Business

A new community for New West artists

Susan Greig has created a new home for artists like New Westminster painter Judith Copland, who will be able to rent space in the Braid Street warehouse she
Susan Greig has created a new home for artists like New Westminster painter Judith Copland, who will be able to rent space in the Braid Street warehouse she's converted into more than 13 studios and an exhibition area.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER

Susan Greig was at a crossroads when she saw the light.

But her epiphany didn't come through pearly gates. It had a roll-up garage door.

Greig, an artist for 30 years, was burned out by her job in the health care field. She was looking for a new direction that would fuse her love for painting and her belief in the power of art to heal and build community.

That's when she happened to be driving by a nondescript concrete warehouse building on Braid Street that included amongst its tenants a doggie daycare and a laser tag arena. From the front, it didn't look like much. But when she parked her car around back, she saw the expansive old windows.

Inside, the light was heavenly.

Greig's vision for a warren of open artist's studios and an exhibition space that could showcase their work as well as host workshops, seminars and even receptions snapped into focus.

Greig wrote her business plan in a week and secured funding. On March 15 she started renovating the warehouse's main floor using salvaged wood and reclaimed door frames and windows to create walls and dividers. On June 8 she'll be holding an open house to officially introduce 100 Braid St. Studios and Gallery.

When all the spaces are let, the Studios will be the home away from home for at least 13 visual artists and artisans. More than half the spaces are already spoken for, by painters, even a weaver and beader.

Greig has set aside a small room that will become a photography studio and there's even a "splatter room" where energetic artists might want to throw their paint at canvases or disenchanted brides can trash their dress.

More importantly, Greig said she's hoping to create a community of creativity.

Except for the splatter room, the future photography studio and the bathroom, there's no doors in the place. Visitors can see the artists at work. The artists can commune over the low divider walls, share ideas while perched on the "bum ledge" that borders the expansive exhibition and reception space, relax around the fireplace at the far end.

"Artists love the interaction," said Greig. "What the community wants is what it will become."

That includes hosting workshops and events for the public, art classes for kids and professional development seminars for artists. The splatter room could be used for art therapy for kids with autism or other physical or developmental challenges. Greig's even had an enquiry from a divorcée who'd like to bomb her old wedding gown with paint.

While the Studios are a stone's throw from the Braid Street SkyTrain station, Greig said most of her artists are from New West, glad to finally be freed from the confines of their improvised basement or spare bedroom spaces. Renting one of her studios for a year also signals a heightened commitment to their art.

"You have to be serious," said Greig.

100 Braid St. Studios will host an open house Sunday, June 8, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more information go to www.100braidststudios.com

 

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