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Drag Ball

After a 30-year hiatus, the legendary Mainstreeters Dragball that transformed Mt. Pleasant is back, featuring Vancouver’s best drag queens, DJs, performers, and Vera Wong as the outrageous Mistress of Ceremonies. Co-presented by The Grunt Gallery.

The Mainstreeters
From 1977 to 1985, the Mainstreeters’ Dragballs began as intimate studio events, developing into elaborate art parties with spectacular décor, performances, and DJs. Shaping an important chapter in Vancouver’s history, the Mainstreeters were an “art gang” of East Van rebels who were fearlessly open about their work, sexualities, and lifestyles, helping to build a Warhol Factory-like scene that still resonates today. This month’s dragball will be a showstopping night of old and new-school gender-bending drag queens, kings, and everything in between. There will be special performances, homages, and awards for Best in Drag—the perfect opportunity to finally express your “other” self and take it to the next level

House rules: Come in drag, or not at all! Bring out your creative best.

Performers: Vera Wang, Maria Toilette, Badkitty Lulu, Dairy Queens, Edward Malaprop, Jane Smoker, and Berlin Stiller.
DJs: HEAVEN record-spinners Trevor Risk & Patrick Campbell.
Visuals by: Paul Wong and Patrick Daggitt.

This event is part of Mainstreeters: Taking Advantage, on view at the Satellite Gallery until Mar 14, 2015.

Saturday, March 7th.
Fox Cabaret
2321 Main St.

Tickets available through Eventbrite.

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Al Neil and Carole Itter’s Cabin: grunt gallery Field Trip

grunt gallery decided to take a field trip to Cate’s Cove to visit Al Neil and Carole Itter’s cabin. Other than Glenn, most of the staff had never visited the little shack located off the water. We first stopped at the bird sanctuary where Ken Lum’s from shangri-la to shangri-la is installed, despite the woods dwarfing the size of the shacks, they are bigger than one might think. By the way, one of these shacks reference Tom Burrows old cabin, he currently has an exhibition at the Belkin.

We then continued up the road to Cate’s Park where Glenn Alteen guided us down a little known path towards the cabin.

Considering all of the media attention the cabin has received recently and the efforts from Glenn and the gang at grunt to help increase much needed attention about this amazing piece of history, it was really important for all of the staff to actually visit the site and get a feeling of what that area was all about.

This is a sort of evolving sculpture, apparently when the King Tide occurred in December, the water rose to the platform of the cabin but luckily pieces from this work remained intact.

The cabin is a single room and it’s heated by a wood stove, it’s entirely made of wood and includes a small kitchen, a living room area, a piano and a bedroom space at the far end.

If you want to keep up with what’s happening with the cabin, ‘like’ the Facebook page here.

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Vancouver Sun: Artists fight to preserve historic, 80-year-old North Vancouver cabin

Photo from the Vancouver Sun Article | Vancouver artist and jazz musician Al Neil has been occupying a cabin by the waterfront in North Vancouver for decades. The cabin is slated to be removed by Jan. 31 to make way for property development.
Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, SUN. See all here.

“For over 150 years squatters — artists, sailors who had jumped ship, bohemians and people unable or unwilling to pay rent — have made improvised homes for themselves along the shores of the Fraser River, Vancouver Harbour and Burrard Inlet.

Many were simply looking for a place to live, but others, including novelist Malcolm Lowry, poets Earle Birney, Dorothy Livesay, and Al Purdy and whale expert and Greenpeace founder Paul Spong used their homes as sites for important creative work.

More recently photographer Stan Douglas and visual artist Ken Lum have created works based on the homes of artists on the Burrard Inlet foreshore.

Now, the last surviving example of the unofficial residences on Burrard Inlet — a cabin near Cates Park on the North Shore that has served artistic collaborators Al Neil and Carole Itter variously as a residence and an artist’s workshop for decades — is under threat. Neil and Itter still use and maintain the one-room cabin, which has no plumbing and appears to be in sound condition.”

Read the full article.

