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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Victoria mural artists Joshua Lundrigan (from left) and Paul Archer join Rob Chyzowski, co-owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner in front of an Archer-designed mural that went up on Thursday at the Inner Harbour restaurant. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Positivity rules with new outdoor mural from Victoria artist

Paul Archer teams with Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner for patio project

Donna Jones, who was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley, is the executive director of the documentary ‘Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence’. (Submitted)
Islander produces documentary offering hope to those with addictions

Donna Jones and husband Brent just released Bobbi Jo: Under the Influence

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Courtenay artist Christine Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick from April 9 to 23. (Photo courtesy Christine Boyer)
Island painter shows off the wildflowers of Western Canada in first solo show

Courtenay’s Christine Boyer presents floral exhibit at Nanaimo’s Gallery Merrick

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library librarian April Ripley led the effort to create a Vancouver Island poetry booklet in recognition of National Poetry Month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Harbourfront Library publishes booklet for National Poetry Month

Collection features winners of ‘Poem in your Pocket’ contest

SENCOTEN language revitalizationist and filmmaker Renee Sampson’s short film, Bringing Our Language Back to LIfe, shows online during the Reel 2 Real International Youth Film Festival, April 14-23. (Photo courtesy Wapikoni)
SENCOTEN language featured in short film created on Saanich Peninsula

Renee Sampson film highlights importance of passing on traditional languages to youth

The area surrounding the Chemainus Rotary Club’s bunker door is one of the new surfaces that will feature a mural. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Up to three new murals coming to Chemainus

Project will be coordinated between the Rotary Club and Festival of Murals Society

Jules Sherred, photographer and owner of Polaris Creative, is putting together an exhibit that combines two of his greatest passions: food and advocacy for those with disabilities. (Polaris Creative photo)
Kickstarter launches for fully accessible exhibit focused on food

Raising awareness has been Sherred’s life’s work.

Sooke artist Jessica Ruth Freedman is one of nine virtual in-residence artists who share the creative process, conduct webinars, write and offer sage advice with artsUNITE, a free online wayfinding platform for artists. (Contributed - Jessica Ruth Freedman)
Sooke artist joins artsUNITE, getting creative through pandemic

National program brings much-needed support to arts community

Most Read