Whitby gallery breathes arts and culture into community life

Photo by Jessica Stoiku

Olexander Wlasenko, curator at the Whitby Station Gallery.

Durham Region is home to many historic gems. The Whitby Station Gallery has a history of housing artistic talents as it reaches its 50th anniversary this year.

“Station Gallery is often compared to a hidden gem that continues to surprise and reveal itself time and time again,” says Olexander Wlasenko, curator at the gallery.

Quite often guests have stepped through the gallery’s doors for the first time after living many years in the region, according to Wlasenko. He considers the gallery to be a great discovery.

“We’re a warm and welcoming cultural hub…[I] just love to have my hand on the creative pulse of the region and beyond with my curatorial duties here.” says Wlasenko.

The Station Gallery’s mission is to connect and educate the diverse communities of Durham through arts and culture.

“The most exhilarating thing for each exhibition is that you learn something that you might otherwise guess at. Learning about another culture,” says Wlasenko. “Our awareness of cultural diversity is a mutual exchange at Station Gallery. It’s a true priority.”

Together We Rise in as upcoming exhibition in February that will showcase artwork for Black History Month.

“This group exhibition will explore Black identity and the personal creative expression of Black Canadian contemporary artists of Afro-Caribbean descent,” says Wlasenko. “I’m currently researching an illustrated art talk that explores the vibrant visual culture of Africa, the Caribbean and their respective diasporic communities around the globe.”

The art talk is called When our Souls Dream, and will show at the gallery February 6

The team at Station Gallery has faced many challenges over the years, but has been able to turn their obstacles into achievements.

“At times I’d worry about something that in the end will turn out alright, and even flourish,” Wlasenko says.

And example of this is the exhibition the Durham College fine art students put on for their first show, which has now become an annual tradition.

According to Wlasenko, the team was scrambling to fill three weeks of open space on a short deadline.

“The Durham College students had work ready… and were able to fill the gallery immediately. DC saved the day… From that DIY popup show, grew a long-standing partnership that’s now in its 10th year,” says Wlaskeno.

According to Wlasenko, a career in the arts can be exhilarating, rewarding and at times challenging. He believes it’s important for young artists to have a diverse set of skills in order to become successful.

“Being an artist is an increasingly diversified skill-set that requires a balance of adaptability, agility, curiosity and above all, creativity,” says Wlasenko. “A life in art isn’t so much a sprint to the finish line… it’s a marathon filled with a life-time of self-awareness and new experiences.”

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Jessica Stoiku is a second year journalism student at Durham College. With a passion for writing, she enjoys exposing the arts and culture stories of people within the community for The Chronicle. She hopes to work for a publication that focuses on human interest and issues on a broader scale.