Vancouver is lucky to have an abundance of innovative, talented artists who continue to push boundaries and create beautiful, thought-provoking pieces that can pick us up when times are tough, or prompt us to consider a set of circumstances in a new light.
While members of the city's art community have undoubtedly been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, one popular event happening this month is giving Vancouverites a chance to get to know their neighbouring artists a little better.
The Eastside Culture Crawl—a visual arts, design and crafts festival—is returning for its 24th year, albeit with a slightly different format than Crawls of years past.
The popular arts festival is also expanding, taking advantage of a collective shift towards online activities to extend its reach across the entire Pacific Northwest. It's offering attendees "a fully customizable experience" over two consecutive weekends, beginning today. Running from Nov. 12–15 and Nov. 19–22, the Eastside-based festival is set to include virtual studio tours, livestream demonstrations and studio visits that are sure to inspire.
Although gatherings are currently banned, in-studio visits can still proceed as planned. With businesses and workplaces permitted to remain open – save those that host indoor group physical activities and sports where physical distancing cannot be maintained, as per B.C.'s latest public health order—and artist studios considered business spaces, rather than social spaces, that means physically-distanced, by-appointment studio visits with members of your immediate household are A-OK.
The event's 2020 roster features a total of 247 artists, whose preferred mediums range from addemblage, clay, drawing, fashion or jewellery design, fibre art, furniture, leatherwork, metalwork, glasswork, film, mixed media, new media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textile, woodwork, and much more.
Here are just 17 of those 247 local artists you can get to know better during this month's Eastside Culture Crawl.
1. Arleigh Wood - Mixed Media, Painting, Photography (Parker Street Studios)
According to Wood, her work "is a modernist geometric interpretation of landscape" that employs acrylic and gouache paints "to get sharp lines, saturated and subdued colours layered on wood."
Wood said her geometrics work was inspired by a trip to Iceland where she witnessed the calving of icebergs into the sea. "For me, this was a real moment of realization of the effects of climate change," she writes in a statement on the Culture Crawl's website. "I hope to bring light to the value of pristine nature in modern society where we can often feel separated from our natural surroundings. I want to strengthen our connection with the land and discover the mysterious beauty in what lies beneath what we can see."
Wood is accepting COVID-safe studio visits by appointment. Book one directly by calling 604-809-1661 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or shop online for art and face masks at www.arleighwood.com
2. Felicity Anne Jewelry (Studio 580)
Vancouver local Felicity "spent her childhood enjoying all the magic and serenity the Coast has to offer, and can still be found "playing amongst the trees and connecting with nature."
According to the artist and designer's profile on the festival's site, "It is this very love for crystals, gems, stones, trees, and the radiance of the forest, that has played a key role in developing Felicity's passion for crafting authentic, one of a kind jewelry.
"The effortless beauty found in the great outdoors has become an inspiration for the pieces Felicity creates. Forever collecting stones, gems and crystals from across the globe, and from all different cultures and climates, Felicity's goal is to create jewelry that is not only beautiful, but symbolic of the rich, radiant and colourful world in which we reside."
3. eikcam ceramics - clay, mixed media (OH Studio, The Mergatroid Building)
e i k c a m c e r a m i c s is a home decor collection designed and handmade by local artist and designer Grace Lee that was established in 2008. According to the artists' profile, her work "lends a sense of naturalness and whimsy," while still serving "as functional pieces for the table or home."
Lee, an Emily Carr Industrial Design grad, says her approach to design remains "a kind of layered simplicity," often combining a variety of textures with hues and colours to complement the form, shape and functionality of the piece.
Reach Lee at email@example.com.
4. Trevor Van den Eijnden - Installation, Photography, Sculpture
Trevor Van den Eijnden is a visual artist, writer, and educator, born and in Nova Scotia and currently living in Vancouver.
He is currently serves as the Academic Director of Visual Arts and Design at VCAD Vancouver, and teaches courses in photography, conceptualization, history, and intermedia design.
