How a local artist’s query helped re-launch an art show

The Port Moody Art Shuffle returned last week for the first time since 2019.
Port Moody residents gather at the Art Shuffle on June 23. Photo by Bibin Matthew.

Angie Quintanilla Coates played the message in her head, over and over, for one year before posting it online.

Introduce yourself, explain you’re a new resident to Port Moody, and show some of your artwork — all with the hope of meeting new people and finding a permanent space to create more art. 

But Quintanilla Coates was scared of coming across as awkward.


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She moved to Port Moody in 2020, four years after leaving a career in marketing and management and launching her own art businesses, Five15, which focuses on illustrations and upcycling art.

Upcycled art, or reclaimed art, is defined by the creative process of transforming recyclable waste into an art piece that simultaneously shines a light on the importance of folks incorporating sustainable practices into their own lives. 

“If I’m going to paint on canvases anyways, why not choose a canvas that was going to end up in the landfill?” Quintanilla Coates said.

“If I can turn them into beautiful objects, hopefully, it sparks a conversation.” 

For years, before she dove headfirst into an art career, Quintanilla Coates collected bottles and was conscious of her environmental footprint. 

“I found out that 90 per cent of the plastics that we put into the recycling bin don’t get recycled,” she said.

Although she had found success painting and creating recycled pieces of art at home, creating artwork for companies ranging from M&M’s to the New York Times, Quintanilla Coates knew that having a dedicated studio space would allow her to produce more art. 

“There’s only so much you can do at home without making a mess,” she said. 

She signed up for a wait list for studio space in Port Moody, but never received an invitation. So, eventually, last year, she mustered up the courage to ask Port Moody residents on an art enthusiasts Facebook page. 

She had no idea that her post would help spark a team of artists to relaunch an art campaign. 

Photo by Bibin Matthew.

Art as therapy

Growing up in Monterey, Mexico, Quintanilla Coates always found time to make art. 

She’s a self-taught artist who loves to learn. Her favourite kind of artwork involves bright, vibrant colours like hot pink and banana yellow — homages to her home country. 

But when she moved to Canada, art turned into a hobby that she pushed to the side. 

She thought it was impractical. And didn’t think that her passion for creativity would amount to a career, or pay the bills. 

However, seven years ago, as she struggled with an addiction and eating disorder, a therapist encouraged her to pick up the paintbrush again. 

“It wasn’t until I found recovery that I really allowed myself to realize I only have this one life to live,” Quintanilla Coates said. “I put together a portfolio, showed it around, and people started hiring me.” 

As a self-taught artist, who started to quickly sell products in stores across North America, she also simultaneously continued to learn from other artists in the Lower Mainland and digital resources like YouTube. 

“I love learning, I just adore figuring things out, I took classes and YouTubed things,” she said.

A couple of Quintanilla Coates’ upcycled artwork at the 2023 Art Shuffle. Photo by Bibin Matthew.

The return of the Shuffle

After posting her introductory message to the artist Facebook group, Quintanilla Coates received a flood of messages from local artists. 

One artist, specifically, reached out to her and said she could take her art studio in downtown Port Moody.

The artist, who Quintanilla Coates preferred not to name, painted murals during the pandemic and recognized the significance of Quintanilla Coates’ upcycling artwork. 

“She messaged me and said, ‘I think you need to make this art, and you need to make it in a studio space,” Quintanilla Coates said. 

Quintanilla Coates started painting at her new art space in downtown Port Moody in December. 

Since moving in, she has made more art in the past six months that she had over the course of a single year. 

“It’s been the most intense, amazing, six months ever,” she said. 

In the comments section of her post, local artists also commented about studio space in the city — or the lack of space — and how Port Moody used to hold an “Art Shuffle”  before the pandemic. 

The Art Shuffle was an annual event that encouraged residents to walk and admire local artwork at multiple venues throughout Port Moody. The Shuffle, which drew over 700 people in 2018, was held every year from 2017 to 2019. 

“Somebody said, ‘oh yeah! We used to have the Shuffle,” Quintanilla Coates said. “I said, ‘oh my God, that exists, I would love to see that happen again.’” 

A committee of local artists, including Quintanilla Coates, was formed last fall to bring back the Shuffle.

Last week, the Shuffle returned with exhibits at 20 venues across Port Moody.  

“We support the arts by supporting the artists, that’s why we really wanted to showcase the artists as well as the small businesses that are so integral to the art community in Port Moody,” Quintanilla Coates said. 

Angie Quintanilla Coates stands in front of her art venue at the Shuffle. Photo by Bibin Matthew.

Shuffling into the future

Quintanilla Coates believes this year’s Art Shuffle is the first of many in the years to come. 

She hopes that the walk will inspire more art-themed events in Port Moody. 

“I think the Shuffle has the potential to be more than a once-a-year event,” Quintanilla Coates said. “We have a really strong team with a lot of passionate ideas.” 

Personally, Quintanilla Coates is looking forward to making more upcycled artwork and taking advantage of her own art studio. 

However, she recognizes that she doesn’t own the space herself — as the studio is temporarily provided through a local arts initiative by a development company.  

Quintanilla Coates said there is only one city-owned artist space, Esplanade Artists Studios, and there’s a long waitlist to access the venue’s 11 studios. 

She would like Port Moody to create more permanent art studios that emerging artists can use to create the art that makes events like the Shuffle so popular in the city. 

“I would love for aspiring artists, and established artists alike, in Port Moody to know there is  space here for us,” Quintanilla Coates said. 

“We can thrive and have a thriving art practice in our community, the city of the arts.”


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