A picture can paint a thousand words, but the flip side of that, as proven at this year’s vast Eastside Culture Crawl, is that there are a thousand ways to paint a picture.
Among the hundreds of artists taking part in the massive studio open house, painters make up one of the strongest contingents. Here are just a few of the brush masters who are worth checking out, from Thursday to Sunday (November 14 to 17), between the boundaries of Columbia Street to Victoria Drive and 1st Avenue to the waterfront.
Hamilton Bank Building
This New Brunswick–born artist deals in video and digital collages as well, but check out her rich, haunting oils on canvas, where blackberry brambles might overtake a Chevy truck or an old fence, or hydrangeas threaten to engulf an antique chair. There’s something about the roiling clouds and too-green greens that gives her everyday subject matter the heightened feel of a dark fairy-tale storybook. MacDonald is best-known for her series “Last Meals”, in which she not only eats but paints the real final dishes served to death-row convicts.
Helen Alex Murray
East Side Studios
On Murray’s fluid abstract canvases, the colours that roll and swoosh across white backgrounds sometimes conjure crashing waves, the insides of oyster shells, or gushing rapids. They feel inspired by West Coast nature, and by interior landscapes as well.
1861 Franklin Street
The surreal, the sacred, and the sci-fi meet in Chaperon’s alternative dimensions. Strange female figures, portals, and deep, mysterious pools of water recur amid lush forests and flowers. For a more stripped-down, ethereal effect, look to her mesmerizing paintings of single crystals floating in space.
Iris Mes Low
William Clark Studios
Netherlands-born Mes Low has become inspired by the way the wilderness edges up against the city in her adopted West Coast home. In her abstract landscapes, on view at the Crawl for the first time, cherry trees look like puffy cotton candy, evergreens point sharply skyward, and distant mountains undulate in blue.
Instead of classic still lifes depicting perfect, untouched pomegranates, apples, and pears, this Emily Carr University of Art and Design grad’s lushly painted oils depict rigorously squeezed limes, banana peels, and roughly sliced-open peppers. Her “The Undiscovered Kitchen” series both plays with historical forms and celebrates, in rich colours, food preparation and the everyday byproducts of cooking.
Parker Street Studios
The Edmonton-born Edwards, debuting at the Crawl, gets at the unconscious in her richly rendered abstracts. A moody textural series features exposed layers and drips, in reds and pinks or blues, greys, and blacks; titles (I Could Corrupt You, Tear You Apart) suggest a turbulent undercurrent beneath the serene surface.
The Mergatroid Building
This Crawl veteran, celebrating her 14th year, creates contemplative work with acrylics and inks, often on panel or canvas. Some are washy and atmospheric, inspired by the great outdoors. Others interpret classical music via dapples, squiggles, and drip marks that, at a distance, look like serene, delicate rows of flowers.