by Michelle Sproule | The Eastside Culture Crawl (November 16, 17, 18) is hands-down one of the greatest things about Vancouver during November. It’s the time of year when artists open their studios to the public so we can admire their work, ask questions and get a feel for their individual creative processes. The Crawl covers the area between Terminal Avenue to Burrard Inlet between Main Street and Victoria Drive (handy map). This year there will be over 400 artists participating (and over 10,000 crawling). That’s a lot of ground to cover and a lot of artists to meet, so each year we figure it’s a good idea to say hi to a few of them in advance.
To start, let us introduce you to Carla Tak, a painter who works out of a studio at 1000 Parker Street. She’ll be there during the Crawl and we think her large, bright canvases and her awesome personality are two fantastic reasons to drop in…
What do you do? I paint 6 days a week in my studio at Parker Street, which equates to: “Do what you love and the rest will follow.”
Where do you live and what makes you love your neighbourhood? I live on the border of Vancouver and East Van overlooking Chinatown. It’s colourful, edgy and independent.
How many years have you participated in the Eastside Culture Crawl? Nine.
Why is the Eastside of Vancouver a good place for art? Because in a small, concentrated area you can have a “Granville Street Gallery Row” experience with 80% more artists.
What are you most excited to be working on right now? I’m always excited to be painting, period. Why? Because for years I didn’t follow my heart.
If you were to describe the ECC to someone who had never attended, what would you say? It’s an “art happening”, something you would expect to experience in New York but not in Vancouver. Guess what? It is happening here. Go!
John Burrows | As Vancouver approaches the East Side Cultural Crawl and the spectacle that comes with some of the most interesting and unknown makers in the city doing their thing, my excitement is combined with impatience in having to wait for such a rich and inspiring experience. On a recent trip to Portland I was able to calm this restlessness at Beam and Anchor, a retail space downstairs with a rich group of makers upstairs where they work with wood and leather, make soap, do upholstery, and other things besides. Not everything downstairs is made upstairs, but it all has the sense of locally made, small batch production; like taking the best elements of the Crawl and putting it into one space so people can see and support it everyday. Back downstairs on my way out I was greeted by a small bus of tourists entering the shop, which again reminded me of that Crawl-like sense of phenomenon, of spectacle, of something worth doing just for the experience. And so whilst it would be hard to translate the awesomeness of the annual Crawl into a single space for the everyday – more things would be found than lost.
John is a web entrepreneur and writer who curates the online shop at Wood Design. He is passionate about materials and is always seeking out the craftsmanship that surrounds us, appreciating it as the antidote to a generation that has lost touch with its industrial roots and the motivation to perform a task well for its own sake.
The East Side Culture Crawl (November 26, 27, 28) is coming fast and we’ve been busily profiling some of the participating artists. Today, we chat with Suzan Marczak about what she has going on. Her studio (located in the Mergatroid Building @ 975 Vernon Dr) will be open to the public during The Crawl. I love her recent series of ‘Nest’ paintings, they have a simple and compelling beauty that would look great hanging above my bed (a girl can dream)…
Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: My chosen neighbourhood is the Commercial Drive/Strathcona area. I straddle both. I like: Strong café Americano and homemade soup from my favorite Mom and Pop hangouts: Pane Vero and Union market. walking down the street and not getting very far, because I keep stopping to talk with friends hot sunny days at the kids water park in Strathcona park, dancing on the concrete at free concerts in Grandview park, the true urban jungle at Cottonwood community garden.
How many years have you participated in the Eastside Culture Crawl? Eight, this will be my ninth
Three words you would use to describe the ECC to someone who had never attended: Eclectic, stimulating, unexpected.
A one sentence artists statement to describe your work: My paintings are a mix of representation and metaphor; I like to get to the heart of the matter.
What are you most excited to be working on right now? At present, I am doing a series of paintings that look at the structural qualities of nests. This is a departure for me. For several years, I was painting urban scenes , but in this series, I have decided to use the nests in situ as metaphors for other naturally occurring systems of growth, from bloodstreams to traffic flow to vector graphs. It allows me to loosen up a little and explore some alternate realms of abstraction Read more
As mentioned in the lede to a previous interview (here), the East Side Culture Crawl (November 26, 27, 28) is on the horizon and we want to get a feel for who’s participating this year. Today, we take up some of local artist Nadia Baker’s precious pre-Crawl time to ask her a few questions about what she has going on…
Three things about Strathcona that make you want to live there: 1) sense of community. 2) walkability and bikeability to many good things within the hood and beyond including Commercial Drive, Chinatown, and Downtown. 3) the Eastside Culture Crawl
How many years have you participated in the Eastside Culture Crawl? This will be my third year participating as an artist. I have been a loyal viewer for many years prior. It has always been a highlight and an event I look forward to each year.
Three words you would use to describe the ECC to someone who had never attended: Open studio festival.
A one sentence artist’s statement to describe your work: I study the urban landscape through a combination of photography and printmaking to use these spaces as a starting place for my own creative expression.
What inspires you? I’m inspired by the everyday elements of our urban environment. I enjoy the challenge of observation and the process of documentation and transformation into a new creation. Because reality is so varied and surprising, there is lots of room for imaginative interpretation.
