Artist Interview Series: Vanessa Brown

One of the best parts of working on an initiative like the Volumes Project is the incredible number of artists you meet, all of whom have been eager to tell their story and support in any way possible. As we continue to build our VP network, we’re excited to introduce you to some of these incredible artists that are following their passion here in Vancouver. 

For the second post in our artist interview series, we sat down with Vanessa Brown in her East Vancouver studio. Here’s what she had to share with VP:
                                  
VP: Tell us a bit about yourself and your career as an artist so far.
VB: I’m a Vancouver-based artist. I attended Emily Carr University of Art + Design and graduated in 2013. Since then I’ve worked hard to maintain an active practice, which has meant balancing a number of different day jobs and responsibilities with studio time. I have exhibited in Germany, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, and Vancouver. I got really into sculpture in the third year of my BFA, and took advantage of the metal shop at my school. Working with metal was one of the first times that a material ever sang to me and generated so many ideas. The material tells me where it wants to go and lets me know its possibilities.
                    
VP: Why have you chosen to live and work in Vancouver? What makes you stay here?
VB:
This question is always on the front of my mind. I had reasons to move to Vancouver, even before I went to art school. I was living in Montreal and used to be a social worker/ mental health case manager there. I came to Vancouver to work in the hospital system, and then I decided to attend art school. Vancouver is a beautiful city, I have family and friends here, it has an active art scene and engaged community, but I don’t know if I will always choose to stay here. I often think about leaving, and a lot of that has to do with affordability. The idea of buying a house is completely out of the question, but what is really frightening to me is how difficult - nearly impossible - it is to find rental space.
                    
VP: What have been your biggest challenges as an artist? Tell us about any struggles you’ve had finding a studio.
VB:
Everything is expensive. A lot of buildings have stipulations - you can be a jeweler with a soldering kit, but you can’t weld. Or you can’t use oil paints. There are a lot of studio spaces out there without industrial sinks. I got really lucky - I wanted to see if it would be possible to continue working in metal and since I’ve been here at The Vancouver Community Lab the workshop has really evolved. The tools and the capacity for what we can do has grown and built itself up over the years. It’s amazing what kind of space we’ve been able to make it into. If I didn’t have this space, then I couldn’t work the way I do.
                    
VP: Describe your current studio space.
VB:
My current studio is run as a community space . There are semi-private rooms upstairs and downstairs, and there is a big workshop. We have metal working facilities, woodworking facilities, an outdoor space with a tent that we use as a spray booth, and we also have a textile area. Even though it isn’t easy for me to afford it, my studio and workshop are very reasonably priced. It has great value. There is no way that I could have done metal fabrication in my previous studio. I can make noise if I need to, I can create dust if I need to. The fact that this kind of creation can still take place in the city means that there is more diversity in our creative industry. There are also a lot of people with tons of knowledge at the Vancouver Community Lab and everyone is very generous with it.
                    
VP: How does having a great workspace benefit you?
VB:
More than anything, the studio gives me more freedom to think about how I want to work rather than having the work decided for me. Space, or lack of it, can determine one’s art practice. For example, if I didn’t have the Vancouver Community Lab, then the option of working in metal would be off the table for me; I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I would probably pursue digital collage, which doesn’t require as much studio space or technical facilities. I believe that cities which lack affordable, diverse work spaces produce a more homogenized art scene. The homogeneity might be in what tends to get made, or more likely in the kind person who gets to access larger, technical spaces. I can’t stress enough how important accessibility (financial and otherwise) is –not just for individuals but for the entire art ecosystem. If we value diversity in an art community, then it is vital for a diverse range of people to access spaces in which they can produce.
                
To see examples of Vanessa’s work, visit her website at http://vanessa-brown.com/.     

Artscaping

One of our VP team members recently returned from a trip to Toronto, invigorated by the abundance of arts infrastructure in the City. Whether through residency programs such as Arts Unfold, its 37 artist run centres & collectives, or organizations such as Artscape, Toronto is buzzing with opportunities. Although Vancouver is hot on it’s trail, we definitely took away some learnings from the art community back east. 
 
Founded in 1986, Toronto Artscape is a great case study because it provides a huge number of resources for artists living or working in the city. According to its website, the nonprofit has “116 organizations and 2,300+ people who work and/or live within [its] portfolio buildings.” One major reason for the organization’s popularity is the affordable rental rates offered to tenants - Artscape studios and offices “[are] 58% lower than gross average rates for commercial spaces in downtown and midtown.” While the overall cost of living in Toronto is 5% more expensive than Vancouver, the cost of renting a 500 sq ft studio is comparable between the two cities. Therefore Artscape tenants pay about half what the average Vancouver artists does for studio rent. 
 
Although it wasn’t possible to visit all 12 project spaces during one visit, VP did make it out to a few key locations: Artscape Gibraltar Point and Artscape Youngplace. 

Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island provides artists with a unique residency environment. Secluded and charming, the property is accessible only by ferry, and all studios boast beachfront views. Whether participating in a thematic residency arranged by an independent curator, or directing their own experience, artists are offered facilities that allow them to escape the city and focus solely on their practice. There are appropriate resources for every kind of visual artist, writers, and composers, making Gibraltar a popular destination for artists of all disciplines.

Nestled in Toronto’s vibrant Queen West neighbourhood, Youngplace is another notable multi-purpose building that is part of the Artscape portfolio. A schoolhouse originally built in 1914, Youngplace opened in 2013 as an artistic hub equipped with studios, offices, a cafe, and a gallery. Individuals can rent classrooms, hallway gallery space for special programming, as well as ceramics, dark-room, and dance studios. The energy inside the building is palpable, and artists seem to thrive in the environment. The opportunity to work and exhibit in Youngplace opens a young artist to a much wider audience, and lends lots of professional credibility by association.

With 30 years of experience under their belts, Artscape offers mentorship services and DIY guides for spacemaking, which is great news for design entrepeneurs and creative non-profits. Lucky for us out west, the organization also runs BC Artscape, which was established in Vancouver in 2014. BC Artscape “delivers strategic, financial, real estate, community engagement and partnership-building skills to participants,” and offers expertise in project development. Volumes Project is excited to see how Artscape’s local chapter is helping shape BC’s arts landscape as the years progress. With the highest concentration of artists and creative workers in Canada, Vancouver has a lot to benefit. 

Murals Everywhere

Home to numerous art studios, commercial galleries, and artist-run centres, Mount Pleasant is an art-centred neighbourhood in every sense of the term, and this summer the community is taking its commitment to the arts to the next level. The inaugural Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF) runs from August 13 to 19, and will result in more than 40 murals popping up around Mount Pleasant, leading to the final unveiling event on Saturday the 20th. 
 
The idea for the festival was first introduced by David Vertesi, bassist for local band Hey Ocean, when he expressed a desire to showcase public art in Vancouver and founded the Create Vancouver Society. Around the same time, Mayor Gregor Robertson was visiting Montreal and became inspired by the city’s own Mural Festival. Robertson admired Montreal’s public display of artwork and the culture that was created by it. 

In an attempt to mitigate Vancouver’s reputation as a “no fun” city, city hall has been eager to launch community projects similar to VMF. With municipal support, David collaborated with Transformation Projects and Maker Labs to bring this ambitious event to life. As a registered NGO, the VMF secured funding from the City of Vancouver’s “Innovation Plan”, and several substantial donations were made by Real Estate group, Low Tide Properties and Graffiti Management company, Goodbye Graffiti.
 
Not only do murals add life and colour to neighbourhoods, they encourage community engagement, create city identities, and give artists a medium to touch on local issues. The value in murals was immediately recognized by the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Area, as it coincides with their mission of improving business activity and the quality of living in the community. The festival has also partnered with FieldTripp and Do604 to offer mural biking and walking tours - a fun and easy way to learn more the works being presented. 

Since there are simply too many mural locations to note here, the VP team asked VMF’s Art Production Coordinator, Micheal Bock, which designs he is most excited about. Here’s the scoop:

  • A huge corner section of the lime-green City Centre Motel on Main St. and 6th Avenue taken over by Low Bros: two brothers, Christoph and Florin Schmidt who tie together “street life and subtle natural mystique”. Expect some bright contrasting colours and geometric animals. 
     
  • The western wall of the Arts Factory, a unique multidisciplinary art facility in the industrial zone of Mount Pleasant called the Flats, will be covered with over 12 works. Most notably showcasing Never Crew artists Christian Rebecchi & Pablo Togni, who will be experimenting with work that portrays “living systems” and the blending of material and spiritual relationships that make up our world.  
     
  • The heritage building along the bike path at Main St. and 10th Avenue, called The Belvedere Court, will have Element Art Designs depict long-standing community members who represent the multicultural makeup of the area. 
     
  • Vancouver establishment Red Truck Brewing will be having female street artist Kashink paint some grotesquely humorous characters on its beer silos.

Whether you simply happen across the sites ad-hoc this week, tour all the sites on the day of the grand reveal (Saturday), or visit the muralist group exhibition at Burrard Arts Foundation, there is no doubt that VMF will be a great showcase of Vancouver talent that’s worth checking out. 
 
Visit Vancouvermuralfestival.com for full event details and check out the Google Map our VP team created for our own Saturday mural hop: 
https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1TZ_smq2FHn9ZLTHemeATuNULwPo  

We’ll see you there.
VP Team

Valuable Arts Research

Started in 2002 by Kelly Hill, Hill Strategies Research is a Canadian company that uses political science to analyze and interpret art organization statistics. For example, if you’re curious about how Artist Run Centres (ARCs) in Canada are funded, or how many volunteer hours goes into keeping arts infrastructure afloat, you can go to their website and search a large variety of sources. 

