By Colin Upton
I live in the Mount Pleasant/Main Street neighbourhood–just southeast of the downtown area–that I swear has to have the highest concentration of cartoonists and their hang-outs in Vancouver if not the country! The cartoonists couple Rebecca Dart (Rabbit Head, Battle Kittens) and Robin Bougie (Cinema Sewer, Sleazy Slice) live upstairs from me, I can barely leave my home without running into another cartoonist! They’re everywhere! Ahhhh! Let me show you around.
Part 1 | The return of the Dude Chilling Park Art Exchange!
The New Year begins on an upbeat note as the Dude Chilling Park Art Exchange is back in business after it was vandalised some time before Christmas.
The Art Exchange is a simple concept; people are encouraged to leave a piece of art and/or take a piece of art, for free. It was inspired by the free book exchanges you can scattered around Vancouver, I’ve come across three in my travels (in East Van, Granville Island and near 30th & Main) and their might be more. The Art Exchange itself is a small wooden cabinet with glass doors mounted on a fence on the corner of the public garden in Guelph Park, not 5 minutes’ walk from where I live.
Since it was created by Cheryl Cheeks with help from the city in July 2013, the Art Exchange has been enthusiastically supported by members of the local cartoonist’s community. When my neighbour Robin Bougie had his birthday party in Guelph Park he requested guests bring something for the Art Exchange instead of gifts.
A couple of months ago I went to an opening at ‘Hot Art, Wet City‘ (a neighbourhood comics friendly art gallery, more later) where I admired a framed original comic page by Sean Caremaker (Astronaut Journal). Two days later I found it in the art exchange and It hangs on my wall in the living room. Not everyone, including myself, is willing to give away original art but will leave mini- comics (including local psycho-doodlist, Owen Plummer) prints or in one case a graphic novel (Much the Miller’s son by Steve LeCouilliard)! It`s impossible to predict what you’ll find in the Art Exchange, from drawings, sculptures, fliers for arts events, found objects, poems, art supplies, art objects, books, to a Parrot costume! Some things left have nothing much to do with art at all. For some reason I’ve come across more than one eyeglass case.
The cabinet, built by Cheryl Cheeks father, a retired carpenter, is surprisingly waterproof, essential in Vancouver. However, it did prove terribly vulnerable to harm and there was with a sense of sickening inevitability that it would be vandalised someday. Indeed, surprising that it did not happen sooner. Not all the `dudes` in the park are chillin`. But it has returned so please check it out! Take some art, leave some art!
News items from when the Art Exchange first opened, I happened to be there for two of them!
Guelph Park exchanges it up
Dude Chilling Art Exchange draws wild array of works
Vancouver art exchange a first of its kind
Dude Chilling Art Exchange FB page
Brewery Creek Community Garden FB page