INSIDE GRAEME’S STUDIO

Photos by Katrin Braga shot exclusively for Bast. Studio artwork by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Shawn Hunt and Graeme Berglund including photos of Graeme’s older work.

Graeme Berglund is an artist from Vancouver BC. Graeme, co-founded The Cheaper Show that revolutionized the Vancouver art scene, giving young artists a platform to showcase and sell their work.
We here at Bast decided to visit Graeme at his beautiful studio in East-Vancouver and asked him few questions about his life and work.

When did your interest in art begin?
I grew up in a small town called Cloverdale, a farming community within the urban sprawl and lawnmower chorus line of Surrey – The City of Parks. The middle child of a middle class family with parents who have been married since my Mom was 17, my father five years her senior. With Cloverdale not being the cultural matrix I might have chosen, my parents constantly ensured that life was as rich as possible, presenting us with as many books, films, sports and travel as possible. My earliest memories are of my mother drawing with oil pastels at the kitchen table and my father playing his guitar in the living room. My parents saw an early interest in the arts for me and they encouraged me as much as possible as they did with my brother, an athlete and my sister, a writer.

You share your studio with fellow artists and friends. How does it affect your creativity being surrounded by each other?
I share a large studio space with Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and Shawn Hunt, both West Coast Native artists working in a highly contemporary take on traditional West Coast Salish principles. Lawrence, at the age of 57, has firmly placed himself in the annals of Canadian Art History. It could be argued that at this point he is in fact the biggest living painter in Canada. The National Gallery of Canada is giving him a full career retrospective in 2017, one of the greatest honors one could receive in this country. Pretty fortunate to share space with someone like this.

Shawn Hunt, of Heltsik Nation, is a master carver/jeweler trained by his father. He’s relocated from the Sunshine Coast to dedicate himself to painting full time. He’s gone from being rather rudimentary to a highly sophisticated in style and approach in just two years time. He is highly disciplined when he is in the studio, more than anyone I’ve known. My family background is Swedish/British, third generation Canadian on both sides. There has never been any sense of these nationalities within my family and their enclosed culture. Sharing space with these two, has put me in the position of reflecting on my own sense of history, ancestry or lack thereof. I stand as this White Male North American without right or reason to speak of true strife, other than my own personal interaction with the larger world. I find it very inspiring to see the craft, dedication and concepts that Shawn and Lawrence apply to their practice. Rife with meaning; while embracing and estranging their own roots it makes me dig my hands further into the soil to determine my own.

Tell me a little bit about The Cheaper Show.
Myself and two friends, Syx and Breadman, started an annual event in 2001 that promoted emerging artists and welcomed new buyers into a developing local market. The Cheaper Show, at its height showcased 200 international artists with all of the highly curated work selling for the same affordable price across the board. We brought out ten of thousands of patrons in an eleven year period and sold over $250,000 in $75 – $200 pieces. The show had a big impact in the art market here and really helped add a momentary boost to the art economy. Vancouver is very lean when it comes to large spaces for such events and with us needing 30,000+ sq ft space to host the event we have officially outgrown the city and are now turning our focus on the international market from which we have received much interest. I am taking some time to explore my own art practice right now, but I am in the process of working with some investors and looking at what the future incarnation looks like as a franchise model or something of that nature. I’m going to be throwing myself back into the driver’s seat in the next year and I’m aiming to fulfill some big goals with the services we want to provide artists around the world both with the live event and the online experience. Much of this has been developed by conversations we’ve had with artists over the years, as was the greater vision of The Cheaper Show – we are really keen at listening to what artists really want from the event. As the art market floats in a state of flux between the high art, low art and such; the crucible must remain malleable to a certain extent. We are currently looking to build partnerships with leaders in international event production and the tech field who are interested in helping us take the show forward.

Where can I see more of your work?
I will be doing a solo show in the next year and until then some of my work will have a home online at graemeberglund.com. I am curating two shows in Vancouver in October and January. I release an album with my band Street Trials in the fall; the culmination of three years work. It’s a rock album in the era of rap and pop; see how well that goes.