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‘Secret Alley Gallery’ to transform sometimes ‘grimy’ gap into artistic space

Click to play video: 'Edmontonians behind alley art hope to alter downtown for the better' Edmontonians behind alley art hope to alter downtown for the better
WATCH ABOVE: For many people, dark and dingy alleys aren't somewhere they want to hang out. But some Edmontonians think the spaces are being wasted. Kendra Slugoski has more on a project designed to open both eyes and minds – Jul 29, 2016

It’s a place you would least expect to see the next masterpiece, but it could be hanging in an alley near you.

The founders of a temporary art installation called Eyes on the Street hope the one-day pop-up gallery will evolve into something permanent. For now, the group is accepting submissions from artists until August 8, and the gallery will showcase the 23 cm by 23 cm pictures on August 27.

“We, coming in after the fact, really love these kinds of spaces,” Chris vander Hoek, co-founder of Secret Alley Gallery, said.

“It’s kind of a forgotten vestigial space left over after the construction of Fox One.”

READ MORE: Whyte Ave mural alley to highlight talented local artists 

vander Hoek moved into the new condo tower on 102 Avenue and 104 Street last fall, and often uses the narrow dingy space between the Fox Tower and Japanese Village restaurant as a walking short-cut.

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The space is an emergency exit for the condo and is required to stay open, but at times, the narrow gap is a go-to for sketchy drug activity, he says.

Ryan Hotchkiss owns a business on the block and has seen what has been left behind.

Hotchkiss believes the art gallery will bring even more personality to one of Edmonton’s most popular urban streets, also known at the 4th Street Promenade.

The new Rogers arena is taking shape at the end of the block and tower construction surrounds 104 Street.

Leslie Bush, another organizer with the Secret Alley Gallery, believes the cut-through between two buildings has potential.

Sprucing up the alley will make the city more accessible, said Bush, and make art accessible as well.

One wall will be painted white and lighting will be installed for the gallery. Bush thinks the gallery will attract a lot of viewers because the street will already be packed with crowds taking in the downtown farmer’s market.

Secret Alley Gallery lighting test. Supplied

“We’d really love to see people just take a look and maybe be surprised and a little bit amused and amazed by a really, really great and small and achievable project.”

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As beautiful as the new construction is downtown, vander Hoek thinks it’s neighbours who develop character, in turn making the city more safe and interesting.

“I guess it’s always about creating this sense of whimsy and wonder and sense of discovery.”

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