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Globe & Mail Article: Vancouver artists fight to protect a colourful piece of the city’s art history

Photo Credit: Jim Jardine, 1989

“Ms. Itter, 75, is slowly emptying the cabin where she and Al Neil have been making art and music for decades. They received an eviction notice from Port Metro Vancouver in the fall with a Jan. 31 deadline to vacate, and a demolition permit has been issued for Feb. 1.”

“Now a number of prominent players on the local art scene are working to save the little cabin that tells a big story about Vancouver’s history.

The waterfront area was once home to a number of squatters – many of whom were artists, including the author Malcolm Lowry. He lived in a series of shacks in what is now Cates Park, where he wrote much of his classic Under the Volcano. The nearby cabin that has been home and studio to Mr. Neil and Ms. Itter is believed to have been made in Coal Harbour by a Scandinavian craftsman in the 1930s.

Mr. Neil, now 90 – a musician, composer and visual artist who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award last year – has lived in the cabin on and off since 1966, serving as a sort of beach watchman for the company next door, McKenzie Barge. He initially paid rent to the shipyard – $15 a month, “and then eventually they said don’t bother,” says Ms. Itter, a sculptor and writer who joined Mr. Neil 13 years after he moved in.”

“’We live in such a redevelopment city and there’s so little of heritage that gets saved here and I think this is a very important piece of Vancouver heritage that we should all really think about before we let it go,’ says Glenn Alteen with the Grunt Gallery.”

Read the entire article here.

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MAINSTREETERS events: January – March

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MAINSTREETERS: Taking Advantage, 1972–1982 exhibition is at Satallite Gallery. Read more.

During the exhibition, Main Street Tapes will be show in storefronts along Main Street, including:
Eugene Choo, 3683 Main Street
Smoking Lily, 3634 Main Street
Lifetime Collective, 4386 Main Street

Performance of Kenneth Fletcher’s Camp Potlatch
Directed by Paul Wong
Thursday January 22 at 8pm
Location: Satellite Gallery

Exhibition Tour and Conversation with Allison Collins and Michael Turner
Saturday, January 31 at 2pm
Location: Satellite Gallery

Main Street Walking Tour with Paul Wong and Annastacia McDonald
Saturday, February 21 at 2pm
Meeting point: Helen’s Grill, 4102 Main Street

Drag Ball
Saturday, March 7
Location: Fox Cabaret, 2321 Main Street

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Kitchen: PART 2 – Recordings



There’s two stories I want to tell, or rather, steal.

In both cases, the mind wanders to what might have been. Let me explain:

Hillary Wood, a founding member of grunt, told me this. It was the old days, before grunt owned a space, or had regular funding. There were openings every 2 weeks, and on any given night you might find the kitchen crammed full of artists and friends, drinking late and talking loud. On this particular night, the exhibiting artist had brought her cat to the opening (as you do), an act that precipitated the toppling and subsequent jail break of a terrarium housing 2 black scorpions, which belonged to the upstairs loft tenant. One scorpion was recaptured immediately, but the other remained missing. “[T]he kitchen was packed, as usual. As there were gaps between many of the loft’s floorboards, and some larger holes where bits of the floor had broken, we spent the rest of the evening imagining the worst – that the scorpion would tumble down on someone’s head, or fall down their shirt. Or even worse, into their glass of wine! That would have been a fine panic. The party proceeded without incident, however, and the scorpion was found about a week later hiding under a carpet.”[1]

Sometimes I like to think of the way things might have been, existing, wonky twin-like, alongside the way things are. Time is a bit more elastic in this version of history and so I ask you to consider, for a moment, a scorpion in your drink.

Julia Feyrer wrote: “Half an hour after the show is over, a random viewer is staring into her refrigerator, vaguely bemused by the fact that her six-pack of beer has somehow become a two-pack of beer. Rather than work out how this might have happened, it occurs to her to wonder how in the hell the kitchen took 30 years to turn into a sculpture.”[2]

This is where things get really elastic. How do 30 years of history, exhibitions, performances, interactions, parties, arguments, meals, fundraisers and sundries make their way into a sculpture? (Hint: they don’t, not really.) But somewhere between the six-pack and the two-pack the sculpture got made, and this gallery flourished, and here all of us are.