Hill Strategies Research provides several different types of services: outside companies can commission them to collect and compile data for its specific needs, and it also puts forth its own independent research on Canada’s arts landscape. Hill Strategies is always open to topic suggestions, and they will fund studies they find particularly compelling. 

Despite the value of reports such as these, Hill Strategies announced last May that its 2016/17 Statistical Insights on the Arts series would be cancelled. A statement released by the organization explains that, “[to] date, Hill Strategies Research has published 46 reports in this series, aiming to provide reliable, recent, and insightful data on the state of the arts in Canada.” According to the press release, the reason for the cut is due to “a lack of currently-available, arts-relevant datasets.”

The VP team can’t help but ponder over where all the data has gone. Through email correspondence, Kelly Hill personally responded to us by saying “the shortest answer to this [question] is ‘cutbacks at Statistics Canada.’ They have reduced the number of surveys and datasets, including those touching on the arts.” We can only hope that the return of the long-form census to Canada will help with the data drought, plus put a spotlight on the importance of and need for such data. 

In the meantime, Volumes Project recommends that arts organizations continue suggesting topics of interest to Hill Strategies, and leverage the existing reports as much as possible. These resources are free to download, which is great news for nonprofits. 

Here are a few reports that would be of particular interest to visual arts communities:

  • The Art of Inclusion – Seven Steps (27 Apr 2016 | Vol. 15 | No. 1)
    A Guide to Developing and Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Programs within Arts and Cultural Organizations.
     
  • British Columbia arts and culture research projects
    A groundbreaking series of four arts research projects was conducted for the Alliance by Hill Strategies Research. Three of the four research streams were funded by the Vancouver Foundation.
     
  • A Portrait of 75 Artist-Run Centres (27 Jan 2016 | Vol. 14 | No. 8)
    Understanding Canadian Arts Through CADAC Data.
    **This report includes data from 7 Vancouver Artist-Run Centres (ARCs) as well as 68 from major cities across Canada.

Please don’t hesitate to share additional reports that we should know about! 

VP Team 

Roving around Mount Pleasant

On Friday, May 27 from 6 to 10pm, the semi-annual ROVE walk will hold its much anticipated Spring event, bringing artists, art enthusiasts, and culture lovers from all over the Lower Mainland to explore one of Vancouver's most art-centered neighbourhoods. Started a few years ago by local artist Jamie Smith as a way to engage the community with Mount Pleasant’s vibrant art scene, ROVE highlights a variety of studios and galleries within a short walking distance of each other. ROVE’s website features a map to help you organize your stops, but since ROVE literally means “a journey, especially one with no specific destination,” we’re often motivated to forge our own path. 
 
Here are a few suggestions from the Volumes Project team on how to have a fun and well-rounded evening at ROVE. 

Since the event runs four hours long, the best post-work pit stop is one of Main Street’s premiere culinary destinations to help fuel you for the evening. We all love food just as much as art, and our personal favourites include the newly-opened Anh & Chi for authentic Vietnamese, seasonally inspired vegetarian fare at The Acorn, or classic comfort food at Burgoo. Next (if it’s in your vicinity), head to the corner of 18th and Main to check out the “Untitled” installation that made national news in 2013, and debate the potential merits and drawbacks of art in public spaces.
 
ROVE Stop #1: Kafka’s Café
Nearly every emerging artist’s first show is in a community-involved café, as they present a high-traffic viewing opportunity with affordable fees (for both the artist and the grazer). Kafka’s is a great place to kick off your gallery visits as they have some of the best caffeinated beverages in town, and you get to do what is usually faux pas: drink, eat, and banter loudly about your preferred work of art. 

ROVE Stop #2: Burrard Arts Foundation
Dedicated to “providing assistance to promising, qualified, emerging artists”, BAF’s projects and exhibitions feature a wide range of contemporary practices while continuing to be very accessible. BAF is a perfect way to introduce non-artist friends to a gallery experience and open up discussion about contemporary art. During ROVE, prepare to be delighted by the playful and bizarre pieces by local painters and sculptors, Angus Ferguson and Shawn Hunt, and make sure to climb the outside staircase where a series of artists studios will be exclusively opened above the gallery for event goers.  

ROVE Stop #3: Grunt
Looking for something more challenging? “Innovative, Provocative, and Collaborative” is how Grunt describes their Contemporary Art focus, so arrive here with an open mind. Grunt will be featuring “High Kicks into the Light Forever and Ever and Ever”, a projection-based video installation by Elizabeth Milton that is certain to fulfill the gallery’s mandate. 

ROVE Stop #4: LPY’s Studio
Artist and activist, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun has been popular in the news lately for his recently opened 30-year survey exhibition “Unceded Territories,” at the Museum of Anthropology. LPY is shining some important light on the socio-political climate of the past and present Pacific North West with his surreal large-scale paintings, drawings, and mixed media works, making this one a must-see.  

However, if LPY’s studio is too packed when you get there, wait out the crowds by grabbing a cold pilsner at Main Street Beer next door, or find your new favourite cocktail by following the little red light and heading underground. 
 
