Binkley Studio – End of an Era, Part Two
As I said in “Part One,” Michelle and I have been producing and marketing my original fine art stone sculptures from our lovely 600 sf. gallery in Moodyville, North Vancouver, Canada for the past 32 years. With a bit of wistful sadness, we have closed the door on that gallery for the last time.
I purchased 535 East First Street as a bachelor trying to develop a career as a stone sculptor. I had been renting an apartment and a separate studio for three years when change reared its head and I had to vacate the studio. My parents encouraged me to get into home ownership, so I searched for a location where I could work from as well as live in. I have to admit, my parents found 535, and all three of us fell in love with the property. During the summer of 1985, my father helped me (or rather I helped him) build a garage as my studio at the rear of the property in the alley. I used the living room of the house as my exhibition gallery.
A year later, I met and fell in love with Michelle and she also (thankfully) loved the house. So together, we worked at my art career, slowly building it up over the ensuing decades.
In the spring of 1997, we paid off the mortgage – no mean feat, even in those days. And a few months later, we got right back into debt and added a magnificent gallery space onto the front of the house. Above is Michelle in front of the old house facade, standing in the excavated hole for the foundation for the gallery construction in October 1997. We made the executive decision to invest heavily in the business, and it paid off.
The design was such that we could close off the gallery to provide discretion when customers came to see sculpture, but integrated enough to allow us to use it as living space between customer visits. Part of my brand was delighting patrons with the ability to “go to the artist’s home,” and to see the art in a home-like environment. I felt this would assist buyers to envision their purchases in their own home. And it worked. The gallery had a soaring ceiling with large windows that allowed ample natural light to enter the space during the day and we installed trapeze track lighting for night viewing. Another important feature was one could see through the gallery from the front sculpture garden to the harbour and city view behind – something that no longer exists due to the Port expansion. The concrete floor allowed for very heavy stone sculpture to be exhibited and the hearth and fireplace added the home-like touch. Upstairs was a loft office overlooking the gallery and we commissioned my father to make built-in bookshelves, storage cabinets and desks for us. Our contractor won a Georgie Award for the design in 1998.
So for almost 20 years, if you wanted to get a Binkley sculpture, you came to my gallery. It was an impressive sight as you approached from the street and walked through the front sculpture garden. It has hosted over 40 art exhibitions, 2 weddings, countless dance parties, dozens of family and holiday events and was converted into a floral shop over 200 times for Michelle’s former career as a floral designer and wedding consultant. Finally, it was converted over 50 times to a meeting room for our 60 neighbours while Michelle and I project managed the largest land assembly in the history of the North Shore. This was in response to the lemons our community was given, and we made lemonade, giving everyone the choice to leave and therefore the reason for us leaving this location. The gallery owes us nothing.
So change has reared its head once again, and it is time for a new chapter in my career. Michelle and have moved to a new living space, and we have purchased a new gallery and studio combination property in the town of Squamish, Canada. This is under construction at present and will be ready in the fall of 2017. We have made a decision to split the business from home life and I will once again commute to work, as I once did in the early 1980s.
In May, this old house and gallery will be moved to Galiano Island, Canada to become the vacation home for our realtor.
Change is difficult and painful, especially for me. But Michelle and I have weathered major changes in the past and each time, we have advanced ahead in my work. I just have to trust the Universe and be confident that this new change will again be a good one…