UBC | Digital Visions
Digital Visions
Writer: Laura Engstrom       Edited by: KC Solano

Everywhere I go I bring pens, pencils, and watercolors with me. In social gatherings I will often pull out these implements, putting pen to paper. These actions are done allowing new acquaintances and old friends to join in with my spontaneous art making. Although I now do these collaborative drawings all the time, they are still a relatively new phenomenon for me. In fact, a few months ago, I hardly drew at all. I preferred to paint on a canvas with oils. Most of the time though, my oil paints just sat in the laundry room gathering dust. One crisp clear night in January of 2005, I paid a visit to a locally run artist's collaborative called Intermission, and art was suddenly revitalized for me.

I climbed the stairs to the group's studio and lay my bike on top of a nest of the other bikes stacked in the hallway. As I signed my name on Intermission's Artist Society email list, I was stuck by the aura of a place filled with artists, art materials, and work stations, plus two cats and an older dog. To add to the bustle of events were two small kids in the back, sword fighting each other with sticks. The scene was an art party. People stood and sat with markers in one hand and tea in the other. I sat down at a table strewn with art supplies and partially completed artworks. I was encouraged to add my own additions to the works in progress. Soon I was happily engaged in conversation, drawing, and collaborative art making. During my time sketching I met members of Intermission, Steve Calvert and Marianne Bos, whom I later conducted this interview with.

When I had finished at the table, I saw some completed pieces set aside from previous art collaboratives. I was astonished; they were harmonious, unexpected and absolutely captivating! Simple cardstock pages were transformed into bizarre scenes depicting everything from cartoons to pastel washes, stick figures to geometry. It was apparent however that it was not important so much whether or not the end product was good or bad, what mattered was the process of simply doing it.

Can an event that resembles a party really be art in Vancouver? Intermission follows the trail of such precursors as Fluxus, who in the 1960's combined many art mediums together into Happenings, and the earlier Dadaists from the 1920's who wanted to expand human experience through irrational performances. One of Intermission's contemporaries is another Canadian collaborative group, The Royal Art Lodge from Winnipeg. They, like Intermission, hold regular drawing sessions, and also invite collaborations to work with many mediums including video, puppets, costumes, and dolls.

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Site: Intermission