How to Maximize Your Vancouver Eastside Culture Crawl Experience

Sense Of Silence, Reclaimed Oak Flooring and Fire, 3’ x 8’ x 41/2′ by Lee Roberts

Today marks the exciting kick-off of the 21st Annual Eastside Culture Crawl (November 16 to 19, 2017).

During this four-day period, visual arts, design, and craft studios in Vancouver’s Eastside open their doors exuberantly to the public. This year’s incarnation is going to be the largest one yet. As someone who goes every year, I have some tips for making the most of your Eastside Culture Crawl experience.

The Eastside Culture Crawl is a must-do autumn event due to the sheer energy and volume of the offerings. In 2017, over 500 artist studios and homes will be accessible to the public at 80 locations, with attendees estimated to be more than 30,000 people (based on previous year’s numbers). That’s a whole lot of culture, and a whole lot of people.

The Crawl can be wonderfully overwhelming. Here are my suggestions for how to navigate this year’s event and what to look forward to.

1. Have a Plan

Wood Table by Riley Janzen

With so many people and so many studios, it’s easy to get confused and lost, even before you begin. Take the time to look at the Crawl’s website and acquaint yourself with the map, as well as some of the artists’ profiles. The geographic span is relatively compact for such a large number of locations, with Columbia Street and Victoria Drive, and East 1st Avenue and the waterfront as its rough borders. Certain spots, like Parker Street Studios (1000 Parker St) and the Mergatroid Building (975 Vernon Street), have a mother lode of artists, so are great picks if you want to hit numerous artists at once. However, they tend to be magnets for visitors, so it can be worthwhile to venture to the smaller one-artist locations that may not be as crowded.

III, three-legged chair in iron wood, 2017 14 wide x 20 deep x 30 high by Marty

Consider also which artists you want to particularly visit. The Crawl offers a wide breadth of artists and designers, such as sculptors, painters, printmakers, potters, photographers, woodworkers, glassblowers, and textile artists. Browse the artists and develop a plan of what you particularly want to see.

I Shut My Eyes In Order To See VIII (Kari Kristensen)

2. Stay Hydrated and Fueled Up

In the excitement of visiting the studios, trekking around East Vancouver, and getting lost in the maze-like corridors of the buildings, you can sometimes forget the basics, like water and food. Take the time to pack snacks and drinks, or better yet, go for brunch or dinner beforehand. I’m going this Saturday during the day and will be chowing down on brunch prior to hitting some studios. Potential nearby brunch/lunch spots include The Union (219 Union Street), The Belgard Kitchen (55 Dunlevy Avenue), Mamie Taylor’s (251 East Georgia Street), Dalina (687 Main Street), and Harvest Community Foods (243 Union Street).

3. Go During Off Peak Hours

La Pachamama, 21″ x 14″ x 13″, porcelain, 2017 by Georgina Lohan

Things can get crowded really quickly, depending on what time you start your Crawl experience. If you want a less hectic time, I’d recommend visiting during off peak hours. For example, getting there early is usually a good bet since numbers tend to swell as people finally get up/get organized/make their way over. Parking can also be tricky to find, so consider either going when it’s less busy or walking/biking/taking the bus.

4. Take Part in the Exciting Line-Up of Events

This year, there are a ton of new ways to interact and engage even more deeply with the Crawl, such as video installations, workshops, demos, and feature presentations. For example, at 716 East Hastings, the Crawl’s new office, you can find a “communal easel” that the public is invited to contribute to in a collective and evolving art project.

There are also hand-building ceramic workshops with Eric Neighbour, printmaking workshops at Strange Fellows Brewing with artists Christine Moulson, and a variety of demos, including blacksmithing, chainsaw carving, clay throwing, wax carving, felt flower making, and stained glass making.

Check the Events page for further info.

5. Be Prepared to be Enthusiastic, Receptive, and Weather-Appropriate

With rain in the forecast this weekend, make sure to gear up appropriately since you may be doing a lot of walking along the streets of East Vancouver from location to location. And despite doing your pre-Crawl research, be open to serendipity and new artist finds (I always end up buying something for my walls at home). There’s some incredible talent out there. This is your chance to talk to the artists, find out more about their craft and inspiration, as well as connect with like-minded visitors. Overall, it’s a fabulous bringing together of the East Van creative community and their fans.

Vancouver Mermaid. 11×18. Acrylic 2017 by Joy Pierson


Comments are closed for this post

Comments are closed.