Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Artists bring people together at Slocan Park

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A group of artists has a new home to meet and share their work with the Renfrew-Collingwood community. The group, called the Art House in the Field Collective, will turn the empty caretaker’s suite in Slocan Park field house into a hub of arts activity as part of an artist-in-residency program sponsored by the Vancouver Park Board.

The community and local artists have been involved in the development of Slocan Park for many years, notes January Wolodarsky, one of the artists in the collective and the director of community development at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

“Suddenly a neighbourhood that had no dedicated space for arts activity, and has worked so hard on community-engaged art, now has this wonderful place,” she says.

“I’m really excited about the possibilities that come out of the field house. The neighbourhood will really benefit.”

Everyone is welcome. “If you have a creative skill, you’re welcome to come out and share. If you want to come out and find out what’s going on, you’re welcome to participate.”

Artists like Yoko Tomita and Alexis Macdonald Seto, of the Renfrew Collingwood Multicultural Artist Network; Carmen Rosen, of Still Moon Arts; and Jolene Andrew, of the local Aboriginal Youth Canoe Club, plan to offer community workshops in lantern making, felting, visual arts, costume design and carving, among others.

A welcoming tradition – Building Community through Cultural Expression

This new home for local arts is the latest achievement coming out of a vibrant multicultural arts scene that, you could say, started from a scraped knee and a longing to feel at home more than 15 years ago.

In summer 1997, January Wolodarsky was comforting her daughter, Tuedon, who had just tumbled onto the concrete near the wading pool at Slocan Park. A newcomer from Japan, where she worked as an environmental artist, January couldn’t help but think of ways to create more welcoming spaces in the park.

January brought her ideas to Collingwood Neighbourhood House, where then-executive director Paula Carr stitched together residents and artists to lead the project Building Community through Cultural Expression.

The project launched a community-driven plan to renew Slocan Park, eventually leading to the Duchess Walkway, the covered area and field house renovations. It also started the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News and the Aboriginal Youth Canoe Club.

Celebration artist Carmen Rosen received a warm welcome soon after she moved to the neighbourhood on Christmas Eve, 1999. “Within the first month, January came over and asked me what I was passionate about.” Carmen recalls. “I was supported from the very first moment I moved in.”

Carmen talked about a seasonal cycle of celebrations and, within six months, she organized her first celebration in Slocan Park as part of the Building Community project. She would go on to create the annual Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, which has drawn thousands of participants for the past 10 years.

This new Slocan Park artist in residency continues this tradition of bringing people together through art and helping newcomers express their creativity and feel like they belong. For more information, go to

Julie Cheng was a founding member of Building Community through Cultural Expression and is currently the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

© Copyright (c) 2012 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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