Artemisia was an art gallery at 156 east 7th ave in Mount Pleasant from July,1992 until July, 1994. It was created by Lisa g and her friend, Rebecca Turner.
They initially only wanted to live in this storefront but the owners would only rent to a business venture… so on the spot the two friends decided that they would open an art gallery. They had no idea what they were doing. They had no funding. The building itself was breaking down. But they had 24-year-old energy, a passion for the arts, a strong feminist attitude, and an interest in building community.
The building at 156 East 7th still exists but has been refurbished and has a decidedly gentrified vibe. Lisa g and Rebecca Turner did not create the cool, stark, stylish places that live on Main Street today. They were eclectic, they had tiny tools and they did it themselves, or they asked for help from friends and family. They cared about art yet didn’t want to be tied down by how a gallery ‘should’ be run.
The two friends had a dot matrix printer (no internet and social media!) and a landline… and relied on friends who worked in printhouses or artists to print their own invites. They had free coffee and a keen interest to engage with everyone who walked through the door.
Although Lisa and Rebecca initially wanted a female-only exhibition space, they loosened up this rule to invite any artist whose work they liked and they wanted to work with. They sold magazines, poetry, fanzines and chapbooks. They also participated as artists, exhibiting in the gallery’s group shows! When you write the rules, anything goes. Being opinionated women there came backlash, but they persevered by being transparent with their struggles.
Artemisia got a fair amount of press for the time it was open… Lisa and Rebecca weren’t averse to stunts and their own performances to get attention. The building fell further into disrepair and when the plumbing became unmanageable they closed the gallery doors. Looking back, Lisa g feels proud of how they made space for artists, for women, for community. They had a wind chime tied to the front door to let them know when someone walked into the gallery and they always, always walked out to greet the visitors and offer them coffee and thank them for taking an interest in a small part of the Vancouver art scene.
This digital story captures a bit of all this…
Lisa g Nielsen is an artist/filmmaker living on the Unceded Territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (sometimes known as Vancouver). She is interested in work that has historical reference, social relevance & where possible, humour. She works independently, with other artists and within communities. She is a founding member of Vancouver’s Iris Film Collective, which promotes the creation and sharing of analog film – single channel, expanded, sculptural and installation. She is also the producer/mentor of Our World which supports First Nations youth to create self directed short films. Lisa g’s work screens internationally and has won awards.