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The Eastside Culture Crawl

November 26, 2010 | by  |  Art

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, artists around town will open their private studios to thousands of visitors as part of the 14th annual Eastside Culture Crawl. If you’ve never heard of it, crawl out from underneath that rock; it’s the best opportunity to connect with amateur and professional artists around the city, and to see what Vancouver’s burgeoning visual arts scene has to offer.

Centered around the ARC, Mergatroid and Parker Street buildings, the event showcases local paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelery, and most everything between. But perhaps more important than an opportunity to soak in the city’s artwork is the chance, for those of us who will never receive an invite to a private gallery opening, to meet the artists themselves.

Getting a head start on the coming weekend’s activity, The Dependent visited Parker Street Studios, the converted mattress factory home to over 100 Crawl participants, and explored what the event means to the artists involved.
Eve Leader

“You sit in your studio all year making the work on your own and it’s really nice to talk to people and see what they respond to. I don’t meet the people in the gallery,” explains Eve Leader, longtime Parker resident and Crawl veteran. “Here, I actually talk to people and receive feedback. I like that communication; and if I like the person a lot I’m so pleased that they’ve chosen my work. I get to see who’s responded to it, and sometimes you’re so heartened by who responds.”

When folks respond strongly, Leader is able to do something at the Crawl that she’s not typically able to: “If I see someone who really loves the work I make a plan so that they can buy it. Some people have paid me over two years. So, it gives me that opportunity, too, to make it possible, and I don’t have that opportunity in the gallery.”

Eve Leader

Working in oil paint and graphite on mylar drafting film, Leader creates haunting images of the human form adrift in abstract landscapes.

“This is work that is mainly to do with interior states,” she says. Speaking of her tendency towards unidentifiable places, Leader explains, “If you ask me why I don’t want to reference the world, it’s a strong impulse in me not to because then I can make it in this psychological place rather than grounded in the world.”

A short way down the creaking hall finds Marie Doris Valois prepping her studio. A resident of Quebec until two years ago, Valois came to Vancouver to paint far from the demands of daily life. On display this year will be her series titled On the Road, inspired by her cross-country drive to B.C.

“When my partner drives I draw, but the landscape is changing all the time,” she explains in her accented English, “so it’s nice to practice ‘direct perception’. We don’t name it. I don’t name the tree or the mountain – I have no time – it’s just the feeling.

“I tried to keep this when I arrived – to feel this direct perception. So, if I have an idea to do something, I sit, I meditate and when my mind is empty I can go and have the feeling of freedom and play and have fun.”

Marie Doris Valois

Robin Ripley is a retired librarian turned visual artist. For her, the Crawl is foremost an opportunity to show her work.

“I don’t mind that they meet me afterwards, but I like them to encounter the work without me present. Here, it’s so crowded and people don’t always know who the artist is; and I don’t really say, ‘Hello. Welcome to my studio.’ I really think that people need to explore the work without that kind of interaction.”

Ripley is displaying selections from her series Threnody, which features leaves mended with fabric.

“Obviously it’s about environmental issues,” she says, “but it’s also about paying attention to details. By altering the leaf it makes people look at it more closely. I realized that I saw all these trees all the time and yet I didn’t know anything about them. I ended up reading and learning a lot in the process. For me, as an artist, part of making art is that you’re exploring ideas yourself.”

Robin Ripley

Noel Hodnett, proprietor of Hodnett Fine Art, has spent considerable energy transforming part of his space into a gallery setting. Hodnett Fine Art exists almost exclusively to promote his own work, he admits, because he finds the actual gallery experience too constrictive.

“Each painting, for me, is a separate kind of journey of discovery. Gallerists and curators don’t like that because they want to see a body of work that is ‘together’; and I find it extremely difficult to consciously paint a series of paintings. I get bored. I allow the marks on the painting – the initial marks on the painting – to dictate a direction.”

Noel Hodnett

Hodnett, whose paintings sell for upwards of $15,000, creates striking and vibrant landscapes pushed to the point of abstraction. On display this year is a collection dealing with the raw power and timeless qualities of barren earth.

“I’ve participated in the crawl most years, and the reason is that first of all it gives me an end point to work towards. The closer the deadline the more desperate one becomes, and because of the deadline you throw this horrible perfectionism that one would want to strive for out the window, which is a very good thing for me.”

Noel Hodnett

Carla Tak, who paints full-time at Parker Street, also uses the Crawl to impose deadlines and transform her workspace into a gallery of her creation.

“The Crawl allows you to turn your own studio into a gallery and put what you want up and display what you want.

“I tend to sell more [by] word-of-mouth than in galleries because I don’t do big bodies of work, and I’m very impulsive and I don’t want someone to say, oh that’s not selling so you can’t do that. I know I’d get sucked into that because I love to make money and I’m fearful that I’d lose myself in the acclaim of being in this gallery or that gallery.

Carla Tak

“But I’ll leave this up,” she says, motioning to the tack board covered in sketches and inspirations. “Normally, I put a very large painting here but I’ll probably leave my board up to give people a sense of ‘me’.”

That sense of ‘me’ is the distinguishing factor of The Crawl, where the chance to connect with a piece of art and the person who made it is provided to the general public for one brief and glorious weekend of the year. Don’t miss it.

Carla Tak

For more information check out the Eastside Culture Crawl.

Matt Chambers is the editor and publisher of The Dependent Magazine. He's in way over his head.



  1. I’m digging Hodnett’s painting.

  2. Great article; thank you for showcasing our wonderful local talent. Speaking of….is Sonya Iwasiuk from the Fainting Goat Studio participating in The Crawl?

  3. Marie-Doris Valois

    I love your article Matt and agree with your sensibility. You discribe so well what is the Crawl… Marie-Doris

  4. Hi

    Yup Sonya Iwasiuk is participating and can be found at studio 342 in Parker. Some great new paintings and honey from the hives in her backyard.

  5. Amazing Paintings by Noel, Wish I could be there!

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