Sept. 22, 2006
Mixing it up on Main
Art and business create synergy with the Drift.
Move over Culture Crawl and Artists in our Midst. Another artist-run
show, the Drift, is now in its fourth successful year.
The event grew out of the arts community already thriving along
Main Street. This year is the largest yet, with 40 businesses, 28
studios and more than 100 artists, potters, photographers, sculptors,
musicians and volunteers. The event is unjuried, in an attempt to
be as inclusive as possible, according to the Drift's Jennifer Ettinger.
One of the established artists taking part this year is printmaker
and Jewish community member Miriam Tratt, who has been an artist-in-residence
at Granville Island's Dundarave Print Workshop Co-operative for
a decade. Though a busy new mother, she has still managed to find
time to create a new series of etchings and prints using a double-plate
process that creates highly nuanced, complex images.
"I love to do etchings; I guess you could say the technique
bit me," she joked, during an interview with the Independent.
"I love that it's dangerous and toxic, and that the plates
are so pristine and precise. I play with the medium and do a lot
She also does relief printing, which is not as elaborate and time-
consuming. Tratt said her formal influences include the artists
Andrew Wyeth, Betty Goodwin, Matisse and Whistler.
Etching is an ancient, complex technique that has been a part of
Tratt's life ever since she was a toddler. Her mother, Lone Tratt,
an accomplished print artist in Montreal, took her daughters into
her studio and taught them from an early age, and both Miriam and
her sister Maria have made this medium their own. This spring, mother
and daughters had their first group exhibition, but only Miriam
is in the Drift. Lone Tratt now lives in Vancouver and teaches art
at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, and Maria is
also a member of the Dundarave studio.
During the Drift, Miriam Tratt is showing new works at the Twigg
and Hottie Boutique at 21st and Main and, for the first time, there's
a stylized outline of a child in her work.
"This is about having Caleb [her son] in my work," she
said. She further explores the theme of new life with trees and
forest animals. "I'm trying to make my work more accessible
as well as affordable," she noted. So aside from the double-plate
etchings, she is also showing a series of reproductions on canvas
mounted on wood that cost a tenth of the etchings.
Twigg and Hottie's Jessica Vaira is thrilled to have Tratt's work
in her boutique. "I think her work is very beautiful, simple
but with a lot of depth," she commented. She said that there
is always an increase in traffic during the Drift, and that the
combination of art and clothes by indie Vancouver and Canadian designers
creates a synergy that benefits both.
"It's a great way to get exposure for the artist and the store,"
she said. "People who wouldn't normally go into a gallery come
in specifically for the art. And some people who wouldn't come in
for the clothes become repeat customers."
The Drift centres on Main Street, between 1st and 33rd, and is bordered
by Fraser and Cambie streets. It runs until Oct. 15, during which
time art will be on display in participating businesses during regular
business hours. Artists will also open their studios to the public
on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information,
Monika Ullmann is a Vancouver freelance writer and editor.