Lynn Valley Centre is getting creative this month with the grand opening of Monika’s Art Boutique-Studio & Gallery. The new studio and retail space offer families options for art lessons and creative after-school care.

Dream come true

Building on her previous experience as a teacher and the success of her Lonsdale location, Monika Blichar, just days ago opened the doors to the latest branch of Monika’s Art BoutiqueStudio & Gallery  From its roots that began 15 years ago in Pemberton Heights the new space in Lynn Valley has Blichar excited for new opportunities grounded in her mission to foster creativity and peace of mind.

Monika Blichar

Monika Blichar

“The real goal is helping parents make sure that they’re supported and their needs are met to have somewhere safe for their kids,” said Blichar. “We’re always trying to push the boundaries so that it’s not just coming to make art in a daycare. It’s trying to teach them skills and give kids something that they can build on in the future.”

She hopes that by offering programs that engage and excite children it helps them stay connected to their creative roots.

“There’s so many factors that can get them derailed but at least if they have some interest in something creative, whether it’s that they keep drawing at home or they start doing their own comic books or they get into video game development or story writing. As they get older at least they have something that they’ve developed so they don’t go off and start doing things that aren’t productive or maybe dangerous as they get into their teenagers. We’ve had kids coming in that have just been so engaged in the art, that they come back and work here.”

The new space, which began offering programming in the first week of May, has allowed Blichar to expand her afterschool care from six schools to thirteen. The new Lynn Valley location will be offering care to Lynn Valley, Upper Lynn, Ross Road, Eastview and Boundary elementaries, plus another outside of Lynn Valley. 

“We’ve been looking for about two years for the space because we have a huge waitlist. There are so many families that just don’t have after-school care – it’s a huge need on the North Shore,” she said. “We explore all kinds of different artistic pursuits for kids, not just painting and drawing, but really teaching them the well-roundedness of living a creative, resourceful and abundant life that comes from learning how to do lots of different things. Some of the things that we do include traditional artistic forms, like painting, watercolour, acrylic, oil pastels, and charcoal but also other more practical arts like how to make your own soap.” 

Passion with purpose

The Lynn Valley studio and gallery will also feature opportunities for local makers to sell their wares. Blichar is enthusiastic about supporting artists and fostering entrepreneurship. 

“One of my passions is really helping business owners,” she said. “Part of the boutique that we have here as well in the new location is local arts and goods. We work with mostly all BC artists but I do import some stuff from Poland as well because that’s where my family’s from. We have candles and soaps and bath bombs and Mother’s Day gifts and small art pieces, jewelry, bookmarks, tea infusers…”

It’s an idea that allows Blichar to encourage older kids to think beyond the art process to have a purpose for creation as well. 

“We try to teach the kids at the same time too:  you can sell your stuff as well and learn what entrepreneurship is through making artwork. Art is not just something that you make and then throw it in the recycling after. We try to make meaningful projects and really connect them to life and skills. 

“Some of the kids we’ve had have gotten really good at what they love and realized they can put it up for sale. They get all excited about their own money.” 

MAB has other practical purposes. With adult programs, pro-day camps, birthday parties and even movie night options, said Blichar. She expects more than 500 kids to come through their summer camps this year. 

Where to find MAB

The original MAB location is on Lonsdale at West Kings Road. The new Lynn Valley studio and gallery is on the second floor of Lynn Valley Centre in the former Curves space. It can be accessed via the east entrance near Conifer St. 

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

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