Art in the Neighbourhood

I only had one day to enjoy the Eastside Culture Crawl this year, so I decided to concentrate on some of the smaller studios.


I also took very few photos, snapshots with my iPhone, so I could give the bulk of my attention to the art. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and I loved hunting down studios through the quiet streets of Strathcona.


I hope your weekend filled your eyes and hearts so well as this one did mine.


Chock Full of November


Last Saturday, the Parade of Lost Souls inhabited Britannia Community Centre, leading the audience through a maze of performance, music, and interactive experiences informed by traditions acknowledging the waning of the year. I’ve told you about the parade before, but things have changed since then. The Public Dreams Society has, sadly, folded and Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret has taken over the stewardship of this event so it can live on. If you want them to be able to continue to do so, visiting their Indiegogo fundraising campaign would help a lot.

I’ve peppered the post with photos from this year’s parade, but it’s the rest of the month that I want to tell you about. My favourite event of November is always the Eastside Culture Crawl, which I’ve also told you about before. The Crawl is four days long now and well-worth all that tramping around the neighbourhood, no matter what the weather.


Now that you’ve set aside those four days for the Crawl, you can finish filling your calendar for the month – here are a few of your choices:

You look like the well-read sort; I just know you have a library card. So, I also know you’ll be thrilled that you can show it at the door for free entry into Between the Pages: An Evening with the Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalists. Your appetite for captivating presentations properly whetted, you might want to check out Interesting Vancouver next. There’s also a few days left of the Heart of the City Festival. Or, you can get in on the act (well, workshop) at this year’s CircusFest – I’ll be sticking with my role as audience member, personally. For a less strenous look behind the scenes, you can listen to some of the Culture Crawl’s artists at HOT TALKS: Eastside Culture Crawl.


There are more exhibitions and performances this month than I can reasonably mention, so I’ll just give you a taste of a few more that caught my attention.

You can pick up some original art while supporting the Seymour Art Gallery at their ‘Art Party!’ exhibition until November 8th. Kevin and I are big fans of Portland’s The Wonderheads and their latest show, Loon, sounds like another instance of their signature blend of magic and bittersweet. Museums matter and are more relevant than ever, as spaces like MOV are proving. On November 14th, I Came to See the Beautiful Things will celebrate museums with music, performance, and discussion.

So, by now you might be looking for a little bit of fun in this list. Doctor Strange’s Future Think Dinner Show might fit the bill. Or maybe all this activity just worked up your appetite. In that case, the Ocean Wise™ Chowder Chowdown will fill your belly while supporting sustainable seafood simultaneously. And with that out of the way, you can concentrate on some pre-holiday shopping therapy at a few of the MANY craft fairs that November brings.

Blim is always a good bet and The Province has a nice list that extends all the way into December. I’m also going to put in a good word for the craft fair that my mother is helping to put on at Sts. Joachim and Ann’s Parish in Aldergrove. They have some great crafters and artisans lined up.


And before I go, I’d like to remind you that this month, civic elections are happening across Metro Vancouver. The Broadbent Institute has started an interesting initiative to increase voter participation. Feed Democracy is a non-partisan awareness campaign that has some of Vancouver’s favourite spots to eat and drink signed on to help get the vote out. In Vancouver, advance polls opened today (though, rather maddeningly, not on the east side) and the big day is November 15th. If you haven’t made up your mind yet, there are at least three more all candidates meetings to go.

November, you are no wallflower.

Le Weekend

Showy grasses, against a Japanese maple.

It’s election day in Vancouver this Saturday and as I’ve said before, while voting isn’t the only or best way to make change, leaving it to one’s political opposites isn’t a very good idea. I’m going to have to fit it in early, though, as it’s a busy weekend.

One of my favourite events of the year takes place this weekend, the Eastside Culture Crawl. It’s worth planning a vacation around, even though we’ve settled into the rainy season. Here’s my post about last year’s Crawl, if your interest’s been piqued: Art Anchors the Eastside. Scout Magazine has put together a list of places where you can rest between studios and have some great food and drink. That’s just a jumping-off point, of course; there are tonnes of great spots within walking distance of Crawl studios.

