New art space in LV

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.

New production reunites two LV actors

More than 10 years after their last performances at Argyle’s Buchanan Theatre, local actors Sam Fraser and Garth Phillips are taking to the stage again in a new production showcasing the diversity and community of theatre. 

The joy of theatre

Two local actors are hitting the stage this month in a new production called Sigma Acapella. They are part of a thriving local theatre scene that spans from Deep Cove to Hendry Hall to Granville Island and beyond. 

Garth Phillips

Garth Phillips

“If you want to participate in local theatre there is a place for you,” said Phillips. “If you go to Hendry Hall or to Deep Cove and talk with the productions going on there they will be thrilled to have you. You can volunteer your time, and use the opportunity to connect with other theatre people.”

Fraser agrees that local theatre is typically an open and welcoming environment. 

“I am someone who doesn’t get out much. I am on the autism spectrum and there is something so wonderfully freeing about going to a theatre environment where there is no judgment. Bias falls away and I can use the written script to express something, be different or try something new.”

Both actors use the word collaborative when describing the productions they are typically a part of. 

“I am a bit of a storyteller,” said Fraser, who has also published a number of written works. “Theatre is wonderfully collaborative – I love working with people to create a sort of escape for others.”

Sam Fraser in a suit with a cane.

Sam Fraser

Phillips views it as an essential part of community.  

“Theatre is bringing pieces of life together and putting them together in a new and interesting pattern, bringing them together with other people. Theatre by definition is a community thing: a community makes it, a community comes and watches it and it’s those stories from the community. I think community is the heart of theatre.”

Both Fraser and Phillips are only part-time actors, having recently completed graduate studies and pursuing training and education in animation/gaming, respectively. Like most of their theatre colleagues, they are fitting in this production amongst life’s busyness – continuing a passion that started at Argyle. 

“Garth and I actually met at Argyle. We would be in the same productions,” said Fraser.  “I had to dip in and out of theatre while I was off getting various degrees but I would do it when I could.”

The current Rushed Production musical was a reminder for Phillips too that theatre is a passion he wants to prioritize. 

“I hadn’t done a production in the longest time and going forward, I know I want to do more,” he said. “I love this. I love that as we are making this, the cast is also making each other laugh. I love the process.”

Typically Phillips would have been behind the scenes and Fraser on stage but for Sigma Acapella they are both taking on stage roles.

A musical with heart

The two local actors will take to the stage on March 18 for the original musical Sigma Acapella  by Annahis Basmadjian. 

“Basically, there is a frat house on the edge of a university campus that is on the verge of being torn down to make way for some very fancy, expensive student housing. The unofficial leader learns of a loophole in the university bylaws that says any society of the arts or humanities is going to be saved, so they have to convince the administration that instead of a rundown frat house, they are a musical theatre group. They team up with an on-the-edge-of-university fringe musical theatre group – the Nobodies,” said Fraser.

The Nobodies are marginalized people for various reasons: disability, gender, sexuality, mental illness, he said. The two groups decide to stage their own musical. 

“Think of any 90’s movie where they are trying to save the rec centre from being torn down by the evil mayor – this is a version of that,” all wrapped up in a warm, witty musical, said Fraser. 

“It’s heartfelt and silly,” said Phillips. “I think it will particularly resonate with anyone who feels they are outside of regular society. There are a lot of themes people can relate to.”

It’s the script that spoke to Fraser and his lived experience of having autism.

“I think folks who have felt at casting calls – or elsewhere in life – who feel overlooked because of societal barriers will connect with this production.” 

The 20-person cast has been working for over two and half months to get to the stage. It’s been a tight timeline. 

“It’s frantic at this stage but it’s all coming together and we are surprised by what we are accomplishing each rehearsal,” said Phillips. “It all falls into place, everyone is putting their all in.”

Sigma Acapella is written and produced by Annahis Basmadjian and composed by Sebastian Ochoa Mendoza. Fraser says Badmadijan has a way of capturing and voicing marginalized characters with empathy and authenticity. 

“She is always very conscious of those differences and she is trying to push forward marginalized groups. She is honest and respectful,” said Fraser.

The cast and crew are excited about the performances.

