Art on a plate: Gastown's PiDGiN launches latest collab with local artists

The restaurant creates a new dish based on graphic novel; plus, it releases time-lapse video of its mural in the making

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      PiDGiN’s cross-disciplinary collaboration with local artists is back: the latest installation of PiDGiN x ART features the work of  Sean Karemaker.

      The Vancouver artist in the process of releasing Feast of Fields. The graphic novel consists of scrolls that Karemaker first illustrates, in painstakingly intricate M.C. Escher–like detail, then cuts up to make pages. In it, he explores his childhood and his relationship with his mother.

      “The book is a tribute to the qualities of selflessness, sacrifice and love associated with motherhood,” Karemaker says in a release. “The story will resonate with anyone familiar with immigration to Canada, poverty, or mental illness.”

      As with past editions of the Gastown restaurant’s series, chef Wesley Young collaborated with the artist to come up with a special menu item inspired by the work.

      Taking inspiration from Karemaker’s usage of scrolls, Young created  a dish of sautéed prawns with Chinese rice rolls.

      “Sean used a narrative style to deal with a nostalgic subject: the history of his mother’s upbringing in a Copenhagen orphanage,” Young says. “My dish was a play on a family recipe that goes back to our village in Canton, China.

      “The rice rolls are made from a filling of shitake, Chinese celery, jicama, chayote and dried shrimp,” he notes. “The rice sheets are made with a mixture of flours and starches. The sautéed prawns were another dish we would often see on the dinner table. The combination of the rice rolls and prawns captures that nostalgia for me on the plate.”

      In the past, PiDGin has collaborated with artists Ola Volo, Jay Senetchko, Katie So, and Priscilla Yu, rotating exhibitions every six months or so.

      As with those creatives, Karemaker has selected certain pieces to be exhibited at the restaurant, where people can purchase them.

      To go with Young’s menu items, PiDGiN also recently launched a spring cocktail menu. It includes Claro Que Si, which has tequila, mezcal, Lillet, yellow Chartreuse, and Bittermens’ Hellfire Habanero Shrub; the One-Eyed Samurai mixes watermelon-infused tequila with sake, lemon, watermelon granita.

      PiDGiN has also released a mesmerizing video of the creation of the historical mural on its exterior wall at 350 Carrall by Ilya Viryachev. The Kazakhstan native came to Canada at a young age and studied at the Art Institute of Vancouver, working as an animator on various TV shows before transitioning into concept art. Meant to meant to symbolize the history of Vancouver, his striking and colourful painting concentrates on the neighbourhood from 1855 to 1955.

      The piece makes references to everything from the Musqueam portage route between Burrard Inlet and False Creek to the Gold Rush that saw an influx of Chinese settlers to the Great Fire of 1886 to a representation of a Musqueam woman symbolically tearing up the Indian Act in 1951.

      “It is impossible to include every significant event over a century on one wall, so rather we aimed to represent various significant processes to reveal how Vancouver’s current model of tolerance and multiculturalism was forged through histories of violence, racism and inequality,” PiDGiN’s website explains.

      Watch the video here: 


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