SRL & Associates - from real estate to a lasting legacy in the Mission arts community

Three years ago, life-long Mission residents and top-producing family real estate group Simone Redburn Lockhart & Associates embarked on an ambitious venture: to combine their profession with their passion by buying art studio Gallery 202 on Mission’s First Avenue in which they planned to house their private real estate office. It proved the beginning of an unexpected, at times frustrating, yet ultimately infinitely rewarding journey - and the groundswell of a greater community movement in Mission.  

When the previous owner of Gallery 202 approached SRL & Associates in 2021 to facilitate the commercial sale of her business, they were happy to oblige but were saddened at the thought of Mission potentially losing one of the few creative hubs left available locally. The creative arts had always been close to their hearts – and here they saw an unmissable opportunity to support and contribute to the arts community in a more significant way than they ever imagined possible. They didn’t think twice about stepping in to rescue the business and locked into a 3-year lease for the First Avenue location.

Renovating the space to segment a spacious gallery section in the front and creative classes and activities in the rear, the SRL & Associates team created something truly unique for Mission: a real estate-subsidized arts studio comprising an art gallery that didn’t charge any commission on sales or for wall/shelf space and free monthly live music events downtown for the entire community to enjoy.
Unfortunately, their endeavours weren’t universally celebrated - to their surprise and chagrin, they were met with resistance and backlash from some local arts, real estate and business circles - but they were not to be deterred and expeditiously steamrolled over the hurdles put in their path.
And that was just month 1.

Winding back the clock, Simone Redburn (Lockhart), husband Ross Lockhart, and mother veteran 40-year realtor Leslie Redburn have a history of supporting the arts in Mission stretching back decades.
In 1979, Leslie Redburn promoted, sponsored and dedicated her time to help build the presence and exposure of renowned local artist Jo Priestley's pottery studio in Steelhead, and carried on with her involvement in the local Arts scene endorsing, promoting and assisting with Mission's first arts and crafts Co-op "Country hands crafts" on 1st Avenue. In the 1980s, Leslie was a pivotal figure in helping create and organize one of Mission's most notable arts events: Jo Priestley's "Painters in a Potter's Garden" exhibition in the 1980s. 

Prior to purchasing Gallery 202, Simone and Ross had organized, hosted and sponsored no fewer than 10 standalone public art exhibition & sale events featuring a combined 30+ local Mission artists, with all proceeds going to the artists – efforts that culminated in Simone receiving the distinguished honour of a Community Service Award in 2021 from the District of Mission for the family’s volunteer work in various spheres, in particular in the support of the arts. In recent years, SRL & Associates and Gallery 202 have received multiple nominations for the District of Mission’s Celebration of the Arts Awards under the Arts Advocate category and Chamber of Commerce business excellence awards, but the group insists the real rewards are the fact that they were able to provide a platform to those who might not otherwise have the means or opportunity to showcase their works in public, and that numerous Gallery 202 artists have used their gallery showcases as a launching pad to full-time careers as artists or to take their amateur passion to a professional level.

But SRL & Associates didn’t stop there.

Looking to enhance their monthly live music events celebrating their featured artists, SRL & Associates took the initiative to spearhead what they coined as “First Fridays on Mission First Avenue.”
First Fridays is a concept from the art & music worlds and is observed in numerous cities & towns around the globe wherein the community is invited downtown for a regular “block party” to support local artists, musicians, eateries and businesses.  While SRL & Associates was already hosting monthly live music events & gallery showcases – and indeed, some businesses in Mission in previous years had their own regular First Friday/customer appreciation events - what was missing was the co-ordination, funding and organization to create a regular multi-business downtown event for the benefit of all.

So that’s exactly what SRL & Associates did – they connected with 20+ downtown businesses to encourage their participation; they co-ordinated timing of attractions at three or four “entertainment centres” (Gallery 202, The Penny, HubCo Brewing & Goldenball Mercantile); they created a centralized audience to promote to; and they used their own resources and funds to do it all.   

Over the years, SRL & Associates have showcased dozens of local artists in their gallery, supported a multitude of musicians and co-ordinated/promoted a total of 30 First Fridays free community events which have seen at numerous times hundreds of community members connecting with each other in Mission’s downtown core, supporting local artists, musicians, craft shops, restaurants & businesses.

Three years to the day after they purchased Gallery 202 and at the end of their lease for the premises on 1st Avenue, SRL & Associates is closing the doors on their passion project Gallery 202 at a time when their core business of real estate is set to see them level up from the top 10% of Fraser Valley realtors for number of transactions consistently into the top 5% (in the top 200 of 4,500 Valley realtors).  

SRL & Associates / Gallery 202 wants to send a heartfelt thanks to the entire community of Mission for their support over the years. 

There’s no doubt we’ll see them involved in the Mission arts scene again in the not-too-distant future.