Elemental Designs

Sandra Bilawich


Vancouver Sun

Eastside Culture Crawl reaches 10th anniversary
Three-day event is the perfect place to buy gifts that mean something

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Raven in Steel, by Sandra Bilawich of Elemental Designs.
Bilawich will be among the many artists and artisans along the route
of the Eastside Culture Crawl.

From Main Street east to Commercial Drive and from First Avenue north to the water, the crows are about to take wing.

Not those thousands of noble black Corvus brachyrhynchos recently turfed from their Burnaby home, a messy forest razed thanks to our insatiable need for, well, whatever stuff will be sold from the buildings to be slapped up there.

No, these crows are the artists of East Vancouver, who adopted the underappreciated bird as the symbol of their annual Eastside Culture Crawl. For the 10th-anniversary edition of this delightful event, which takes place this weekend, take a break from driving to some sterile warehouse to buy plastic crapola and, instead, seek out genuine art on offer in the studios and homes where it's hand-crafted.

My experience at last year's Culture Crawl is the perfect illustration of what a fun and fascinating thing this is. I started at the user-friendly website, eastsideculturecrawl.com, and went straight to "browse by medium" because I was looking for something to hang on the living room wall. Specifically a painting in oil, both bright and representational, which is what I like to look at while eating my Cheerios.

While on the website I also scooted around collage and printmaking, in case something grabbed my eye, and took a glance at glass, mixed media, sculpture and clay. I knew that I wouldn't have time to get to textiles or clothing, that I would only be a looky-loo for furniture because my small apartment is plenty full already, and that all the jewelry on offer would only make me feel guilty for not doing my Christmas shopping early. Many of you will be smarter than me on that score, and use this weekend as the perfect opportunity to buy and give gifts that actually mean something.

The Crawl operates on Friday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Last year, Saturday was election day and, after voting, I hopped on the SkyTrain clutching the Crawl map I'd printed from the website.

Off at Broadway, and the first stop is Yellow House Studio at 1340 Woodland, which is indeed a yellow house, with a sunny upstairs studio. Arlene Byrne's beautiful paintings are right up my alley, but this is just the start and so I note some titles and prices, then carry on.

William Clark Studios is a warren of rooms up the stairs at the corner of, guess what, William and Clark. Paintings and drawings and clothing and jewelry, and a hello to mayoralty candidate Jim Green (the real one) and his sidekick that day, outgoing mayor Larry Campbell. I tried to give the new senator what-for for letting my neighbourhood liquor store close without a fight; he blamed Gordon Campbell. I wonder if I'll bump into Gordo this year?

On I crawl to the fulcrum of the Culture Crawl, the amazing labyrinth known by its address. If you haven't wandered the halls of 1000 Parker, don't miss this chance to become hopelessly lost in a gigantic old warehouse packed to its wooden rafters with talented people. I love squeezing into Babylon Buttons to check out what the best-dressed leftists are wearing ("Dissent is patriotic" is one button worth giving to the gutless members of the Ottawa press corps) and it's always fun to see what Judson Beaumont is up to in the "is that really furniture?" department.

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