Artists supporting artists at Coast Collective

Coast Collective is bursting at the seams with inspiration

Terri Rodstrom is one of five women who run Colwood's Coast Collective which houses a gallery

Working out of one small office in a heritage house, the five women of Coast Collective help organize and support the work of nearly 300 artists.

Everything from paintings to pottery to CDs to handmade toys and pretty much anything else you can imagine, can be found in every nook and cranny of the collective’s home and gift shop at Pendray House in Colwood. Old closets have been converted into shelving for displays, the collection is spread throughout multiple rooms and you can hardly see the walls from all that hang on them.

But it works.

“It all just fit so well,” said Terri Rodstrom, director. “It’s such a great destination and I’m so proud of everybody and how it all works together.”

Four years ago Rodstrom and three other artists started the collective out of a desire to create a place for artists that was truly for artists. It was to be a place where artists could display and sell their works, network with other artists, learn from one another and feel as though they were part of a community.

A fifth organizer got involved, the community grew and the collective ended up with 10,000 visitors in its first two years.

“We’d all been a part of guilds and organizations and they move so slowly when somebody gets an idea,” Rodstrom said. “So, it was, ‘we’d like to do something but have things move faster, make decisions quickly, not go through months and months of debate and things like that.’ And really, that’s how it got to be as big as it is so quickly.”

The location, the scenery, the art and the spirit of the place all come together to form something of a mecca for artists, that encourages, teaches, showcases and inspires everyone, including the visitors.

“A visitor that comes to an arts centre obviously has something in them that they want to create,” Rostrom said. “So when they come here … they go away thinking they’re going to get creative or take a class or do something. So I think we spur people on all the time.”

Nine artists have studios on site, including potter Belle Leon and photovoltaic glass artist Sandra Fowler. Classes and workshops are also held in the space.

In the gallery, which was the original enormous dining room in the house, the collective hosts its more official shows. Shows rotate every two or three weeks and are sometimes juried selections, sometimes by invitation only and at other times, the space is rented by a particular artist to display their works.

At present, the gallery is booked for shows until the end of 2013. Until June 17, the gallery is home to Variations, an invitation-only collection of artists with a wide variety of styles and mediums, including painter Mark Heine and found-object metal artist Karen Lancey.

“We’re artists. We like representing artists. We like hanging work,” Rodstrom said. “It’s fun. Who wouldn’t want to do it?”

The Coast Collective Art Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m at 3221 Heatherbell Rd., Colwood.