Gallery 59: where are you?


Gallery 59 is apparently no more. Post Christmas 2014 I peer into the gloom of another pop-up display of quirky, interesting, shabby-chic crowding the white-walled spaces of what I’ve always known as Gallery 59, on Ninth Avenue, Tauranga.

In Summer the Avenues of inner Tauranga get that tarseal heat and smell of urban areas world-wide. The scrawl on the window of the cafe bakery across the road, tells me their ambiance and delicious goodies are not available until days into January 2015. I park with ease and impunity in front of what was the street-frontage window of the late Gallery 59.

2014 saw the departure of Lightwave Gallery from Totara Street, Mount Maunganui to an online format. Sited on the principal roadway into Mount Maunganui in a professionally set up space, with diverse and interesting art and artisan creations Lightwave Gallery still felt their future was on-line rather than on-street. While I know unforseen personal circumstances have played a hand in directing the future of Gallery 59 it is a tragedy that this little jewel of a space will not be showing work in the future. ARTbop has loved some of the out-there exhibitions hosted by this Gallery space and always enjoyed the company and input of Lynette Fisher, Gallery 59 curator and Don Banks, Director of Prestige Framing (the parent of Gallery 59).

I’ve written before about the importance to a vibrant and culturally thriving community of commercial creative spaces and galleries. While it is “nice” to have The Incubator in its repurposed corrugated iron shed within the Historic Village at 17th Avenue and The Cargo Shed on Dive Crescent, Tauranga as a community needs more than this.

Since mid-2014 ARTbop’s Diane Hume-Green and I have been checking out spaces in which a regular arts market (that’s a regular covered space where creatives can cheaply and easily display and exhibit their work and offer it for sale). We’ve visited Church and community halls in and around Tauranga. You’d be amazed (or pleased) at how many community halls operate as churches on Sunday mornings and the diversity of use of Church halls by other organisations.

What do we want? Remember what the old Cargo Shed used to be – it was a large, space, available as a regular weekly marketplace for emergent and/or part-time creatives. It was an arts market. Trestle tables and displays of varying professionalism and quality. It was badly lit, freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer. But, it was cheap and it was accessible to local creatives.

The gallery venues offered by Creative Tauranga’s Community Gallery and The Cargo Shed are different from this. What we were looking for was an indoor equivalent of the local Artists Society sales of work at Coronation Park.

We like to talk about “the fabric of society” and “vibrant communities” and “public art”. Art markets contribute to all of those things.

And while you’re thinking on that – Tauranga needs cheap and accessible performance/jamming spaces. Know of anyone with a spare warehouse or shed where intermittent loud noise would not be an issue? Contact

Rosemary Balu


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