It is definitely November. We’ve had wind storms, snow, the BC Beer Awards, and the BC Craft Brewers Conference. Another sure sign of the season in East Vancouver is the Eastside Culture Crawl.
This open-studio, four-day event, celebrating its 26th year, runs November 17-20 in 68+ artist studios, featuring 425+ artists, and nine in-studio demos. The Culture Crawl takes place right in the heart of the Yeast Vancouver and Brewery Creek Ale Trails. This very walkable area is accessible by transit, with Commercial-Broadway and Main Street stations in close proximity. Densely packed with artist studios and breweries alike, buses #4, #7, #20, #22, #14, and #16 all run through the area, taking you to studios and breweries in every corner of the area.
“What the past two years have reinforced is that the arts play an incredibly important role in people’s lives,” says Esther Rausenberg, Artistic and Executive Director of the Eastside Arts Society. “We’re thrilled to bring back our classic Culture Crawl experience. The challenges of the past few years have certainly proven that artists are resilient and adaptable. Many have taken the time to reflect on their art practice, taking it to the next level by exploring new avenues and fresh approaches. We can’t wait to share these new revelations in the 26th edition of the Culture Crawl; it’s truly going to be a celebration of the vitalness of the arts.”
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Strange Fellows Brewing, an ECC sponsor, kicks the Crawl season off with the Preview Exhibition series, NEXT. This salon-style curated exhibition runs November 10-20 in the Charles Clark Gallery, located right in the tasting room. When moving into their 1345 Clark Drive location, Strange Fellows was inspired by the artist studios surrounding the brewery to open their own gallery space, which regularly hosts works by local artists.
The theme of this year’s Crawl exhibitions is NEXT. After the extraordinary challenges of the last couple of years, there seems to be a longing for change or a sense of normalcy. For this exciting exhibit, Eastside Culture Crawl artists present opportunities to reach for something new, perhaps a fresh start, or maybe the progression of current practices. It explores the aftereffects of living through a pandemic as we long for and ponder about what’s NEXT.
NEXT is running in a total of five different gallery spaces from November 1 – 27, with each gallery featuring different artists. Strange Fellows is hosting works by Andrea Des Mazes, Anne Gaze, Brigitte Potter-Mael, Cat Mudryk, Colette Tan, Dorothy Doherty, Dzee Louise, Janine Schroedter, Julie McIntyre, and Marney-Rose Edge.
“[Strange Fellows is] an amazing partner and have backed us from day one of their existence.” – Erin Frizzell, Managing Director Eastside Arts Society (producing organization of the Culture Crawl).
As a brewery, Strange Fellows’ beers are “West Coast crafted, old world inspired,” and its branding reflects this through distinctive, original wood-block labels by Christine Moulson, Brand Storyteller. Christine captures Strange Fellows’ whimsy and “Old World” spirit while telling the story of each beer. As a result, the brewery captures our imaginations and taste buds alike. A cast of characters from the labels can be found on the tasting room walls, hand-crafted by Christine herself.
While checking out Next, folks can sample favourite beers such as Talisman West Coast Pale Ale and Nocturnum Dark IPA. The Blackmail Stout is back, a sure sign of fall with its rich, round and slightly sweet character. For something different, Yara the Tart Grisette offers tart, juicy, refreshing notes that feel like sun on your face.
The Culture Crawl was envisioned as an opportunity for the public to engage directly with artists, and see a bit behind the scenes. This is very much in the spirit of many of the breweries and tasting rooms on the Vancouver ale trails where you might catch a glimpse of the brewing equipment, watch brewers at work, or smell the distinctive brewing aromas. Hoppy, malty headiness.
During the classic open studio weekend of November 17-20, you might want to head down to Andina Brewing on Powell Street. The cheery, yellow building, and South American-infused beer, food, and decor are sure to warm you on a cool November day or evening of art crawling. The Cocada Coconut Lime Sour will transport you to warmer days, and make your taste buds dance. The Hazy IPA, with Amarillo hops, is a cocktail of sweet grapefruit, zesty lemons and oranges, and just a touch of floral goodness.
This is the perfect stop while visiting Portside Studios, located right above Andina Brewing. Portside is home to both established and emerging artists working in a wide range of styles from abstraction to realism. You will find oil, acrylic, and watercolour paintings in this light-filled studio. With a great sense of community, Portside Studios not only provides affordable spaces but has also become a blossoming community for artists.
Andina Brewing and Strange Fellows Brewing are just two of the 17 breweries located in the Crawl catchment (2nd Ave to Waterfront, Victoria Dr. to Columbia St.). Each studio on the Crawl route has a brewery within walking distance. Always a winning combo! Perfect for a pre-crawl meet-up to decide your top studios to check out, a mid-crawl refresh and refuel, and/or an end-of-crawl debrief, chat and laugh — with cans or a growler fill to go. The possibilities are endless for that delicious and inspiring intersection of beer and art.
The last few years have been a roller coaster ride for us all. As the world strives to return to normal, it is good to hang onto those lessons of the importance of community, collaboration, and connection. The Culture Crawl and BC Ale Trail breweries offer that up in abundance this November, and beyond.