By: Nercya Kalino, writer and Gem Yelin Lee, editor
Arrieta Art Studio celebrated the grand opening of their brick-and-mortar space in New Westminster on September 3. Located on the historic front streetHome to some of the locals’ favorite cafes, the studio welcomes you with a colorful mural of Mishel Arrieta herself: the owner and manager of the studio.
The day before the Grand Opening Ceremony, The top interviewed Arrieta to learn more about the studio.
“For the grand opening, I wanted to build on what I’m already doing, which is giving this – the studio – to the artists,” Arrieta said. “I try to get all the things I want the studio to be and put it all in oday.
The grand opening featured artist Caleb O’Brien, poet Naaz Sidhu and Astra Not. To incorporate an engaging art project into the event, visitors were encouraged to paint collaboratively on a large shared canvas. This canvas now resides in the teaching space in the staudio, sequelnakedlly rescrewed with remains of paint from the workshops.
Arrieta is co-curator of the annual pop-up art exhibition in New Westminster called POP APT. One of the first things you see when you enter is a wall light fixture for APT POP where featured solo exhibitions are displayed, along with a seating area and artists’ merchandise for sale.
Over the past few years, APT POP has grown beyond its beginnings with co-curator Ben Pilger’s apartment. Each year, Arrieta and Pilger found themselves scrambling to find or temporarily rent a space that would meet the needs of the project. Being an artist and educator herself, Arrieta had been looking for a new personal studio space since moving on from her old one. Armed with a passionate vision, Arrieta took the lead in finding a permanent art space.
Arrieta hoped to reopen her studio and find space for art exhibitions and other creative projects. She found a versatile space in a great location; one who would be able to support his personal studio needs like art education and become the new home base of APT POP.
It was just the start of a new chapter for the artist – owning a business in a new location meant a new flow of ideas and new responsibilities.
She isxexplained that one of the important goals of the Grand Opening Ceremony was to bond with the local community. Until now, she had mainly taught art individually to children with disabilities and worked alone in her own studio. By connecting more with the people of New Westminster, she sees the services and artistic opportunities the community needs and explores new avenues – from working in her own bubble to working with all kinds of groups in the community.
“Now I’m branching out and seeing that there are so many groups of people who want to learn the art,” Arrieta said. “Sometimes they want it to be in their own group; for example, there are people who are retired and would like to have a group reserved for retirees, there are others who want to have a mother and a baby [group].
“There are a lot of requests, and I think there are a lot of needs.”
She said a growing pain of this transition was finding a balance between meeting the needs of the community and what she personally wants for the space.
in addition to meet some of these specific community requests, she plans to hold ongoing events such as hosting workshops, solo artist exhibitions, and artist talks.
The warm and eclectic front area that showcases the artists and their work extends to the rear, where there is a surprisingly large space.epperfect for organizing workshops, giving lessons and organizing a group eveningnts. The large open room at the back will host the annual APT POP exhibition.
“People come in and ask me if I’m new, which I am, but I feel like I’ve been here so long,” she said.
September 8 marked two months since the studio’s soft opening, but the space is already the physical representation of Arrieta’s commitment to community and art.
To learn more about Arrieta Art Studios, shop with local artists, or sign up for a class, visit them in person at 707 Front Street, New Westminster or online through their website.