Local art on display at Uniprix

Lorraine Briscoe 

Over the last few years, you have likely stopped at some point to admire the artwork in TBL Uniprix’s store front. What is less visible is the initiative and dedication of the volunteers that go behind running this program which offers free exhibit space to a different local artist every month. It all started with pharmacist Jean-Marc Belanger’s idea to use the window display for something beautiful instead of unattractive publicity. He approached Michel Gamache of Art Lab studio d’artistes, in Brome Lake, to see if he was interested in using the space to display his art, and Michel accepted. Soon the idea took on a life of its own with other artists wanting to display their art and local artist Ursula Kofahl Lampron stepping up to be the first coordinator. “I see it as part of the health services I provide,” says Mr. Bélanger. 

Professional as well as amateur artists are eligible. All different kinds of visual arts have been on display and to date no artist has been refused. The window is booked until April 2023. “With opportunities to exhibit being limited during the pandemic, local artists were especially appreciative of this free space. Jean-Marc has a big heart,” says Knowlton artist Susan Pepler. 

Local artist and owner of Hors-Cadres, Isabelle Daval, who has been coordinating the program since November 2020, says the program “runs all on its own”.  But that is hardly the case. At the beginning of every month Isabelle (sometimes with her husband Marc Côté) helps one artist take down their display and helps the new one set up. This is all done in one day so that the window is never empty. 

Because the window can heat up the installation sometimes involves some problem solving as was the case with the March display of Stephen Hayes’ pastel portraits. With some trial and error, a solution was found.  Another volunteer, Claude Ledoux, built the shelving which is being used for the Hayes’ display. A heartwarming community effort goes into this wonderful program for our artists, and by the looks of it, it will continue to thrive. 

Artists interested in knowing more about the program should contact Isabelle Daval at 450-242-1908 or info@hors-cadre.ca