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Gallery founder committed to exhibiting work of unheralded artists

Community ProfileGallery founder committed to exhibiting work of unheralded artists

Recognizing and showcasing artists who normally wouldn’t have a platform to show their art, has been one of the major reasons why Katherine Pickering founded the Paris Bohemian Gallery five years ago.

Pickering, who is an artist herself, began her creative journey, by working on projects ranging from pottery to murals and other large-scale projects in high school.

However, Pickering eventually found her passion for discovering and promoting artists that weren’t either established or recognized.

“I didn’t go to school for art, [so] a lot of my focus is on intuitive art…that’s my wheelhouse. So many artists are dismissed because they aren’t trained, but they have so much talent,” said Pickering.

In five short years, Katherine Pickering has successfully maintained her vision for not only promoting unheralded artists in the community but also developing partnerships with other businesses to create events that bring the arts like music to the public. Photo courtesy The Paris Bohemian Gallery.

Before devoting herself to the arts full-time, Katherine was a chef and went on to take a hiatus to raise her family before embarking on the idea of opening a gallery.

“The gallery opened about five years ago, in the winter of 2018. It was facilitating a need; because there was no place for [these] artists to be recognized. I was fulfilling a need to show emerging as well as young artists,” Pickering continued. “Many of them were moving into the area and I wanted to give them a place to show their creative voice. There were not enough venues to support them.”

Pictured here is Katherine Pickering holding her ‘Good Times in Brant’ award from (left to right) David Bailey, Mayor of Brant County; Larry Brock, MP of Brant County and Will Bouma, MPP for Brantford-Brant. Photo courtesy County of Brant.

At the start, it was difficult for Pickering, but she persevered and the grand opening reflected a positive reaction from the community.  

“I did speak with people outside the area and worked with the Art Gallery of Ontario. I wanted something legitimate and done right, but there was no direct county support at that time, and people told me that the gallery wouldn’t work in the area. I got fuel from that,” explained Pickerin. “In our first year, we opened…in the middle of a horrendous snowstorm. But we ended up filling our gallery body to body, and [we had] a line of people that waited to come in. It was an extraordinary grand opening! We showed 17 artists that time, with various expertise and [different] mediums.”

The Paris Bohemian Gallery features artists who normally wouldn’t have a place to showcase their work to the public. Pickering has featured many young and emerging artists during the last five years. Photo courtesy The Paris Bohemian Gallery.

Pickering reinforced the focus on finding and promoting unheralded artists.

“We are not looking [for] award-winning artists, we want to show untapped artistic talent. We have already shown over 500 artists [and] the youngest has been 11 years old, another one was 15 years old,” she said.

Nevertheless, Pickering has broken through and has become an integral member of the downtown business community in Paris as well as going beyond her gallery’s four walls to bring different forms of art, including music, to the community.

“I am Vice Chair of the Downtown Paris BIA and I am part of the Tourism Advisory Committee [County of Brant.] I want to help shape how our community could be. I just keep on telling people I have skin in the game…doing things in the community like an open mural art project on Broadway Street in Paris,” Pickering continued. “We have been putting together street jams…making live music accessible for everyone through the BIA. I want to do as many projects and events as possible and get as many artists [out there] to the community, outside the gallery.”

Along with the unique art being shown at the Gallery, it has also been a draw for many visitors across Ontario and around the globe because of its warm setting and sense of community. Photo courtesy The Paris Bohemian Gallery.

Pickering has also collaborated with other local businesses to promote the arts.

“We did something called Hemingway Day. It was not only a day to celebrate this literary icon, but it was a way of getting people to celebrate art.” Pickering continued, “We also had a promotion with the Arlington Hotel because they have a ‘Hemingway Room,’ where a winner would get a night’s stay there,” said Pickering. “We also worked with the Ebb and Flow Forest School. An artist came in for a week and worked with a group of five to 11-year-olds. It was memorable; [to] bring art to these kids. It was a way to nurture them and stimulate their creativity,” said Pickering.

Since it opened its doors in 2018, The Paris Bohemian Gallery has featured works from over 500 artists. It is located on 27 William St., in Paris, Ontario. Photo courtesy The Paris Bohemian Gallery.

Pickering’s vision has continued to resonate with the local community. Her gallery has become a key attraction for visitors from across Ontario including Barrie, Toronto, London, and abroad.

“We have had many international visitors [who have been to the gallery] and we have sold art to them, and shipped it out to them. That is something magical…a small-town gallery with local artists, reaching out across the planet,” Pickering explained. “We have continued to build relationships with many visitors and businesses. This is our voice and our signature of what we want the community to be.”

Pickering has been preparing for a busy year ahead and is always on the look to build new relationships to promote the arts across mediums.

“I want to bring things like theatre groups and live music to the forefront [and] more collaborative creative projects and [I] plan on doing more in the gallery…I love to see more arts and culture, in our streets and parks.” Pickering continued, “We have accomplished a lot and it’s been an interesting journey; I want to blaze as many trails as possible.”

The Gallery also features a shop along with space to accommodate pop-up weddings and other special events on the premises. Photo courtesy The Paris Bohemian Gallery.

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