The Eastside Culture Crawl has been going on for a few years now. I had heard of it through the grapevine and through my Facebook feed. However, it took my Korean friend to get us off our behinds on a Friday night to go out and visit some art.
My Korean friend had been to previous Culture Crawls in past years. From her experience, Saturdays and Sundays were always cheek and jowl crowds in the artist studios. So she really wanted to spend a little time exploring on the quieter Friday evening.
We started out really late on Friday evening. It was already 8:30pm when we set out from 1st Avenue and Commercial Drive. We wound our way along Grant and Graveley Streets towards a clump of studios dotting Clark Drive. Yes, Clark Drive seems to be not just the centre of industrial Vancouver, but also home to part of its art scene.
Our first stop of the evening was in the basement suite of a multiple-unit house. This was the artist’s space for Alec Smecher. It was a somewhat quiet evening as groups seemed to not all come in at the same time. This way, Alec was able to personally introduce each item to us. He basically took a lot of old, retro and unwanted tech pieces and modified them to serve new purposes. There was an old rotary phone converted to become a shower head. There was also an old film editing machine that he converted to a mini PC to play retro arcade games and run MS-DOS. My favourite piece here was the “Ottoman Empire.” It’s an Ottoman stool which he modified to include a record player in the hidden space.
Further down at the corner of 1st Avenue and Clark Avenue, we came to the space of Michelle Sirois-Silver. She makes hand-hooked rugs for the floor and the wall. She even had kits for one to make their own mini rug with a template. It was like a crochet template. She also had larger rug pieces on display on the wall.
Our next stop was the space for Shirley Wiebe. Shirley’s space this year is focusing on her recent series of prairie imagery called “Flatlands.” It’s a mixed media format that combines photography with sketches and painting. If you have any interest in the Canadian Prairies, then her studio on Grant Street and Clark Drive may be worth a visit.
Our last stop of our short hour and a half crawl was the William Clark Studios on the corner of Williams Street and Clark Drive. This studio was home to lots of artists. I’ll just introduce you to a few of the highlights for me.
One of the first artists we encountered in this multi-artist studio was Penny Eisenberg. I was really drawn to her unique oil paintings of rainy Vancouver. I think the oily texture of the paintings lends itself well to the portrayal of rain. The glistening quality of the oil even looks like rain under certain lighting conditions. If you are a Vancouverphile, then you will want to see her work.
Deanna Fogstrom specializes on Urban Reflections and Views. Her current collection includes Vancouver buildings reflected in the windows of its neighbouring skyscrapers. Well-known buildings like Harbour Centre and the Vancouver Hotel make their appearance in her paintings. She also has many paintings of Parisian urban landscapes.
Susan Patterson is a visual artist whose work are abstract linear and geometric patterns. The colours are vivid and striking. Stenciled numbers and letters seem to be a common part of her work as well.
Bettina Matzkuhn works on embroidery and fabric collages. Her neatest piece was a wall of what looked like fabric butterflies. She told us that each “butterfly” is actually a weather map of the world. She unfurled each globe into a butterfly shape. Each weather map represents something different like the temperature across the world or the trail of hurricanes across the world. Neat stuff.
Lastly, we found the Oona Clothing Company in the back of the William Clark Studios. They primarily specialize in fun underpants for men, women and children. They even have an Underpant of the Month Club. However, they also make other fun products like their Oona Owl Hot Water Bottle, which is something I walked away with. It’s my first ever Eastside Culture Crawl purchase.
If you are going to the Eastside Culture Crawl, there is a lot to explore. We only visited a handful of studios on our hour and a half crawl. If you have more time this weekend, I’m sure you’ll be able to take in a lot more. Happy Culture Crawling!