Ashevak hails.
Inuit Gallery of Vancouver, Cambie Street, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada, +1 604 688 7323

Dorian Rae Collection

The Dorian Rae Collection showcases Asian and African art that was collected by the owner Dorian Rae over decades of travelling and living around the world. The collection includes ancient artifacts from West Africa and Southeast Asia. Dorian Rae has supplied many pieces to leading museums in Canada and lectured in galleries and on television. You will find African masks, headdresses, and sculptures from the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Zaire, and Tanzania; and Buddha images in wood lacquered with gold leaf that date back as far as the 17th century from Myanmar, Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand. The collection also displays Indian textiles and jewelry in silver and gold from the 19th century.
Dorian Rae Collection, 410 Howe Street, Vancouver, Canada, +1 604 874 6100

Gam Gallery

The Gam Gallery on East Hastings Street is a gallery, studio space, and meeting place for Gastown artists. Set up in December 2009 with an aim to promote the work of emerging artists, the gallery holds monthly exhibitions, music events, and film screenings and has played a key role in major arts events such as the Olio Festival, Vancouver Art Walk, and Live Performance Art Biennale. The gallery has recently exhibited the work of the Vancouver-based photographer Louise Francis-Smith and the curious work of Michelle Weinstein titled Mars Pamphleteer—a mixture of invented history and geology and real photography taken from space exploration missions to form an alternative storyboard.
Gam Gallery, 110 E Hastings Street, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada,+1 778 235 6928

James Tan Gallery

The James Tan Gallery is similar to Choboter Fine Art in that it showcases the work of one particular artist, in this case the Chinese painter James Tan, whose distinctive style was heavily influenced by the Lingnan School of Painting that developed in the first half of the 20th century. Tan started out as an artist in Singapore in the early 1970s and refined his style in Taiwan and San Francisco. He has subsequently taught at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the National Museum Art Gallery in Singapore, and the Vancouver Academy of Art. His paintings are held by many private collections including those of the Emir of Bahrain, BP Petroleum, and the Penang Museum in Kuala Lumpur.
James Tan Gallery, 437 Columbia Street, Vancouver, Canada, +1 604 677 4082

Spirit Wrestler Gallery

The Spirit Wrestler Gallery on Water Street was established in 1995 as a place to feature work by contemporary artists from the aboriginal communities of the Northwest Coast region, as well as Inuit artists and Maori artists from New Zealand. The Spirit Wrestler Gallery aims to highlight key developments in aboriginal art, the use of new materials, new interpretations of older problems and concerns such as shamanism and cross-cultural exchange. The gallery also produces catalogues and monographs on exhibited artists. Most recently the gallery exhibited work by Inuit artists from the Cape Dorset region of Baffin Island.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery, 47 Water Street, Gastown, Vancouver, Canada, +1 888 669 8813

Audain Gallery

The Audain Gallery is the newest of the three galleries at Simon Fraser University. Established in 2010 and based in the Goldcorp Center for the Arts on West Hastings Street, the gallery is named after Michael Audain, a leading patron of art connected with the university. The Audain is strongly focused on contemporary work and shares the building with the Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts. The gallery exhibits work by contemporary artists, including students, and plays host to leading international art figures for exhibitions, talks and tours.
Audain Gallery, 149 W Hastings Street, Vancouver, Canada, +1 778 782 9102

Unit/Pitt Projects

Formerly the Helen Pitt Gallery, Unit/Pitt Projects is a non-profit center for the encouragement and promotion of experimental and innovative contemporary art that has a social or political purpose and engages with public concerns and issues. A combination of gallery and studio space, the projects also broadcasts radio programs that feature discusions of artists’ work and readings from important texts. The exhibition space holds curatorial residences, screens documentaries on artists, and displays the work of artists working in the studio. Tenants include literary groups, artists and designers.
Unit/Pitt Projects, 236 E Pender Street, Vancouver, Canada, +1 604 681 6740

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