Designer Jeff Martin opens Vancouver’s newest contemporary art and design gallery with a model that benefits makers.
By Rachel Gallaher
IDS Vancouver—the largest design show on the West Coast of the United States and Canada—wrapped up its 2020 run yesterday, but at least one participant, Alpenglow Projects, is sticking around for the long haul. Opened on October 1 and run by Jeff Martin of Jeff Martin Joinery and Excavated Vessels, Alpenglow Projects (AP_) is a contemporary design and art gallery located in a wing off of Martin’s workshop in the Parker Street Studios, Vancouver’s oldest art-studio-specific building.
“Alpenglow Projects is a new platform which exists to illuminate the apex meeting of natural sciences and craft,” Martin says. “As both an avid collector and designer of objects I have grown really fatigued by fairs, so much so that they almost feel like a necessary evil to engage in. And I've heard it from the attendee side as well. But with retail struggling too, it left me wondering how to pursue marketing activities. I decided to open a gallery for designers and collectors alike.”
Working with a hybrid gallery/studio/shop model, AP_ will have a roster of officially represented artists and designers from around the globe and will host up to four shows a year showcasing their work. There is also an online gallery and e-commerce platform. According to Martin, since it’s not a traditional boutique that he would have to staff (it also isn’t located on street level and the rent is affordable, he’s able to, “pass along a really healthy split to the designers. All of my savings from not going the traditional bricks-and-mortar route can flow back to the artists.”
As both a designer and a collector, Martin is endlessly curious about the materiality of objects. “I often question the nature of the elemental materials I work with,” he explains. “What makes a material valuable? What gives a material a cultural relevance? How can I physically or chemically manipulate materials into new forms? How did this material come to exist, and what will it be in time? I am primarily concerned with the Ontology of things, and I decided to represent other artists and designers who analyze and reflect on the same nature of things in our world.”
He cites three of AP_’s designers, Caterina Moretti (Peca), Henry Norris (New Format Studio), and Lukas Peet (ANDLight), as an example. All three have used stone as a core material for objects that the gallery sells, but the end products all vary in style, color, shape, etc. “Their resolve is so massively different because of their different perspectives on the world,” Martin continues. “There's a beautiful stillness present when you get to understand why all three of these designers chose stone to work with, but [each had] such a different attitude to their approach with the material.”
While the roster of artists and designers includes a healthy dose of Canadians, Martin has also tapped creatives in Mexico, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Joshua Tree. For him it’s more than just offering a room of beautifully curated goods. As a designer himself, he understands the challenges of trying to make a steady, successful career in the design industry. Part of the mission of AP_ is to help other designers along that path while allowing them to maintain their artistic integrity.
“We want more resources to ultimately flow back to the designers and artists, and so our split with designers is way more favorable than standard retail,” Martin says. “I’d like to help contribute to their careers, and for our designers to feel supported to make challenging work and be a bit more insulated from designing ‘market-driven’ work. I want them to be free in a creative sense, because they are financially supported.”
For a full list of artists and designers available through Alpenglow Projects, or to schedule an appointment, visit the website.
All images courtesy of Alpenglow Projects.