Next Friday, May 27, grab a few of your friends, map your adventure, and discover the hidden gems throughout Mount Pleasant. Get ready to ROVE.

I Didn't Know I Didn't Know It

The Contemporary Art Gallery, or CAG as it’s well known in Vancouver, is one of our favourite places to spend an afternoon. Not only does it celebrate both local and international, high-quality, contemporary art, but its key mandate is accessibility. Visiting the gallery is by donation only, because the team believes that cultural discourse should be available to everyone. In addition to the 10 to 20 exhibitions and off-site projects every year, the CAG also offers public education programs for people of all ages.

The CAG’s exhibitions typically strike the perfect balance between being accessible to the general public, and stimulating for the art aficionado. The current presentation of UK duo John Wood and Paul Harrision’s I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT, is no different.

Evoking a classic British wit, Wood and Harrison’s approach to contemporary art making is dry, deadpan, and charmingly self-effacing. Whether it’s an enigmatic pile of magnetic tape removed from innumerous cassettes (1000 Songs, 2014), or a glue stick stuck to the wall six feet above our heads (Pritt Stick, 2009), the artists implore us to reconsider the simple objects that casually fill our lives. What, for example, can a broom say when placed by itself in the gallery context? The simple presence of a push broom under a spotlight (Broom/Wall, 2015) works the room with the timing and presence of a seasoned comedian. Despite these objects’ modest singularities, they somehow deliver more than a single punch line.

Wood and Harrison have also incorporated several video works into the installation. Each video is as minimalist as their static objects, despite their shimmering activity in the visitor’s periphery. One of the most complex video narratives in the exhibition is 10 x 10 (2011), wherein a camera pans down through each room from the top of a (presumable) high-rise building, revealing a series of incongruous activities. After viewing 10 x 10, the viewer might find themselves reassessing their day jobs. 

All the individual works in I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT are staunch and straightforward.  Though most pieces have a quiet persona, the room is very much alive when viewed in full. The artworks’ little voices babble together, creating a small commotion. One may even garner a giggle upon leaving, either from the objects on view or the visitors themselves - you'll likely never know. 

John Wood and Paul Harrison’s exhibition I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT is on view at the Contemporary Art Gallery until April 24

Location: 555 Nelson Street
Hours: Noon to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday
Cost: Free

The Results Are In

Late last year, the Volumes Project launched a 10-question artist survey with the hopes of gaining valuable insight into the needs of Vancouver’s art community.  We asked a diverse mix of emerging, mid-career, and established artists to share their experiences and challenges related to finding studio space and achieving their best work in an increasingly unaffordable city. 

We received an overwhelming 220 sets of passionate responses from artists who were eager to contribute to the conversation – providing a wealth of statistics, data, and qualitative answers in the form of unique perspectives, opinions, and suggestions. See below for the highlights and leave a comment. Our research is an ongoing process and we’d love to hear from you!

Desperately Seeking Studio Space

Following their education, emerging artists are not provided with much guidance on finding suitable studio space for their practice. As we’ve identified through research, interviews, and artist surveys, the options in Vancouver are limited, expensive, and require significant compromise. As we put the finishing touches on our Volumes Project prototype, we explore the different solutions that artists are adopting to find studio spaces for themselves.  

  • Residential Conversions: Perhaps the most popular fallback plan for emerging artists, turning one’s apartment into a studio space can be an affordable option, but you’ll need to implement some space-saving strategies. Unfortunately, this solution makes it difficult for artists to separate their personal and professional lives, which can affect concentration levels, and make studio visits intrusive and living quarters cramped. 
     
  • Live/Work Spaces: For artists with a slightly larger budget, live/work units often have the added benefit of a small retail or exhibition space -  ideal for artists relying on income from their work. Vancouver has many buildings that offer live/work leases, but due to the industrial zoning of many of these buildings, rent increases are less regulated than residential properties. The ARC is an iconic live/work building in Vancouver once known for its affordability, which has followed suit on Vancouver’s pattern of rising rents. Find out what you need to know about live/work spaces from this great blog post on the subject.
     
  • Repurposing Industrial Space: Starting an artist collective and finding an industrial space to rent with peers builds strong relationships within the arts community. Thanks to a Vancouver City initiative in 2013, “City council voted...to change zoning by-laws to allow work-only art studios in each of the city’s 12 industrial districts," and removed the 500 square-metre limit on studio space. However, industrial leasing can be more complex than residential, so extra research is necessary. Among these differences is the renter’s responsibility for building maintenance, or extra fees owed to your landlord. Taking a close look at your contract and potentially asking for concessions is important if going the industrial route. 
     
  • Renovate/Resuscitate: Finding an older building fit for a makeover can be a creative solution, as long as you have the necessary skill-set and dedication. The potential issue of gentrification should be considered, however, which means that taking on a space within these parameters requires a social obligation towards the community as well as to your own art practice. Besides this responsibility, basic comforts such as heat and security may need to be retrofitted.
     
