Founder Monika Blichar-Solo Show June 30, 2017

All artists have their thing.
Picasso had his funny people. Dali had his crazy ideas. Monet had his garden.


Monika Blichar has many things and not just one. A leader on the Vancouver Art Scene since 2009, she has been working with vigor to create community through art by way of events, classes, workshops, art tours and her own work.

Since 2009, she has produced Art World Expo successfuly seven times at Science World in Vancouver and Hard Rock in Toronto. She has taught thousands of students via MAB Art Studio & Boutique Gallery including adults and kids. For kids who haven’t been able to pay, she also set up a foundation where funds are raised to help give opportunities to kids who wouldn’t normally be able to join in. The foundation also supports Art World Expo and hundreds of artists annually gain a platform to show and sell work, auction off their pieces and for artists in need, the foundation pulls together resources to support them during times of difficulty. She has also founded local and international art retreats in British Columbia and Europe and has taken amateur and experienced artists to places like Paris, Bergerac, the Dordogne River, Amsterdam, Wroclaw, Gdansk and Warsaw. In addition to all of this, she creates her own work. 

On Friday, June 30, you are cordially invited to step into the world of Monika Blichar. Attendees can view and purchase paintings, prints, photography, jewellery and accessories by Monika. (Prices range from $10-$5,000.00) This will be Monika’s first official Solo Show where she will share works created over the last 20 years-some never before seen pencil drawings, sketches, and paintings. Further, the solo show will kick off a year long exhibition nationally and abroad at partner locations. If you’ve always wanted a Blichar piece or are looking for unique gift ideas, be sure to swing by on Friday evening.

In addition to Monika’s work, guests will also have the opporutnity to purchase works from local artisans featured at Art World Expo and at the gallery on an ongoing basis including Art by Edy, Carolyn Bruce Designs, West Coast Hatters, Coastal Storm Gallery, Deanna ArtForms, Danielle Rondeau, K-OME, Chelsea Sinclare, Art by Elizabeth Hill, Mojan Nejati, Bellessence Cosmetics, The Copper Kat, OddMint Designs, and Slate Jewelry.

For more information and to see a preview of the works avaialable, be sure to visit the Facebook Event Page HERE

Feature AWE Artist at MAB Art Studio-Marilyn McKee

by Monika Blichar, Owner and Producer Art World Expo

I first met Marilyn Mckee in 2010 when producing the first of a series of events; now known as Art World Expo produced in Vancouver and Toronto. Drawn to her talent in jewellery making back then, I knew that she was a treasure and kept my eyes on her.  I think back to all those phone calls I made to check in over the years and wonder at how she could stand me asking about her art and progress. I wasn’t a customer after all; just an agent and promoter keeping tabs on her. Through my eyes, I knew that she was something special.  I am really pleased that I kept in touch as today, she is the first feature artist of 2016 in my studio and gallery in North Vancouver.


If you haven’t met Marilyn, I will tell you that behind the stunning pieces is a truly wonderful woman who is not only a talented artist but an accomplished professional, mother and community member. Marilyn McKee is a member of the Tsit Gitanee (Eagle) clan of the Haida Nation, whose roots are from the islands of Haida Gwaii; world famous for its natural beauty and talented artists. Aside from creating, Marilyn is an active mother and grandmother and contributes to the community regularly. She is currently the President of Raycam Community Centre; the only community center in the Lower Mainland to offer free programs for kids and adults. She has been with the organization for over 10 years and has done everything from leading art projects to sewing 50 Halloween costumes.


Since a child, Marilyn has always had an artistic ability. Even when asking her about her work and photographing her for this article, her childlike joy and wonder shine through in her smile and in the way she talks about her work. She is at ease with her imagination and an innocence about her talent has stayed within her spirit. She is inspired by traditional stories and moulds them into her art with a modern twist, incorporating Celtic design, Fairies and mermaids amongst more traditional Northwest Coast elements. Her most popular are the Fairies; which are breathtaking in both jewellery and paintings to say the least.


As an artist myself, I feel privileged to have seen her art evolve into an array of beautiful works ranging from jewellery, drums, and paintings. I look forward to sharing our space with her essence this month; not only because of the beauty of the works but also to see an another artist’s work through my eyes and through those of our visitors.

Unafraid and experimental with her work, MAB Art Studio & Boutique Gallery is pleased to have Marilyn McKee as the January 2016 feature artist. Her use of many unconventional methods in her artwork result in a fresh look at the knowledge and richness her Haida culture.


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For more information, please visit Mab Art Studio 

All pieces featured are listed in the Facebook.


Thank you to our sponsors BLUSH Vancouver Magzine and Twin Peaks Construction.

