Wells artists Claire Kujundzic and Bill Horne outside their Amazing Space Studio and Gallery, which will close after 24 years in spring 2019. Lindsay Chung photo

Amazing Space Studio and Gallery to close after 24 years

Wells artists Claire Kujundzic and Bill Horne preparing for big move in spring 2019

Lindsay Chung

Observer Contributor

Art, community, politics and the environment have all been important parts of Claire Kujundzic and Bill Horne’s lives.

For the past 24 years, the community and environment they’ve called home has been Wells, but in spring 2019, the full-time artists, who own and operate Amazing Space Studio and Gallery, will be living and creating in a new community.

Kujundzic and Horne will begin taking down the gallery after the winter to prepare to move to Vancouver Island. The Amazing Space building, which used to be Holy Rosary Catholic Church and was originally constructed in 1939-40, is for sale.

The main impetus for the move is to be closer to Kujundzic’s family in Victoria. They couple will live right next to Kujundzic’s mother, who turns 90 next year.

As Kujundzic and Horne prepare for their big move, they will still be open and set up over the winter.

Amazing Space will be open by request until the couple leaves. Visitors can contact Kujundzic and Horne to plan a visit to the gallery at 2338 Bowman Crescent.

“It’s likely that we’ll be scaling down the gallery over the winter and packing up things and moving at the end of May,” says Horne. “We’re still here so people can call us, ring the bell, come and visit, see things, get stuff.”

The winter months will be the last chance to buy directly from Kujundzic and Horne.

“We’d like to see people over the winter,” says Kujundzic. “It would be fun to see people who have visited us over the last 24 years and who know us.”

Once the gallery is closed, Jack O’ Clubs General will still carry a small selection of their artwork.

Kujundzic and Horne moved to Wells in 1995.

Originally, Horne was invited by Island Mountain Arts (IMA) to teach water-based screen printing in the early 1990s.

“I had never been to Wells,” he recalls. “I came up with a friend and liked it.”

Horne was invited back the next summer, and Kujundzic came with him.

“At the time, we’d been looking for a place where we could buy and set up a base,” recalls Horne, noting they had considered living in Prince Rupert, Nanaimo and the Kootenays. “Claire discovered this building was available, and we ended up buying it.”

The building needed a lot of work, and they began a massive renovation in 1999, adding 1,700 square feet on three floors, while maintaining the character of the building. They didn’t really move in until the fall of 2003, although not even completely. Kujundzic moved into the building in 2003, but at that time, Horne had been hired as the summer program co-ordinator and spiritual pathway co-ordinator at the Naramata Centre near Penticton. He worked there for two years. Kujundzic joined him, and then they came back to Wells.

While they were renovating the old church, Kujundzic and Horne stayed in Marie Nagel’s basement, rented at the Wells Apartments and rented a house across the street.

They had a setback in the winter of 2005, as Horne was wrapping up his time at the Naramata Centre, when the ground floor flooded, and insurance wouldn’t cover it.

“A lot of people from the community came and helped us, which was really, really wonderful,” says Horne.

Kujundzic and Horne have both done a lot of art in different styles and different media.

Kujundzic has done a huge body of work based on the pine beetle epidemic and changing forests, some of which she took to international science conferences.

Kujundzic and Horne have both had large solo shows at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George and they have done shows farther afield, such as in Basque Country in Spain. Kujundzic’s forest-based Cariboo show at the Two Rivers Gallery also went to Williams Lake, Kaslo and Castlegar, and they took parts of that show to science conferences in Spain. Kujundzic has done work for the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, and her work was installed in the athletes’ living rooms during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver.

Horne’s Behind the Lines exhibition, which was shown at Two Rivers Gallery, is political work based on the responses he received to letters he wrote to politicians and influential figures and has been a big part of his life.

In addition to creating a lot of art about where they are, the couple has also done a lot of art for production, such as screen printing shirts for local groups, and Horne has designed many books for Cariboo photographer Chris Harris.

Horne also used to write a column about art and politics for the Observer, and this year, he began publishing The Drift newspaper in Wells. He is hoping to pass the publication on so that it continues after they move.

Since moving to Wells, Kujundzic and Horne have been involved in many different groups and causes.

Kujundzic was president of the Wells and District Chamber of Commerce for a few years. They both served on the board of IMA, and Horne was president for a time. They’ve been involved in supporting the local trails, as well as causes outside of Wells.

When School District 28 was trying to close the Wells school, Kujundzic and Horne became involved in the Save Our Schools campaign in 2002, and Kujundzic started a hunger strike. They did a lot of fundraising, and Horne produced the Nude Cariboo History fundraising calendars for IMA.

As they think about moving next year, both Horne and Kujundzic will miss the building itself, as they have put so much of themselves into it.

“I’d never done renovations before, and I learned a lot about that and different skills,” says Horne. “A lot of our building is made with reclaimed fir, so there’s a lot of my own handiwork in it. I’ll miss the actual physical features of the building, as well as the space. There are people I’m very fond of that I’ll miss. The lakes, the mountains and snow. I love snow. I love winter and winter light.”

Kujundzic also thinks of the people when she thinks of what she will miss about Wells.

“Some of the really fine, good people here,” she says. “Some of the connections we’ve made, in particular over the last couple of years because the longer you stay somewhere, the more you see.”

The building itself also holds a lot of connections and memories for Kujundzic.

“Of course, the beautiful staircase Bill built to go up to the third floor and the warmth of the building,” she says. “This amazing project that mostly Bill pulled off with his planning and work and help from family and friends and hired people. The sound system in this building. The railing my sister made.

“I will really miss having the space to work and live and entertain people. We’ve had a place to look at our own work and figure it out. Sharing a living and working space is a huge deal. Not many people get to share a life and work space and do the same work. We don’t do the same work at all, but mostly couples have two different work lives and they have two different work places. We’ve entertained many, many people here, whether it’s for a cappuccino up front or for dinner … and it’s people we knew well and people we didn’t know well but got to know as a result of this building.”

Kujundzic and Horne will both miss being connected with Quesnel as well.

“It has been great living close to Quesnel, Quesnel being ‘town,’” says Horne. “There have been some really great people we are going to miss.”

To learn more about Amazing Space Studio and Gallery, visit amazingspacestudio.com. To arrange a visit, call 250-994-2332.

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