  • Municipal Amenities: In 2012, “Vancouver City Council approved 10,800 square feet of cultural amenity space for artist studios at 1265 Howe Street.” While government support of emerging artists is a huge step in the right direction, many of these projects are still several years away from completion. This particular building won’t be accessible until 2018. In the meantime, all of the emerging artists in Vancouver have to compete for studio space in Vancouver’s city-run building The Arts Factory

Volumes Project: Our studio spaces will help to address many of the issues each of these other options is unable to. Designed by Campos Studios, each of our modular units will be purpose-built to provide all the amenities and comforts that artists need to create their best work. We are still seeking feedback from artists who have had experience with any of the above, so click here to take our 5-minute survey and help us create the best artist studios we possibly can! 

 

 

Artist Interview Series: Sewari Campillo

Happy New Year! After a holiday hiatus, the VP team is kicking off 2016 with the first post in our artist interview series. Last year we began collecting insights on the affordability and accessibility of studio space in Vancouver – asking artists to share their hopes and challenges via a short online survey. We approached several of these respondents to expand on their thoughts in a more fulsome interview, and are happy to have this medium to share their answers with our VP community.
 
Interviewed in her Kitsilano studio, here is why Sewari Campillo thinks Vancouver needs more spaces to create.
 
VP: Tell us a bit about yourself and your career as an artist so far.
SC:  I’m a photographer and came to Vancouver from Mexico eight years ago. I studied photography at Emily Carr for four years.
 
VP: Why have you chosen to live and work in Vancouver? What makes you stay here?
SC: My primary reason stemmed from how, as a young female, I felt unsafe in Mexico and left to seek the safety that Canada could offer. As well, Mexico didn’t have an appreciation of art at the time I left, and I felt that Vancouver held a lot more potential for me to follow my passion as an artist.
 
VP: What are your biggest challenges as an emerging artist? Tell us about your struggles in finding a studio?
SC: In my experience, it has been hard to find a studio, as there seems to be an established group of artists who have been practicing here for a while, and seem to take up all the spaces. The problem is that artists who are trying to establish their practice need to share their studios with other artists that may have very different working habits, and mediums as yours…it isn’t ideal, you are not left with a lot of space.
 
VP: What is your current studio like?
SC: I recently moved into this garage-turned-studio in Kitsilano. I think it used to be a kind of lane way house so they renovated it and some of the utilities don’t work well. In fact, it’s quite cold in there, we have to invest soon in some heaters.  
 
VP: How would having a great workspace benefit you?
SC: A big part of improving my photography is my workspace. If it has a good setup and lighting I can feed my creativity in it. As well, if I can afford the space I work in, then I can spend more money on the equipment that I need.
 
VP: What are your thoughts on the Volumes Project?
SC: What I love best about Vancouver is the diversity of people. I am afraid though, that most of the young artists that I know, including myself, are going to relocate to the surrounding areas, like the Island, because Vancouver is too expensive for them to live. I think it’s really necessary for Vancouver to have a stronger community for artists, there is so much potential for culture here that [is] overlooked. Volumes might help keep some of that culture here, in the city.
 
A sincere thanks to Sewari for the interview. The VP team is committed to helping keep the arts alive in Vancouver. Take our artist survey and join our mailing list for updates on the project at http://www.volumesproject.com/. 
 
Here’s to a prosperous 2016!
VP Team 

Awarding Emerging Artists

Being an emerging artist is challenging. You have to network, apply for exhibitions, residencies and grants, go to exhibitions, and be disciplined in self-study; not to mention spend countless hours honing your own artistic practice. Luckily there are several fantastic opportunities for emerging artists to be rewarded for their efforts. Here is a quick and easy guide to the top three Vancouver awards designed specifically to celebrate and support artists in the early stages of their careers. 
 
The Portfolio Prize 
“Conceived by artists for artists, The Portfolio Prize aims to encourage the development of young artists through early career support.” 
Qualifications: 
MFA Graduate (must be nominated)
BFA (must apply)
Prizes:
MFA = $10,000 cash (plus two $1,000 runners-up)
BFA = $5,000 cash
Applications:
Available on the website December 15
Deadline:
February 15, 2016
 

The Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver (CASV) Emerging Artist Prize   
“A jury of distinguished members of the art community will select the winner and four finalists. All five will participate in a group exhibition of their work at a Vancouver gallery.” 
Qualifications:
Must be residents of Greater Vancouver
Cannot be students
Must have participated in at least one group or solo show in an artist-run space, public gallery, or commercial gallery (after completing education or apprenticeship)
Prizes:
First place = $3,000 cash
Four runners-up receive an undisclosed cash prize
Applications:
Open: http://www.submissions.casv.ca/user/register
Deadline:
January 15, 2016


The Mayor’s Arts Awards  
“Our creative future is in our collective hands. Based on the talented, inspiring people we honour through the Mayor's Arts Awards, our future looks bright.” 
Qualifications:
Established artists winners are nominated, then award an emerging artist of their choice (in the same field of work)
Prizes:
11 established artists = $3,000
11 emerging artists = $3,000
Applications:
Not required; recipients are chosen via peer review
Deadline:
Nominations due in July, awards announced in October


Sourcing and applying for awards is a great way for emerging artists to get much-needed funding to jumpstart their career, and get noticed in the arts community. To help facilitate the creation of award-winning work, VP is working hard to bring affordable and accessible studio spaces to Vancouver. By working together, we can give our city’s emerging artists all the tools they need for success. 

