This Is East Van 2 reveals more community love
It was only a matter of time before we got another edition of This Is East Van. Released last year, the photography book collected a number of locally geared shots, from a couple canoodling on either side of a shopping cart in Oppenheimer Park to a smoke-strewn Main and Broadway following the 2009 fire that consumed Kishu Island and Slickity Jim’s Chat ’N’ Chew. Despite how diverse the successful community photography project was, there’s plenty of the neighbourhood left to showcase. Enter This Is East Van 2.
“It just sort of made sense to do a second book. People kept asking for it—not even asking if there was going to be a second book, just when,” creative director Erin Sinclair says over drinks and doughnuts at Main Street’s 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters during a particularly busy Sunday morning. “[It’s] the same way that people are now asking when submissions for the third book are going to open.”
Sinclair began prepping the follow-up book last fall, though she found a new partner in crime this time around. While Jason Uglanica was the other co–creative director last year, local photographer Rob Forbes took on a greater role for this edition. “I had a photo in it and sort of helped out a bit, but it was Erin and Jason that did the first book together,” the blond and bearded artist says between bites of a bacon-and-apple fritter.
As they did with the first edition, the curators put out an open call for submissions citywide. The criteria given to shutterbugs was “any image of East Vancouver from anyone in any photographic medium”, a nebulous demand that ended up yielding over 1,200 entries. “We had these awesome nights right off the top where we’d both get home from work, crack a bottle of wine, and just look through all these photos,” Forbes offers, explaining that the pair hunkered down in their Hastings-Sunrise home over computer screens and physical prints to make the necessary cuts.
Images were chosen “from the gut”, with shots glorifying violence and substance abuse scrubbed from the get-go. “There were a lot of dead-bird photos,” Sinclair notes, “and none of them were chosen.”
What’s left are 197 celebratory shots from 117 shooters, showcasing a number of East Van scenes. Kristin Cato’s Wave Swinger juxtaposes the bright pastel tower of Playland’s swing ride with an all-too-familiar grey-blue sky, as airborne thrill-seekers hover in between. Rodney Gitzel’s Fall reps Rain City by chronicling a showery afternoon on East Hastings, with globs of the wet stuff violently bouncing off minivans and fences. Andy Soloman’s untitled cover image, meanwhile, takes a bird’s-eye view of a couple of cyclists relaxing underneath the magenta glow of hanging cherry blossoms.
Tweaks for the second volume include adding a rough location above each image, as opposed to the previous edition’s index. This Is East Van 2 also has a few words from its contributors, with 13 participants submitting a handwritten note answering the question “What does East Van mean to you?” Included are Save on Meats owner Mark Brand, whose butcher shop’s recent renovation is chronicled in the book, as well as photographer Janis Brass’s mother, Elma. The latter’s image is preserved on paper as she preciously scratches the ears of a playful neighbourhood pit bull.
This year, the curators have also added a gallery component to the book launch. This Saturday (July 7), a selection of shots from This Is East Van 2 will be on display and for sale at the Interurban Gallery (1 East Hastings Street), where they’ll hang until July 28. Videos Forbes and Sinclair collected from community members will also be screened, and can be seen now at thisiseastvan.com/.
With a third book bound to drop sometime soon, This Is East Van’s organizers can’t help but gush over every participant’s shared love for the area.
“It houses the people I love, the person I love the most, our friends and family. It’s where we work; it’s where we live; it’s where we play,” Sinclair says, beaming about her ’hood, while Forbes summarizes succinctly, “It’s home.”
Watch a mini-documentary about the making of This Is East Van 2.