Seven Minutes With Artist Shari Pratt Before The Eastside Culture Crawl

The Eastside Culture Crawl goes down this weekend (Nov. 17-20) and we’re stoked. It’s always a pleasant reminder of how badass our art scene in this city really is. Meet Shari Pratt, whose work we’ve been digging and who you can check out for yourself during the Crawl at 1000 Parker Street. Pratt specializes in painting and has earned various accolades like the Alex Colville Award for Excellence in Acrylic Painting and the British Columbia Arts Council Scholarship Award. Her work draws inspiration from old photographs and engages with the human experience in a way that encourages people to open up to each other. We picked her brain on why this city is so great for art and what it is about the Crawl that she’s most excited about…

What part of Vancouver do you live in and what do you love about it? Although my studio is in 1000 Parker Street, I live in Pitt Meadows. I drive into Vancouver daily, fighting the traffic and listening to audio books, because I love being in the city. I love the arts community and the networking opportunities I get in Vancouver. In the summer months, I often bring my bike in with me so I can ride around the seawall before I head home. My favourite memory of Vancouver was when I attended UBC and lived on campus, getting to enjoy the view, the trails, and the beaches whenever I wanted!

What three places would you take someone visiting from out of town? Point Grey: Pacific Spirit Regional Park is probably my favourite place because of the variety of trails to walk or ride my bike. I love the views from UBC and Spanish Banks below. Museum of Anthropology: a great place to quietly draw in my sketchbook or plein air paint outside. There’s a sense of peace in this building that helps me think. Commercial Drive: one of my favourite places to people watch. Great little stores and cafes.

What makes Vancouver such a great city for independent art? There is always something happening in Vancouver from gallery openings, artist talks, workshops, events etc…it’s so easy to network and get support from other artists. Vancouver has a variety of places to collect materials for my art. Opus for most of my painting supplies, Salmagundi West where I find precious early 1900s photographs, and then there’s always something new popping up like This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven where I can get inspired by anything old and unusual. Don’t even get me started on the heritage homes that provide much inspiration for me; it’s the smells of old, musty, mildewed, decaying items, fabrics and papers that get my creative juices flowing. So I think in general, Vancouver has something for everyone to get creatively stimulated for their own art!

The Unforgotten Past

What is the best part of participating in the crawl? I love talking to the people; so many great questions and opportunities to learn and grow from others. It might be the teacher in me, but I love to share my process and explain how certain pieces are created. People are fascinated with the past and I think my work evokes specific memories from either their own past or that of relatives. People relate to my work and tell me their story. One lady told me about woolen jackets she wore as a child in England, another was a story about her childhood friend that she recognized in my work. Some people will stay for up to half an hour in my studio looking at the figures and then share their history with me. I love that, I learn so much about people.

Your work addresses the theme of loneliness, in what ways do you think art can combat those feelings? Funny thing is, when I create my art, I am all alone. I get lost in my art, forget to eat, lose track of the time etc, but never feel lonely. I get immersed in my work; it’s kind of like a runner’s high, the feeling of euphoria — I get energized by the way the paint moves on the canvas. You cannot feel lonely when you are so connected to your work that you aren’t even aware that the world is continuing around you. I choose to paint figures because I attempt to have a deep connection with each and every one of the found figures that I paint.

Is there another artist whose work you look forward to viewing at the Eastside Culture Crawl? I love the colour palette of Melanie Ellery (Parker St.) and Susan Patterson (William Clark), and the expressive portraits of David Cho (Parker St.). There are so many great artists in the Culture Crawl, its just so hard to narrow it down to just a few!

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