SEEN IN VANCOUVER #362: What’s Up With The 400 Block Of Columbia In Chinatown?
by Michelle Sproule | There’s been a lot of cool stuff going down on a single stretch of the DTES lately. The 400 block of Columbia is being transformed into something of a magnet to young, independent Vancouver creatives. It is already home to Shudder Gallery, Beats & Bikes, and Positive Negative Gallery, and very soon it will welcome a new shop called Duchesse Vintage & Such, the new headquarters of small scale design house Strathcona Carpentry, and a German street food parlour called Bestie. Here’s a little skinny on each one…
Duchesse Vintage and Such
430 Columbia Street | Anna McLean & Anna MacLellan | Anticipated opening: June, 2012
Duchesse is going to be sweet vintage shop for both men and women. It’ll offer a carefully curated assemblage of vintage clothing, furniture, housewares and all manner of oddities. Ricky Alvarez is doing the interior design and Glasfurd & Walker are doing all the logo, branding and signage work (see Bao Bei, Meat & Bread, etc.). Can’t wait for this one. Anna(s) got taste!
Positive Negative Gallery
436 Columbia Street | Adam Lupton | Open
“Positive Negative is all about creativity: the thought, the expression, and the execution that creative people pour into their passion – their work.” It’s an artist-run gallery that loves showing and promoting local and international artists and designers every month. Colin Moore’s show Monsters of Görlitzer Park is up and running until May 5th, and then it’s the international polaroid show Anywhere But Here from May 16th to June 2nd. The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 1pm until 5pm. Check it out if you haven’t already.
Beats & Bikes
420 Columbia Street | Justin Jung, Syavash Yorish, German Pombo | Open
Beats & Bikes is a collective group of local designers, musicians, artists and makers that work on creative projects that involve music and bikes. They’re also the folks that brought us this rad PSA on what happens when you steal a bike.
433 Columbia St. | Director: Mysa Kaczkowski | Asst. Coordinator/Designer: Sylvana D’Angelo | Asst. Coordinator: Sharona Franklin | Open
“Encouraging national participation from artists and performers across Canada for the last 5 years, Shudder Gallery aims to promote all forms of contemporary creative communication and visual arts for the emerging artist. Opening a dialogue within the community and across Vancouver, Shudder is a platform for discussion and discovery.” Be quick to drop in to check out Alex Heilbron’s Haphy, “a light-hearted but emphatic response to the habitual interpretation of contemporary art.” The show only runs until this Saturday, May 5th.
Strathcona Carpentry: Chinatown Experiment
434 Columbia St. | Devon Abson and Devon McKenzie | Opening Soon(ish)
Devon and Devon of Strathcona Carpentry are the contractors behind Gastown’s Housexguest and Strathcona’s Board of Trade aesthetic, as well as numerous residential projects. Their new space is going to function primarily as an office but the storefront will provide a platform for testing out new construction processes, design ideas and to judge the so-called sustainability of new “eco products”. The idea for the experiment portion of their project evolved from their own need as small contractors to try to gain knowledge to build sustainably but remain profitable even on small scale projects.
105 East Pender (at Columbia) | Clinton McDougall and Dane Brown | Opening in August
We broke the news on Bestie recently. As you may recall, it’s going to be a 25 seat sausage and beer restaurant in the old “Panda On Pender” location at 105 East Pender just off Columbia (look for the old “Chinese Records, Books, Tapes” sign). Though it technically isn’t on the 400 block like the others, it does share the same secret back alley. As we wrote previously, their concept is simple: three sausages, three beers, three sides, three sauces, and three wines on tap. Stoked.
It’s a diverse group, and there’s much to anticipate. As a nearby resident, I’m thrilled about each and every one. I’m sure some of my neighbours would decry them as “gentrifiers” or the foot soldiers thereof (because we all know young artisans, first time restaurateurs, and curators are just rolling in it), but that brand of blinkered assumption comes with the territory. They’re each and every one of them young, independent-minded Vancouverites, and no one should fault them for making a go of it. There’s also word of a biker-friendly cafe going in on the same block, but the owners don’t yet have possession and are hesitant to discuss it publicly until they have a signed deal. We’ll have more on that as it develops, but in the meantime, give this block a proper stroll. Though only three of the above are open now (the rest are coming this summer), it’s still very much worth a wander.
Michelle Sproule grew up in Kitsilano and attended University in Australia and the University of Victoria before receiving her graduate degree in Library Sciences from The University of Toronto. She lives in beautiful Strathcona and enjoys wandering aimlessly through the city’s shops and streets with her best friend – a beat up, sticky, grimy, and uncooperative camera.