Top Forty Over 40: Art gallery owner also a mentor
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.”
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.