The late Bonnie McComb Kreye inspired many people through her pottery and paintings. Now a handful of artists will get to seek inspiration in her Gordon Head studio, three months at a time.
In memory of his wife, Donald Kreye and his daughters Zoe Kreye and Sarah Marcotte are opening up Bonnie’s studio to three artists per year, through a studio residency with the Vancouver Island School of Art.
“My two daughters and I were looking for some way to commemorate her, to do something that she would’ve done herself, and the idea of having this studio available to people that needed it came up,” said Donald. “I knew if I left it, it would fill with garden stuff, so I thought I better do something.”
Wendy Welch, executive director of VISA, said the residency isn’t just a first for the school – it’s a first for Greater Victoria.
“We just kind of started talking about it, realizing that Victoria doesn’t really have an artist residency program,” she said. “We’re pretty excited since this hasn’t been done before in Victoria.”
Originally from Alberta, Bonnie and Donald moved to Salt Spring Island in the late ’70s, where Bonnie worked as a studio potter before becoming an art instructor. In the late ’80s, she began teaching art in the school district, mostly in alternative education programs.
“She had a real empathy and appreciated the students who were different, the students who were struggling, the students who had talents that weren’t recognized,” said Donald.
She retired in 2005 and continued making art, delving into abstract paintings. However, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in the spring of 2012, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing art and doing a solo show the following spring.
“She had well over a year of really good quality time,” said Donald. “She was doing chemo, but she was pretty active, still. She was really energetic and vigorous during that time.”
Bonnie passed away on Canada Day 2013, leaving behind her 30-square-metre studio. Now, two years later, the space is ready for someone else.
The private studio offers a serene setting for artists to hone their craft, with work tables, a washroom and a kitchenette. The residency is open to all artists of all disciplines, preferably those with a decent level of experience.
Three residency dates have been set for next year: Jan. 5 to March 31, May 2 to July 29 and Sept. 6 to Nov. 30. An exhibition is scheduled at the Slide Room Gallery, an independent non-profit art gallery, to showcase the artists’ work at the end of the year.
“One of the curatorial mandates is to have group shows, even if the work doesn’t necessarily go together,” said Welch. “If the work is quite different, that’s great.”
All lighting, heat, water and insurance costs are included and its location is within walking distance to UVic, buses, grocery stores, cafés and green spaces. However, it does not include housing or travel cost, but VISA will offer assistance to out-of-town applicants in finding accommodations.
The application deadline for all three residency dates is the end of November. Those interested are asked to submit a CV, 10 digital images of recent work, 300 to 500 words outlining your project plans for the residency and preferred residency dates.
Donald said he hopes the program will preserve Bonnie’s memory for years to come while influencing artists of numerous styles and backgrounds.
“Bonnie had spent her life as an artist and a supporter of the arts, and I think it’s a way of keeping her name current and to give something back to the community that was supportive of her,” he said.
For more information, visit vancouverisland schoolart.com/kreyestudioresidency.html.