“This has been a lovely time,” said Phillips. “It’s a great group of people coming together.”

Sigma Acapella can be seen at the Jack and Darlene Poole Theatre, Arts Umbrella, (1400 Johnston Street, Granville Island) | Opening: March 18, 2024, with dates March 18-March 29, 2024 | March 18-20 @ 7:00 PM, March 22-24 @ 7:00 PM, March 26-March 29 @7:00PM, doors opening at 6:30 pm. Tickets are available now for $30.

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.

Fabricating fun

If you are walking by Argyle Secondary you might see a metal owl perched on the roof of a nearby home. At the same time, you might hear the screech of a metal grinder or the roar of an acetylene torch but maybe not because those could be drowned out by the sounds of rock music pumping out of Mark Mentiply’s metalwork studio.

From fishing to movies to art

Swimming throughout the North Shore are a number of art installations featuring the work of Lynn Valley’s Mark Mentiply – check one out in the park at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. He has become quite well known for his metal salmon swimming through stone creek beds. It’s a concept honouring one of Mentiply’s passions and history.

“I started my work life as a commercial fisherman,” he said. “What a way to see the world, I thought.” 

While his respect for salmon continues, it wasn’t long before Mentiply was looking for other options. 

“The movie industry was starting to explode and I wanted to get into special effects,” he said. 

He started spending time in some special effects workshops.

“The guys suggested I get my welding ticket,” said Mentiply. “I liked the idea. I went back to school and would come to the shop they would let me pactise on the scraps.”

Stepping away from his work table, Mentiply found a rough tea light holder on a cluttered countertop. It was one of the first pieces of art he ever created.

“The art came from practising my welding skills. It helped me hone my skills to get my welding ticket. I started making these really cool things – that impressed the guys.“

He demonstrates the candleholder showing how it is designed to cast shadows in the flickering light – an impactful concept. Mentiply fell in love with using heat to shape metal into art.


His style and skill have grown in the following decades. Mentiply has spent his time working in the local film and TV industry and when between projects creating art. His enthusiasm for his art is emphasized by bursts of joyous laughter talking about his various projects. 

Today in addition to the refined salmon and orcas he creates, Mentiply loves taking found objects to inspire playful sculptures of fantastical creatures. 

“Look at this!” said Mentiply, holding up a shovel blade. “This would be perfect for a fish or the body of an owl – or a mask!”

Dumping out a pile of rusted metal pieces he begins to hold them up and shares what their next phase of life will look like. Saved from damp sheds and dark basements, the old tools are destined to make others smile. 

“This is such great stuff – I love cleaning out a senior’s old workshop. I love helping. They need to do a dump run and I can do that – and save a bunch of the old stuff.”

Side hustle

It has been a rough couple of years in the film industry with covid shutdowns and Hollywood strikes. Mentiply has been leaning into his art to help bridge the financial gap. His works can be found at End of the Line and Highwater Tackle, on his website (he is planning an update soon) or can be seen on his Facebook page – home to his most recent works. 

“I have been using the time to create something on my own but also have a bit of a giggle,” said Mentiply. He is particularly inspired by vintage golf clubs and their future as fanciful birds. 

Walking around his shop and yard it is easy to see the imagination and fun that sparks the creation of Mentiplys art. 

“I have everything I have ever wanted in this life in Lynn Valley – my wife, my son, my shop. I have made careful choices and welding has made it possible – it’s given me a chance to make art.”

Mentiply and his art are one of our top picks for the holiday season – give someone you love the gift of art or a smile. 

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.

Live and Local returns

Lynn Valley Village will be bustling this summer with a full slate of free Live and Local performances and activities for this summer. From games to bands to airbrush tattoos, all the local favourites are coming back.

Family-friendly big games

The Lynn Valley Village plaza will be filled with Big Games every Monday and Wednesday from 1 – 3 pm to the end of August. Enjoy giant-sized versions of classic favourite games. 

  • July 3rd
  • July 5
  • July 10
  • July 12
  • July 17
  • July 19
  • July 24
  • July 26
  • July 31
  • August 2

Mid-day music

To get a taste of the local music scene, head over to the plaza Tuesdays from 11 am – 1 pm to enjoy everything from pop to jazz to soul.

