Yes, it’s that time of year again. Last weekend I went a-crawling, deciding to roam around Strathcona again. There are still many studios I haven’t seen yet, way out past Clark and near the Waterfront, but I enjoyed Strathcona so much! the pretty heritage houses, the rich history, the feel of community similar to what I feel in the queer West End, though with a different flavour, of course.
I’d like to think this poster was an omen, when I saw on the way to my first studio:
Okay, as far as omens go, it doesn’t say much about the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, because the people organising this Free Art event probably timed it to go along with the Crawl. And though I don’t agree with everything this poster has to say (especially in the fine print), it got me thinking. Hence this stream-of-consciousness blog post.
Why free art?
Or, Why art?
Or, What is it that I’m getting out of the Crawl?
Good questions. It’s true that “Art is food” and “Art soothes pain,” as the poster says, but the Crawl is about a lot more than that. It lets us see not just finished art pieces, we get a peek at the creative process. A lot of the studios had tools, paintbrushes, or what have you, out in the open and obviously well used. Artists are not magicians, they are not some refined elite conjuring beautiful things out of nowhere. Art takes talent, yes—and some say that’s overrated—but also work and dedication and passion.
And art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Around every artist is a whole community to inspire or be inspired by their work. Art and culture don’t (necessarily) belong in galleries, and they’re not disconnected from everyday life. You can find art in paintings and sculptures, but also furniture, clothing, even custom-made panties. No fooling, one of the studios was selling them, but I forgot to get her card. And hey, even painting can brighten up whole communities: about a dozen large public murals were on display in the Downtown Eastside. I only photographed one, the closest to Strathcona, the others being too far out of my way.
I don’t agree with the Free Art people: art, for better or for worse, is not disconnected from money. It’s a business, and one that I’m a little more sensitive to, having taken the plunge into the freelance world. I hope my work will be as rewarding as these artists’.