His work was recently featured in a solo exhibition at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford from January through August of this year, titled "a soul is not made of atoms." According to a statement about the exhibition included in his Culture Crawl profile, the exhibition presented "several distinct bodies of work by Van den Eijnden that are thematically linked by the artist’s exploration of the concept of impermeable time. Comprising sculpture, light and shadow installation, and photographic images, the exhibition as a whole is designed to create a sense of remembrance of the future and anticipation of the past.”
5. jessica Craig - Drawing, Mixed Media, Painting (Eastside Atelier)
According to Craig, "Something fragmented or discarded has the potential for being re-purposed and emerge into new existences through art, and so the same can be said of ourselves."
Craig is an emerging Mixed Media contemporary artist, born and raised in Greater Vancouver. According to her artist profile, "jCraig is inspired to capture emotional and societal dichotomies that exist within ourselves, socially and environmentally. Her artistic discourse can be seen primarily with the use of strong contrasting colours fixated against a subtle and calm emotional undertone.
"As you will see, jCraig is on an exploration of mark making through multiple mediums, from charcoal, acrylic, pastels, and found or reusable objects. Current themes being explored are re-usability, reminiscing, transparency and self-inquiry."
6. Babylon Buttons - Jewellery, Mixed Media, Other (Parker Street Studios)
Founded by Melva Forsberg, Babylon Buttons has been crafting union-made buttons for over two decades. Forsberg's creations are "known across the country for being funny and for poking fun (or pointing out the obvious!) within the crazy world of politics, social and environmental justice."
7. Maria Ida Designs - Glass (The Mergatroid Building)
Maria Batista is a member of Terminal City Glass Co-op and has been working with glass for the past four years. According to her artist profile, Batista has been fascinated with glass from an early age and :loves the combination of art, creativity, strength, and science that glassblowing encompasses." Her work is inspired by bright colours, movement, playfulness, and nature.
8. Bullseye Photography - Mixed Media, Other, Photography (Parker Street Studios)
Bullseye Photography, A.K.A. mikonguy, Michael Bull or J. Michael Bull. is a photographic artist working in Vancouver.
Bull studied fine arts at university before earning a degree in business, "in the hopes of uniting my passion for artisitc endeavour with a rewarding business career." Bull created a company that became a leading supplier to the interior design and architectural specification firms. "For more than 30 years I shared my vision and talent with the world by sourcing and designing beautiful products for the home environment," the artist's Crawl profile reads. "This was a rewarding life, but did not provide me with the complete artistic freedom which I was seeking.
"In 2012 I gave up control of my business and started pursuing photography and the artistic process involved with photography on a full time basis."
Reach the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. Birger M. Huber Guitars - Wood (Eastside Atelier)
The artist was born in Germany and trained in traditional cabinet making and carpentry. The artist "handcrafts a variety of acoustic guitars and ukuleles using mainly hand tools and traditional techniques."
10. Matthew Freed - Clay (Jackson Five)
Matthew Freed has been a fixture of the Vancouver craft scene for the past 20 years. According to his artist profile, Freed "specializes in highly functional pottery - work that is meant to be used and enjoyed daily.
"Stylistically, his work is recognized for it's simple elegance - a nod to Japanese ceramics with his unique spin of modern and masculine design. He has a wide array of pottery forms and glaze finishes that appeal to a large cross section of fans. " Freed was awarded the Circle Craft Gold Medal for Excellence in Craft in 2015,
11. Andrea Hooge - Mixed Media, Painting, Printmaking (Arts Factory)
According to Hooge, her work "is influenced by the sentimentality of children's toys and books, and has been described as both endearing and unsettling." To that end, much of her work trends toward the figurative, and "gathers images of children, toys, and animals, mixed in with an array of objects acting as personal and commonly understood symbols."
Hooge's work can often be categorized as figurative oil paintings and scratchboards.
