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Anna Ostberg believes that art should be fun, social and accessible. In 10 years of staging exhibitions, selling art and teaching art classes at her Ruberto Ostberg Gallery in northwest Calgary she has broken down popular assumptions that art is for elitists. Having a welcoming atmosphere grounded in community is her goal. “People are intimidated by galleries,” she says. “If they walk in and think they are not asking the right questions, they feel inferior. Really, if you come to a gallery and look at the art, whether you’re purchasing it or not, you’re supporting that artist.” She should know. A gallery owner, she is also a painter.

Ostberg works to build support for her stable of artists. Over the years, she has established a network of regular patrons who attend the opening and closing receptions for the gallery’s monthly exhibitions. In other words, she throws art parties. Usually, 200 to 300 people will pass through the compact, two-floor gallery on these evenings. “If people keep coming back in a social setting and have a good time, the gallery no longer becomes intimidating and they start purchasing art,” she explains. “You create this community and you create regulars.”

The gallery’s relaxed, neighbourhood atmosphere, along with the artworks always on display, make it a great location for special events. Ostberg frequently rents out the gallery for small weddings, landmark birthday parties and lectures. At such events, people who may not normally visit galleries are introduced to new works of art.

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