EASTSIDE CULTURE CRAWL: A Few Minutes With First Time Participant Kari Kristensen

The Eastside Culture Crawl (November 18, 19, 20) is hands down one of the best things about Vancouver during November. It’s the time of year when Eastside painters, sculpters, jewellery designers, carvers, photographers, potters, furniture designers, glass blowers and printmakers open their studios to the public an the vibe of the already cool-as-hell neighbourhood rises to unprecedented levels of awesomeness. The Crawl covers Terminal Avenue to Burrard Inlet between Main Street and Victoria Drive. That’s a lot of ground to cover and a lot of artists to meet. This year there will be over 300 participating, so we figure it’s a good idea to meet a few in advance in order to better familiarise ourselves (and perhaps you) with what to expect. Meet Kari Kristensen. This is her first year as a participant. We caught up with her while she was taking a breather in Paris and asked her about what she had planned for her inaugural Crawl weekend.

Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: I’ve lived in East Van since I moved here 9 years ago. I love East Van. I am walking distance to the drive and all of its great restaurants and food shops. There’s also an expanding restaurant scene happening on Hastings Street, which is fantastic. I am close enough to my studio that I can walk or bike there. And lastly, I live across the street from Trout Lake which is great for exercise for me and my little dog.

How many years have you participated in the Eastside Culture Crawl? I’m excited about this year being my first as an artist. My previous studio was on Granville Island, a terrific little shop for printmakers called Dundarave. I moved into 1000 Parker Street almost a year ago for a change of venue and to specifically be part of the Crawl. of course, I’ve gone to the Crawl almost every year.

Three words you would use to describe the ECC to someone who had never attended: Fun, inspirational, eye-opening. Of course, I’ll have to get back to you after the 20th to see if my opinion has changed.

Why is Vancouver a good city for art? Vancouver, and BC in general, has a rich art historical foundation that’s endlessly impressive. This is the the city of Jack Shadbolt, Arthur Erickson, Emily Carr, Toni Onley, Bill Reid, Robert Davidson…you can’t help but be inspired when you see their work around.

A one sentence artist’s statement to describe your work: Most of my current works are original spray paint prints exploring East Van imagery.

What are you most excited to be working on right now? Why? I’m really enjoying experimenting with larger and more detailed stencils and incorporating the printmaking with other, maybe less traditional, media. I like that it makes it a bit more accessible.

What inspires you? Urban art – the graffiti, the yarn bombing. Public art is terrific to see spring up. There are a lot of crows in my current work and one features the nightly fly over East Van that they make on their way to sleep for the night. You can’t be in East Van and not see a crow somewhere.

What sort of music do you listen to when you work? All sorts . This week I listened to the CBC (I hate it when I miss Jhian Ghomeshi’s show, so I’ll download his podcasts and play them), the new Coldplay, the Kanye/Jay-Z album, and of course some country. The music varies depending on the project and whether or not the lyrics are too much of a distraction.

Is there a local designer or artist that you admire above all others? Why? I am a big fan of Douglas Coupland and the variety of his work. I love his new Terry Fox sculpture downtown.

Best Vancouver place to be inspired by emerging artistic talent: The ECC for sure. The sheer number and variety of artists.

Three places you like to take out of town guests to show off the art scene in Vancouver: the Rennie Collection, Granville Island, MOA. We’ve also got a lot of outdoor sculpture that is fun to show off, like the giant birds in the Olympic Village.

One thing you would like to change about the arts scene in Vancouver: More space and funding for artist studios and artist live/work spaces.

If you were going to recommend a Vancouver artist/designer/musician/personality for Scout to interview, who would it be? Ivan E. Coyote, my favourite storyteller.

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