Artists open doors to their studios in the North Short Art Crawl

Annual event takes place this weekend with more than 200 artists exhibiting work in locations from Eagle Harbour to Deep Cove

North Shore Art Crawl. March 7 and 8, artists open their studios for the weekend, welcoming the public in to see their work, and many will be demonstrating their techniques and processes, inviting visitors to try some hands-on activities.  Local businesses are also hosting artists, and community centres and galleries have lots of exhibitions and events planned for the weekend. All free, all weekend. Friday night receptions at select locations, March 6, 7-9 p.m.

The curtains part and, standing on the sidewalk you see something – a shape, a colour – that makes you consider banging on your neighbour’s door and asking, “What is that?”

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You don’t, of course. Hammering on a virtual stranger’s door and demanding answers would violate an unspoken but ironclad social contract and so you go back to your walk, still wondering what’s going in that house.

That wondering can end this weekend as the artists who live or work amongst us open front doors and back studios to welcome the curious into their creative galaxies.

“It’s a real opportunity to find something really beautiful and to engage with the person who’s actually made it. You’re cutting out the middle man,” explains North Van Arts events manager Leigh-Anne Niehaus.

Beginning with an opening reception Friday, the two-day North Shore Arts Crawl is set to feature more than 200 artists exhibiting paintings, crafts and sculptures in locations from Eagle Harbour to Deep Cove.

Speaking to the North Shore News earlier this week, Niehaus is in the midst of “the last push” of organization.

“Our main concern is that people can find everyone at this point,” she says.

Stepping into an artist’s home is often a treat, Niehaus says, recalling a recent trip to visit Diana Zoe Coop’s studio just south of the backcountry at Prospect Road in Delbrook.

“She paints on her couch and she paints on her dining room table . . . her fish tank is covered and even her front door has got painting on it,” Niehaus says.

Coop is set to launch her children’s book Seymour the Peanut Butter Bear. Featuring expressionistic illustrations that combine vistas with detailed drawings of native plant life, the story centres around Seymour, a bear who makes his home in the North Shore mountains overlooking the Lions Gate Bridge. The book is intended to promote black bear awareness, Niehaus says. Coop is also planning to donate a portion of book sales to the rehabilitation the orphaned cubs.

On a stretch of Eagle Harbour Road where patches of forest loom over the houses, artists Kim Rosin and Mandy Harding are set to unveil acrylic, oil and watercolour paintings. Rosin, who notes “the beauty of the Pacific Northwest” as a recurring theme in her work, has paintings that range from a loving rendering of a flat nose pug with a furrowed brow to a still life of artichoke hearts.

Art Crawl
Danyne Johnston will be showing her work in 3 Brushes Studio. - Supplied, Darren Lebeuf

Just up the hill from the waterfront industrial area, Sandrine Pelissier opens her studio at 125 Garden Ave. Known for layered works that sometimes incorporate paint, ink and crayon, Pelissier’s offerings for the crawl are set to include atmospheric landscapes, patterned forest scenes and flower paintings.

Victoria Mitchell’s surreal, haunting, and sometimes romantic paintings are set to be displayed at North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma’s constituency office at 221 Esplanade West.

In the centre of the city, Lions Gate Hospital is offering tours of their 500-piece collection.

The work, which is meant to demonstrate the healing power of art, has been donated to the hospital by artist across B.C.

After sending out a pile of e-bulletins and printing off 10,000 brochures and distributing them at rec centres, libraries, coffee shops, “and wherever, whoever will take them,” Niehaus’s main concern is that people are aware of their options. They can drive, cycle, or hopefully even find a studio within walking distance.

“You can go to your next door neighbour, meet them if you don’t know them already, and support them. Not necessarily by buying artwork but just being there and seeing what they do and encouraging them,” she says. “It’s a very important part of community and it’s a very important part of our lives.”

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