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Braid Street Studios moves into Port Coquitlam

Celebrated artist and author Susan Greig, the founder of 100 Braid Street Studios in New Westminster, sets up her rebranded business in Port Coquitlam.

Susan Greig followed her instincts when Amy Savoie invited her into her woodworking shop in Port Coquitlam.

At the time, Greig had been scrambling to find a new space for her 46 artists-in-residence at 100 Braid Street Studios in New Westminster.

That arts hub — on the site of B.C.’s first distillery — was slated to close Nov. 30 to make way for Wesgroup’s new residential development near the Braid SkyTrain station.

Savoie had been an admirer of Greig’s: She was on the waitlist for two years to get into 100 Braid Street Studios and had attended many of her special events when she called Greig out of the blue to tour her unit at 701-2017 Kingsway Ave., in PoCo.

After all, she thought, there was enough room to accommodate at least one more artist plus a small gallery for exhibitions. “It was almost like I was wooing her here,” Savoie recalled, “but I knew it would be a good fit.”

Savoie’s storefront and small warehouse turned out to be “perfect, and just where I needed to be,” said Greig who soon set up her studio in the front side room — a bright space with enough room to hold her easels, and a table to launch her new business model.

Rebranded as Braid Street Studios, the company intends to run satellite artists’ studios around Metro Vancouver from Greig’s new home base in Port Coquitlam.

It’s a change of pace for the celebrated landscape artist and author who founded 100 Braid Street Studios six years ago with the aim to paint, write, mentor other visual artists and provide them with much-needed studios.

In fact, 100 Braid Street Studios was a bucket list item for Greig who, at the time, worked as a parent support in the healthcare system following the loss of her eight-year-old daughter.

Diagnosed with PTSD, Greig decided to switch careers and, with financial assistance from an aboriginal group, the Métis artist began 100 Braid Street Studios, which quickly became the go-to venue for artists around the Lower Mainland — not only to create but to network and honour the fine arts.

Last May, when Wesgroup gave Greig six months to leave — a few months into the pandemic — she scoured the suburbs to find suitable space but nothing worked out: There wasn’t enough parking or the access was poor for the artists, she said.

Greig knew she had a letter of understanding from Wesgroup that she would have the first right of refusal for its 4,300 sq. ft. art studios in New Westminster but that development is years away from being complete. And the new space would only accommodate up to 10 of her artists-in-residence, she said.

Using PoCo as her pivot, Greig could expand Braid Street Studios to Richmond, Coquitlam and Burnaby, for example, so that her artists-in-residence are able to work in their own communities. 

The shift has not only gotten Grieg to take stock but it’s also forced her to slow down and focus on herself. “Over the last six years, I have loved this business but I didn’t have time to paint because I was always so busy,” she said. “Now, I have time to explore and catch up.”

Now, Greig said she plans to immerse herself in the PoCo arts community (she introduced herself at last Thursday’s Cultural Roundtable virtual meeting) and, next month, she’ll host her first artist-in-residence show under the Braid Street Studios banner.

On March 8, to coincide with International Women’s Day, she’ll also be featured in a new book called pursuit: 365 alongside other Canadian luminaries such as musicians Jann Arden and Bif Naked.

Greig feels she’s on the right path for Braid Street Studios — and herself.

“I feel like the universe is speaking to me,” she said. “There is good energy all around me, and it’s showing in my painting because I’m so happy.”