I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson has seen a lot of growth since opening in November 1995.
That means business is going well, but Johnson isn’t as excited about sales as she is about helping her community. Employing more staff means more opportunities to hire local workers and give inexperienced staff useful training that can jumpstart their careers.
It also means a greater awareness of traditional and contemporary northwest coast artists.
“Sharing and showcasing our culture is so exciting. We love to chat with everyone who walks into the gallery,” Johnson says.
An increase in demand has been great for artists too.
“Some of the artists we worked with when we opened in 1995 are so successful now that we can’t afford their artwork! It makes me so proud,” Johnson says.
These are some of the things I-Hos Gallery does to build community in the K’ómoks area and beyond:
- Training Young Workers —Johnson loves giving workers on reserve the opportunity to learn new skills. “I had one youth come back and thank me for giving her the skills she needed for other jobs.” After mentorship from Johnson, some employees have gone on to school or furthered their careers.
- Mentoring Emerging Artists — Johnson works with a lot of emerging artists to facilitate relationships with manufacturers and galleries. After working with one artist for years, she was happy to meet with his son who was just starting his own artistic business. “I make everyone come into the gallery and take the relationship seriously. This young man might have been annoyed with me at first, but he came into the gallery all dressed up with all the paperwork I asked for,” Johnson says with a smile, “Those are the rewarding things for me.”
- Keeping Companies Honest —Johnson gets her artist’s advice when choosing which companies to sell in the gallery, and only works with companies who treat their artists with respect. “I watch that!” she says, “If I hear of a company treating someone badly I’ll give them a call. It’s not always intentional.” Johnson also does the reverse, connecting artists with companies. “It’s about us all working as one and supporting each other.”
- Community Partnerships— “Building community takes a team and partnering is the best way to do that,” says Johnson. The I-Hos Gallery is grateful for their partnerships with the Sid Williams Theatre, School District #71, Kumugwe Cultural Society, CV Transition Society, World Community Film and Tsow Tun Le Lum, as well as many others.
To celebrate their 24th anniversary I-Hos Gallery is hosting a sale online and in-store.
“We’re so grateful to the community for allowing us to be here for so long, for supporting us.”
Get a head-start on your Christmas shopping with 30% off all merchandise. Shop online-only on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28, and come into the store for customer appreciation on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more details check out the I-Hos Facebook page. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for a year of 25th Anniversary sales starting in January, 2020, including a 25 day social media give-away with spectacular daily prizes.