We had two nights in Vancouver to explore and do all the errands I've waited to do in a big city. There were six natural food stores I planned to drop off wholesale samples at, and Roosmarijn was happy to come along and knit at a cafe near by.
When my friend Bradwood texted that we could stay at his place but he lived on East Hastings, I was a bit apprehensive, but we were running out of options. With an empty van we comfortably fit with Roos on her sleeping mat on the floor and me on the foamie bed, but couldn't sleep in the van full of my wares. He told us to park a few blocks away- with reason.
His two hundred square foot art studio was set in the heart of East Hastings, where the homeless population is highly concentrated. He waited in the back alley to let us in to the building, a strong stench of urine soaked walls hit our senses. The hallway was lined with large canvases of artwork from various artist friends of Bradwood. Sacred geometric shapes, goddesses, some abstracts.
Bradwood's art is recycled wood based, bringing the creatures within, alive. The knots in the wood become eyes, the natural lines form bodies. He takes a piece of plywood and transforms it into a world of colourful Beings and sells originals, prints, and buttons.
Artwork by Bradwood pulled from http://www.rhadwood.com/gallery.html
Bradwood's enthusiasm for art, driftwood, and the idea of 'living your passion' is contagious. He spends most of his time touring, doing art instillations at festivals and the days spent in Vancouver are focussed on his craft- only breaking for yoga and to eat on a meager budget. His dedication shows through his extreme talent and originality. It feels like this is his tipping point- where originals are reasonably priced, and will only increase in value over time.
That night he had a lot of stretching of canvases to do. A loud and long process that would most likely keep us up. He got a hold of a fellow 'derper Jaime- a festival goer who loves glitter and unicorns. She also happens to have a powerful, hot shower. Since he was worried about someone braking into Gwendolyn the Delica, and that he would keep us up all night with his stretching, he secured a couch in Jaime's apartment for us.
Leaving his studio we walked past two strung out people lying on a piece of cardboard, with a few needles scattered around them in the alleyway. Roos turned back from the street to check if the door was locked, which it wasn't. With her big backpack on and laptop case around her shoulder, she pulled the door shut tight and we walked ten minutes back to the van.
Happy to park Gwendolyn in a safer neighbourhood by Jaime's house, we had tea and chatted about festivals, Jaime's clowning performance, and our upcoming plan for the trip.
Blessed Coast festival was starting Friday and we had three days to do errands and drive the short forty-five minute trip to Squamish.
After a day of dropping off samples, talking to managers and recording leads into my Client Relationship Management Software (ZOHO CRM), we slept a night at the Ohm House.
The Ohm House is a collective in Vancouver. A mansion divided between eight rooms with close to twenty people. Our friend Heather had tapestries dividing her half of the five hundred square foot room shared with one other guy, and a sewing station. I slept in the Unicorn Room, a crawlspace under the stairs, with a mattress, blankets, and a box full of secrets. The idea was to scribble down an anonymous secret and put it in the box. While brainstorming what secret to reveal, I realized that I share a lot- perhaps too much. It was hard to think of a secret that I hadn't shared with anyone. I wrote down more of a personal discovery that I wasn't proud of, and went to bed.
Sea to Sky Highway View. photo credit: Roosmarijn Hesse
We had had enough of The City by Wednesday and spent a peaceful day on a hike just outside of Vancouver (along with a heavy tourist flow) and then spent a night at a campsite just outside of Squamish. I was looking forward to showing Roos what a small, independent festival looked like in BC, and we were not disappointed.