Hooge attended the University of the Fraser Valley, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in Visual Arts. Local art fans might be familiar with her work from the numerous group shows it's been exhibited in, as well as her five solo exhibitions.
12. Janine Breck - Mixed Media, Painting, Wood (Eastside Atelier)
Vancouver born-and-bred Breck is an abstract artist whose initial inspiration was "heavily focused on capturing the spirit and energy of animals, specifically horses." While working in the corporate world, "she was inspired to balance the rigid nature of the financial industry, with the natural fluidity of emotion, surrender, and flow," reads Breck's artist profile. Breck tends to use alcohol inks, resin, and wood in her work, "to represent the fluid nature of energy and emotion, seeking to instil a sense of calm in the viewer."
13. Lola + Olive Designs Fashion, Other, Textile (Parker Street Studios)
Lola + Olive Designs creates unique and decorative one-of-a-kind pillows and quilts, as well as comfy, cozy flannel pyjamas and nightshirts for men, women and children, featuring a variety of happy prints. These days, the local brand is also crafting unique, colourful masks for adults and children. In fact, every pair of pjs purchased is accompanied by a matching mask.
"Our creations are designed at our Parker Street studio and hand sewn in Vancouver. Inspired by the colours, patterns and textures of fabrics found and collected, our quilts and pillows bring together vintage, repurposed and contemporary textiles, each with a story."
14. Jenn Brisson - Installation, Jewellery, Painting (Gore Studio (Kim Heng Noodles)
Since Brisson's began her art career in the animation industry, she has become a prolific painter, illustrator, street artist and is an international muralist.
"Her work has been described as colourful, playful and surreal. Her work is figurative, often showcasing mischievous quasi-human beings and cute creatures, who lay between the realms or reality and dreams," according to her artist profile.
"Jenn loves taking viewers to where these friendly creatures rule, whisking you out of your every day life to worlds where silliness is the main language and magic still exists. All those years drawing cartoons have really influenced her style and how she builds her characters. Often using mixed materials in her backgrounds, such as spray paint, stencils, splatters and ripped paper, there is a slight juxtaposition between the chaos of the background and the calmness of the character living there."
15. Denna Erickson - Mixed Media, Painting (Parker Street Studios)
Edmonton native Erickson has been teaching and working as an artist in Vancouver for 20 years, but is now showing her work across Canada.
According to the artist's website, "Denna specialized in using oil on wood & plaster," and is known to combine encaustic and transfer techniques with her work.
"Her paintings consist of personal symbols and organic shapes layered in glazes of luminescent color. Shapes and forms are transcended through transparent layers of paint."
She also recently started a business called The ArtWay, where "artists can show their work and anyone with a passion for art can come and learn to use mixed media and create their own artistic vision."
Reach her at email@example.com.
16. Shary Bartlett - Mixed Media, Painting, Photography (Parker Street Studios)
Bartlett creates "evocative paintings and photographs using encaustic - molten beeswax.
"Rich with texture, depth and translucence, encaustic is captivating and strikingly beautiful," her artist profile reads.
In her Inexorable Growth series, Bartlett's work "finds its genesis in microscopic molecules found in plant, human and celestial life. As biomorphic forms, these paintings emerge, literally 2- and 3-dimensionally, from the painted, sculptured surface," while another current collection "comprises meticulously hand-altered archival photographs enrobed in lustrous and textured encaustic wax, which gives the images an evocative, dreamlike quality."
Bartlett, who teaches art internationally and nationally, is a first-time Culture Crawl participant.
17. Tara Lee Bennett - Paper
Bennett is a paper artist who is originally from Zimbabwe, but calls Vancouver home. She's responsible for a popular mini plant series that led to projects with Urban Outfitters, Tide and Today’s Parent. She is also the co-founder of THRIVE Art Studio, a global membership community of female visual artists. According to Bennett's Crawl profile, "Her newest series is infused with images of growth and renewal reflecting both the personal and professional journeys of her life."
For more information about these artists or about booking a studio visit, head to culturecrawl.ca.