The VP team is keeping an eye on the upcoming winners.. now go apply and best of luck!

Temporary Spaces, Lasting Conversations

During last week’s SFU 2015 Community Summit, HCMA Architecture + Design and TILT Curiosity Labs teamed up to create TILT City, an event designed to connect and engage individuals and businesses throughout Vancouver’s downtown core.
 
TILT teams were each assigned a random city location that they had to “activate” with an artistic concept, making an impact on the site and encouraging community interaction. Among the performances, physical installations and events, one team developed a “Neighbourhood Huggie”, a giant blue multi-person hoodie that passersby could put their arms through to warm up on the cold day. HCMA architect, Steve DiPasquale said that a successful TILT City gets people to “…believe that something temporary and ephemeral can have a permanent impact”.
 
TILT had the VP team reflecting on other ways of creating a lasting effect on communities using transient art, architecture, and design installations - of which Vancouver boasts several examples.

  • In 2009, the Vancouver Art Gallery launched Offsite, a revolving outdoor exhibition space located on West Georgia next to the Shangri-La. Being placed in such a prominent urban centre ensures that the temporary installations stimulate continuous conversation not only about the art itself, but the ever-changing environment surrounding it.
     
  • The artist-run centre 221A in Chinatown is currently leasing a nearby plot of land for art exhibitions that will rotate on a yearly basis. Semi-public, as the site is called, intends to display works that will contribute to the discussion of gentrification and “soft preservation” of the neighbourhood and its surrounding areas. The future development of that space remains unknown.  

The Volumes Project’s modular, purpose-built studios will be constructed under a similar assumption of non-permanence. Our goal is to leverage underutilized land throughout Vancouver, so that public spaces will stay animated. In a city where land is fast becoming a scarce commodity, and emerging artists are being forced out due to property costs, this is our exciting solution. We agree with DiPasquale, and hope to further the message that temporary spaces can create lasting conversations in our communities. 

We hope you’ll join our journey!

VP team 

The Private Life of the Rabbit

Myfanwy Macleod is one of our favorite artists, and not just because she lends us her invaluable expertise and perspective as a Volumes Project board member. Her work is delightful and complex, sharp-witted and bold, and often imbued with the kind of arresting nostalgia that forces the viewer to do a double take. 

A few of our favourite pieces are Macleod’s Ramble On (2013), a 1977 Chevrolet Camaro skewered on a rotisserie stand that exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery last year, and The Birds (2010) sculpture in Olympic Village, a pair of giant sparrows that are both a symbol of Canadian settlers’ European heritage and a sinister nod to the Hitchcock film of the same name. 

Tonight at 8pm, Vancouverites can get a glimpse of Macleod’s highly anticipated new exhibit, The Private Life of the Rabbit, during an opening reception at the Or Gallery. The gallery cites R.M. Lockley’s book The Secret Life of the Rabbit (1964) as being the exhibition’s titular inspiration; a book which later informed Richard Adams’ children’s novel Watership Down (1972). However we don’t anticipate an abundance of light hearted whimsy from the new installation. An ominous photograph of a rabbit’s head emerging from the floor of a darkened hallway, and an image of a frostbitten backyard pool indicate that The Private Life of the Rabbit will evoke senses more fitting of the Halloween season.  

The Private Life of the Rabbit will run from October 31 to January 9 at the Or Gallery - 555 Hamilton Street in Vancouver. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 5pm and admission is free.  

The VP team will be at the Or tonight at 8pm if you’re free to swing by and raise a glass!

Cheers,
VP Team 

Art Digest

The VP team brought out our inner bookworms last weekend at the 4th Annual Vancouver Art/Book Fair presented by Project Space, joining thousands of literature lovers, artists and authors from around the globe to shop, read and take in performances. The two-day event held at the Vancouver Art Gallery is the only international art/book fair in Canada, and it’s easy to get lost for hours in the mountains of books, magazines, printed ephemera and publications. 

The fair got us thinking about the diverse ways we digest art and the never ending number of information sources out there - enough to overwhelm even the most dedicated culture seeker. So we put our heads together and came up with a list of our favourite publications that you can read to your hearts content.  

  • ARTSY: An online resource for art collection and education, Artsy encourages you to define your information preferences and sends daily articles based on your unique interests. There’s a particular focus on art movements and international offerings. Whether you’re into Middle Eastern or Minimalism, Artsy will appeal to even the most focused reader. 
     
