New Stone hunter studio opens with Solid Ground show 

What: Solid Ground show and opening

Where: Stone Hunter Studio, 7331 Old Mill Road, Pemberton Industrial Park

When: Sept. 8, noon to 6 p.m.

The new Stone Hunter Studio in Mount Currie opens its doors for the first time this Sunday at a show titled Solid Ground.

Builder and stone sculptor Robert Proulx, dubbed "the Stone Hunter," has been working on his dream project of an arts venue in Pemberton for the past six years.

This week, he opens the doors to interested visitors.

"It’s wonderful, it’s been a long road," says Proulx, "…and my daughter has really inspired me to provide a space for the young and their art."

Proulx’s previous art credits in Whistler include the large stone fireplace in the former Hard Rock Café, as well as a steel and stone coffee table which sits in a Bayshores house. He has completed some 400 projects in stone, in addition to several artwork commissions for homeowners.

The studio complex, which has on site pottery services, will also showcase artists, have a small theatre and stage area (on the second floor), and a large arts table for children’s crafts.

In the near future, Proulx plans to have studio space available for rent by local artists, based on a time scale.

The building is located in the Pemberton industrial park, amid a welding shop and other businesses, but in keeping with the sustainable groove it boasts 80 per cent recycled materials in its structure.

Old growth timber from the old shipyard in North Vancouver is featured in the mainframe, while all of the 40 windows have also been collected from other building sites.

Proulx says he completed most of the work himself, with assistance from friends here and there who gave two to three weeks of their time.

The studio has a large a deck facing Mount Currie for spectacular mountain views.

Kathleen Wilson, who has been promoting the new 1,000 square foot gallery, says the look and feel will be "the arts show meets the home show." There will be arts as well as armoires and tables on display.

Formerly employed in the Vancouver film industry, Wilson says she is enjoying a chance to be creative in her new line of work.

"Because it’s such a fabulous building, we hope to book workshops and meetings here in the future," adds Wilson.

Additional features include a common area inside the studio, measuring 650 square feet, that boasts a wood-over-rubber dance floor.

Financing for the building has been mainly private.

Grants are available for one-off events, says Proulx, but there is relatively little in terms of development grants.

Proulx adds he is grateful for support from financial backer Tracy Curly at the Squamish Credit Union, for assistance in securing a mortgage.

"She has been great, and came to visit the place two or three times."

Noted landscape designer and sculptor Jeff Brandner, of New York City, who recently purchased a home in Pemberton with his wife Chloe, will be at the opening.

Brandner assisted Proulx with constructing a basin form an old steel girder.

The artist has also been contracted by the City of New York to sculpt a park as a memorial to the Sept. 11 tragedy.

Confirmed artists at Solid Ground include painter Judith Bergeron, potter Kim King and wood carver Theo Mahood, as well as works in stone from Proulx, who says: "I dedicate all my work and hopes to children, earth, and the environment."

Additional artists include "wild things in wood" from Eric Scrag, wood turner Martin Thorne, stone sculptor Mike Tyler, and Kyle Bubbs of Molten Metal Works, who opened his own gallery just up the road last month.

Fibre artist Sue Bayley, Christie Fever, Meg Gallup, and Peter Owen Goodale will be attending, in addition to Robinibor Krepakevich, Mike Maca, and Clemins Machilek.

Painter Sonia Richardson and photographer Denyse Wilson will also attend.

Meanwhile executive chef Paul Moore will be on hand to serve appetizers alongside a bar sponsored by Peller Estates, Howe Sound Brewery, and Polaris Water.

"It’s going to be a damn friendly building!" adds Proulx.

For more information about Stone Hunter Studio or the show contact Robert Proulx at 604-894-1509 or Kathleen Wilson at 604-894-3626.

Artists at Stone Hunter

Wearable art: Borgi Rayen

Ceramics artist and Whistler resident Borgi Rayen may find more than one use for her purse.

Her signature clay handbags, available in black and coloured glazes, retain the shape of an actual handbag, complete with handles.

The stylish eye-catchers stand upright on tables and ledges, and stand out from your conventionally beautiful clay creation.

She calls them "clay funktionals."

"We had a wearable art competition in a studio in West Vancouver, a few housewives got together," says Rayen.

"It took another year for me to make one. But they’re very sturdy."

Rayen fires the ceramics at 1200 degrees in a bisque process, at her Creekside studio home.

Rayen’s pottery work, which also includes faces and flower pots, can be found at the Farmer’s Market every Sunday at the Galleria in Pemberton.

Metal mania: Roy C. Mackey

Metal sculptor Roy C. Mackey is one of several artists to show work at the studio. One of his pieces is a chair, imprinted with the image of a face on the back.

He has been working in steel for the past 18 years.

"I was doing metal work at an auto body shop, and the art sort of evolved from there," says Mackey.

He was interested in checking out the new studio, then Proulx invited him to be in the show after they chatted further about his unusual art medium, completed in 20-gage sheet steel.

At one time his work was displayed in Whistler. He now shows in Lund, B.C. as well as a gallery in Victoria.

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