Sunday, October 2, 2022
Oct. 2, 2022

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Art in Uptown Village

The Columbian
Published:

Vancouver’s First Fridays typically have focused on downtown, but Art Walk is expanding north into Uptown Village, which also has its own first Friday event called Craft in the Village that runs through September.

New on the scene in that neighborhood are Stray Gallery and The Space Artists Collective. Stray is a boudoir, or in-home, gallery that opened in March. It’s hosted by poet Nicole Sayer and presented by the Neo-Romantics Artist Collective, a group of seven artists and poets with a focus on realistic work with high emotional content.

The group formed to provide an alternative to abstract and modern art.

o Uptown Village has Craft in the Village on first Fridays from 4-8 p.m. through September. The monthly event features music, food, art, crafts and shopping and takes place along Main and Broadway streets between McLoughlin and Fourth Plain boulevards. Click here.

o Windows into Art, an exhibit of contemporary art in various storefronts throughout downtown Vancouver, debuts Friday. For more information, go here.

“We’re looking to artists of the past,” said founding member Sara Ahern-Sawyer, a Vancouver painter. “We are focused on doing more traditional forms of art, more representational, so when you look at it, you can tell what it is.”

o Uptown Village has Craft in the Village on first Fridays from 4-8 p.m. through September. The monthly event features music, food, art, crafts and shopping and takes place along Main and Broadway streets between McLoughlin and Fourth Plain boulevards. Click here.

o Windows into Art, an exhibit of contemporary art in various storefronts throughout downtown Vancouver, debuts Friday. For more information, go here.

Stray Gallery is a niche space for a specialized group, but nearby The Space Artists Collective takes a more eclectic approach.

The Space, located behind One World Merchants on Main Street, is a place for artists, musicians, performers and writers to come together and work on their craft. The Space has an exhibition area as well, though the focus is on creation.

The Space celebrated its grand opening at the May 7 Art Walk with a drum circle and poetry readings. It currently has 10 shareholders who pay $10-$40 a month to use the space. There’s no jury process, and anyone can join.

“We want to get as many artists of different forms together because then you crossbreed the different disciplines,” said founding member Colleen Lindsay, a literary, visual and performance artist who lives near Hockinson.

In addition to First Fridays, The Space is open to the general public the first, third and fourth Thursday of the month for open mike night. It’s a place where artists and performers of all types can go and have seven minutes in front of a crowd.

As the arts scene in Vancouver continues to blossom, Lindsay hopes The Space will build its membership, as well.

“It’s very exciting to be part of the growing community down here,” she said.

Other places to see art

Vancouver artist Drew Parsons is working with Orchards artist Ron Jones and Sixth Street Gallery to help get art into more downtown businesses.

Parsons runs Hidden Gallery inside The Courtyard Coffee Lounge in the Academy building. Jared Hidden, whose family owns the Academy, started the gallery in May 2009 and turned it over to Parsons in January.

Parsons also owns the art curating business Drew Studio Art, through which he oversees the art display at Brickhouse Bar & Grill. He works with Jones and Sixth Street to curate Raging Sage Coffee Co. Those two dining establishments have joined Art Walk, and Brickhouse even has an after-party on First Fridays.

Some empty storefronts are getting on board, as well. Vancouver artist Karen “K.C.” Madsen, in conjunction with Parsons, Dene Grigar and Cameron Suttles, worked with Vancouver’s Downtown Association, the Vancouver USA Regional Tourism Office and downtown landlords to organize Windows into Art. Throughout June, vacant and occupied storefronts such as the former Columbian building, the former Spanky’s and the Vancouver Ballroom will display art in their windows.

Madsen, who lives downtown, got the idea about a year ago.

“I noticed a lot of storefronts became suddenly vacant, I’m sure because of the economy. I was thinking it would be wonderful to have art in the windows,” said Madsen, a painter and sculptor.

Windows into Art is timed to coincide with the summer’s Democratic and Republican party conventions, which will bring more visitors to downtown. Because the art is visible from the street, people can see it at any time. This is helpful for those with busy schedules, as well as for people who don’t feel comfortable walking into galleries or museums, Madsen said.

“This is going to feel much like the old idea of going window shopping,” she added.

As of mid-May, 19 artists and seven property owners and managers had signed on to participate. There’s free smart phone software people can download from the Windows into Art website, which allows them to find out about each artist and building involved.

“We want people to be excited about this because it’s something different than anything else that’s happening in downtown Vancouver,” Madsen said.

The arts boom is part of the ongoing revitalization of downtown Vancouver, said Lee Rafferty, executive director of Vancouver’s Downtown Association. Rafferty believes the surge has to do in part with the perception of downtown Vancouver as an artist-friendly community, as well as storefront availability, rent affordability and flexibility on the part of landlords to allow tenants to reconfigure spaces as needed.

“We’re really thrilled that this is happening,” Rafferty said. “There’s an interesting mix of galleries that have been here for some time and have on their boards some well-known local artists, then we have young artists who are bringing their art into downtown with a slightly different twist.”

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