Muy bien Venezuelan entrepreneur brings southern art north

¡Buenos días! Mucho gusto. ¿Cómo está usted? ¿No hablo español? No problem.

¡Buenos días!

Mucho gusto.

¿Cómo está usted?

¿No hablo español?

No problem.

There’s a lesser-known corner of Whitehorse where the letter “r” rolls smoothly off tongues and a hug is a standard greeting for a friend.

But you don’t have to speak the language to be welcomed.

While the Argentinean-born Mariana Osbiana celebrated a successful year of selling her handcrafted jewelry at Art Melange in the Horwood’s Mall, a new South American-made business opened across the hall, Kolobshine Art.

It’s a brightly coloured hole-in-the-wall crammed with crafts and paintings by Venezuelan-born Dedis Guevara and her family and friends.

Guevara began her life in business by selling her wares in local craft fairs, but festival season ended and she still had a lot of stock — and a lot of interest in her works.

So she opened Kolobshine in mid-October, Guevara explains through a translator, who turns her words from a fluid poetic Spanish to a choppy English.

Today Guevara’s translator is an elder from the local Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, a church that plays a important part in her life.

It was an idea from Mormon scriptures that helped her come up with a unique name for her shop.

According to a book called The Pearl of Great Price, God has a physical body and lives on a planet named Kolob with his wives and spirit children.

The centre of the galaxy; other planets and the sun revolve around it.

Although Kolob is not often mentioned in the scriptures, it’s an idea that stuck with Guevara.

“It’s the star closest to the sun,” she says.

“She really liked it and thought it was beautiful,” says the translator.

And she decided to name her shop Kolobshine and paint its walls brilliant colours like orange and yellow.

Kolobshine, tucked into a fold in the downtown mall, is about the size of a walk-in closet.

A small hand-painted sign hangs over the front door.

The close quarters means that Guevara has had many of her treasures broken by a wildly flung bag or jacket.

Signs reading: “Be careful, you break, you buy,” hang solemnly on the shelves.

Kolobshine specializes in handcrafted items from Venezuela.

There are coloured recorders inscribed with aboriginal patterns and the turpial, the national bird of Venezuela.

There are leather belts and wallets adorned with patterns, small beaded sculptures and large bright acrylic paintings on the walls.

“Her friends and family send her things that they made by hand,” says the translator.

Her sisters and her mother work with clay fashioning it into dolls and small jewelry boxes with intricate designs on them.

“Her family has skills,” says the translator.

And the expertise is handed down from generation to generation.

Guevara and her family have been in Whitehorse for about two-and-a-half years.

They moved to Toronto from Venezuela six years ago, then came north to Whitehorse for the construction boom.

As the translator talks, Guevara sits in a corner of the shop twisting glittery green beads onto some wire.

She’s making a collection of tiny bonsai trees by forming the wire into organic shapes and fitting them into pots.

The forms, soon to become a miniature olive tree, are bound for store shelves at Kolobshine.

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