July 4 Rose Ranger

Hailing from Vancouver’s North Shore, Rose Ranger’s creative process is inextricably linked with the ocean and mountains that are a stone’s throw away from her front door. Combined with her love of all musical genres and her utmost appreciation for all the creative arts – the blend creates a dynamic vibrancy in her songwriting process. And that sentiment is a testament to her new music.

July 11 ReeVay Music

ReeVay is the moniker of the multi-talented Marc Rivest. The Lower Mainland-based artist gracefully weaves the finest elements of folk, jazz and pop. His work is simultaneously soothing, powerful and transformative. It’s easy to get lost in the rich tapestry of sound he has generously created.

July 18 Mom Bop

Mom Bop will brighten your day with colourful outfits, electro-pop music, and upbeat dance routines. With original songs written for young ears and those who are young at heart, Mom Bop spreads a message of positivity and fun!

July 25 Emma Currie

Emma Currie is a dynamic pop, R&B and soul vocalist from Vancouver, British Columbia. She was born into a musical family that included her great-grandmother, a trained opera singer. Some of Emma’s musical influences include  Shania Twain, Demi Lovato, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley,  Céline Dion, and Stevie Wonder.

August 1 Cherie Summers

Singer, songwriter, performer, and busker. Cherie Summers is a multi-talented musician who can do it all! Come watch Cherie in her element as she plays the acoustic guitar and sings.

Friday night fun

Evening entertainment gets Lynn Valley Village moving from 6-8 pm.

July 7 Star Collector

Star Collector is a power pop band from Vancouver, BC that has played throughout Canada, the U.S, and Europe. They have recorded five albums to this day and continue to be a force in the music industry!

July 14 Not scheduled 

July 21 Dr. Strange Love Band

Dr. Strangelove is a highly entertaining, multi-faceted, six-piece dance band with five talented lead vocalists, who can cover everything from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga, and from AC/DC to Shania Twain. One of the few bands in the country who can confidently take requests all night long, while keeping the dance floor packed, people engaged…and all with a sense of humour and fun!

July 28 Nothing scheduled

Aug 4 Mazacote

Juno-nominated MAZACOTE is a hard-hitting world/Latin band with deep roots in the music of Colombia, Mozambique and Venezuela. Inspired by Afro-Caribbean percussion and tropical party sounds, they play brass-heavy Latin dance beats with a message!

Thursday special Plaza Pop Up

July 27, 6 – 8 pm

  • Beauty Shop Dolls
  • Ink Vancouver

This Plaza Pop-up features the Beauty Shop Dolls who are a retro female trio that bring dazzling vintage-inspired sights and music. Singing and dancing through classic music from the roaring 1920s, the swinging 1940s, and boppin’ 1950s and 60s radio hits, these dolls know how to woo any crowd into an old-fashioned love affair.

Also featured is Frederic Carrasco from ‘Ink Vancouver’ a local and talented airbrush tattoo artist. Pick your choice of various stencils and shapes to enjoy a temporary tattoo!

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.

Music for the community

The Lynn Valley Library won’t be so quiet this month when the North Vancouver Community Band brings its music for an evening concert on May 31.

A place for all that love to play

For two decades musicians have been gathering together for their love of music. The group aims to make music accessible to everyone in the community regardless of age, skill level or socioeconomic status. They are currently welcoming new members. 

Ned Booker

“We welcome everyone 13 and up,” said trumpet player Ned Booker. “We might even take a precocious and motivated 10-year-old – it’s all negotiable if they love music.”

The band strives for a supportive environment that encourages new members to pick up forgotten instruments, learn new instruments or enhance their current skills, according to its website. It was a warm and welcoming place for Judith Nitsch who took up the clarinet as she approached 50. 

“I saw my eldest son playing in the school band and I thought I would like to do that,” said Nitsch. She began with lessons with a teacher and about a year later was encouraged to give the community band a try. 

“It is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I am glad I didn’t take up piano or guitar – something that I played by myself. I had never been a part of a band program,” she said. “I felt like a fish in the deep blue sea.”

During the first nervous practice, she was guided to her section, supported by another player.

