At the ARC, art has a party
This weekend Vancouverites get a rare chance to experience one of the city’s most vibrant creative communities. The seven-storey ARC building, at the north end of Commercial Drive, is a former warehouse converted into 79 live-work studios for artists across a broad spectrum of disciplines—photography, new media, painting, pottery, sculpture, dance, music, and more. From Friday through Sunday (June 24 to 26), the residents invite the public inside for their Uncommon Thread celebration.
“Uncommon is a showcase for the wealth of talent that’s concentrated here,” says photographer Karen Moe, an organizer of the sixth annual event, interviewed in her studio overlooking the port of Vancouver. “We have a group exhibition of works by 30 of our artists, as well as a number of daytime open studios and demonstrations, and later on there are several performances—all in a party atmosphere.”
For a sneak peek, Moe leads the Straight down stairways and corridors to meet a few of the participants. Dallas Harvey and Gideon Hay are sculptors and instructors who create 3-D digital designs and prosthetics for TV shows and films—often sci-fi or horror. “We’re doing some pretty wild stuff, as you can see,” says Harvey, displaying brilliantly lurid mug shots of monsters on his cellphone. “For Uncommon, there’s going to be a live demo, making up an eight-year-old girl as a zombie. It’ll take two-and-a-half hours, and we have cameras and a screen so everyone can see exactly what’s happening.”
If that sounds too scary, photographer Janet Sadel will demonstrate the gentler art of tinting black-and-white snaps. “It’s wonderful seeing how these soft colours really warm up the images and give them an extra dimension,” she says. “I’m preserving a time-honoured tradition from the days before colour photography, working with special water-based paints that were patented in 1902. People will be able to experiment with them on some prints they can take home.”
And for those eager to reveal their inner pirate, Moe is offering individual portrait shoots in her studio, where she’s gathered assorted eye patches, cutlasses, and headgear. She’ll send JPEGs of the best photos of each participant, and will print one up on request.
Evening activities take place in the communal basement rooms. At Friday’s exhibition opening, Nathan Pearson gives a performance that blends break-dance and yoga, and later Andy Ius leads participants in a group movement piece, Spark It Up, creating a Mexican wave in the dark with lighters, and Maggie Lima invites the audience to a Zumba workout that combines aerobics with Latin music and dance. That’s all before heavy metal band West of Hell lets loose to shake the building’s foundations. On Saturday the closer is a variety show that features ARC residents, and on both nights Marie Wustner screens her documentary film Punchlines for Progress, based on footage of U.S. standup political satirists, and DJs spin platters into the wee hours. (This year, 75 percent of proceeds go toward Studio 101, the Eastside Culture Crawl’s elementary-school art-education program. See www.theuncommonshow.com/ for a full schedule and details.)
“Uncommon Thread aims to have something for everyone,” says Moe. “For those of us who live in this amazing place, it’s a great community-building event, and it gives other people an opportunity to come and experience what we’re doing here as artists, learn a bit about the processes involved, and have a whole lot of fun with us.”
Uncommon Thread is at the ARC, 1701 Powell Street, Friday evening through Sunday afternoon (June 24 to 26).