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Kamloops' first commercial art gallery to jazz up downtown strip

Kamloops resident Mark Kopp stands in his art studio above the new gallery he is opening called KOPP Art Gallery and Wine Bar.
Kamloops resident Mark Kopp stands in his art studio above the new gallery he is opening called KOPP Art Gallery and Wine Bar.

Nightlife in downtown Kamloops is about to get more eclectic as the first commercial art gallery in the city is opening this week, featuring a wine bar and 1930s theme. 

“I’m creating spaces throughout the gallery with antique pieces, taking it back in time, there’s a bougie feeling there,” said curator and established artist Mark Kopp. “You’ll be able to take your wine and walk through or just sit down and have a conversation, it gives you time to absorb the paintings.”

At the new KOPP Art Galley and Wine Bar guests can view artwork by established and up and coming artists from Kamloops and beyond, in a wide variety of mediums.

It is a place to relax, mingle and escape the bustle of life, providing a different kind of nightlife experience than what is currently offered in the city.

“Kamloops doesn’t have a space to go and have wine and conversation with someone where it isn’t a noisy restaurant or bar. We’re keeping hours late, so there's stuff to do in the evening.”

Kopp is an oil painter from William’s Lake who has owned galleries there in the past. He moved into an upstairs downtown studio in Kamloops a couple of months ago and when the commercial space below him came up for rent, he grabbed the opportunity.

“I came here and saw the population and no commercial galleries and thought there was a need,” he said. “I started visiting artists in their studios, there're a lot of established artists in this town and up and coming artists, I thought we needed to do something.”

He met with 25 artists in their studios around town to see their work and artistic processes, and will be showing a variety mediums including three dimensional, paintings and metal works.

KOPP Art Gallery and Wine Bar in Kamloops is pictured during renovations.
KOPP Art Gallery and Wine Bar in Kamloops is pictured during renovations.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Mark Kopp

Kopp took over the renovation and design of the new space himself, creating a 1930s era atmosphere with antique lighting and furniture. Brick runs for 75 feet along one wall of the gallery, adding a unique look.

After pouring wine at openings and events in galleries in the past, Kopp decided to make a wine bar part of the daily gallery experience. Coffee and tea will also be offered.

“I’m in touch with three local wineries,” he said. “I want to offer a red, an Italian I like and French one for sure. There will be a non-alcoholic option for people coming that don’t drink so they can just blend in with the crowd.”

Kopp started doing art at a young age, fitting it in around his jobs. He was a paramedic for many years while running galleries.

“An artist is who I am, a job is what I did,” he said. “Art gave me a good balance, it’s therapy for anybody whether that’s painting or working with your hands, it’s an outlet that takes away stress.”

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Kopp creates abstract paintings, but he never gives them a name.

“Abstracts are emotionally driven so when I paint them, I’m feeling a certain way,” he said. “They’re done in one studio sitting because the next day I’ll feel different. If I gave it a name like ‘tension’ and someone else looks at it and sees ‘comfort’ I don’t want to influence that. Someone names it when they buy it.”

When he commissions a piece, Kopp goes to a prospective buyer’s home to get an idea of their style first, what they are looking for, and what colours he can pull into a painting. 

“People go to galleries and look at a piece under controlled lighting and they love it, then they take it home and put it on a wall and it doesn’t look the same,” he said. “Now I meet them in their homes to see how much light is coming into a room, what the space looks like, what the colours are. I create an original piece that becomes part of their home.”

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Kopp already has the gallery reserved for fashion shows and corporate events. Next year he plans to take samples of the artists’ pieces to an expo in New York where he said roughly 40,000 people will wander through.

“To sit there and have a conversation with someone, with a painting on the wall in front of you, you’ll kind of fall in love with a piece. You’ll go in for a glass of wine and see the art piece of couple times and really start to connect with it. Art should move you in that way, it should be something you can’t stop thinking about.”

The grand opening is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 3 at 250 Victoria Street.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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