Space remains final frontier for Port Coquitlam artist

Finding community and a place and to make art in the city has been a challenge

It’s not just about a place to make art – it’s about a community.

Artist Melissa Burgher has been searching for an open art space in Port Coquitlam but hasn’t had any luck.

“My biggest issue right now is lack of community. Historically artists would meet in pubs and cafes. [It helps because] your work gets better and your mind gets sharper with exposure. And the public finds out about you more,” she said.

Born and raised in White Rock, Burgher currently lives in a townhouse with her partner and a dog. She started selling her artwork when she was in the third year of her psychology degree at UBC. Now, she sells 50 paintings in a year across North America and Europe.

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Artist Melissa Burgher. photo supplied

Until 2020, she was getting together with artists at 100 Braid St., a space for musicians, comedians, painters to get together and share ideas. Due to the pandemic, people lost jobs and had to vacate their residence. The building was subsequently razed.

Now, she reminisces about that atmosphere. She has been approached by three individuals in the Greater Vancouver area to share a space. But there are some inhibitions.

Her ideal space would have 5K to 6K Kelvin lighting, window and an owner who would be OK with the space getting messy.

Burgher creates expressive art so splashing, spraying and being physically involved is part of the work.

“The issue with having a home studio is that I am selling so, it’s like a revolving door. There are paintings in the hallway, in the dining area. Then there is packaging and varnishing in the garage or sometimes outside in the cold,” she said. “It’s hard to be working from home because you can never really relax. It’s hard to take a break. I have clients coming over so I have to clean the whole space but sometimes I want my house to be messy because I don’t want it to be clean.”

We reached out to the City of Port Coquitlam to ask whether there are spaces for artists to come together as a community. Lori Bowie, director of recreation at city shared that there are some spaces where community gatherings are possible.

Outlet Workroom for visual arts, Artist-in-Residence studio in Outlet and Lions Park and multipurpose rooms at PCCC and Hyde Park are some options artists can avail within the city.

Art Focus also has demonstrations at Michael Wright Gallery and the Outlet for the community to engage and learn, every Wednesday evening.

There are opportunities including Cultural Roundtable, artist drop-in studio times on Tuesday and Thursday, exhibits and more.

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