All About Absolute Art

Ira Hunter is all about finding niches. When he saw that the west coast didn’t have a magazine covering punk, hardcore and metal music, he got to work on Absolute Underground Magazine, which is now distributed all over Canada and in parts of the U.S..

Ira Hunter with some of the artwork displayed at Absolute Underground

New subterranean shop makes space for ‘low-brow’ art

Ira Hunter is all about finding niches. When he saw that the west coast didn’t have a magazine covering punk, hardcore and metal music, he got to work on Absolute Underground Magazine, which is now distributed all over Canada and in parts of the U.S..

When he thought the world needed a monthly web-based TV show covering similar ground, he helped launch Absolute Underground TV. And when he saw that local artists could use a place to display and sell their art, he set up a gallery.

“I’m all about the local art and supporting people,” he says. “It’s like the Absolute Underground magazine, giving people their first chance to be published. It’s the same thing, the first chance to have your art in an art show.”

The Absolute Underground Gallery is located in AU’s new storefront in Trounce Alley — and is, quite literally, underground in the lower-level shops just off Government Street. In addition to being a place where local bands can sell their T-shirts and CDs, or hardcore fans can pick up an obscure 7-inch, local artists can also put up their work and make their first sale.

Pop into Absolute Underground’s subterranean space and you’ll see quirky works like rock-god portraits (during my visit, Dimebag Darrell, Marilyn Manson and Slash had all been immortalized in paint), macabre Disney prints and band photography.

While it’s fast becoming a hub for the local community — the space is also home to a photography studio and a video-editing suite for the Absolute Underground TV show — Hunter hopes to attract some tourists and show them a different side of Victoria’s art scene.

“We want them to come and check out the local art, and maybe not your highbrow, fancy art gallery,” he says. “Maybe what was lacking in Victoria a little bit was a lowbrow art gallery…. Like everything I do, I’m just making the art gallery that I would want to go to.”

The gallery has also expanded into doing art shows, such as this weekend’s Black Valentine, which features work from folks like Trust666, Cam Kallos and others.

It’s the third show Absolute Underground has hosted — the previous ones featured art with a Halloween and Christmas theme — and Hunter sees it as a way to draw new people into the space, not to mention a way to have a good time without bugging their neighbours.

“Ideally, we’d like to be throwing shows with bands, but the landlord right away was like, ‘No live music,’” he says. “So we thought we could still have art shows and art show parties. That’s still a way to get new, fresh people to come down all the time, because that’s what we need.”

Given the space has only been open for a few months, Hunter has been trying to get the word out with things like the art shows — and so far, it seems to be working.

“It’s a social experiment, basically,” he says. “We’re seeing what local artists are going to bring their stuff down and what people are going to support the local artists.” M

Just Posted

Bill Gaston, Monique Gray Smith capture Victoria Book Prizes for 2018

Butler Book Prize and Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize winners collect $5,000 each

Canada’s country music sweetheart brings The Gumboot Kids to town

Jessie Farrell to perform songs from her hit CBC TV series at McTavish Academy of Arts

VIFF wrap-up: Finely crafted films part of festival finale

Monday reviewer Kyle Wells puts a cap on his 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival experience

FILM REVIEWS: Race relations, refugees and racy romances featured at VIFF

Monday reviewer Kyle Wells presents round 2 from the Vancouver International Film Fest

An eye for art: The new and the notable at fall’s premier arts event

Sidney Fine Art Show shares wealth of Island talent Oct. 11 to 13

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

INDY FILM FARE: 1970s hedonism and more at The Vic Theatre

From Studio 54 to Rocky Horror, there’s plenty of excess to observe this month

Shark-attack metal band coming to Victoria tonight

Shark Infested Daughters, a Calgary metalcore group, play the Upstairs Cabaret tonight, Oct. 13

STAGE AND SONG: Spotlight on Victoria arts groups

Learn about some of the city’s favourite theatre and musical entertainment options

Island lensman Jim Decker lands three top photography awards

During exciting photo trip to Yap in Micronesia, Cobble Hill man earns trio of firsts

Most Read