by Michelle Sproule | The Eastside Culture Crawl (November 15, 16, 17) is now upon us. The annual three day event sees over 425 East Side artists (painters, jewelers, sculptors, textile artists, furniture makers, musicians, weavers, potters, printmakers, photographers, etc.) open their studios to the public.
There is no schedule per se; only the one you choose to structure for yourself. There’s no pressure to buy, either. Treat it as a chance to float from one studio to the next, talking to artists about their processes while enjoying the diversity of creativity that the East Side has to offer.
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 425 artists participating and it’s estimated that over 15,000 crawlers will be out to take in what they have to offer. This is precisely the kind of event that calls for a game plan. Here’s ours…
This is the opening of the Crawl and the only opportunity you have for “evening” studio visits (Saturday and Sunday seeing only day-time visits). If you only have one chance to take in the Crawl, let this be it. Wandering around the neighbourhood on a cold, possibly wet night in Fall with thousands of other people looking to squeeze in as much art as they possibly can makes for soaring spirits. Make sure you dress appropriately (forecast suggests it’ll be a few degrees above zero), and do your utmost to be respectful of those who’ve opened their doors to you. If you own a flask, bring it.
Parker Street Studios | 125 Artists
The massive building at 1000 Parker St. is the densest collection of artist studios on the map every year and starting your crawl experience here is essential. Not only is there is something magical about this building on the opening night of the Crawl – the crowds are thick and fast with energy, the studios are full and the artists are ready to chat – but you want to cover as much ground as you can this weekend and Parker Street will give you the solid start that you’re looking for.
Eating & Drinking Before, During, and Afterwards
The intensity of Parker Street makes it difficult to just head out or head home afterwards without sustenance. Chances are you’ll be pumped before, in the midst, and after, and that will make you hungry and thirsty. Chinatown is wise and close by. If there’s room at The Parker, sip on a New Strathcona and snack on something healthy, grab a burger and an Old Fashioned at Mamie Taylor’s on East Georgia between Main and Gore, or slurp up some candied bacon ramen at Harvest Community Foods. Nearby, Ask for Luigi just opened up last night, and Cuchillo recently added a few things to their menu. Plus there’s Campagnolo, Pizzeria Farina, East of Main, The Emerald, The Dunlevy Snackbar, Phnom Penh, and Bao Bei. Just don’t go overboard, as you’ve got a lot of ground to cover tomorrow, too!
SATURDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON
If you thought Parker Street on Friday night was a mad and exhausting labyrinth, it’s good to remember that the Eastside Culture Crawl is an endurance game, and that it’s only just begun…
Hit the pavement with your trusty Crawl map and explore mid-sized buildings that house several studios at once. Your main targets are The Arc (1701 Powell St., 23 studios), 339 Railway Street (9 studios), Portside Studios (150 McLean Dr, 19 studios), The William Clark Studios (1310 William Street, 31 Studios) and The Mergatroid (975 Vernon, 55 Studios). As you move between buildings and neighbourhoods, look for yellow balloons marking smaller studios in homes, garages and basements (or save that action for Sunday).
It’s important to resist the urge to go non-stop from one studio to the next. You need to eat and drink and you need to do it without going too far off the Crawl track. As you saw higher up in this guide, there plenty of worthwhile joints to check out. Trouble is, most of them are only open at night. Fret not, as there are a few ‘in-crawl-catchment’ choices during daytime. For example, The Wilder Snail in Strathcona will set you up with your morning coffee (and muffin too) and it’s smack-dab in the middle of Crawlville. There’s also Harvest Community Foods on Union, The Union Cafe, Benny’s, and Finch’s.
Bonus: by pure serendipity, there’s a Perogy Lunch taking place at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre on the corner of East Pender and Hawks on Saturday and Sunday. Scoot in to load up of homemade Ukranian food and then get the hell back out there!
SUNDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON
This is what we call panic day. It’s when you realize you’re running out of Crawl time and you will need to act swiftly if you’re going to score. It’s also the day that you will visit the places you missed but heard about on Friday and Saturday via Twitter and word of mouth. So yeah, it’s the day that you will pick up the pace!
Small Studios & Follow Ups
This is also the day that you will revisit your favourite studios with your fingers crossed hoping that the painting/photograph/sculpture that you didn’t buy on Friday is still there. So don’t waste a minute. Map out a sensible route that includes targets that you haven’t hit yet and get rolling. You won’t see every studio, so don’t rush around like you might. Likewise, if a restaurant is full or there’s not room at the bar, move on. The last thing that the Eastside Culture Crawl is about is stress, disappointment, or the threat of either. Crawl with an open heart and mind, and enjoy the hell out of yourself!