I make a point of noticing the unseen machines that dot our everyday landscape and like to pretend they are alive. For example, when I am walking through Chinatown and Downtown Vancouver, electrical transformers which sit quietly perched on power poles, often unnoticed, call to me. Though they perform the same function, each has a different design and personality. They come to life in my imagination. Read more
The annual, three day East Side Culture Crawl (November 26, 27, 28) is our favourite thing going down in Vancouver during November. We look forward to it big time. Why? Because it sees East Side artists of every stripe open their studios up to the public and the atmosphere in the neighbourhood abruptly rises from really cool to freakin’ awesome. The Crawl covers Terminal Avenue to Burrard Inlet between Main Street and Victoria Drive. We’re right in the middle, surrounded by homes with black crow signs (signifying a Crawl studio) above their doors and the crammed Parker Street Studios just a few kicks away. That might not be a lot of ground to cover, but it’s a lot of art, especially this year with over 370 artists taking part. And so, we figure it’s a good idea to meet a few of them in advance so as to better familiarise ourselves (and perhaps you) with what to expect. For starters, meet Laura Bucci… Read more
We had a great time checking out the East Side Culture Crawl this past weekend, ambling through the labyrinthine Parker Street Studio hive together with hundreds of others bees. We picked up some killer, locally-made Christmas gifts (shh…we won’t tell), made a few fast friends, and generally were reminded of how strong a cultural backbone this city enjoys. Here are some shots from our adventures… Read more
Valerie Arntzen is an artist (assemblage and photography) and has been the Executive Director of the Eastside Culture Crawl Society for 11 years. The Crawl hits the East Side next week…
Three words to describe the Vancouver Art scene: Bursting, dynamic and it might be leaving town if we lose any more studios.
Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: (Strathcona) Fantastic neighbors; Diverse as we are the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver and it grew around immigrants and blue collar workers; Architecture both new and old…we are getting great new buildings/homes and our older homes are from several different styles…spoda, Victorian, post modern.
The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: french fries.
Default drink of choice: apple cider.
Drink you’ll never have again: rye.
The one place you’d move to: Italy.
Favourite wine varietal: Pinot Grigio
One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: more art studios.
Cheap place for dinner: Zubees.
Book you’re reading: Cuban History for Travellers.
Last place traveled: New York.
Biggest fear: spiders.
Cliche that you use too often: some ummm! some ummm!
Dead film actor you wish was still making pictures: Audrey Hepburn.
Best sneaker in the world: Puma.
Place in BC that you love escaping to: coastal journeys in my sailboat.
Under what circumstances would you join the army: none.
The moment you realised you were an artist: when I committed to always having my own studio.
Best green space in Vancouver: Stanley Park.
Dumbest purchase ever: wood fireplace when you live up stairs.
What are you proud of: Eastside Culture Crawl Society.
The thing that makes you the angriest: stupidity.
The thing you love most about your job: getting to create whatever I want in my art practice.
Best Vancouver place for coffee or tea: Wilder Snail.
Vancouver festival or community event (other than the Culture Crawl) that you most look forward to: PNE.
Your nickname(s) growing up: it is a secret.
Talent you wish you possessed: painting.
The trend you wish you never followed, but did: mullet.
Musical instrument you long to play: piano.
Sport you gave up: everything I did in high school.
Politician you most admire: Heather Deal.
The game you’re best at: Scrabble.
Best gallery in the city: Bau Xi.
Somewhere within an hour of Vancouver that is worth checking out: Pitt River.
The number of fist fights you’ve been in: one, but I never hit back….I ran.
The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: sailing from Vancouver to California but also the best thing.
Three things of no value that you will keep until you die: my gran’s cookbook, letters from my husband Arnt, my lobster trap from Newfoundland.
Local person you admire most: Heather Deal.
Best Vancouver venue for live music: Railway.
Best concert experience ever: No Doubt.
Aspect of your personality you wish you could change: holding a grudge.
How you waste time at work: organize, organize instead of doing the art.
The thing you wished people cared more about: the environment.
The dish you’re most proud of: garlic chicken.
The thing that makes you the most nervous: storms at sea.
Town you were born in: Toronto.
Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of: Seinfeld.
First memory: spider crawling up my leg, me screaming….I think I am over it but still skittish of spiders.
Quality you admire most in yourself: friendly.
Album that first made you love music: Jimmy Hendrix…Are you Experienced.
Default junk food of choice: french fries.
The career path you considered but never followed: air stewardess.
The one country that you have no interest in ever visiting: Any where there is a war going on.
Your top 3 films of all time: Rape of Europe, Fountainhead, Roman Holiday.
The first three things you do every morning: drink the latte Arnt makes me, make a smoothie, take my vitamins.
The thing you’re addicted to: Arnt’s coffee.
Biggest hope: we create more marine parks.
Luckiest moment of your life: meeting my husband.
Favourite book as a child: Lord of the Rings.
