Vancouver’s Eastside Culture Crawl returns November 20–23 this year, during which artists open their studios to the public over the course of the four-day festival. Participants will find any medium to suit their tastes, from painting, jewellery, and furniture, to sculptures, photographs, and decorative glass.
One participating artist is Anyuta Gusakova, who first came to the West Coast from her homeland of Russia when she was 20 years old for a short work-study stay. On her journey to Vancouver Island, she spent a one-day stopover in Vancouver, which left a lasting impression on her. Upon returning to Russia, Gusakova left her small port town Vladivostok to study art in Moscow, but while studying, felt that there was no space for her to grow. As a creative person Gusakova feels “you have to be relaxed. When you have to survive every moment, you can’t really let yourself bloom.” Gusakova’s memory of Vancouver helped her decide to call it her home; in 2009, she made that wish a reality for herself and her small family.
Gusakova became involved in the Culture Crawl almost immediately after her arrival in Vancouver. “I was able to integrate seamlessly with fellow artists, share techniques and stories,” she says. Since the Culture Crawl began in 1997 with just 45 artists in three studio buildings, the event has grown to include over 400 artists, attracting more than 20,000 visitors. “The support from the organizers and participants of the Eastside Culture Crawl has been remarkable. I have gained friends, met exceptional artists, and continue to expand my network of curators, collectors and genuine art appreciators.”
While walking her eight-year-old daughter to school in the morning before heading to her studio in the Mergatroid Building at 975 Vernon Drive, rushing as they often are on the verge of being late, Gusakova catches a glimpse of the mountains and says she has “found what she was looking for.” When asked what advice she might offer other artists seeking a space to grow, Gusakova shares: “You have to believe in yourself. That is the only thing that can keep you going through anything. It doesn’t matter how good you are as an artist because you will get better if you have faith in yourself. Not in terms of ego, [but] you have to believe that it’s your calling, your mission, how nature made you, not what your mind told you.”