ROVE is the perfect way to wind down the week and get lost in a new neighbourhood while soaking up the evening sun and unique ambience of Mount Pleasant. The free art walk was started in 2013 by Jamie Smith to showcase hidden gems of talent and support the artist community.
Smith is a local multi-media artist who graduated with a BEd in Arts Education at UBC. Her transition from educator to full-time artist was not straightforward, nor was it easy.
“I always dreamed of being a professional artist ... but I never knew how. As an artist you have so many roles, acting as an accountant, doing marketing, and making the website.”
A difficult part of the job, Smith explained, is “being a saleswoman.”
“Artists spend a lot of time making the work. But it’s really scary to put yourself out there and try to sell it. Most artists don’t think of themselves as a sales person, but to be an artist, you have to be.”
Smith started ROVE to relieve some of these pressures for independent artists and curators by creating a supportive community. Smith added that “[ROVE brings] everyone together and everyone pitches in to help promote and get people out there.”
ROVE has its attendees moving through the neighbourhood, navigating alleyways, cafes and lofts in search of small galleries and studios. A map with these locations is thanded out at the beginning of the tour and with a bit of orienteering and I-spy agility, everyone should get to these stops no problem. Parts of the walk included touring Mnstr Gallery, South Main Gallery, Gene Studios (a loft of the Triangle Building), Kafka’s Coffee and the historic James Black Gallery. Exploring the James Black was like opening a geocache of beautiful, diverse and novel items that included glittery wall to wall installations, a soap fountain, watercolours and ceramic cats.
ROVE is an art walk and treasure hunting adventure in one. The purpose of ROVE, according to Smith is to “have the public see that these spaces exist ... I love it when people say ‘I didn’t even know this was here! I didn’t even know this artist was in our area!’”
Up at Gene Studios, painter Rebecca Chaperon believes that a key component of ROVE is the relationships that are formed between the public and these artists. She explains, “I think that for the general public, it really makes [art] accessible. There’s smaller spaces, it’s not as fancy as a gallery, so people feel a little more comfortable. It’s surprising how much when you go to a gallery ... you [can] feel really out of your element. So this is very welcoming and more chill and everyone is having a good time.”
A previous version of this article misspelled Rebecca Chaperon's name as Rebecca Chapman. The Ubyssey regrets this error.