“I didn’t play a lot,” laughed Nitsch. “There is a lot to pay attention to and our conductor gently guided me to play the first note of each bar. I was so welcome and I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Music for all

Booker felt just as welcome but in a completely different way. A musician for more than 25 years he has played most of his life since the age of six.

Judith Nitsch

“I haven’t been in Vancouver long, nearly two years,” said Booker. “I got to know our current conductor and found a place in the band.”

He was drawn to the band’s goals of bringing music to those who might not have access.

“I just love community performances,” said Booker. “I grew up in a rural area and I loved community music. When you go you see everyone in the audience, children, parents, seniors – it’s by the community for the community.”

The NV Community Band’s goals to allow all to experience music are embraced by the players. 

“It tends to be folks with kids in high school and a bit more time, or people who have retired,” said Booker. “People often have to take a break from their music. The musician who sits next to me played in high school and he came back to it decades later. He’s a great player. I don’t want to turn anyone away.”

Today the band has musicians between 20 and 80. The pandemic impacted their numbers and they would like others to join them. Practices are held Thursdays from 7:30 – 9 pm in the music room at Carson Graham Secondary School. 

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be a tiny part of a whole,” said Nitsch. “I don’t play in a band to be heard, I play to make music that I couldn’t make by myself.”

Upcoming concert May 31

The North Vancouver Community Band will bring a variety of lively pieces to the Lynn Valley Library on the evening of May 31. There will be well-known melodies from movies, a medley of Duke Ellington, a Gaelic piece as well as the exciting Jitterbug by North Vancouver’s Robert Buckley. If you can not make the May 31 concert, the same set will be performed at the North Vancouver Band Fest on June 11 at the Shipyards. 

“It’s fun – stuff we like to play and we hope people like to listen to,” said Booker, adding “It’s a bit bittersweet. Our current conductor is departing after 20-plus years with the band. These performances are to say thank you – not goodbye.” 

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.

RNB expanding to meet demand

With one lease ending soon, the RNB Dance and Theatre Arts Society is planning on doubling its studio space in Lynn Valley. The community-based not-for-profit is hoping the community will lend a hand to help it grow.

Local arts booming

A plan is afoot for RNB Dance to take over the former Blue Shore space at The Valley Centre. 

Brianna Giles

“We have been looking for years,” said Brianna Giles, principal and artistic director of the RNB Dance and Theatre Arts Society. “We found lots of spaces in the industrial parts of North Vancouver but that wasn’t what we needed.”

RNB has noticed an interesting trend over the last few years. And it all began with a major provincial infrastructure project.

“We got a lot of intakes when the highway construction at the Iron Workers [Memorail] Bridge began,” she said. “Families could no longer get to studios in Deep Cove or Lonsdale easily. Families are so busy sitting in traffic for an hour and a half just wasn’t feasible.”

The studio’s strong reputation for quality family programs had already led to an expansion at Lynn Valley Village (a lease which wraps up this year) but despite the added space, its less-than-ideal layout made it imperfect for growing demand.

“There are two posts in those studios that limit our class sizes.”

The society never stopped looking and exploring other options. 

“We have gotten feedback from our families that they love how central our studio spaces are. We know families are looking for dance. With all the condos being built in Lynn Valley we are seeing more inquiries than ever for three- to five-year-olds.”

For more than two years RNB has been working behind the scenes to develop its expansion plan around the new space. 

“The size is a dream come true!” said Giles. “We will be able to add two additional larger studios, similar to our Mountain Hwy studios for classes of 20 kids. We got in first to see the space right away and knew it would work. [Now] with the bank removed, it is a blank slate. We have to put in a few walls for change rooms and the dance floors.”

With the hope to open in September of 2023 the RNB Dance and Theatre is kicking off a fundraising campaign

Affordable family options

Unlike most dance studios, RNB is a not-for-profit society.

“We are unique,” said Giles. “It means we can keep our fees lower and more accessible, it also means we can access some provincial funding, but all that money goes back into the studio. There is no owner taking a profit. Everyone who dances with us is a member. Everyone who is working or volunteering with us is doing it for the kids.”

It is a choice that has given more students access to dance than would otherwise be possible, but it does create some challenges.

