The new gallery on the block

David Dossett showcases local artists in Wellington St. alley.

Martello Alley is a new open-air gallery.
Martello Alley is a new open-air gallery.
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Gallery owner David Dossett wants his new open-air gallery, Martello Alley, to be an experience his father would have loved. 
 
Described as an “Artful Adventure” on its Facebook page, Martello Alley is Ontario’s only gallery located in an alleyway.
 
Although the gallery officially opened in July, Dossett, the gallery’s owner, hosted a grand opening on Nov. 28.
 
The gallery occupies the alley between Green Door Vitamins and Sally’s Roti Shop on the block of Wellington St. between Princess St. and Queen St. 
 
Dossett said the Rue du Trésor, an art gallery in a narrow alley of Quebec City, inspired him to open an open-air gallery in Kingston. 
 
“[Kingston’s] alleys provide the unique character of the downtown. It’s what distinguishes us from other kinds of shopping areas like malls and new cities,” Dossett said.
 
Dossett says he’s worked hard to transform the outdoor alley — which was once filled with garbage dumpsters — into an art path and gallery with a French character. 
 
He hopes the gallery creates memorable experiences during the holidays, which he said his father did for him while he was growing up.
 
“This is the kind of thing my father would do. My father would always try to make memories,” Dossett said. “I remember being cold with the snow falling and Christmas lights, looking at window displays. I don’t remember the gifts I got, but I remember the experience.”
 
Paintings, drawings and prints hang on large wooden panels that line the brick walls on the first stretch of the alley. Dossett even painted an interlocked brick pattern on the ground of the alley, which makes the alley almost unrecognizable.
 
A courtyard at the end of the alley — converted into a place to display art — provides studio space for artists to sit outdoors and create.  Even the walls of the courtyard have been transformed into art: one is a flower shop and the other a fish shop. Dosett added that he believes galleries like Martello Alley make art more inclusive. 
 
“[Martello Alley] is the most unique gallery in Ontario because it’s very open and accessible,” he said. “People are a little bit intimidated [by galleries], but with this kind of gallery, people just sort of wander in.”
 
At Martello Alley’s grand opening on Nov. 28, Dossett welcomed Kingston residents to the gallery with eggnog and hot chocolate. The day’s events included a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Bryan Patterson and musical accompaniment from Deidrey Francois, a singer and pianist from Toronto. 
 
While the alley is decorated with twinkle lights all year, Dossett has added extra holiday decorations. A window display in Martello Alley now features teddy bears in winter attire and a life-sized papier-mâché snowman.  
 
Dossett said the outdoor portion of the gallery will remain open during the winter despite the cold weather. He said the weather adds to the gallery’s atmosphere. 
 
“We’re not going to close because it gets dark sooner — that provides the magic. It’s Canada, and it feels like Christmas,” he said. 
 
The new gallery sells art prints and posts updates at www.facebook.com/MartelloAlley

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