New co-op gives artists a place to share their work

A new co-op on Argyle Street near Third Avenue is giving a handful of artists another venue to show their work in Port Alberni.

The
Artists’ Co-operative comprises four separate businesses under one
roof: Free Burde Studio, owned by DJ Burdett; Captured Images by Don
Osborne of Ucluelet; The Shutterflies Kiss, by Dana Lloyd-Walker; and
Woodswork art by Liam Tromans.

 
Don Osborne and DJ Burdett are two of four
artists who have put together a new co-op on Argyle Street. SUSAN QUINN
Alberni Valley News

The germ of an idea
for an artists’ co-operative began with Burdett, who moved into the old
Queen Bee Books space along with Heartspun Wool with the intent of
running a co-op. Burdett is primarily a painter in different media, but
favours charcoal and acrylics. The majority of her work is figurative,
and she uses bright colours to create mood in each piece.

Burdett
sells “chakra bling” – jewelry – that she creates using semi-precious
stone chips in the colours of a body’s chakras (she’s been selling her
bling in other shops for a few years).

The other aim
Burdett has is to keep the artwork available at the co-op affordable.
“I’m aware that I live in Port Alberni, and I want people in Port
Alberni to be able to afford original artwork,” she said.

“We
have so many talented artists in this community that export everything
because they can get a good price for it. I aim for the local economy.
That’s very important.”

The next artist to join
Burdett at the co-op was Lloyd-Walker’s Shutterflies Kiss studio. And
when Burdett realized that Heartspun Wool was going to close at this
location, she started thinking about recruiting another artist. She had
seen Osborne’s work at the weekly Farmer’s Market, and approached him.

Ironically,
Osborne was looking into the feasibility of starting a similar
operation in Ucluelet as a venue to sell his wildlife photography.

Osborne
commutes two days a week from Ucluelet to mind the shop – not only do
the artists share space and rent at their Argyle Street location, they
also share the duties that come along with having a retail shop.

Osborne
credits the West Coast with reminding him of the passion behind
photography. Originally from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, Osborne
met his partner online. He first came out to visit her in Ucluelet in
2001. Five years of red tape later, he joined her.

Osborne had been working in a Kodak one-hour photo lab and had lost his love of taking photos. He put down my camera for awhile.

“The
wildlife as well as the scenery here are just incredible,” he writes in
his artist’s biography. “I wanted to share the trip with family and
friends, and bought my first digital SLR (camera).

“Coming up here renewed my enthusiasm for photography,” he said. “I think you see that in my photographs.”

Lloyd-Walker’s
focus in the Artists’ Co-operative is a portrait studio. She has a
mid-range professional studio in the back of the shop, and also sells
some of her artwork.

Tromans was born in Cape
Breton, Nova Scotia, and has been exploring and painting nature and
wildlife since childhood. A professional pulp cutter for 20 years,
Tromans began carving animals at worksites in 1997 with self-taught
chainsaw techniques.

Tromans could be seen last
month at Art in the Park held at Harbour Quay, where he carved an eagle
onsite throughout the weekend.

Burdett and Osborne are hoping more artists can eventually be brought into the fold.

The
Artists’ Co-operative is open for summer hours from Monday to Saturday.
For more information, please call DJ Burdett at (2150) 730-7300.