“We can’t use dance fees to cover renovations,” she explained. “We are having our biggest-ever fundraising drive.”

The society is aiming to raise $450,000 – and provide charitable tax receipts – to cover the expansion. 

“Every little bit helps. We are hoping with the expansion that we can probably double the number of dancers.”

The society plans to display all donor names on a plaque in the new studio lobby with a range of donation tiers: Bronze Donors – $25 – $5000, Silver Donors – $5001 – $10,000, Gold Donors – $10,001 – $25,000, and with Platinum Donors – any donation over $25,000 – also being given naming opportunities of the new spaces.  

Fiscal responsibility

The society’s long-term plan aims to build on the successful partnerships it already has. 

“We get asked all the time by people wanting to rent our space – there is a need for community studio spaces,” said Giles.

The society already shares its space with Lamondance a performance dance company which uses the RNB space mornings and early afternoons when most RNB dancers are in school.

“It’s an excellent partnership – they invite RNB dancers to participate in their performances.”

For the last 10 years, RNB has also been supporting the North Vancouver School District’s Peak Performance Program that allows high school students to balance elite-level dance training with their high school education, said Giles. 

The little studio that could

RNB began more than three decades ago at the – then – Hendry Ave YMCA in 1989 – where Giles was one of the first students. In 1993 it was able to negotiate with the District of North Vancouver for a former church space on Mountain Highway which has become its main studio ever since.   

“Mountain Hwy will remain our home base for as long as the District will have us. We are known best for being welcoming to families and we don’t want that to change,’ said Giles.

With recreational programming that starts dancers moving as young as two years old, RNB has helped guide dancers into international competitions and professional companies. 

“For me, it’s amazing to see the growth and change,” said Giles who first came through the doors of RNB as a child and has gone on to dance all over the world, returning to teach in Lynn Valley. “I am now seeing my students from 10 – 15 years ago, bringing in their own kids. It’s cool to see that full circle – that RNB has been so important to them.”

But it’s also Lynn Valley’s growth that is motivating the society to plan for the future. 

“There are so many new families moving to Lynn Valley – they want to dance and I want people to know that we are unique. Donations to the studio go back into the community offering more spaces for students.”

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.

An artists’ look at rewilding

This March local painter Marisa Mary Myrah will be revealing the forgotten spaces of one of Lynn Valley’s most contentious pieces of land.  

From greenspace to gallery

Living in a rainforest is a constant source of inspiration for local landscape artist Marisa Mary Myrah. Day to day she walks the streets of Lynn Valley bombarded by visual opportunities. For years the idea of documenting the disappearing suburban wildlands has been percolating. The results will be on display in an upcoming show at VisualSpace Gallery in Vancouver from March 2 – 18th. 

“It has been on my mind since before the pandemic,” said Myrah. “I would go away to be inspired but there is a rainforest right behind me. My work is more microscopic – looking into something. Paying attention to something that is overlooked. There is always something interesting to see no matter where you look.”

Myrah is particularly captivated by the lands between the streets of Laura Lynn and Wellington Drive – the land at one time earmarked for Donovan Park. In the early days of Lynn Valley, it was part of a larger piece estate housing stables and tourist cabins. 

“When they dismantled the cabins there were foundations and things left,” she said. “So, it’s still frozen in time and it’s been left to grow. There is something interesting about letting nature take over.”  

The land was bequeathed to the District of North Vancouver for a park but the estate fought that decision returning it to the family. The 1.14-hectare lot was then proposed to build 13 homes which council rejected and a reduction to nine homes was discussed followed by the land being sold to a developer. It is currently zoned for one single-family home and has been left for nature to rewild the area.

“[The original owners] domesticated the area – there are old remnants of domesticated plants amongst the native plants. There are signs that something was there like a giant forsythia next to some old stairs. When they build they are pretty much going to clearcut it.”

The looming spectre of development lent a feeling of urgency to create the series “On the Edge of Where I Live.”  Despite the pandemic’s increased demands on working parents, Myrah felt what little time she had should be used to explore her ideas. 

“It was like this idea was fermenting, then ‘Of course!’ No one can go anywhere and this is beside me. It’s interesting how things play out. I am appreciating it in a different way. There is so much subject matter here. It’s fascinating when you stop and is all overgrown – like my painting Grand Embankment. There is a mass of berries covering a ridge and the bears come through and feast.”

