Headwaters Inspired Profile: Monica Kerr-Coster


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The Alton Mill “gallery mistress” makes art approachable

How does being a being an artist working with paper lead to operating a 1,715 square foot gallery? And what does that have to do with a lawyer looking for office space?

For Monica Kerr-Coster, it’s all tied together. She works with exotic papers from Japan, Thailand and Nepal to create fantastic artful otherworlds. Her husband, an IP lawyer, found office space in the Alton Mill Arts Centre, which also became a small gallery to show Kerr-Coster’s art along with the work of other artists, artisan vendors and a furniture designer.

An empty space became an opportunity

When a bigger gallery on the ground floor closed, the landlords asked Kerr-Coster whether she’d be interested in taking the space.

“Operating a large gallery had never occurred to us,” said Kerr-Coster. “But I have been so inspired working in this building, surrounded by art, local artists and other gallery owners, we decided to take on this opportunity. And I’m so happy we did.”

A variety of disciplines in one space

Today, Kerr-Coster operates the Noodle Gallery showcasing fine art, an artisan market, furnishings and sculpture. “We like to have original artwork in numerous disciplines,” said Kerr-Coster. “Our goal is to provide accessible original art to people in an approachable space. Art galleries can be intimidating for some, so we strive to give Noodle more of a warm and cozy country store feel. It is a space that people can enter into and immediately feel welcomed and comfortable.”

When Kerr-Coster started in 2014, she would go out looking for artists to represent. “I had artist friends, friends of friends and then found others at art shows and on social media. I still search out talented artists but now that we’re more established, artists will also approach us and we have a large group who exhibit at the gallery. We have shown an incredible array of talented, inspiring and innovative art and design work.”

Kerr-Coster continues, “We get many people who are visiting the area for the weekend and come into the gallery. Often, they ask me about the area, especially when they find out that I moved here from Toronto. I know some of them are thinking about making a move to the Headwaters region. It’s easy to see why…”