Top Forty Over 40: Art gallery owner also a men­tor

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By STEVE MACNAULL

Ste­wart Tur­cotte is sur­rounded by mag­nif­i­cence daily.

“Just look around,” he said, swiv­el­ling his head in Ham­ble­ton Gal­leries, the Cana­dian fine art es­tab­lish­ment he owns at 1290 El­lis St. in down­town Kelowna. “This is not your typ­i­cal work­place. This is not at all like an of­fice. We have 100 im­pact­ful paint­ings beau­ti­fully dis­played on the walls.” Such is Tur­cotte’s work en­vi­ron­ment. It’s also Joshua Peters’ work­place. The young man has been with Ham­ble­ton Gal­leries for just over a year and nom­i­nated his em­ployer for Kelowna Top Forty Over 40.

“Ste­wart is a real pil­lar in the art com­mu­nity,” said Peters. “He’s a great men­tor and a great per­son to work with. He has a true de­sire to pass on his knowl­edge, not just to me, but to all art lovers.”

With a few ex­cep­tions, Ham­ble­ton Gal­leries dis­plays and sells only orig­i­nal Cana­dian fine art. That means the price points can range from $500 for a small piece to $350,000 for a large paint­ing by a fa­mous artist.

One of those ex­cep­tions is lim­ited edi­tion prints by the late singer-poet-artist Leonard Co­hen. A very lim­ited run of 100 prints of Co­hen’s Paris Again line draw­ing with a splash of wa­ter­colours have been printed.

Ham­ble­ton is sell­ing prints for $4,000 and find­ing buy­ers not only in Kelowna, but around the world. In fact, Ham­ble­ton has a world ex­clu­sive to sell Co­hen’s prints.

Ham­ble­ton pre­vi­ously or­dered prints through a Van­cou­ver gallery, but when it closed a few years ago, the world ex­clu­sive trans­ferred to Ham­ble­ton.

With the in­ter­net, Ham­ble­ton can dis­play and sell art to any­one on the globe.

That’s been par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for Co­hen prints be­cause, since the artist’s death in 2016, de­mand for his art has peaked world­wide.

Some of the other art cur­rently hang­ing at Ham­ble­ton in­cludes paint­ings by Daphne Od­jig, one of the Na­tive Group of Seven, and Peach­land pain­ter Ken­neth T. Har­ri­son, who does styl­ized land­scapes.

In all, Ham­ble­ton has about 1,000 works of art rang­ing from paint­ings and sculp­ture to ce­ram­ics and photograph­y.

How­ever, only about 100 paint­ings at a time are dis­played at the gallery due to space con­straints and a de­sire to show them off in a cu­rated fash­ion.

The re­main­ing art is cat­a­logued on­line at Ham­ble­tonGal­leries.com and could see ro­ta­tion to the gallery in the fu­ture.

Tur­cotte him­self is a multi-faceted artist who paints, sculpts, makes jew­el­ery and ce­ram­ics and takes pho­to­graphs. But that work has taken back­seat lately to his run­ning of the gallery.

“Own­ing the store takes away from my cre­ative work,” he said mat­ter-of-factly. “But in re­turn, I get great plea­sure from help­ing other artists to keep work­ing while I mar­ket their pieces and ex­pose their work to clients."

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school in Kelowna in the the 1960s, Tur­cotte went on to UBC Van­cou­ver to take four years of fine art cour­ses.

“I didn’t grad­u­ate, which wasn’t as im­por­tant in those days as learn­ing as much as pos­si­ble about art and tech­nique and then tak­ing off to Europe to visit ev­ery museum and gallery pos­si­ble,” he said.

As an artist, Tur­cotte al­ways had ties to Ham­ble­ton Gal­leries with name­sake Jack Har­ri­son, who owned the busi­ness from 196373, Gor­don and He­len Wil­fert, own­ers from 1973-88 and Doug Lee, the owner from 198899. Tur­cotte took over the gallery in 1999 and kept the name.

“Now in its 55th year, Ham­ble­ton is the old­est gallery in B.C. out­side of Van­cou­ver,” said Tur­cotte. “Plus, it hon­ours Jack, who founded the gallery in 1963 when peo­ple thought he was crazy to be open­ing a fine art gallery in Kelowna.”

Peo­ple’s taste in art has cer­tainly changed in the past six decades. Smaller, more re­al­is­tic paint­ings used to be the norm with a cou­ple or sev­eral pieces in ev­ery room.

“Nowa­days, peo­ple want big­ger, more colour­ful paint­ings,” said Tur­cotte. “And peo­ple are buy­ing few pieces be­cause homes are open plan and have fewer walls. So when they do put some­thing on the wall they want it big and to de­liver a punch.”

Tur­cotte helped in­te­grate art into the in­te­rior

Ed­i­tor’s note: Ev­ery week in this space with Top Forty Over 40 we pro­file a busi­ness per­son over the age of 40 who is hav­ing a great ca­reer and giv­ing back through men­tor­ing and vol­un­teer­ing.

The se­ries is pre­sented by BDO Ac­coun­tants and Con­sul­tants, Kelowna Cham­ber of Com­merce and The Daily Courier. Nom­i­na­tions are now closed. An event hon­our­ing all nom­i­nees will be held June 21 at the Delta Grand ho­tel.

de­sign of the new In­dige­nous Win­ery in West Kelowna. He de­signed a chan­de­lier, tast­ing bar and wall sconces with Na­tive mo­tifs and pic­tographs.

Tur­cotte also vol­un­teers on the com­mit­tees that pick out art to be dis­played at Kelowna Art Gallery and Kelowna Gen­eral Hospi­tal and its can­cer clinic and can­cer lodge.

Tur­cotte is only con­sid­er­ing a ‘soft’ re­tire­ment where he stays in­volved in his “fun” busi­ness.

“This isn’t a phys­i­cally de­mand­ing job, so I can keep go­ing and go­ing,” he said. “Plus, the older I get, the more con­nec­tions I have with clients and artists, which is good for both.”

STEVE MACNAULL/The Daily Courier

Ste­wart Tur­cotte, 69, the owner of Ham­ble­ton Gal­leries is the 33rd nom­i­nee for Kelowna Top Forty Over 40. He’s pic­tured here in front of the four-foot-by-four-foot paint­ing Black Tusk by Peach­land artist Ken­neth T. Har­ri­son.

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