  • SAD MAG: Dedicated to covering Vancouver’s independent arts scene from the perspective of local, emerging artists, Sad Mag is “a quarterly conversation about arts and culture”, and truly delivers it all. With quirky print covers and creative titles like “Grit & Gristle”, each issue features illustrations, photo editorials, reviews, stories, and interviews that somehow all tie together with a common theme. Kind of like a surprise casserole. Find an exclusive, VABF discount on yearly subscriptions at sadmag.ca/goodtaste
     
  • SUBTERRAIN: Another local publication akin to Sad Mag, SubTerrain is it’s more lit-minded older sister. It lives up to its promise of “strong words for a polite nation,” with heart wrenching poetry, insightful commentary and provocative nonfiction reads. Produced in Mount Pleasant, we love watching this local gem gain traction in the art community. 
     
  • CREATIVEMORNINGS: For all you early risers (who also like free coffee and breakfast), CreativeMornings hosts free monthly talks by a variety of our city’s creative talent. On deck for the November 6 event is Ola Volo, an illustrator extraordinaire whose murals help beautify outdoor spaces throughout Vancouver. The talks are a hot ticket and you need to enter a lottery in advance to secure your spot. If you miss out, you can listen to all the CreativeMornings podcasts on their website or follow the venture on Twitter @Vancouver_CM. 
     
  • CANADIAN ART: If you’re curious about new exhibitions opening in the city, Canadian Art sends out a weekly list of “must sees”, along with a host of relevant articles to keep you in the know. Simply subscribe to its mailing list to get the scoop. 

 The VP team is always hopping around the local art scene, so follow us on social media and we’ll also help keep you up to speed! 

And drop us a note about your favourite art publication and resource - we’re constantly hunting for the next best art digest.

Cheers!
VP 

The Art of Politics

This upcoming Monday, October 19th will be the last day for Canadian voters to decide which party they prefer to form our next federal government. Many issues have been discussed throughout the election - the lack of affordable housing among those at the forefront. But one important issue is often absent from public debates: art. 

Art and politics typically go hand in hand. Historically, art has been one of the strongest ways to communicate political sentiments and critiques. Art illustrates a culture’s values, tastes, and provides a wide range of public education and entertainment forums. Which makes us wonder why we don’t hear more public discussion around the various art platforms. 

So how does each party plan on supporting arts and culture infrastructure across the country? The Alliance for Arts is a great place to start getting answers. Download its Election Toolkit for a spectrum of resources. Read each party’s platform regarding arts and culture, and take in a series of related articles. 

Make sure you use the hashtag #ArtsVote when you share your thoughts on social media, and we’ll see you at the polls on October 19th!

VP Team

PS. Some additional reading if you're so inclined! 
www.canadianart.ca/features/who-should-get-the-art-vote/   

Urgent Imagination

Last weekend, a diverse group of Vancouver residents - some simply interested, others slightly irritated - came together to discuss the development of Mount Pleasant, one of the city’s most art-centered neighbourhoods. With the current construction of the Rize condominiums on the “superblock” of Kingsway and Broadway and the unpredictable future of the Kingsgate Mall, much was to be said about the intersection of art, culture and urban development.
 
Western Front, an iconic Vancouver artist-run centre, hosted the conference “Urgent Imagination” in conjunction with a multi-site art exhibition that reflects the need to rethink urban growth strategies.
 
Caitlin Jones, Western Front's Executive Director created the conference to see “how we can propose new conditions for our cities rather than react to those imposed upon us by systems of runaway capital accumulation.” Some interesting topics: 

  • The land currently occupied by the Kingsgate Mall is apparently owned by the Vancouver School Board, and the Beatty group, who is leasing it, has expressed interest in buying. VSB member Mike Lombardi noted that “public land should be used for public good” and suggested that whatever happens to the site requires community consultation.
  • Other Sights, a local arts collective that creates a presence for art in public spaces, discussed how we can challenge preconceived notions of communal places. The organization defines artists as agents creating friction in urban development in order to slow things down - a concept that comes across in their recent installations of “Slow Dirt”.
  • Brian McBay, co-founder of 221A, an artist-run centre in Chinatown questioned if it’s possible for Vancouver developers to continue to increase density and diversity. 221A is leasing space on Union Street for its Semi-Public program, where they will exhibit a temporary art installation every year for the next 10 years. Currently featured on the site is Ken Lum’s “Vancouver Especially” installation, calling attention to the issues of affordability and scalability in our city. The piece has generated lots of conversation around McBay’s musing, and will be on display until February 2016.

The conference concluded with Lorna Brown’s encouraging assertion that art and culture co-ops and collectives will continue to build in number and influence in the face of Vancouver’s affordability crisis. The VP team is jumping on board to help do just that and no doubt the conversation will continue to flourish. 

