Barton and Leier gallery relocating to Nanaimo

Sherry Bezanson writes about the relocation of the Grant Leier and Nixie Barton's gallery in her Community Art Showcase column.

For the past 18 years

For the past 18 years

If you are really quiet as you drive down Decourcy Drive in Yellow Point this week, you might hear the sound of tears from visitors paying their last respects to Grant Leier and Nixie Barton’s beautiful garden gallery.

For 18 years, this venue has blessed the community with the special and quirky sense of the fantastic in both the garden and the gallery spaces.

On any given day over the past two decades, visitors could find Grant Leier in the gallery, quick with a warm smile and welcome to those who take the journey to his and Barton’s venue.

For the community, the gardens and gallery have been a retreat, a respite from the everyday life along the Island Highway. Following an urge, drivers could easily find themselves turning off the main pavement vein of Vancouver Island and heading east into the blackberry and ocean spray bush-lined roads and out to Decourcy Drive for a breath of inspiration.

For artists or lay people alike, this gallery and garden space has been a haven to remind people to embrace their inner eccentric, particularly for those taking themselves too seriously.

In both environments, the viewer is embraced with colour and unusual ways of using ordinary items in appealing displays.

Although uniquely their own, both Grant Leier’s and Nixie Barton’s art is a mix of bold colour, found objects and often sentimental and whimsical designs that are sure to leave the viewer enchanted.

If you haven’t yet made the trek out to the gallery and gardens, this is your last week to treat your senses.

On Mon. Sept. 3, the gates and doors are closing in Yellow Point, and the gallery is relocating and expanding to the downtown Nanaimo gallery space on Chapel Street. The idea, when the Nanaimo gallery opened in 2010, was to have a year-round gallery double the size of the existing space.  With renovations complete, the transfer of art and funky gifts is well underway.

Leier will continue to be present in the new space, and appreciators — and there are lots of us — can find him on Saturdays downtown.

The new location will house the same unusual, eclectic and retro-styled goods, fair trade and imported items, plus a symphony of fine art by Leier, Barton, glass and mixed media artist Tammy Hudgeon and impressionist and still-life artist Margaret Ofieshe.

Visitors from across Canada and the U.S. will deeply miss the gardens that often inspired and provided a place to engage with the inner muse.

A community of support and allegiance has grown over the 18 years, and their absence in Yellow Point will be deeply felt.

Leier noted that 18 years ago, the vision was to create something visually pleasing to them both.

“The grounds were bare when we arrived and the gardens gradually emerged; pieces were added on over the years as inspiration and intrigue struck,” he stated.

And indeed it appears that they were successful in that vision. Everywhere one looks in both the garden and the gallery are little details that draw visitors in by their uniqueness, unexpectedness and eccentric flair. It is these details, and a deep sense of harmony, that keep people coming back.

“I’ll really miss the regulars, those that come by every year; our garden gallery takes determination to find. We’ll miss those that have supported us and taken that extra time to drive to Yellow Point to find us.

“It is the right time to embrace this change and create a new phase in our careers and lives. A huge heartfelt thank you to all of you that have made our experience here over the years a wonderful, mutual exchange,” says Leier.

But you won’t need to go far to find them. Both Leier and Barton have faith that their followers and appreciators will make the transition to the newly-renovated and enlarged space.