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Free Spirit & Whimsy An Interview with Cyrena Jean Riches of Gypsy Jean Jewellery

By Alyssa Laube

About: Cyrena, owner of Gypsy Jean Jewellery, lives in the Greater Vancouver area with her husband Rob, young son Carson, and cocker spaniel Eddie. She has been making jewellery since childhood and launched her brand, Gypsy Jean, about three years ago.


Can you explain the name of your company, Gypsy Jean?


It was a nickname I was given way back when I tried my hand at tarot card readings! My Irish gran was Jean, and my mom and I share the middle name Jean, so it’s definitely a tribute to the women that have inspired my creativity and jewellery making.

You first started making jewellery when you were a child. Can you recount how that began?

I was first introduced to jewellery craft at summer camp when I learned how to make friendship bracelets. It evolved from there when my mom bought me some tools, wire and beads. I started selling them on my street corner just so I could go buy more supplies! Also, I’ve always been a bit of a wondering soul, and my first designs were inspired by my set of aura rocks.


How did your grandmother influence you?

With a walk-in closet packed full of colourful outfits and tiny shoes, my Irish gran (Jean) talked to me about my dreams and my future Prince Charming while she let me play in that little girl’s fashion wonderland! She had new accessories for every single dress! Actually, both of my grandmothers were also artistic and crafty. They inspire me to follow my dreams and heart every day.

Can you explain how Bohemian style is a part of your work?

Free spirit and whimsy inspire my unique designs. I like to use eye-catching charms and gemstones that are thoughtfully put together, but with no rules! I just go with what I love and hope that others will love it too.

Where do you find your materials?

Everywhere and anywhere! I can’t use just one supplier because part of the fun is the hunt, and it gives each piece it’s own story. From taking apart and up-cycling pieces of vintage jewellery, to online finds and boutique treasures, I want my jewellery to make you feel good!

What is your favourite type of jewellery to make?

Because i’ve worked in many different styles and mediums, I go through stages. Right now, i’m loving my “convertible necklaces” featuring colourful semi-precious stones, charms and Swarovski crystals. They are one-of-a-kind and can be worn as a bracelet or necklace. Actually, every piece I make is my favourite until I make the next…Then it’s my new favourite!

On your website, you’ve said that you’re inspired by your travels. Where have you travelled that has inspired you artistically?

I have been across the United States and to England, Ireland, and Scotland! I have watched glass beads being made beside a canal in Venice and an old woman hand beading intricately (and at record speed) on the streets of Mexico! Finally, being a tourist in my own beautiful city inspires me every day.

At Gypsy Jean, you pride yourself on being unique. What is it about your jewellery that is so different?

I want to keep my jewellery one-of-a-kind, versatile and good quality, but also at affordable price points. I also like to make pieces that you can wear in different ways. If you can’t can’t have fun with your accessories, what’s the point, right? When you love what you’re wearing, you feel good, and that gives us confidence. Overall, I love to make women feel confident and happy!

Take a closer look at Gypsy Jean Jewellery at:



Thank you to our Platinum Sponsor Twin Peaks! 

Little Works of Art: Quality over Quantity

An Interview with Pam Jackson of Street Cat Designs

By Alyssa Laube


About: Street Cat Designs jewellery is a symphony of elegant gemstones, freshwater pearls and precious metals wrapped, coiled, crocheted and knitted into exquisite works of wearable art.They are hand-made by Vancouver designer Pam Jackson, who will be exhibiting at this year’s Art World Expo.



What makes Street Cat Designs jewellery unique?

The uniqueness of my work comes from the techniques I use. I make everything except for chains and clasps myself. I don’t use moulds or pre-made components, so even if I were to try to duplicate a piece, no two would be exactly the same.


What sort of materials do you use in your jewellery?

I use sterling silver and 14K gold fill wire in varying gauges, along with natural gemstones, freshwater pearls and Swarovski Crystals and Pearls. I don’t use any plated or base metals.

Where do you find your materials?

I have a number of sources for my materials, but the most important is my metals. I get them from the U.S.. They are certified and follow the European Union directive for jewellery metals. This directive regulates the metals in an alloy, so we are guaranteed that none of my jewellery will contain any amount of nickel or lead. My chains and clasps come from the same distributor and follow the same directives.

Why is the quality of your materials so important to you?

The fine quality of the materials contributes to the longevity of my jewellery. Each piece takes a huge number of hours to complete, so I want to use the best materials possible while still keeping it affordable. It makes sure that your piece will last and last.

What is your favourite material to use?

