Wil Aballe: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Today’s Notable Young Professional is Vancouver-based art gallery owner Wil Aballe, who launched his space to provide access to collectors by educating them about notable emerging Canadian artists. What was the inspiration behind the idea? Find out in today’s profile…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I provide access to collectors by educating them about notable emerging Canadian artists via exhibitions and affordable editions.

Why did you start your gallery?
I started the gallery because there was a need for it in Vancouver. A lot of the emerging galleries I followed closely had shuttered, galleries that provided me with access as a young collector to work by young, exciting artists. In addition, a lot of my young and emerging artist friends were making fantastic work without a gallery to exhibit the work.

What was the inspiration for this?
The gallery is run out of my live-work apartment in Mount Pleasant in Vancouver, adjacent to some of the best galleries in the city. There are certain precedents for domestic galleries in Vancouver including The Apartment, which maintains a top-notch, critical program within a small domestic space. In terms of programming content, Blanket Gallery, which played a large role in my development as a collector, is also an inspiration because the directors took such significant risks with their choices of artists and shows.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
The process of developing a show or developing an edition with an artist is the most rewarding. I enjoy the process of creative collaboration and have been fortunate to be able to work with some of the best artists in Canada working right now.

The most challenging part?
The most challenging part is developing new collectors to become interested in contemporary Canadian art. There is still a lot of work to be done to get Canadians to become interested in the remarkable visual arts culture that is being developed within their midst. It really is remarkable but the challenge is getting the word out and educating so that it matters to people.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Ideally, I see myself doing this full-time with a viable gallery, doing uncompromised shows and working with artists I admire.

What does success look like to you?
As I mentioned in my answer to the previous question, a viable gallery, and doing shows that make me proud and happy. There are gallerists whose careers I’ve admired and I certainly think of them when I think of what success in this business looks like, but at the same time I am taking a bit of an unconventional approach with how I deal art, so undoubtedly my picture of success, if it were to pan out that way for me, will look different.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
It has been a short career, yet it has already been filled with memorable working relationships with artists who I admire and never imagined would want to work with me, such as Marina Roy, Matthew Brown, Babak Golkar and Scott Massey. The most surprising thing to occur so far has been an invitation by the folks at Sydney Contemporary art fair in September to participate in that fair with travel arrangements fully taken care of; it was a wonderful opportunity.

Do you have any advice for other young gallery owners or people thinking about getting into the business?
Train your eye before you open, participate widely in your arts community in as many ways as possible, and be confident with your choices. There’s a lot of art out there, so it’s important to have a strong gut feeling.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes, the gallery has been supportive of local organizations in Vancouver such as Art for Life and the Vancouver Men’s Chorus. For the February print launch of “Canadian” by Aurel Schmidt, Aurel decided to donate her artist’s proceeds of $7500 via WAAP to Sierra Club BC, which was extremely generous of her.

What to you is notable?
Notable is living life with balance, passion, compassion and conviction.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
I went to the University of Waterloo for my undergrad, so I should say BlackBerry… but let’s face it: it’s iPhone all the way nowadays.