The Eastside Culture Crawl is coming back to Vancouver on November 16, 17 and 18, 2012. For the three days of the crawl, the public is invited to East Vancouver to tour artists’ creative environments, see artwork, and maybe even buy a one-of-a-kind piece. With 300+ artists exhibiting, there’s sure to be something for everyone. It’s definitely what to do in Vancouver to get in touch with your creative side. We were thrilled to be able to chat with Robi Smith of Blue Lantern Studio, an artist and a Vancouver mom, to find out a little bit more about what’s in store during the Crawl.
Following Her Passion
Robi Smith says, “I’ve been an artist ever since I was a kid. It was more something I did for myself. I didn’t really take a lot of art courses or anything like that.” With a mother who was very focused on practical skills, Robi studied journalism in university. She says, “I sort of came at painting from the side, incorporating it into my life while also having another career as an editor and a writer.”
When Robi got pregnant with her son, she stopped painting completely. “All of my creativity seemed to be going into my belly,” she laughs. The paints stayed away after her son was born, until he was about two and a half years old. “I realized that I had lost a lot of my passion. I had pushed it away somewhere, and I was not being fed in the way that I was when I was actively creating. I also realized that if I focused too much on making money I was repeating the habits of my own childhood where my mom was very creative, and then when she had my sister and I she went into business and shut the creative side out of her life. I realized I don’t want that. I don’t want my son growing up with a mom who was not doing what she felt passionate about.”
Choosing Studio Space for the Eastside Culture Crawl
Robi got studio space that’s separate from her home, but within walking distance. For the past three years, she’s focused on building her art career. When asked to describe her art, she says, “My art is really focused on the environment, and particularly the environment here in British Columbia. My paintings are almost all about the ocean, and the marine environment. I also do a lot of work as a collage artist.” She also has a line of hand-made greeting cards, as well as books for children including an art journal. You can find both at Bird on a Wire, and Collage Collage carries the books.
This isn’t Robi’s first year exhibiting at the Eastside Culture Crawl. She says, “I live in Strathcona, and I really wanted to have a studio that was in the Culture Crawl. That was a big part of my choice about where to locate it. This fall will be my fourth Culture Crawl.” For Robi the Culture Crawl goes beyond what to do in Vancouver one weekend in November. She says, “As an artist I always went on the crawl to be inspired by all the other artists.” She wanted to participate in that inspiration. “With the Crawl, to just open the door to your studio and have hundreds of people come in throughout a weekend is just astonishing.”
What to do in Vancouver for Art Lovers and Families
For first-time crawlers adding the event to their list of what to do in Vancouver this November, Robi says, “There’s different ways of approaching the Crawl. There are some buildings where there are a lot of artists. If you just wanted to go and have a feeling of being in the crowd and seeing lots of different art without planning too much ahead of time you could just go to one of those buildings and walk around. If you don’t like crowds, there are lots of areas where there are individual studios in a neighbourhood, and you can just go for a walk.” If you’re trying to plan out your day, stop by the Crawl website and search by neighbourhood, medium or more.
Of course, as a mom, when you’re planning what to do in Vancouver over the weekend you’ll be taking your kids into account. We asked Robi about bringing children on the crawl. She says, “It can be hard with kids in strollers, because studios, especially if they’re in people’s homes, there’s a lot of stairs.” Even so, it’s very kid-friendly. “The great thing about the Crawl is that there’s no time limit, and it’s not like a gallery or a museum where you have to be quiet. [Also], you don’t have to stay for more than five minutes at a studio. It can just be in and out.”
You Only Get One Chance
In closing, Robi shares some inspiration with us. “Following your dreams and your passions is really important, no matter whether there’s always money there or not. Our lives are so short that the driver should be living to your highest self. You only get one chance at living, you know. The nightmare for me, for my own life, is waking up at 70 or 80 and going, ‘Man, I blew it. I missed living.’ I’m just not interested in doing that.” We can’t really blame her.