On her doorstep

Myrah’s relationship with Lynn Valley is deep. It’s her chosen place to live, work and play. Her days are spent traversing the hills – up to 15 km a day – as a postal worker – time she uses to explore all the changes facing Lynn Valley from shifting seasons and weather to development. In her downtime, she is riding both her road and mountain bikes up and down local mountains. 

“There is a rainforest right behind me that I am lucky to have. There is great subject matter that I can draw from right at my backdoor,” she said. “I am a representational artist. I make a quick sketch [at the original location] and as I start blocking in, the painting takes over as I work from memory and intuition. 

“I love riding alone in the forest – I stop and take so many photographs,” said Myrah. “Maybe that will be another series to paint based on where I like to ride. I love riding through other forests. I love Squamish and the Sunshine Coast.”

With the upcoming series debut, Myrah says it feels like her painting is coming full circle while still evolving and growing like the forests currently capturing her interest. 

“When I was younger I loved still life. There is so much symbolism, there is always a narrative and they can be quite moody,” she said. “This show is also so moody. While I have always done landscapes, this is a new branch of work.”

Myrah’s work can be found on her website (the new series coming soon) and her show “On The Edge of Where I Live” runs from March 2-18 with an opening reception at VisualSpace Gallery on March. 4. 

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.

Garden delights

There is a fanciful garden blooming upstairs at the Lynn Valley Branch of the North Vancouver District Public Library. Fabric artist Kirsten Chursinoff’s exhibit Garden Escape is now on until Dec. 6, 2022.

From craft to art

The fabric and thread creations are a colourful burst of energy in the display space. At first glance, they appear to be traditional works of drawing or painting but a closer look reveals the intricate stitches and layers of textiles. 

kirsten churisnoff“It is like painting with thread and fabric,” she said. “People think of fabric as being for useful things, like tablecloths, bed coverings, clothing. Seeing textiles on the wall in the same sort of format as paintings can put them in that ‘art’ category more than the ‘craft’ – which are more useful artifacts. It’s a very tactile hands-on material but it’s displayed in a more artful way.”

The intricate pieces combine a variety of techniques. 

“I use quilting techniques but the pieces are smaller than a quilt. There is a lot of detailed embroidery. Some of it is done using a sewing machine but a lot is done by hand, pulling the thread through the cloth. The machine work goes a lot faster, it’s great for piecing together the background. And the handwork is much slower and I can be more intentional with the flowers or leaf shapes adding details.”

 Being a working mom with a creative space filled with both stacks of fabric and bins of Lego, the option to work fast or slow has been an important part of creating her pieces. 

“I think they work well together. I am also a mother of two children so life can get busy. It’s nice to be able to go back and forth between techniques according to what is happening in my life.” 

Garden Escape

This month’s exhibit was very much influenced by what was happening in Chursinoff’s life. 

“Most of the pieces in this exhibit were completed during the pandemic, I was searching for beauty in a time of uncertainty and staying close to home,” she said. “I have always been drawn to flowers and nature. I have been drawn to botanical gardens. I only have a small balcony garden myself, so I am jealous of larger spaces to grow flowers – it’s an endless resource of inspiration. There are so many possibilities.”

As an artist, Chursinoff enjoys the challenge of capturing movement in a ‘slow’ art form.

“There is tension between using a technique that takes a long time and capturing a moment in nature. I am trying to capture something, more of a feeling,” she said. “There is a lot of movement in flowers in leaves, as the wind goes by or a bird flits past. It’s trying to capture those moments of motion or whimsy working in a technique that takes a long time to do. 

“There are real and imagined flowers and I want to capture the spontaneity of a garden or a flower growing out of place or weeds growing at the side of the road. Those moments of beauty you sort of stumble upon when you aren’t expecting it – like when you are walking kids to school or when mushrooms pop up in the fall. It’s those moments of surprise out in nature.” 

She hopes the use of thread and fabric in unexpected ways delights observers. 

