*Cover image by Rodrigo Sarrat-Cave
Written by Matt Law
A piece of art can say a lot about its creator. An artist’s studio can say even more.
Therin lies the beauty of culture crawls – the public is offered a rare glimpse into an artist’s space.
On October 16 and 17, artists from across New Westminster will open their doors to offer just such an opportunity during the 18th Annual New West Cultural Crawl.
What began as a one-day art walk in 2003 – “The Crawl,” as Event Coordinator, Laura Grady, calls it – has grown to become a two-day sampling of local artists and venues across five neighbourhoods throughout the city. For visitors, the event is a choose-your-own-adventure discovery of artists, their spaces, and the community.
“The most exciting thing about The Crawl is that you get a sneak peek into home studios … that wouldn’t normally be open to the public,” says Grady.
From textiles to furniture, pottery to paintings, and even a step back in time with a tour of the Irving House – built in 1865, it’s one of the Lower Mainland’s oldest, intact colonial heritage sites – this year’s event offers a diverse introduction to the city’s history and culture.
Across the five neighbourhoods – Downtown, Uptown, Queensborough, Westend and Sapperton – 60 emerging and professional artists will have their work on display. Venues range from The Anvil Centre to the small home studios of individual artists.
The burning question for area art lovers: what’s the best way to experience The Crawl?
Self-paced events like this let people create their own experiences. You can roam the city, stop at coffee shops or restaurants, and chat with artists about their work, all at a leisurely pace. “There are lots of great restaurants Downtown, Uptown and even into Sapperton. We have a couple of brewery’s Downtown, too. People can really make a day of it,” says Grady.
However, if you’re not the leisurely type, the organizers offer a variety of options for planning your best crawl. The event website features maps, routes, venue info, links to individual artists and, best of all, a downloadable guide for on-the-go reference. They will also be sharing suggested itineraries on social media.
On Sunday, Grady recommends taking in the Westend and Sapperton neighbourhoods. Here you’ll find a variety of artists, jewellers, and the Van Dop Gallery, which features more than 80 Canadian artists.
Last, but not least, is Queensborough. While it is said that “it’s the journey, not the destination,” visiting this venue is both. Grady hopes that participants will hop on the Q to Q Ferry. For a $2 one-way ticket, you can cruise the Fraser River from Quayside to Queensborough and take in a unique view of the city.
Once there, visitors will find an all-in-one showcase of more than 20 visual artists hosted at the Queensborough Community Centre’s Atrium Gallery.
Grady, giving her insider secrets for how best to participate in the event, suggests breaking it up into two days to get the full experience. “Spend Saturday morning into the afternoon in Downtown New West. You can really get a good taste of what New West artists have to offer just by exploring the downtown core.”
When you’re ready for a change of scenery, Grady advises making your way Uptown. “Uptown is a bit of a trek up the hill, but it’s a pretty quick trip from Downtown. We have some really great home studios to explore there.”
As Grady says, having a plan really is the best bet to experience the event.
“The New West Crawl is unique in that it does take a bit more planning in terms of participating, but the guide and maps that we have will assist our visitors in planning out where they want to go … every neighbourhood has great offerings so you can’t go wrong.”
No matter how you decide to experience New West’s culture, the key is to take your time. After all, it is called a crawl.
While the event is self-paced, three venues require pre-booking: New Media Gallery, New West Museum and Archives, and the Irving House.
For more information, to plan your experience, make bookings, and to find out about health and safety protocols, visit newwestculturalcrawl.com