Valerie Arntzen, executive director of the 13th annual Eastside Culture Crawl, has a few words of advice for those planning a pilgrimage to the annual art mecca.
“It’s November,” she says. “Bring an umbrella.”
Sensible shoes would also be a good idea, she adds, on the line from the Strathcona home she shares with her husband, sculptor and furniture maker Arnt Arntzen. If you’re going on this crawl, from Friday to Sunday (November 20 to 22), you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet.
“We’ve tried to keep our borders reasonable, though, so you can actually walk from building to building, or grab a bus if you’re going from one extreme corner to the other,” Arntzen explains. “But parking is limited, like all residential areas, so if you don’t have to drive, don’t.”
Arntzen, whose own mixed-media assemblages will be on view at the Paneficio Studios, adds that planning is essential if you want to make the best use of your time. Pick up a festival brochure, she says, or visit the Crawl’s Web page and then sit down to plot your itinerary.
“Just pick what interests you,” she advises. “Like, if you only want to see paintings, you can look on-line under ”˜Painters’ and then go through and mark them on your map—which you can download off our Web site.
“You cannot possibly see the whole thing,” she adds, noting that the Crawl encompasses 60 studios and 300 artists. “I always relate it to if you go to the Louvre. You can’t see everything in the Louvre; you’ve got to go, ”˜Okay, well, I only want to see the Egyptian stuff,’ or whatever. So a plan will really help.”
Unlike the fabled Parisian art museum, the Eastside Culture Crawl has yet to set up its own restaurant, bistro, or snack bar. Yet a number of area food emporiums have come onboard to help sponsor the event, including Vancouver’s original health-food bakery, Uprising Breads, and that always-reliable one-stop sushi shop, Fujiya Japanese Foods. Arntzen also points out that two Strathcona ethnic hubs—the Russian Hall and the Ukrainian Cultural Centre—will be opening their kitchens to culture crawlers. “They’ll be supplying borscht and pierogies—you know, their traditional food—all during the weekend, the same hours as us,” she says. And what could be more revivifying on a cold November day than a big bowl of meaty beet broth?
So you’ve got boots, brolly, and borscht money. What else should you bring on the Crawl? Well, how about the kids? “We open at 11 on Sunday morning, so that’s the time to go and visit studios with your kids,” says Arntzen. “Especially if you have a child in a buggy, because otherwise it gets so crowded it’s not comfortable for the adult or the kid. There’s also more time for the kids to ask questions and look around.”
And there’s no doubt in her mind that even the carpet-crawling set will get something out of an East Side art tour. “It’s amazing what kids are attracted to,” she says. “I’ve had little six-year-old girls go through and look at every page in my portfolio, and then look up and go, ”˜Oh, I just read about that piece.’ And they were six years old! And a couple of years ago I spent a lot of time talking to 14-year-old boys about my work, because they love junk. So it doesn’t just have to be face-painting for kids, you know.”