The gemstones I incorporate into my jewellery are determined by many factors. A lot of the time, it’s my mood that decides what I use. Every gemstone has it’s own properties; Some will calm the mind or soothe the soul, some will aid in clarity and inner strength, etc.. As I combine the gemstones, they’ll form an elixir of sorts that will continue to aid the person who ends up owning the piece. Other times, it’s simply the colours of the gemstones that pop out from my messy workspace!

Why is it important to you to create your jewellery entirely by hand?  

Oh gosh, there are many reasons. I guess that the number one reason is because I can! It also allows me to know the quality of the materials. Once you start to buy your components, you lose the purity of the work. I love to take the wire and loop, coil, wrap, crochet and knit it into little works of art.

Can you list some ways that you find inspiration?

My inspiration comes from so many places and things! From the messy desk, to current and past fashion, nature, and the gemstone properties, each piece is dictated by the mood I’m in or what i’m being influenced by. It could be something like the music or t.v. show I’m listening to, or even sunlight being filtered through the huge laurel tree outside of my studio window.

How would you describe your designing style?

I once had someone describe a pair of earrings as “little fairy gardens for your ears”. I like that.

Why do you love making jewellery?

It calms my mind and gives me a sense of peace, serenity and accomplishment. Also, it just thrills me that people want to wear it!

Where can customers find your products?

My work is available at Fine Finds, Blushing Boutique, Jeweliette, Two of Hearts (all downtown Vancouver), Favourite Gifts (Lonsdale Quay), Noir Lash Lounge (Lower Lonsdale), Tiny Finery (East Hastings), Juvelisto (Steveston), Muddy River Landing (Ladner), and Just Jewellery (South Surrey).

It is also available at Portobello West Fashion and Art Markets, and a number of other markets around town. You can check my website for updates on markets at

Making Life Interesting-An Interview with Carolyn Bruce

An Interview with Steampunk Designer Carolyn Bruce

by Alyssa Laube



Photo Credit


1. How would you describe your business, The Painted Cookie & Carolyn Bruce Designs?

The Painted Cookie is craft-based…papier mache masks and animals, tea giftware, designer tea infusers and tea related items of jewellery and decoration.

2. How did you get started in crafts and designing?

Carolyn Bruce Designs is jewellery based, the majority is my twist on Steampunk; Jules Verne meets Queen Victoria…statement pieces of wearable art…embellished boots and robot jewellery…

3. Were you influenced as an artist by your family or home town?

25 years ago as a stay-at-home-mother…it was a necessity to make ends meet and it has now developed into a full-time career path…

4.You design quite the variety of products. With so many unique ideas, how do you keep yourself inspired?

Inspiration is everywhere…one only needs to touch something and the process begins automatically…often at an alarming speed…not something one can turn off…my mind is at least a year ahead of my physical capabilities…

5.Who was your main inspiration growing up and how has it changed from then?

Entrepreneurial parents who were into Pottery and Oriental Art…they still continue to inspire me to work hard and push myself.

6. How have you developed as an artist, both professionally and personally?

In the last 3 years I have started to gain confidence in myself and my work and have pushed through many fears and dived head first into jewellery…self-taught…I am ignoring the jewellery stereotypes and naysayers and going where my creativity takes me…TRUSTING MYSELF!

7. How did you receive your training?

I am trained as a designer…industrial and interior…worked as a graphic designer both here and in NZ…a lot of my training has been on the job experience.


Photo Credit Cogit Ergo Shoot


8. Do you like experimenting with your art and if so, in what ways?

Yes…love to use non-conventional materials and everyday items in unconventional ways…I use many organic pieces such as branches and rocks in my work…

9. What type of environment do you prefer to work in (ie: a studio, home, etc.)?

I work in my studio…which is in total chaos most of the time…I do not thrive in a tidy restrictive environment…

10. Where do you get inspiration for your art?

Anywhere and everywhere…ideas jump off the page of the newspaper…someone’s conversation…the thrift shop…exposing oneself to other environments and cultures…always have an open mind to possibilities…and they will come to you…

11. Do you have a favorite memory that has come out of your business?

A memory of how many people said it was stupid and what I wanted to do was impossible…I love a challenge and will try anything and look forward to seeing their faces one day…

12. What is your favorite (and least favorite) thing about being an artist?

Favourite…work on your own schedule …create all day long…

Least Favourite…inconsistent flow of money …criticism of ”friends” who think you are insane…!!!

13. Did you always want to be an artist? If not, what did you want to be and  when/why did you change your mind?

Yes…have made art in various mediums since I was 3 or 4…loved to make things and my mother would sell them to stores…

I wanted to be an architect but physics…a prerequisite…was not my forte…so went to Design School instead…


 …Art is an ever-evolving process and as an artist one is always changing…makes life interesting…

Visit Carolyn’s Facebook Page for more information: