Ok art lovers, we have a treat for you this weekend! Vancouver is home to some beautiful talent and views and this year is no different with the 24th annual Eastside Culture Crawl. With the pandemic still being front and center of our daily lives, there have been a few of our favourite events and functions put on hold, but thankfully we can still enjoy the love of art together.
If this is your first time hearing about the Culture Crawl you will learn a lot below and you get to enjoy a special Q&A with non-other than Bronwyn McIvor who is enjoying her second year with the Eastside Culture Crawl and has provided some of her creations for this year’s event in this article.
Vancouver’s Eastside Arts District invites audiences to experience the creative resilience of the visual arts community during the newly expanded 24th annual Eastside Culture Crawl. This year the event took place across two consecutive weekends: November 12–15 and this weekend November 19–22, 2020. The beloved arts festival offers attendees a fully customizable experience, designed to suit the needs and comfort levels of all arts enthusiasts during these extraordinary times. Arts patrons will have the opportunity to engage in an innovative, intimate and enriching Culture Crawl this year through enhanced, interactive virtual programming, as well as a new digital appointment scheduler for controlled, in-person engagement at open studios. Perfect for enjoying art while staying healthy and safe.
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“Each year, we welcome visitors to explore the richness and vitality of the Eastside Arts District. And while artists have faced unprecedented hardships this year, our mandate for the 24th annual Crawl remains the same—to celebrate the extraordinary talents of our visual artists and inspire a creative connection between artists and the greater community,” says Esther Rausenberg, Artistic & Executive Director of the Eastside Culture Crawl Society. “The strength and resilience, the fortitude and passion arts patrons have come to expect each year from the Culture Crawl will be on full display. It promises to be an inspiring, uplifting and unifying experience.”
Experience the creative resilience of the visual arts community during the newly expanded 24th annual Eastside Culture Crawl.
This year the team at Eastside Culture Crawl developed an enhanced festival experience delivered across multiple platforms. Artists will have the chance to expand their digital presence, by participating in increased virtual opportunities, including virtual studio tours and livestream and live chat functions within each artist’s profile page at culturecrawl.ca.
If you are like us, you don’t only love the art but the story and artist behind it. Bronwyn McIvor is a Vancouver-based artist whose practice is focused on painting and drawing, with an interest in exploring the intersection of the beautiful and the grotesque. After acquiring a foundation in classical painting in her teens, she attended Langara College’s Fine Arts program and completed her BFA at Emily Carr University.
The Undiscovered Kitchen
Throughout my practice I have taken unusual angles on the classical subject of still life, focusing mainly on the detritus of food preparation rather than the prized objects showcased in the Dutch still lifes that continue to inspire me. Created primarily in oils, my paintings monumentalize and enrich this overlooked everyday debris with sumptuous, bold colours, referencing the intensity of Caravaggio and the luminous detail of Mary Pratt.
My work transforms the mundane, relishing its detail and its drama, and in the process animates it with unexpected vitality. Commonplace foodstuffs become landscape, portrait, or strangely unrecognizable presences. I hope that these depictions give the viewer pause to appreciate the surreal qualities of everyday life.
Meet The Townsfolk.
It started with an eye, drawn in ink. Pen to paper, no sketches beforehand, moving from one mark to the next to see what would appear.
They began more than five years ago as a break from my larger oil paintings, but over time these drawings coalesced into something more, a growing body of work that has developed its own interconnected narratives and mythology as I collaborated with local authors and was in turn inspired to create new artworks.
In the past year, I have expanded the scope of this project again, this time painting in oils to create some new characters, and revisit existing ones. They are each a surprising combination of friendly and fearsome, handsome and hideous, funny and unfathomable. The characters’ individual quirks invite the viewer to look closely and imagine these folks’ strange stories, finding common ground with the monstrous and otherworldly.
What led you to become an artist?
Like many other artists, I feel like I’ve been interested in making art since I could first pick up a pencil. I’ve always had a pretty strange imagination, and drawing and painting were ways that I could put what I saw in my head out into the world. As I got older I realized art was what I was most passionate about and I pursued it through school at Langara and Emily Carr. The joy of sharing my fantastical views of reality, in all its grotesquery and beauty, continues to drive my artistic practice.
How would you describe your painting style?
I love my oil paints for the luscious body they impart, allowing me to render everything with the decadence of colour I desire and enticing viewers closer to spend time savouring every detail. My work is full of rich colours and dramatic lighting, which speaks to my admiration of classical artists like Caravaggio and the masters of the Dutch golden age. While I work from a foundation of realism and observation of detail, in everything I paint I look for the little twist toward surrealism that allows the everyday to transform into something rich and strange.
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Tell us about your artistic process. What inspires you?
I think the core of my artistic inspiration is the tension of the beautiful and the grotesque, the mundane and the otherworldly, that which attracts and that which repulses. My two main bodies of work both explore it in different ways:
For my food paintings, I begin by looking at the very everyday detritus of meal preparation (mostly my own cooking), taking pictures from unusual angles along the way and getting closeups of hidden or overlooked aspects of this mundane matter. I use these photos as references for my painting, often compositionally collaging different images into one painting, transforming it through paint into something otherworldly, with its own character, depth, and strange life.
My Townsfolk are an evolution of my long love of the monstrous and unusual. A Townsfolk character might start as a mental image or feeling, or take inspiration from found imagery that I collect (historical costume, artwork, vintage photography, documentation of plants and animals). These all merge into new chimeras of my own making, and while some of them may be disquieting or monstrous, it is essential to me that they all have a sense of individuality and character to ground them, no matter how strange they may appear.
How has COVID-19 impacted your art practice in 2020?
The pandemic has really made me appreciate my studio space! Having somewhere that is separate from both home and work has been a solace, a place that I can pour myself into my art and make something positive and creative.
The increase in home-cooking has also led to a new project that I’ve been calling my Quarantine Canteen, where I’ve been making a series of paintings based on images my friends have shared of their meals at home. It’s been a really fulfilling experience, not only to relinquish some control of the image references I draw from but even more so as a way to vicariously share meals with the friends I’m missing. When I’m spending time painting these meals I feel the satisfaction they had in their work as well, and I can transform these culinary moments into something that can be shared and enjoyed again in a totally different way.
How long have you been a part of the Eastside Culture Crawl? What do you love about participating?
This will be my second year as a part of the Eastside Culture Crawl. From last year, my favourite part of the Crawl is making new connections with artists and art lovers, and getting a chance to share my view of the world with new people. Seeing people react when they see my work for the first time is a lot of fun, and I love talking to people about which piece is their favourite (it’s rarely the same for any two people!).
What will be different this year for you at the Culture Crawl?
I think the biggest difference will be the lack of crowds and the energy they bring into a studio space. I will miss the impromptu conversations and spontaneity of chatting freely with visitors.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Many of the Townsfolk have stories! For the last several years I’ve been collaborating with local authors and the images and stories have developed together, each medium feeding new creative output in the other. You can see all of the Townsfolk and their stories on my website, bronwynmcivor.ca
You can also find me at @bronwynmcivor on Instagram — I post photos of my paintings over the course of their development, so you can follow along as they progress from start to finish.