I’m going to wait to do my Crawling until Sunday, as there are too many other events going on this Saturday. After voting, I’m heading over to Festival de la Poutine, to get in touch with my French Canadian heritage and take my less-than-perfect French for a stroll. But who am I kidding, really? I’m going to eat a lot of poutine. Don’t judge; it’s part of my cultural heritage, just like tourtière, paté de cochon, and sucre à la crème.

Bare branches against the sky, with an evergreen in the background.

Later on, I’m going to drop by Terra Madre Day, put on by Slow Food Vancouver – local chefs, using local ingredients, preparing samples and giving demonstrations. Local food organizations and producers will be there, too. It’s going to be a great way to connect with Vancouver’s foodshed.

I’m not going to make it there this weekend, but if you’ve got kids, you’re going to want to make time for the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Family Fuse Weekend. They’ve got some great performances, workshops, and activities lined up – it’s definitely not your average kid-centred event.

Alley, just before dusk.

Finally, and more seriously, it looks like there’s going to be a big rally on Saturday at the Occupy Vancouver site beside the Art Gallery. I’m going to make some time to drop by there, to show my solidarity. I’m all for feeding the stomach and the mind, but some things are more important.

Art Anchors the Eastside – Culture Crawl Weekend

The place where you live can be an anywhere or it can be somewhere very specific, especially in Canada and the United States. It’s very easy, even in cities, to replicate the experiences you can find across the continent; there are the same chain stores and restaurants in every city and town. Or, you can populate your mental map with places that are unique to your location. It’s the second map that makes someone a real resident, I think. Knowing where to find gluten-free ice cream sandwiches, a stationery store with its own letterpress, or a shop where you can learn how to tune up your bike yourself. Such places add up to home.

Every place also has its rites of passage. I know someone who started to identify as a Vancouverite long before she moved here, because she flew across the country each year to attend the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. She has the same stories as I do, of attending in years of torrential rain, heat waves or unseasonably cold weather at the Festival, along with stories of the amazing performances that happen there.

What’s interesting about all of this, for me, is that the same place is really many places. There are certainly several Vancouvers. Your Vancouver depends on who you are. It can include the Folk Festival or Under the Volcano, both, or neither. Whole neighbourhoods may not exist in Vancouver as you experience it. I used to work in a corporate office, where many of my co-workers drove in from places farther up the Fraser Valley. For them, it was as if the east side of the city didn’t exist. Which is a shame, because some of the best things about Vancouver occur east of Kitsilano and downtown.

The Eastside Culture Crawl is definitely part of my Vancouver. Thousands of people tour hundreds of artists’ studios that are thrown open to the public one weekend a year. This past weekend was Crawl weekend and the weather was milder and drier than it has been since I can remember. There’s been snow, sleet and rain in the past and it doesn’t stop people from climbing up makeshift warehouse stairways or into backyards and basements in search of art.

I didn’t get very far off the beaten track this year, concentrating my one free afternoon along Venables, Clark and Parker. I saw some beautiful pottery at posAbilities on Venables, great jewellery at the Onion studios and then I wandered over to the Mergatroid Building and Parker Street studios.

Some of my favourites this year included:

Melk’s burned bamboo and etched steel pieces;
Arleigh Wood’s new series;
Su Foster’s delicate filigree work in her twistedandhammered line;
Flight Path’s leather accessories;
Russell Hackney’s amazing teapots;
Sonia Iwasiuk’s paintings;
and Silvia Dotto’s crows.

There’s much more, of course. Browse the website and you’ll get a virtual taste of the Crawl. What you’ll miss by doing that, and why you should make sure you attend next year, is the ambience of the Crawl, along with the opportunities to talk to artists and other Crawlers. It was worth going just to see the beautiful branches hanging from Melk’s ceiling and to have a conversation about photography with a jewellery-maker. Also, seeing so many works, in so many mediums, really helps to pin down what you’re looking for when you buy art.

The best part of attending the Crawl, for me, is the knowledge that I carry through the rest of the year – everywhere I walk in my neighbourhood, there is something being created.