VP Team 

 

Herzog's Design Speaks Volumes

On Tuesday night the VP team joined a substantial crowd of curious Vancouverites gathered at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for the unveiling of the architectural renderings for the new Vancouver Art Gallery. Designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, the new 20-storey building will be placed at the intersection of West Georgia and Cambie Streets, with an expected completion date of 2021. Volumes Project can’t help but love Dezeen’s reference to the structure as “stacked volumes clad in wood.” We’re speaking your language. 

There are several opinions being debated, but overall the city (and VP) is celebrating the idea of a unique and dynamic new cultural centre. Here’s what we love:

  • The new gallery will accommodate an incredible expansion of services, from education programs for students and studio spaces for artists, to a live performance theatre and state-of-the-art research centre. 
  • The clever vertical design will create a vibrant public space at the ground level, landscaped with lush greenery and providing thoroughfares to each of the surrounding streets.
  • With more than 85,000 square feet of flexible exhibition space, the gallery will have the capacity to host global exhibitions that are not currently possible, enhancing Vancouver’s reputation as a major contemporary art centre and promoting tourism.
  • The design has a plethora of covered outdoor spaces that can be used year round to protect from sun, and rain.
  • The board of the Vancouver Art Gallery has already personally donated an incredible $23 million towards the development of the new project. 

During the presentation, it was quoted that “our wealth, health and happiness relies on the arts.” We couldn’t agree more and will be eagerly watching the project unfold.  

 A model of the new structure is available for viewing at the current Vancouver Art Gallery, and you can voice your opinions on social media using the hashtag #ArtMakesUs. 

What do you have to say about the VAG’s new design proposal? We’d love to hear from our VP community. 

The Eye of the SWARM

What a whirlwind SWARM16 was last week. Artist-run centres are an amazing part of Vancouver’s cultural fabric, and SWARM is a fast-paced and exciting way to take a peek at what they’re all about. This year, the VP team dove into the SWARM to take in as many exhibitions as possible. Here are the highlights:

  • Residue: Tracing the Lore at Malaspina showcased photographs of Brendan Lee Satish Tang & Diyan Achjadi’s ephemeral prints. Using family members’ skin as the canvas, the prints emit a strange and intimate connection to the artists, and evoke thoughts about the temporary and lasting imprints we leave on the people in our lives. **Exhibiting until October 11th, 2015.
     
  • Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo stimulated lots of debate over his site-specific work at the Grunt Gallery. Inventive and clever, Castillo placed a carpet consisting of colourful sawdust on the floor to resemble Latin American tapestries that are typically used as rugs during religious events. SWARM goers had no choice but to walk through the piece, making their own marks in the sawdust as they went. **Catastrophe, Memory and Reconcilliation is on view until October 10th, 2015. 
     
  • The VP team was especially enamoured by Skylight Gallery's 8 Cameras, showcasing contemporary photography in Vancouver and playing off Roy Kiyooka and Jason Koko’s 13 Cameras/Vancouver artist book of the late 1970’s. From the documentary style of Ryan Rose to the candid peripherals of Andrew Volk, these emerging photographers are ones to watch.
     
  • The SWARM grande finale took place amidst chaos at ACME Studios  - and we loved every second of it. Such a unique experience to walk through the maze of studios behind the GAM Gallery and the Remington Gallery. Cramming through tight hallways with SWARMS of art enthusiasts (so many puns!), we noticed an incredible range of artistic practice displayed at ACME, along with lots of very unique ways to leverage small studio space (or lack thereof). The VP team is definitely taking notes.. 

Drop us a note with your favourite exhibits!

Until next SWARM,
VP Team 

 

Welcome to Volumes

Welcome to our newly launched website! After a year of researching and planning, The Volumes Project (VP) team is excited to finally reveal what we’ve been up to. Our main site pages will walk you through who we are, why we embarked on this venture, and what we’re determined to accomplish. 

In several words, Volumes Project endeavors to build space to create. 
 
We really want to hear from our community as we continue exploring and pursuing this vision. If you have any questions or comments about the project, please email us at [email protected], or connect with us on social media:

Facebook - Volumes Project
Instagram/Twitter - @VolumesProject

We also recommend joining our mailing list, so we can send updates directly to you.  

Please watch this space for updates on our progress and thanks in advance for helping us bring this project to life. 
 
Cheers!
VP team

 

Swarming Around Town

SWARM 16 starts now, and Volumes Project can’t wait to see what the buzz is all about (pun intended). You’ll find our team mingling with colleagues tonight and tomorrow, checking out what’s new in the arts community and chatting about how Volumes Project will support emerging artists.

There are so many SWARM events to choose from tonight - how does one decide? We can’t, so we’re going to try to visit them all. Click here for our anticipated route.

We’re extremely thankful that Sounds @ Sunset runs late, because we wouldn’t want to miss this lineup. VIVO will be the perfect ending to our first night of SWARMing.

You can follow our SWARM journey on instagram @volumesproject. See you there!

VP Team