The 27th annual Eastside Culture Crawl is taking place from Thursday, November 16th through Sunday, November 19th. This year, you’ll find nearly 450 participants working in all sorts of artistic mediums (including painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, glass, wood, furniture, jewellery, textiles, and beyond) opening their studios to the public – making the Culture Crawl the perfect entry point for meeting artists, and both seeing and buying art.
The Culture Crawl is also a fun way to explore East Van, since studios are located across 57 buildings – from single-artist home studios to warehouses with up to 149 artists, all within the area bound by Columbia Street, Victoria Drive, 1st Avenue, and the waterfront.
To make the most out of the four-day arts festival, peruse the program guide, study the map, consider the artists that catch your attention, and check out all the planned workshops and special events… and definitely don’t miss the Culture Crawl’s preview exhibition, Out of Control, featuring works by 80 participating artists across four venues (Pendulum Gallery, Alternative Creations Gallery, The Cultch, and Strange Fellows Brewing).
Looking for a short cut to good art? Here are five interesting venues and off-the-beaten path locations that you normally might not have access to (or know of) outside of the Crawl:
GORE STUDIO (KIM HENG NOODLES)
Gore Studio is located in the heart of Chinatown, inside the 100-year-old building formerly home to Kim Heng Noodles restaurant. 10 artist studios are contained within the building’s first three floors, including festival sophomore, Priscilla Yu, who is known for her bright and colourful murals adorning restaurants across the city. Luckily, Yu will have many more portable (and affordable) things on offer for those of us who want to take a piece of her art home, such as art prints, gift cards, wearables and “things to dress up your kitchen”. What does Yu love about the cool building she calls her studio? “I love the ties to the past that still remain, such as the giant unlit neon sign outside…as well as a circular wooden relief carving of a dragon that used to be placed in the round window up front. I share the studio with some talented people from a range of disciplines, which is great to draw inspiration from.”
POT SPOT STUDIO
Pot Spot Studio features six ceramics artists, like first-time Crawl artist, Emina Alcantara of Noor Ceramics Studio. While she uses black clay and porcelain for her vases, tumblers, and ‘warpy’ cups, her vibrant blue, organically shaped vessels are especially enticing. Alcantara, who has been in heavy-production mode for the last two months in preparation for the Crawl, will have a wide selection of work available both in smaller and larger sizes, including dinnerware sets.
512 VICTORIA DRIVE
Now in her 10th year of participating in the Crawl, Caitlin Ffrench creates wildcrafted pigments from discarded stones, bricks, and other waste to use in her artwork, as a way to find the connections between place and memory. Visitors can expect to see paintings of colour wheels and colour studies, Risograph prints of the artist’s travels in Iceland (as part of her MFA thesis work at Emily Carr University), and some ceramic works. What’s the wildest place she’s sourced pigment from? “I think some of the wildest places are the freshly erupted volcano in Iceland, the glacial bones from the Svínafellsjökull glacier in Iceland, which released ochres from the melting glacier — I’ve been studying there for 10 years— and coal from abandoned coal mines in the Crowsnest Pass,” says Ffrench. “I made a dozen red roses into charcoal to make black paint for my husband.”
While Ffrench maintains a studio nearby, she and her partner (oil painter Arlin ffrench) are opening up their home at 512 Victoria Drive just for the Crawl. They’ve lived in the 100-year old house for 13 years and find it a more inviting space. Also participating here is Janet Goodspeed, of Good Sigil tarot and astrology inspired jewellery design.
Wander a labyrinth of creativity at MakerLabs. Founded in 2013 as a space to make and have made, MakerLabs offers 26,000 square feet of space for workshops, classes, access to communal tools and shared spaces (woodshop, metalshop, textile lab, etc.), and artist studios. Swing by to visit nine Crawl artists, including Robert Morris (kinetic wood sculptural work), Orri Design (elegantly sleek jewellery by Stephanie Geracitano), and MaddlesMade (fun, colourful, functional textile objects, often using recycled textile offcuts, and quirky acrylic jewellery).
PARKER STREET STUDIOS
Laslty, Parker Street Studios is a must-visit, especially if you’re new to the Culture Crawl. The iconic, century-old industrial building previously home to the Restore Mattress factory has been home to 200 artist studios for years, and is the hub of the Crawl. Get lost in the four-storey structure, visiting the open studios of 149 artists – like the fascinating large shared woodworking studio spaces. (Plus, here you’ll find food trucks aplenty, and a real party vibe on Friday night.) A few artists whose work to seek out: paper artist, Rachael Ashe (suite 320), with her intricate, hand-cut paper works; Sabrina Sachiko Niebler (suite 204), who makes and weaves with kami-ito (paper thread) and fine shifu (paper cloth); and Carla Tak (suite 310, a very cool loft/gallery).
Stoked to get Crawl-ing? Plan your visit at culturecrawl.ca now. Festival hours are Thursday & Friday from 5-10pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11am-6pm.