Binkley Studio – End of an Era, Part Two




michael binkley sculptor in stone sculpture gallery moodyville north vancouver canada

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.

michael binkley sculptor in stone sculpture gallery moodyville north vancouver canada

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.

michael binkley sculptor in stone sculpture gallery moodyville north vancouver canada

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…

22 Responses to “Binkley Studio – End of an Era, Part Two”

  1. Thank you Michael and Michelle for your courage and commitment to trust that you will make this new home and gallery a thriving life. You both model the joys of creative partnering. I send my best wishes to you both.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks, Brian. We will market the large scale sculptures from our new home, but the gallery and studio will be in a different location – Squamish, BC, Canada. That is currently under construction, with completion in the fall.

      Reply
  2. What a rich and wonderful story, Michael.

    Though it’s been quite a few years since I visited your amazing house/studio, it has always been something I’ve remembered. It was “remarkable” in that it was worthy of being remarked upon. What a cool life you and Michelle have created.

    I’m sure you will take the spirit with you to your new location. Wishing you all the best.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks for you kind words, John. We artists know the true depth of spirit it requires to create something worthwhile, whether it is a song, sculpture, painting, or a studio/gallery. Michelle and I are excited about the next chapter…

      Reply
  3. I’ve lived in the Moodyville area my whole life. Even when I was a kid riding my bike in that area, I always thought it was one of the most unique blocks in all of Vancouver. Your block was easily the hardest affected by the development on the wsterfront. Fourteen years ago our we were lucky enough to buy in the neighborhood. The highlight of trick or treating with my kids was visiting the outdoor gallery while the kids took all the candy they could. It was great to get to know you and Michelle. Victoria and I wish you all the best!!

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thank you for writing, Greg. Glad your family enjoyed it while it lasted. Hope to see you both soon!

      Reply
  4. Sean Sullivan

    As part of the assembly and a longtime(27 yrs) resident of the neighbourhood, I’m acutely aware of the dilemma, of having to fight hard so you may leave what you love behind. Thx to you, your better half & the executives(lol)for leading us to a satisfying resolution. I hope you’re not too badly bruised from all the “hits” you took in the process. You have Judy’s and my utmost respect and gratitude.
    Oh right this was supposed to be about the house/studio….uh, nice house!…glad you took pics!

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks, Sean and Judy. It was great while it lasted…

      Reply
  5. Randy Scott

    Welcome to Squamish ! My wife and I left North Van 25 years ago and have raised our 3 Daughters here, Loving every bit of this constantly changing community.
    I know you will enjoy it here as well.

    I will pass on this news to my sister Kelli Scott.

    Good Luck ! Randy Scott

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks, Randy. I’m looking forward to working there. The unit’s floor is being poured, so Michelle’s & my excitement is mounting…

      Reply
  6. Tracy and Graeme May

    So sorry to hear this. What are they doing there? Why did you all have to move?

    Reply
  7. Sandi Kalmar

    Oh, the memories and thrill of seeing your works, and picking the perfect piece to take home and enjoy forever. All those wonderful memories that have made both Glen & my life so much richer. Looking forward to making many more in your fabulous new home. Also can’t wait to visit the new studio in Squamish…….We love you guys and wish you ongoing success & happiness….Sandi & Glen

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Sandi & Glen, Thank you so much. So glad you still love all of your pieces. Thank you for your unwavering support for the past 37 years.

      Reply
  8. Larry Timlick

    Michael and Michelle congrats for taking on the world! I know that your future will be bright in Squamish and Symmone an I look forward to the first visit to your new creative world that you will now be making some of the most beautiful pieces of art on the West Coast!

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Larry & Symmone, Thank you for your kind words. We will let you know when the new doors open!

      Reply
  9. I remember my first impression walking into the gallery and as an artist I immediately fell in love with the space. Your amazing sculptures were so beautifully framed by the ambiance as well as the warmth shown by you and Michelle. We look forward to visiting your new location and we wish you both continued success.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thank you, Peter. While the new space will have a completely different vibe, we hope the “us” of Michelle and I will translate through, as before…

      Reply
  10. It’s a time of simplification, isn’t it? Getting to the essence of your work and letting ambitions go. Many wishes for this new step to you both.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks for writing, Tone, though I’m not sure with a 45 min. commute each way will a simplification? Nor am I one to let my ambitions go, either! Once my new studio and gallery are up and running, it’ll be full steam ahead! Ciao.

      Reply
  11. Cindy

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Wishing you joy & success in your new adventures. When you & Michelle touch something it turns to gold. May this wonderful alchemy continue. Love.

    Reply
    • Michael Binkley

      Thanks, Cindy. We’ll need all the Midas magic we can muster!!

      Reply

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