Friday, 30 March 2012

Appreciating Vancouver's Hidden Art (or How My Home Became a Kristian Adam Art Gallery)

When I set out to publish Crow Toes Quarterly, my first concern was the quality of the stories going into the magazine. It soon became clear that the artwork I chose to accompany the stories was just as important (if not more) than the words. We had always planned to have great art on the cover and to have the odd ART INTERLUDE, which was an art break in-between stories, but I had never taken the art elsewhere in the magazine seriously. A glance through our first year's issues will show you what I mean. A lot of last minute Illustrator "art" made its way into stories that deserved so much better.

Along with this Illustrator "art" we would try as best we could to match randomly submitted artwork to the stories we planned to publish. This brought us an amazing variety of styles to the magazine, but it also brought a strange inconsistency. As the magazine's popularity grew (at least with the artists and writers around the world) so did the artists generosity. We didn't have a lot of money (in fact, we had no money), but this didn't hold back dozens of brilliant artists who wanted to create for us. Soon we were matching our literary content with an artist's style and these artists were creating original pieces for us. And what came out of this was a kind of magic... and a more complete magazine.

What also came out of this growth in CTQ's art style was a growth in my own appreciation for art... a new sensitivity to it. Yes, art is a broad term and can mean almost anything that has a little human creativity put into it, and I definitely have an appreciation for all human creativity, but in this case I'm talking about paintings and drawings and illustrations. I was always so excited to see how a particular artist interpreted a story. Sometimes it was exactly as I imagined it and other times it was completely different. I was never disappointed with an artist's interpretation.

And so I began to post these interpretations up in my office and I began to collect original art by CTQ's artists (my home looks like a Kristian Adam gallery) and attend art openings... and notice the art that was all around me. When I moved back into Vancouver in early March and took my first walk around my new neighbourhood, the first thing I noticed was the vibrant and thought-provoking street art. Some people would call it graffiti, but I call it amazing! It was down the alleys and under the bridges. It was on store walls and the back of bus stops. I wanted to frame it and put it up on my walls. Of course, doing that was impossible, so I did the next best thing: I took video of it and mashed it all up in the little montage.

Next time you're walking down an alley and something is painted (with care) on a garage door or on a back wall, stop and take a look at it (unless, of course, there's a scary looking fellow, who's holding crowbar, following close behind you. In that case... RUN!). You may find a new appreciation for this hidden art, too.

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