Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Eastside Culture Crawl with Little Kids

We Culture Crawled! (L exempted himself from the family selfie)
This year, we finally made it to the Eastside Culture Crawl, after a few years' children-induced hiatus. If you haven't heard of it before, the Crawl is a four day celebration of East Vancouver art & artists. Hundreds of artists tidy up their studios & throw open their doors to the public every November. It's free & it's a great way to see some of the amazing art that's happening right here in our community, as well as a great chance to bring some home. & you don't need to be rich to buy art--prices start at $2!

We dragged our five-year-old & two-year-old, kicking & screaming at times, through the labyrinthine studios at 1000 Parker, a few in the Mergatroyd Building right after parking our bikes at the Bicycle Valet, & two in the Hamilton Bank Building.

Unlike most galleries, where you can look but not touch, many of the studios in the Culture Crawl encouraged a hands-on experience, which is near-essential with young children. It's very hard to get a toddler to understand why she should not put her hands on the colourful textured paintings, tiny ceramic sculptures, & smooth wood carvings that are hanging within her reach.

We really appreciated the artist who let the kids run their fingers over his paintings, & took the time to answer each question Linnaeus peppered him with. (I wish I could remember his name!) Both children really enjoyed being allowed to sit inside the carrot car in Straight Line Designs studio. Bronte got to pet a puppy & feed him treats after playing with several of the leather stuffed animals in the studio.

The kids were fascinated by all the various machines that they saw: the freight elevator in 1000 Parker, a joiner in Brent Granby's woodworking studio, the silkscreens & print drying machine in The Hive Printing, the latex moulds in Les Sears & Kate MacDonald's studio, the leather polisher at Leather Monsters, & of course the kilns & tools in the glass blowing demonstration in the Mergatroyd Building.

Linny's first art purchase
Linnaeus kept asking questions about every art piece he saw. I try to get him to speculate about what is represented or what it might mean, nudging him along with a little information without just telling him what my interpretation of the work is. He was delighted at the SnackArt Collective's Instagram photo print vending machine. I gave him a twoonie & he chose the most colourful of the images, a paint store sign reflected in a puddle.

By about 3pm, Bronte was becoming a hysterical mess, so we had to head home. Depsite the less than graceful exit, hauling a flailing, howling toddler out & down the stairs, then treating everyone we passed on the first five minutes of the ride home to a siren-like wail, I'm glad we went.

I'm so happy that we have an event like Eastside Culture Crawl just a short bike ride from home. I left inspired to fit more art into our life, both seeing & buying more of it, as well as making more of it. Bronte loves to scribble with crayons or markers & swipe at paper with paint whenever she gets the chance. Linnaeus is much more deliberate & as likely to produce a cutaway schematic of a tugboat, but happily he's definitely more into creating than he used to be. I want to explore with the kids some of the materials & techniques we saw at the Eastside Culture Crawl, like collage & thicker acrylic paint.

Have you ever been to the Eastside Culture Crawl, or an open studio event like it with little kids? What was your favourite part?

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