Legacy lives on through North Van art studio
North Vancouver’s 195 Studios on Pemberton is home to about 25 artists’ workspaces in the heart of the North Shore. A vision of Doug Fraser, a local business owner, art enthusiast and man deeply rooted in the community, the building is now humming with creativity as the collective of independent artists create a variety of paintings, sculptures and other pieces.
Fraser sadly passed away this past Valentine’s Day, but leaves behind loving family and an artist collective buzzing with kind words for the man who gave the North Shore arts community so much of his time and efforts.
“Doug was extremely supportive of the artists here,” said Norman Vipond, the first member of 195 Studios. In May 2010, Vipond answered an ad listing a studio space for rent and slowly the number of artists began growing and the building began expanding. “When I moved in, I had no idea how big this thing would become,” said Vipond.
“The legacy that Doug put in place will no doubt continue,” said Vipond.
“When I came here so many things fell into place,” said Isabelle Procter, a mixed-media artist in 195 Studios who also helps out with rentals and open houses. “There is some magical force in here,” she laughed. “[Doug] loved to see this place alive with people. He loved the energy it created.”
Fraser, a quiet and intelligent man, worked on the studios himself into his 80s. Procter tells a tale of how the man, who had undergone double hip replacement, was up on a tall ladder installing new ceiling tiles not too long ago.
His concept for an artist studios came from talks with one of the other artists still involved at the location. Richard Marmion, can still be found working in his large studio overlooking the parking lot. The site itself was in Fraser’s family for generations.
Procter, who has been in 195 Studios for almost two years, admits that while some artists keep to themselves, there are others who are glad to provide feedback to their fellow artists. “There is some interaction by way of critiquing,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful place,” said Procter. “It has changed my life.”
“There’s a synergy that exists when you’re among other artists,” said Vipond.
While each artist has their own private space to work, being in the same environment as others is enough to create a difference. “There’s a sense of encouragement and inspiration from one artist to another.”
One of the newer artists in 195 Studios, Wanda Doyle, came to the site on Pemberton Avenue in November. “It’s growing in leaps and bounds,” said Doyle.
A member of the North Shore Artist’s Guild, Doyle believes that there is an expansion of art and artists across the North Shore. “It seems to me there are more and more studios popping up,” she said. “I get the impression North Vancouver would like to encourage that to continue.”
Several of the artists of 195 Studios currently have work on display at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver and will be doing a group show with all artists contributing work at the Ferry Building Gallery in October.
195 Studios is also taking part in this year’s North Shore Art Crawl.
— Ley Doctor is a Langara Journalism student currently completing a practicum at the Outlook.