On the outside, 1000 Parker Street is a nondescript century-old industrial building by the railroad tracks, one side covered in colourful graffiti. But inside, dozens of artists are gearing up to show off their wares at the fourth annual Parker Art Salon this Friday to Sunday (May 25 to 27).
The event showcases the talents of 60 of the 227 artists who work in the 152,000-square-foot Parker Street Studios.
“The artists believe in it,” says Niina Chebry, salon director and a participating artist, giving the Straight a tour of the venue. “It’s quite an endeavour. When you see the reactions of people coming through, then you understand that this thing was worth it.”
Wherever she goes during the tour, someone wants her attention—whether it's advice on hanging lights, where to move a table, or how to organize a display for the auction.
Chebry has had a studio in 1000 Parker for 18 years, ever since she moved to Vancouver.
She led the push to start the event four years ago. At the Salon, attendees can spend Saturday and Sunday meeting artists and visiting studios, and the artists themselves can mingle.
“I saw this show in Paris in a warehouse and all the artists were outside their studios in the halls and I just loved that idea,” Chebry says. "At the Salon, everyone’s out and everyone’s social and it’s something that we’re working on together.”
The Parker Art Salon is very much a women-led venture. The six-person organizing committee is entirely made up of women, and of the 60 artists participating, more than 80 percent are female.
One of the other organizing committee members is Cybele Ironside, director of the third floor, who Chebry, on this day, finds hanging a chandelier in one of the warehouse’s winding corridors.
The chandeliers are a core part of the salon’s decor. According to Chebry, they bring a sense of elegance to the industrial workspace.
Friday evening provides the main draw of the weekend, when the Salon puts on a ticketed party and encourages guests to speak to creators and enjoy the art on display. Last year, the soiree drew around 800 visitors, with several hundred more coming to look around during the weekend.
The Friday party also features a silent auction, and a small art fundraiser, where little square canvases are sold off for $200 a piece.
Partial proceeds from the ticket sales, silent auction, and fundraiser will go to AnxietyBC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of anxiety disorders and supporting access to treatment and resources.
“We found each other last year, and we decided to work with them again because it was a really positive experience. We just felt that it was a good fit,” Chebry says. “We like to keep our charities local, someone that we can work with.”
Since beginning in 2015, the event has doubled the number of artists who are exhibiting. It has expanded from just the third floor into artists from all four floors coming together to display their work.
Chebry’s already got plans in place for next year—a red carpet laid out in the entryway, more fabric for decorating, and maybe sponsoring a music program to bring students into the warehouse to play live music.
“It keeps on growing,” she says fondly.
The Parker Art Salon takes place from Friday to Sunday (May 25 to 27) at Parker Street Studios (1000 Parker Street). For details, see event listing.