BBAM Gallery
By YP Contributor

Curating Vintage and Contemporary Pop

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” says Ralph Alfonso, co-founder of BBAM! Gallery. Or was it his partner Alison Rogers who said it? The couple is sitting in the café corner of the art gallery/vinyl store/performance venue. Alison and Ralph try not to finish each other’s sentences when they tell the story of how they created BBAM! Gallery, a musical, artisanal, pop culture curiosities cabinet in Montreal’s St. Henri neighbourhood.

Officially speaking, BBAM! Gallery stands for Bongo Bee Art and Music, Ralph’s indie label. But it’s also a pop art kind of expression. “You know it when you see it,” say Ralph and Alison, referring to the selection process for the gallery’s art.

And if you’re wondering, you can pronounce the second B or leave it silent

The curating process at BBAM! Gallery usually starts with people. “We had a live concert event and these two girls showed up and I felt that I had to know them!” explains Alison. “They turned out to be great painters — one from New York and one from Montreal — Zofia Bogusz (NYC), Alysha Farling (MTL). Now we are organizing the next upcoming art show for them!“

It’s taken on a life of its own. - Ralph Alfonso and Allison Rogers, co-founders
Pop art, music, vintage jazz vinyl, pop culture items, books, cds, posters, contemporary art, café, latte, cappuccino, Rare CTI, Impulse, Verve, Blue Note, Blues, Rock, Soundtrack, Comedy, Country, Classical, Spoken Word, Reggae, Folk, Quebec and France, art cards, housewares, vintage clothing, DVDs, collector rock buttons, live shows, poetry

Convergence of a Friendly Beast

The idea of BBAM! Gallery started in Vancouver, where Alison and Ralph were living. They had a painter friend named Carylann Loeppky and were inspired by other friends with artisanal spaces. Ralph had a background in the music industry including punk rock music management and his own indie label Bongo Beat Records. By 2008, these combined interests had taken on their primordial form and all was set into movement when Ralph and Alison moved to Montreal. In 2012 they opened BBAM! Gallery.

Through successive waves of people, painting, music, poetry and related art objects BBAM! Gallery sizzles on St. Henri soil, once again a neighbourhood bristling and brimming with artists. “This is the St. Henri that I knew in the ’70s! — it has returned!” says Ralph.

Pop art, music, vintage jazz vinyl, pop culture items, books, cds, posters, contemporary art, café, latte, cappuccino, Rare CTI, Impulse, Verve, Blue Note, Blues, Rock, Soundtrack, Comedy, Country, Classical, Spoken Word, Reggae, Folk, Quebec and France, art cards, housewares, vintage clothing, DVDs, collector rock buttons, live shows, poetry

What’s Red, White and Black All Over?

From outside, BBAM! Gallery is red, white and black, catching your eye on St.Jacques Street near the busy Atwater Street intersection. The windows, with their white drawn curtains, look left and right, displaying a full grin of black-and-white framed posters, which are signature Ralph/BBAM! designs. The lineup of art, music and poetry is carefully strung together like pearls on a necklace, each frame showcasing an event, like YOGA or William Blake en français.

Inside, “It’s a domino effect,” says Alison about how BBAM! Gallery’s eclectic activities interact with each other.

“You never know what you’re going to find or hear,” Ralph adds. “When people come in it’s not dead air. It’s good for the neighbourhood too.”. [MT1]

The variety of musical genres and art forms represented by BBAM! Gallery celebrate the jazz heritage of St. Henri and adjacent neighbourhood Little Burgundy. There is always a sampling of BBAM! Gallery’s vinyl offerings wafting through the air. Ralph and guest DJs keep the beat going day and night; live shows and vernissages bring flashes and flourishes of new sounds, textures and friends.

“Eventually we would love to have a scholarship for art students,” says Alison.

“And pop up BBAM! Galleries in different cities,” Ralph chimes in. Monsieur Magique, the resident black cat, can keep watch.

Pop art, music, vintage jazz vinyl, pop culture items, books, cds, posters, contemporary art, café, latte, cappuccino, Rare CTI, Impulse, Verve, Blue Note, Blues, Rock, Soundtrack, Comedy, Country, Classical, Spoken Word, Reggae, Folk, Quebec and France, art cards, housewares, vintage clothing, DVDs, collector rock buttons, live shows, poetry
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