Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eastside Culture Crawl

The Eastside Culture Crawl is a Vancouver tradition.  It's the hippest of all the studio tours taking place in the funky eastside neighbourhoods like Strathcona (see yesterday's post) and other industrial areas where there are old buildings converted to studios.  Over 300 artists take part.  Of course we were only able to see a tiny fraction of them.  Here's a glimpse of some of what we saw.

This studio featured wood and stone sculptures.  My favourite work here was done by Marie Bortolotto.  She creates large organic inspired works in wood and stone.  Here are a few that I particularly liked.  They were very reasonable to purchase too, starting at around $150.

We also loved the work in polymer clay done by Joan Taylor.  She creates all sorts of functional things like zipper pulls, whistles, trinket boxes as well as ornaments.  One of the trinket boxes featured a polymer ladybug and we were surprised to see that it was also attracting a real ladybug.  Can you tell which is which in this photo?


I liked these knitted scarves with colours that gradually shifted from one end to the other and this found sculpture complete with rust.

We had a lot of fun finding studio spaces by going down narrow passageways to the studios hidden in the back.

Other studios took up entire buildings like this one, which had a gallery space and an amazing wood and metalworking shop inside.

This is one of the light sources in the wood and metal shop.  The owner has salvaged old operating room lights from the '50s!  He's also created a piece of art on the door from wood knots.  An amazing creator, his name is Arnt Arntzen.

  Our next stop was at 1000 Parker, an old warehouse converted into studios and home to an amazing 111 artists.  This place vibrates with creativity.  Here' are some hallways and doors that  give a hint of the energy in this one building.

Vancouver's eastside is a wealth of creativity.  If you ever get a chance to attend the Culture Crawl you'll not be disappointed.  It's held towards the end of November each year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The old Vancouver

I spent my childhood in Vancouver over fifty years ago and on the weekend it was as though I had returned to that time.  We were visiting a friend there and she took us to the Vancouver East Side Culture Crawl.  It's an annual event when artists from the east side of town open their studios.  We spent the afternoon walking around the area of Strathcona, just east of the downtown and Chinatown.  In this little neighbourhood it's as though the last fifty years (or more) never happened.  The houses are all from the turn of the century and there are no malls or parking lots or gas stations.  Just the streets and parks and mature trees.

It feels like something out of (at the risk of dating myself)... Father Knows Best.  It feels like I am back in my childhood, with the corner store in a building like this one with an apartment above it.  Some of the houses are kept up, some are restored...

...and some are not.


The place has a timeless feeling, for me at least, with these old three storey walk-up apartments, tenement buildings and ancient churches.

Lately Strathcona has been discovered by artists and young people who live side by side with the original inhabitants, many of them European or Chinese.

Now the corner stores have been turned into excellent little groceries or trendy cafes offering espresso and designer sandwiches.

New buildings have been built using green technology with small footprints, and the community is thriving.  We spent several hours exploring the streets and the art studios.  Tomorrow I'll show you some of the art we encountered. 

I just loved exploring this little island within the big city of Vancouver.  If I were going to live in Vancouver this vibrant neighbourhood with its roots in the past would be one I'd seriously consider. 

Do you have a favourite neighbourhood?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ever so happy about slush

Today our temperatures are back to normal.  The snow is gone from the roads and all that's left is some slushy stuff here and there.  After four days of snow and freezing temperatures we're now hovering around 38 degrees F.  Two weeks ago we would have been complaining about the cold and the damp in weather like this; today we're thrilled that it's so mild.  Funny how relative temperatures can be!

The hummingbirds made it through the first winter storm, but I have a feeling it won't be the last.  We're told this year will be colder and wetter than normal--and that translates to more snow.  In any case, I was ever so happy to see slush this morning and by tomorrow there'll be nothing left but a few fading snowmen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A joint canine birthday dinner

Some people might say we're crazy but we don't care.  My dog buddy Linette and I put on a doggie birthday party tonight.  She has the littermates to both my dogs:  Maddie who is Maggie's sister and Sophie who is Geordie's sister.  All four dogs were born in November so from time to time (not every year but often enough to make it a habit) we put on a birthday party for the four dogs.  Tonight was the night and it included a special dinner for the dog moms and dads with leftover roast chicken for the dogs, a birthday cake for the humans and chewy treats and dog biscuits for the pups.  Maggie and Maddie turned twelve today (and are showing their age), while Geordie and Sophie are nine and in our minds still the puppies.

Here's a series of photos showing how we finally managed to get a group birthday photo.  It's not easy to get four dogs to sit still and look at the camera at the same time.

That's and me on the left with Geordie in front of me, then Linette with Sophie and Maddie on the right.  The dogs and the people had a lovely celebration.  Do you celebrate your dog's birthday?

Koru in his new hat

My friend's daughter knitted her little pug a special hat.  Can you tell how he feels about this turn of events?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snowstorm and hummingbirds

By the time we came back from Tai Chi this morning it had started snowing again and this time it was accomanied by a fierce wind.  Within an hour there were a couple inches on the roads and black ice, which was enough to make us decide not to go into work on our renovations.  It's a good thing we stayed at home--because the humming birds needed our help.

The syrup in the feeder kept freezing and the holes kept being blocked with snow.  Plus the winds were swinging it around so hard that the poor little things couldn't land to feed.  After a few attempts at keeping it warm and sheltered....

 covering it with a ski sock....

 making a tent out of a dog's plastic cone....

... we decided to move the feeder to a more sheltered side of the house. It took a while before they found the new location but eventually they did.  So now all we have to do is check every hour or so and melt the syrup ice, plus keep the other feeder filled for the songbirds.

Here's how the dogs spent their time today...
(curled up on the couch)

Here's what we did...
(played Scrabble and drank chocolate mint roibos tea)

I'm so worried about how the hummingbirds will survive tonight  as it's predicted to go to 23 degrees F with wind chill.  I read on the internet that they go into torpor at night (kind of like a hibernation).  I'm crossing my fingers for these little guys; I hope they make it through this wintry weather. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creative Mexico

For Mexico Monday I've trolled through some photos from previous travels south.  The theme here is three dimensional creative work, both decorative and functional.  And Mexico excels at this.  These images come from our trip to Patzcuaro, a treasure trove of crafts made in surrounding villages.  Some specialize in clay, some in basketry, some in hammered copper, and some in wood carving and painting.  Well you can see for yourself the incredible creativity.

It's fun going back over some of the photos from our trips, especially since we'll be staying in Canada this winter.
Check out Deb's Mexico Monday for more images from Mexico.