Checking out 371 artist studios in just three days is a huge undertaking. A year probably wouldn’t suffice, but three days is all there is for the Eastside Culture Crawl – three short days – November 26, 27, 28. A game plan is required, and here is mine…
1000 Parker Street is the place to be on Friday night. The creaky, wood-floored hallways of the massive building are flooded with Crawl-goers, and the place is alive with an energy that consumes. Give in to it. Jump in and let the current move you from one studio to the next. There are no wrong turns here. Guaranteed good, fascinating, enlightening times…
In the studios, I have two tips for you. First off, take your travel mug or flask. Fill ’em with whatever turns your crank, but you’re going to need something to drink. The Parker St. experience can be exhausting and labyrinthine, and the maze will make you thirsty. Second, if you have kids, get a sitter. Taking them along on The Crawl is recommended if you’ve gone without before – it’s fun and teaches them early the value of the arts and what artists bring to community. Still, I know from experience that kid-free time is good. For me, that’ll be Friday night. The crowds can be pretty thick and little ones can get overwhelmed on the quick. Solution: The Pod!
Carlin Sandor of The Pod Art For Kids offers art classes for kids every Friday night. She calls it “Date Night”. The Pod is located on the Crawl grid (1885 Venables) and is a perfect childcare option. Carlin is awesome, specialising in exciting arts and crafts that can be completed in a 1.5 hour time frame. So you get art and the kids get art. Everyone wins. Check it out: The Pod Art For Kids.
On Saturday, I’m heading directly for The Wilder Snail for a coffee and a muffin. Boyd (Snail proprietor and all-around good guy) has the shelves stocked with the sustenance required to make the rounds on the Strathcona arm of The Crawl. Try the goods from local baker Claude Goergen (her no flour chocolate cake is amazing).
Just a few doors down from The Snail is the studio of Keiko Lee-Hem (521 Hawks Ave). She’s a graphic designer-turned-jewellery designer. Her work – red clay marked with patterns – is simple and elegant. They make for perfect Christmas presents.
Next up is Chalk x Change (593 E Georgia). Chalk is a neighborhood creative commons and home to Shannon Harvey’s Monkey 100 studio. As with Keiko’s studio, this is a somewhat of a ‘two-birds-with-one-stone” stop: a mind-expanding up-close look at an artists studio, tools and and artistic process, and a bit of Christmas shopping as well. I’m really interested to see Shannon’s new series of silkscreen prints on paper and wood that were inspired by an exploration into the subject of tending animals for food (Water Buffalo at Fairburn Farms used for Buffalo Mozzarella pictured above). But I also plan to pick up some Monkey 100 super soft T-shirts for gifts. If you haven’t seen Shannon’s work before, check it out here. Also showing work at this site is Pat Harvey. Pat paints beautiful landscapes. Did you know that, statistically speaking, the majority of first-time art purchases are landscape paintings? Better make sure you get in there before Pat sells out.
Lunch break! The Ukrainian Centre (805 E Pender) is serving up traditional Ukrainian Food. It’s central. It’s cheap. And it’s perfect late November food. Mmm, carbs! (Saturday and Sunday 11am – 4pm)
From here on in, I’m just wandering. Yellow balloons mark open studios, so it’s as easy as moving from one cluster of balloons to the next. Afterwards, I’m making a bee-line to Au Petit Chavignol for a nice and slow glass of red wine and some fondue. Perfect.
On Sunday, I’m planning to make my way to the ARC (1701 Powell). There are 29 artist studios at the ARC. One of the things I like about this building is its interactive spirit. There are talks and demonstrations planned throughout the Crawl. Wendy of Wendy D Photography has decided to set up a station where Crawl goers can experiment with painting photographs. There will be scraps to fiddle around with or you can purchase a 4×6 and turn it in to your own piece of work to take home. Wendy is an amazing photographer. She invited me by for a sneak peek of the photo colouring process a few weeks back and I highly recommend swinging by her pad to check things out. It’s fun to get your hands a little dirty!
Visit the Eastside Culture Crawl website to download a map and sort out your game plan. The Crawl starts Friday!