If we are in the business of imagining, then let’s imagine that Kitchen uses time as sculptural material.  That time, like plaster, can be spread out and coaxed into new configurations, played out in the space of both perception and an exhibition. Feyrer interprets what is recorded (and what falls through cracks), making surfaces and shapes anew.

– Vanessa Kwan, November 20th, 2014

This is the second of three texts, to be released over the course of the exhibition.




Julia Feyrer: Kitchen
November 1 – December 19, 2014

For events information and updates, please visit


[1] Hillary Wood, e-mail interview, October 30th, 2014

[2] Julia Feyrer, personal correspondence, November 9th, 2014


PDF Download | Part 2 – Recordings 

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Friday, November 28th
5pm – 7pm
Location: grunt gallery
116 – 350 E. 2nd Avenue
**Note the new venue!**

This season, Theatre Replacement and The Chop have partnered with Music on Main and grunt gallery to continue our series of candid discussions with artists from here and across Canada. Together we’re investigating some of the issues that come up between us and our various disciplines; what issues can we all talk about? And where are the places that we all get stuck, or revel in, or persist?

This, our second talk of the series, investigates trust as an artistic commodity. As artists experiment with duration, site-specificity, process and participation, ideas of sociability and engagement have become central to many aspects of contemporary practice. Outside the traditional confines of the white cube or the black box, the proscenium stage or the concert hall, these new frameworks depend on connectivity as a component of creative success, and trust– that basic element of human connection– underlies it all.

Four practitioners including visual artist Zoe Kreye, performance maker Caroline Liffmann and theatre artist Andrew Laurenson will talk through some of their current projects and the role that trust plays in the development of their work.

Zoe Kreye creates inter-disciplinary art projects that explore transformation, collective experience and negotiations of public space. Her work looks to engage the public in relations and aesthetics, with the goal of building inclusive, bottom-up associations that have the potential to be small catalysts for change within dominant social systems. Often looking outside the realm of art, her projects take the form of clubs, workshops, rituals, dialogues and journeys. Her focus is to encourage people towards self-reflection and a deeper engagement with themselves and society. Recent projects include Unlearning Walking Club (Unit Pitt, Vancouver), Unlearning Weekenders (<rotor>, Graz, Goethe Satellite), Soft/Union (The Apartment, Vancouver), Eat Talk Connect (City of Richmond) and Überlebenskuns.klub (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin). She completed a Masters in Public Art at the Bauhaus University Weimar, specializing in community engagement and participatory strategies and co-founded the Process Institute, the Berlin-based artist collective. She currently lives in Vancouver and teaches Social Practice at Emily Carr University.

Andrew Laurenson is Artistic Producer of Vancouver’s Radix Theatre, an inter-disciplinary collective that creates socially-relevant performance work. A former small-town radio announcer, Andrew also dabbles in acting, writing and video production. Recent projects include TBD, a three-week long immersive theatre experience based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Caroline Liffmann is a Vancouver-based contemporary performance maker, choreographer and improviser who collaborates on short works for the stage, the screen, and all manner of public places. Her practice is influenced by over 20 years of dance and movement training, most notably in contemporary dance technique, improvisation, physical theatre, and multi-disciplinary collaboration, and she holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from McMaster University. Caroline graduated from Vancouver’s MainDance in 2003, and was honourably mentioned for the Holy Body Tattoo BC Emerging Dance Artist Award in 2004 & 2005. Her dance theatre work has been presented at BC festivals and series such as Dancing on the Edge, the ROMP! Festival of Independent Dance, with Light Box at Dances for a Small Stage, and with Nervous System System at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival’s Club PuSh. In 2013 Caroline was an Artist in Residence with the Roundhouse Community Dancers, and at the Scotiabank Dance Centre with Light Box. She is currently facilitating, teaching and creating community-based dance projects and performances with MovEnt, Joe Ink, and Made in BC – Dance on Tour, as well as working with children, youth and families at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Music on Main hosts Friday, February 13

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