November 19, 2007

Looking for Printmakers

Yesterday afternoon R and I took advantage of the weather and went to check out the East Side Culture Crawl. I'd only heard about it last year, after it was over, and this time I didn't want to miss it. I was hoping to find some printmakers out there.

We started off in the East Pender/Hawks area, visiting the different artist's studios marked on the map, then took in the studio lofts in the Alexander/Railway area, and ended on Powell and Commercial at the ARC. What a glorious way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon! And what a great way some of these people live: living their art every day in surroundings designed to encourage creative expression. Of course, it takes more than just creating to maintain the lifestyle (the studios in the ARC run from $1200 to $2600 a month) so the idea is to sell enough work to pay that rent. One way or another, it always comes down to money.

Anyway, I was on the hunt for printmakers.
One specifically: Richard Tetrault,

Yellow Door

The above is one of his woodcuts. I love the vital energy in his work and really hoped to see one or two of his blocks in person, to see how he carves them. But, though we went to the address in the brochure, we found different artists there. Maybe there were more suites in the building and we missed them. It was one of our first stops so maybe we didn't look hard enough.

Later on, sort of by fluke, we found John Steil:


He, like Richard Tetrault, does paintings as well as prints. He works with lino and, amazingly, Speedball inks -- he gets fine results with them. Obviously his style is much simpler yet I kind of liked his work too, in a different way.

Finally, on our very last stop, we found Chris Blades. He doesn't have a website so I can't attach a sample, but his lithographs called out to me from the hallway walls on one of the floors at the ARC. He himself was on another floor entirely, making music. It was actually the music that drew us to his studio, both of us unaware that the musician was the guy who's work I'd been admiring earlier. He was playing a tango on a hollow guitar (I think) accompanied by an accordion, a mandolin, and an electric guitar. Incredible musicians each and every one of them, they were so totally in synch, like they'd been playing together for a hundred years.

The music literally flowed from them, through their instruments and around the room, around dozens of glowing art lamps Chris makes, around a collection of odd and intriguing objects like, for example, a football morphed into a puffer fish. We stood in total awe, through three pieces of music, and at some point noticed the artwork on the walls and realized whose place we were in. Ironically, we actually have a couple of Chris's older prints; we got them from Thor, almost 20 years ago, in exchange for house-sitting the gallery our first summer in Squamish.

We ended up talking to the musicians a little bit then, trying to articulate the joy their playing made us feel. R asked them if they had any of the music recorded and they don't. They don't even have a name as a group!!! Sad, sad, sad, sad. Nonetheless, we left there uplifted and managed to hang on to the feeling through the rest of the night. Sometimes, you go out looking for one thing and find another, better thing altogether.

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