A factory for local artists

A fundraiser for the Compendium Artist Market was held at the Media Hub in March. Photo by Dwayne Larson
A fundraiser for the Compendium Artist Market was held at the Media Hub in March. Photo by Dwayne Larson

By Brenlee Coates

The recipe for a multifaceted factory for artists is being cooked up by local graphic designer Ryan Poworoznik. His ambitious plan for the Compendium Artist Market includes a photography studio, art gallery, craft market and organic juice bar, all sharing space on a ground-level property at 564½ Main St.
“We’re planning on having a new art show once a week, which is apparently an insane idea from what I’m hearing,” says Poworoznik.
His lofty goals don’t end there – his idea was for the craft market to be up-and-running at all hours that the artist market is open, which are many. The Compendium is slated to be open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to midnight Thursday to Sunday. Because he has already hit a few snags along the way, he’s beginning to shift his thinking for the initial opening.
“I think I was hoping to be open a year ago probably,” Poworoznik laughs. “For the opening, we’re hoping to have the art gallery and the craft market going.”
The craft market will run Friday through Sunday to test its feasibility.
If it stays on schedule, the Compendium is currently set to open its doors in June or July.
The property has to be completely redone, but Poworoznik is hoping to stay true to a 19th century, working class-inspired design. “I’m trying to keep it as close to looking like a recreation as possible,” he says.
Reclaimed flooring has already been installed – a more expensive option – but Poworoznik wants to keep the building as eco-friendly as possible. “I think it’s the right thing to do,” he says.
In late March, Poworoznik held a fundraiser for the Compendium at the Media Hub on Princess Street where art was donated for an auction.
Support has been pouring in for the Compendium since his idea took shape, and it extended to the auction. “Over 50 artists had donated stuff,” says Poworoznik. “Even on the day of the event, I was still getting emails. I didn’t have any space on the walls anymore.”

Art for auction at the Compendium fundraiser. Photo by Dwayne Larson
Art for auction at the Compendium fundraiser. Photo by Dwayne Larson

The Compendium was able to raise approximately $5,000 from the success of the evening.
The turnout showed there is an appetite for his artist market and this type of community gathering, as well. “There’s a lot of interest. The supporters have been awesome,” he says.
“I just want people to come out there and enjoy the community – (and) use it to support social awareness,” says Poworoznik. “It’s one of the most important parts of the business for me.”
Besides the arts and crafts component, Poworoznik plans on hosting all types of events in his space.
Workshops and classes, film screenings, speakers and fashion shows will find their home at the Compendium.
Even among the art showcased at his gallery, he hopes to include a ton of diversity. “I’d like to work it out to have different styles so you’re going to like something if you come.”

A sample of a range of works donated to the Compendium by local artists and artisans. Photo by Dwayne Larson
A sample of a range of works donated to the Compendium by local artists and artisans. Photo by Dwayne Larson

He hopes to encourage more graphic designers like his self to showcase typography work and even hopes to affiliate with tattoo artists and hairstylists.
Live hairstyling and fashion shows are just some of the unorthodox plans he has for the market. “I already have a wedding booked in August,” he says.
The final push to get his doors open may depend on crowdfunding success. The Compendium is aiming for a $5,000 goal with a Kickstarter campaign. It has an all-or-nothing clause so if the goal isn’t reached, any pledges are refunded.
The idea for the Compendium came from Poworoznik’s own frustrations when trying to get into an existing studio in the city.
He ended up taking an in-house graphic design position after completing his studies – but it wasn’t for him. “Because I didn’t really find the opportunity that I wanted, I decided I’d make my own opportunity.”
Honing in on others’ experiences like his own, he created a space that is simple for artists to get involved with.
“Everything is pretty much rentable there,” says Poworoznik. The photography studio will be rentable by the hour; its twenty craft vendor tables will be rentable by the day; and the walls are rentable by the square foot. “You can rent kind of as much or as little as you want,” he says.
The organic juice bar will be added likely after the initial opening of the space, once it has generated a few extra dollars to purchase equipment and fresh produce. Poworoznik plans to use as much local fruit as possible, and where that isn’t possible, he’ll get it “from Canada at the very least.”
He hopes having the nearby Sport for Life Centre may garner customers for the healthy juice bar.
But all this will come in due time. “The expenses are just endless with this project,” he says.
Looking back, he wouldn’t do anything differently.
“I wanted to be in the Exchange District. In the next couple years, stuff in the area is going to start to grow.
“I definitely like that younger people are opening businesses. I think it’s what our city needs.
But it’s so difficult that I’m surprised it even happens.”

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