November – it’s kind of a crap month. It’s the time of year when the intermittent downpours and cold begin to force us to accept the winter to come. Our only holiday is a sad and sobering one (Remembrance Day), and airline tickets out go up in price to keep us in a localized stupor. But there’s a lot that Vancouver has to offer in November. In fact, it’s crazy packed with pick-me-ups. Here are our picks for the top 10 to look forward to: Read more
I ran into an old friend at the East Side Culture Crawl this weekend who confided that he had returned to the crawl this year after a five year hiatus. “It started to be all the same” he said, “and I needed a bit of a break”. He’s an artist who lives in Strathcona and my guess is that he was so immersed in the scene the other 361 days of the year that this small window when the artists studios were thrown open to the public held nothing new for him.
As a comparative neophyte, I couldn’t imagine any way in which I could possibly see everything there is to see in a full week of touring the Crawl, let alone three days. I put in a solid effort this weekend, and only made it to a handful of studios.
On Thursday night I went to 1000 Parker Street. It seemed to me that the high concentration of artist’s work spaces here must make a visit to this location the most efficient way to take in the Crawl. I wasn’t the only one thinking this. It was busy and hard to find space to linger anywhere, but that was fine. Neither my friend nor I could figure out a source for the wine and beer we saw floating past us in the hallways and the flow of the crowd kept us moving – a fate we happily accepted with the hope that we might stumble upon the magical wine room in our travels.
I was as captivated by the crowd and the building as I was by the art. We never did find the wine, so we just browsed and browsed. Studios that stood out included Arleigh Wood’s: an uncluttered space with a ‘gallery’ feel showcasing both old and new canvasses that gave a soft and dreamy voice to a wintry tree meets bird thing that the artist had going on. At the vast and obviously productive Wild Rose studio, Susan Setz and her charming husband (Joe?) were offering a wide range of clothing made of sheer nylon and printed with tattoo graphics. These, when worn, give the wearer elaborate multi-tats that look pretty hardcore.
On my way out I noticed the Utility Furniture design and production shop. Like all of the furniture that I saw at 1000 Parker, designer Derek Morton’s was beautifully crafted, but his pieces in particular had something more. Despite simple form and clean lines they emanated a wonderful warmth. If I were rolling in cash and looking to decorate, this would definately be one of my first stops.
On Sunday I took a different approach, visiting small work/live artist studios scattered throughout the Strathcona neighbourhood. More sidewalk between locations meant I could see fewer studios. Still, I enjoyed the wandering as much as the studios and the East Side Culture Crawl organizers made it ridiculously easy for me by marking each participating studio with a cluster of yellow balloons. On my mother’s urging I stopped in at Shannon Harvey’s Monkey100 studio – and I am so glad I did. Their motto: “Through t-shirt design, cards and community action Monkey100 seeks to inspire and be part of the movement for a better world”. Take a look.
I also popped in to Ouno (an online store worth a visit). They are known internationally for their use of vintage fur in, among other things, serene looking throws, pillows and scarves (made by hand in BC). During my too short visit, I adored the pillows with strong prints and the courier bags in their range of natural fabrics. On my way out, I eyed some Christmas stockings made from reclaimed material and trimmed with old fur remnants. If you’ve never heard of Ouno design before, visit their web site.
I am so proud of Vancouver when I see this kind of ability and vision supported by community.
We ended the day with a final cruise through 1000 Parker street. It had been impossible to take advantage of everything that the East Side Culture Crawl offered in the space of three short days, especially when one still has to stop to eat, drink, sleep, and finish the laundry. I took photographs that I hope will give an impression of my experience with more detail than this post covers with words. Have a look, I tried to title images with artist details wherever I could. If something you see interests you, leave a comment and I will try to provide you with information.
Can’t quite afford to hook yourself up with an art dealer or design house but you’ve come to the realization that those cheaply framed Ikea posters and throw pillows that you and all of your room mates bought for your first apartment aren’t exactly reflecting your taste these days?
The East Side Culture Crawl (Nov 21-23) is your ticket. The annual three day event that brings us common folk together with East Side artists (painters, jewelers, sculptors, textile artists, furniture makers, musicians, weavers, potters, printmakers, photographers, etc) in their natural habitat – the artists studio. The fun part is choosing which studios to visit and planning your own personal crawl accordingly. They have a useful and interactive google map on their website here.
Many blocks on the East Side make for great places to go for cool and affordable art, but the Culture Crawl (now in its 12th year) offers would be collectors the opportunity to bypass the galleries and hang out in the studio – where the real shit goes down. Not only are the wide range of wares on offer more accessible than those that are up-sold, but they come with a story and the happiness in knowing that you are dealing directly with the artist. In other words, it’s personal. In the ESCC’s releases they really nail it:
Purchase something that strikes your fancy, commission something to be uniquely yours, or just browse through the studios and meet the artists, learning about their specific works of art, materials and tools, approaches and techniques. This is a once a year opportunity to meet many diversely talented artists and view their creations in the studios where they work. Be part of this exciting event, which brings people from all over the Lower Mainland, and share in the imaginations that enrich our neighbourhood and lives.
Right on. For further details, click out www.eastsideculturecrawl.com or visit the sites of some of our favourite participants below: