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Rock ‘n’ Horror Picture Show

Saturday, Oct. 17 was a unique experience for Haligonians who love art. The second annual Nocturne showcase drew crowds to and from all creative corners of the city for free late-night gallery shows and public exhibitions. North end Halifax was no exception with painters, printers, sculptors and performers using the opportunity to have their work appreciated by as wide an audience as possible.

Enter the Upstairs Apartment Gallery/Rock Garden tag team lineup. Organizing the display of the city’s best known and unknown artists is rapidly becoming the team’s forte. This time things were different, with more than 30 artists and performers collaborating for the “Haunted Gallery” showcase.

“We wanted it to be something ridiculously special,” says Stoo Metz, administrator, curator and promoter for the gallery. “Events like (Nocturne) elevate us from doing an art show in a bachelor apartment to being on par with the rest of the galleries in the city.”

That elevation was forced back in May when the building the Upstairs Apartment Gallery resided in was sold. Its tenants and artists were forced to find a new home. The next month they were back on track after forging an alliance with The Rock Garden, typically a jam spot for local talent and now in its fifth year. The gallery has made use of the space twice in the last four months for gallery shows. With plenty of prior notice, the gallery/Rock Garden duo was able to pull off a perfect ghoul’s night out, complete with black light art, creepy live tunes and jars of rotting fish parts.

Talks within the gallery collective about participation in Nocturne started back in June. Co-ordinating members and gathering submissions took place while focusing on events at hand. Keeping it on the back burner, but always on the agenda was no easy task says Metz.

“It was kind of like our Wrestle-Mania,” the self-confessed wrestling junkie says with much sincerity.
The analogy fits with such a variety of talent to be seen through the steel doors and down the concrete steps just off Cunard Street. Submissions from well known local artists such as Chris Smith and Laura Dawe (Gazette Arts Editor) were featured alongside up-and-comers such as Geordan Moore and Jilldo Lanteigne.

“There’s so much creative talent out there,” says Metz. “We just want to give people a place to express that.”

Personal invites for upcoming shows go out to other gallery operators in the area. Solid connections are being formed, cultivating and strengthening the wealth of creative talent in this great city. The gallery is quickly becoming a resource for these connections – and this is just the beginning. Plans are in the works for a website launch.

All of this growth and continued success fuels the fire of the gallery collective’s spirit, celebrating its first anniversary with an upcoming showcase on Nov. 21. They pass this energy along to their members, who pour in more frequently after each opening. Metz points out that the point never was to make the collective wealthy, but to provide a platform for artists who might not otherwise have one, adding “our victories come when artists sell their work.”

Mindful that the platform doesn’t construct itself, Metz says although he receives a lot of the thanks and appreciation for the efforts of the gallery, there is much more to the picture.

“It’s really got to be put out there that the shows can’t happen without the help of the collective. They’re willing to put a lot of time into the planning and setup. They really do put their hearts and souls into it.”

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