Welcome Rodman Art Institute of Niagara (RAIN) at 104 St. Paul Street, a gallery that is offering an array of art exhibits, public events and education programs. RAIN brings a scope of arts and culture to the Downtown core with this venture.

I was fortunate to speak with Gallery Manager Isabel Brandt and Director Karen Carter about RAIN, their backstory and future. With an art history background, Isabel started with RAIN in 2021. Isabel is dedicated to helping RAIN grow and creating more artistic opportunities within the community. Karen Carter has spent decades working in the cultural sector and has an education history background. She focuses as a Black Cultural Rep, and wants to highlight diversity in smaller cities. Her duties include helping with strategy plans for the board, building relationships, and getting grants and funding. Karen accentuates the vitality of representation.  

The original Rodman Hall Art Centre was a staple of St. Catharines and the local art community. It helped develop the cultural legacy of St. Catharines with its expansive archives. Although they’ve closed their doors, RAIN is here with an opportunity to rebuild with diversity, equity and inclusivity on the forefront. While RAIN acknowledges their past, they are eagerly looking to the future. It holds the original value of “by artists, for artists” while looking to accept any and everyone.

RAIN’s current goal is to connect with the Niagara community and reestablish themselves as a safe, open place to join with art and artists. With over 1000 works of art in the collection, the gallery is excited to share with the public. Downtown St. Catharines is seen as a hub of culture and arts, as seen with the local art facilities, so it was a natural choice for this location. The proximity to the previous location was a benefit as well. They have already made their mark in the Downtown core by displaying several outdoor sculptures with support from the City of St. Catharines. Some of these are in front of City Hall, surrounding the PAC, and the Meridian Centre. See if you can spot them all!

The first exhibit that will be available to view is the Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue’s “Black Women in Leadership” in partnership with African Women Acting (AWA). Black Women in Leadership is a diverse collection that highlights Black women community leaders, as captured by up-and-coming Black photographers, aiming to shed light on their stories. The ongoing exhibition presents more than fifty women through portraits and biographies photographed by Janice Reid, Jon Blak, Leyla Jeyte, and Patricia Ellah. Launched in 2019, the project is now expanding to include seven new portraits of women from the Niagara Region. The ultimate goal is to feature 100 Black women in the portrait series, with a special focus on documenting and celebrating Black women leaders across Ontario.

RAIN has recently supported Niagara Artist Centre’s exhibition featuring local artist Carolyn Wren. Her exhibition “Pin Drop” was on view at local venue Avenue Ballroom the month of January.

The future of RAIN is bright. As previously mentioned, they want to reestablish themselves through a DEI lens going forward. This includes becoming a cultural corridor and reducing the barriers to art by having an open database. A goal is to raise the public’s interest in art and have been tackling this with their outdoor sculptures and hope to gain more to fill Downtown with. With all these statues, when summer approaches, RAIN plans to have outdoor walking tours further explaining the backstory of the sculptures. Continuing to have collaborations with other local art organizations and offering joint programming is important to RAIN as well. Stay tuned in for RAIN’s future exhibits and initiatives as they’re sure to be insightful and informative.

We are so excited to see RAIN embark on this business venture and encourage you to visit and learn more about art and its history!

Welcome Downtown!