Artist Carla Tak Has an Incredible Art Collection in her Olympic Village Home

The Vancouver-based painter gives us a tour of her artfully appointed condo.

Carla Tak may have picked up the paint-brush for the first time at age 50, but her destiny was cemented in childhood. She was just 12 when she had a vision that she was going to be an artist. It was a surprise, even to her: “I was a jock. I was on the boys’ soccer team. But I did a book report on Picasso and thought, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m going to be.’ It was just so clear.”

Life brought a few detours—dropping out of school at 14, moving to L.A. with a man twice her age the next year, a career in real estate, becoming a mother to her beloved daughter Hollis—but it eventually delivered her to the canvas… with a lot of therapy, and a little prompting. “My reiki master, who I’d worked with for 10 years, told me ‘You have homework. You have to paint. Don’t come back until you do.’ And she was serious,” says Tak. So she sat down at a canvas, and never looked back.

Twenty years later, Tak diligently walks to her studio at Parker St. six days a week to paint, but her bright Olympic Village apartment with its views of the North Shore mountains and the heritage buildings of Gastown offers ample inspiration in her off hours. Her husband Chris Smith—“he’s semi-retired, I guess!”—works away in the office or at the antique table in the living room. Tak’s been calling this space home for 13 years, since she scoped it out while working for developer Nat Bosa (though she spends plenty of time in L.A. visiting her daughter, whom she credits for “making my existence livable”). It’s part home, part personal gallery: the couple’s collection of pieces from both local artists and international talents covers the crisp white walls. Even the powder room features a striking lightbox from Dina Goldstein—The Last Supper.

Here, more practical pieces of home decor also have a curated feel to them. A 15-year-old velour-draped sofa sits next to a marble table Tak designed and had fabricated; a resin sculpture by Anthony Benjamin adds a pop of blue. “I like eclectic,” says Tak. “I need time to collect things with meaning, little by little.”

Photo: Tanya Goehring

Top Shelf Tak’s collection is ’60s and ’70s heavy, with an emphasis on post-war abstraction: think William Ronald, Henrietta Fauteux-Massé. There’s also Ian Wallace, Anthony Benjamin, Ron Stonier and Gordon Smith here. But, one can’t live on art alone, of course: Tak’s shelves also include cookbooks, art books and lots of wine.

Photo: Tanya Goehring

Power Piece The hefty Belgian wooden desk here is from the 1800s, sourced from a local antique store. “I rarely sit here except to take my blood pressure,” laughs Tak. “Chris likes to spread out here and work, though.”

Photo: Tanya Goehring

Wall of Wonders Tak’s robust collection of art includes many Canadian artists, including Jonathan Syme (top), William Ronald (centre) and Micheal Batty (bottom). The blue resin sculpture on the counter is by British artist Anthony Benjamin.

Flower Power A shot of his studio featuring a guitar and flowers was a personal gift from Ian Wallace. “The night he brought it over, I had tulips just like these in the bathroom,” Tak recalls. “Too coincidental.”

Photo: Tanya Goehring

Monster Mash The “monsters” here were made by a young art student who used to come to Bella Ceramica, a ceramics studio formerly owned by Tak. The felt sculpture between them is by Justin Patterson.

Photo: Tanya Goehring

Hi Ho Silver Amid the pieces by local artisans lies another kind of treasure: a bowl of pre-Napoleon silver, inherited from Tak’s father.

Gorgeous Glass The pink bowl is by local glassblower Jemma Van Osch; the checkerboard painting was done by artist Elizabeth Barnes.

Photo: Tanya Goehring

Vessels of Interest Ceramics made by Cindy Richmond (who is married to another artist, Ian Wallace) make an appearance on Tak’s library shelf.