Pinawa Art Gallery – Focus on Local Organization – Issue #131

May 2023

For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features Pinawa Art Gallery, a prominent arts organization in the region, with members from Bird River, Lac du Bonnet, and other surrounding areas.

Starting on July 14, Pinawa will begin celebrating its 60th anniversary and, in honour of the event, the gallery will be opening a new exhibit. To mark this occasion, WRAC would like to give readers a brief background of the gallery. It is a non-profit organization run by artist volunteers, and has a volunteer board of directors, including the  gallery manager.

In the late1970’s, Pinawa Art 211 began as an ad hoc group of artists with Vivian Thomson, teacher and art specialist from Whiteshell School District, initiating the project. Over four decades, the organization  has grown to include Pinawa Art Gallery and the Art Educational Centre for artists in the Eastman area.

In 2013, the gallery moved into the W.B. Lewis Centre, and relocated to a larger room in 2015 as the number of artists increased. The space was subdivided into two display areas, and the Art Education Centre serves as a separate area for classes, mentoring, and the pottery group. These days, the facility is open four days a week every month, except January.

Within the Lewis Business Centre, some artists have set up their own private studios. This building has hosted several exhibitions by PAG members, fulfilling a requirement for a designation as a “professional artist,” to be recognized by Manitoba Arts Network.

Every year, the Pinawa Art Gallery holds its Christmas “Artisans’ Sale.” In the summer, it supports the town’s birthday celebrations with some artists taking part in the Indoor Market, while other artists greet visitors at the gallery. In August, PAG provides one of the many locations on the Boreal Shores Art Tour. Also, Pinawa’s Solo Store supports PAG with a mini-display of members’ work near their office area.

The space is open to the public, free of charge. Artists interested in membership must apply to the gallery, work as volunteer one day each month by rotation, and pay an inclusive annual fee to belong to both Art 211 and Pinawa Art Gallery.

It has an area where visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee, with snacks for sale, including treats from Morden’s Chocolates. Tables and chairs are available for a game of bridge, knitting instruction, or just a quiet contemplation of the incredibel art found in this beautiful facility.

Brenda McKenzie, a longtime PAG member and frequent volunteer, said, “I read the gallery’s comments book and found two words used often: ‘Lovely’ and ‘Amazing.’ Former Pinawa residents return or Winnipeggers use it as a day trip destination. It has become a ‘must see’ when in town, with visitors from Lac du Bonnet to New Zealand. The Gallery is a great success!”

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