A small building behind the Wynndel Community Hall has seen a lot of change in its lifetime. Once the changing room for the long-gone swimming pool, it has now become the Wynndel Arts Centre.
The arts centre grew out of volunteer renovations to make the building suitable for a pottery group, which became the Wynndel Mudders. Original Mudders Sandy Kunze and Bruce Johnston have since worked to expand the building’s use for workshops and classes.
“We decided it was time to get more utilization out of what is a very nice little structure, and to get more community involvement in arts and cultural programs,” Johnston said. “We need to do more than just pottery.”
Johnston said he used the Vernon Arts Centre as a model, and got ideas about how to organize an arts centre from it as well.
“Our only real obstacle was to have some way of taking registration and payment for classes,” Kunze, an artist who works in a variety of media, said.
“Then we talked to the College of the Rockies and found out they could handle that end for us,” Johnston said. “They told us we have become their ‘art campus.’ ”
The building is ideal, he said, because it has an easily cleaned concrete floor and laundry sinks.
“It’s the perfect set up for lots of different classes,” he said. “Now, Sandy has been using her network of artist friends to publicize the arts centre and see if they are interested in giving courses.”
Early classes, held mostly on weekends, have included a beginner’s clay workshop, tile mosaics, ceramic jewelry and learning to draw.
Also in the works is an after-school teen program that will include a variety of arts, including clay work, drawing, painting, printmaking and jewelry making.
“We have Cory Cannon involved and he will teach airbrushing,” Kunze said.
On a recent Saturday, Cannon was giving drawing lessons to a group of six adults. The next day, popular Creston Valley Farmer’s Market vendor Bea von Allmen was teaching students how to make ceramic jewellery.
“We are also working to make the studio available to individual artists to create their own work,” Johnston said. “There is a $2 drop-in fee. What we want is a place that people can just drop in to use the place whenever it is available and convenient for them.”
Visiting artists will also be invited to conduct workshops in their specialty. Kunze said the grounds around the building make it suitable for outdoor raku firing, a technique the Wynndel Mudders have promoted over the years.
And the pair sees opportunities to expand the uses for the building.
“I don’t know why we couldn’t offer, for instance, a Thai cooking class,” Johnston said. “All that’s really required to take on something new is a really interested person to support the activity.”
The Wynndel Arts Centre website is now under construction. In the meantime, course offerings are promoted on posters around town and on the College of the Rockies website, www.cotr.bc.ca/creston.