“I like the moments of surprise when they see it is not actually paint or traditional ‘art’ materials. They see it’s fabric and come a little closer to see how it’s made and figure out what is going on in there. They look at the techniques and how it’s made. The ‘That wasn’t what I expected it to be!’ and they lean in to figure out and try to solve a mystery.” 

Adding how she is pleased to be at the NVDPL this month. 

“I enjoy exhibiting at libraries because in a way it is more accessible,” said Chursinoff. “Not everyone would go to an art gallery but there is a broader representation of the community that would go to the library. Sometimes they just stumble on it and get to have that art gallery experience in a place they feel comfortable.” 

Garden Escape is on at the Lynn Valley branch of the NVDPL until Dec. 6. 

Images courtesy of Kirsten Chursinoff.

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.

Getting wild about art

Later this month local artist Caroline Liggett will host a night of brushes and brews at Wildeye Brewing. It’s a chance to have some fun, try something new and take home a piece of art at the end of the evening.

Painting with pints

Lynn Valley’s Liggett is heading down the hill to Wildeye Brewing, Tuesday, August 16 from 7-9 pm to guide new artists through a paint party.

“It’s really fun, I am goofy and silly which takes the pressure off,” she said.

Well-versed over the past two years in Zoom paint parties, Liggett is pumped to pick up and share her techniques with the public again. 

“We used to do this all the time at restaurants. I have been slowly returning to small private groups and continuing my lessons but this is my first one [since the pandemic began] that is open to the public. I’m excited.”

The idea is simple: bring an apron or clothes that can survive a bit of paint and Liggett will take care of the rest. 

“Show up a bit early, have a bite to eat, grab a pint and everything is set up for you,” she said. “I have the supplies and I guide you through the steps. You will have a piece of art you will want to hang at the end of the night.”

August 16, would-be artists will be painting a grove of cedar trees. 

“This is geared to the beginner painter, but it will be a good time for someone with a bit of experience who wants to share the evening with friends. It’s not a technical painting. I have done it before and broken it down so I can teach it step-by-step.”

Directions will be given throughout the evening with Liggett floating between artists to offer one-on-one support. 

Art for everyone

As a busy working mom, Liggett became an artist through grief. In a search for beatuy to help overcome the loss of her sister, Liggett began to create. 

“It’s almost like therapy,” she said. “I think over the last few years mental health has suffered for so many people.”

It is also an excellent way to connect and learn something.

“I was an education assistant and I use that training when working with children. I work with many families of children with autism and families I met in the school system. As special needs kids age out of school, there aren’t a lot of opportunities. I love working with them.”

Sign up

Art can mean many things to the artist. It’s relaxation, it’s creative, it’s fun, said Liggett. 

“It’s about having fun. It’s usually mostly women, so if you are looking to meet an artistic babe…” laughs Liggett. “There are lots of opportunities to laugh and try something new.”

To register for the Aug. 16, Wildeye Brewing event, the cost is $35 per person and can be done by contacting Liggett. The deadline to register is Aug 14. Visit her website, Facebook or Instagram to connect with her. 

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.

Music and events returning to the plaza

There is hope that music and events will return to Lynn Valley Plaza this summer and the North Vancouver Recreation and Culture Commission has opened auditions for a return to its seasonal events. 

Looking ahead

The NVRC is in the thick of planning and preparing for a summer that looks more like 2019, that the past two pandemic years. It might not be a “back to normal” but the plans sound like it will be a big step forward. 

As we are once again able to gather, art expression, art-making, and creativity are a wonderful way to bring children, youth, adults, and seniors together,” said Jeremy Neill, marketing coordinator for the commission. “NVRC is currently accepting applications from emerging, mid-career, and professional artists.”

Performers and artists are welcome to submit their applications through April 30. 

This is an excellent opportunity for artists to conceive and showcase their work, creativity, skills, imagination and talent in a public space,” he said. “All art genres are welcome including visual and multidisciplinary arts, music, dance, and theatre.” 

How to apply

The programmers are aiming to encourage community engagement and highlight cultural richness and diversity. Successful applicants bring unique and engaging experiences that are intended for audiences in a variety of North Vancouver neighbourhoods and are delivered through outdoor workshops or performances. 

For more details on the process and application details visit the NVRC website

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.