Out of the embers of Vancouver’s white hot real estate market spaces are emerging where artists have carved out places to show their work. Among these are Yac Tac in Chinatown, Unit 17 in Kitsilano, and the Conduit in the Downtown Eastside.

Yac Tac sits above the street at #115 East Pender and is accessed via text message. It’s a corridor at the end of a second floor hallway. The hallway has doors opening to private studios on either side, and a window overlooking the street below. Even in this narrow space a collection of sculptures manage to hold their own as a group show exploring the classical motif of the fruit bowl. Among these are Mia Loeb’s elegant suspension of twining maple branches cradled by ropes.

Unit 17 is in Kitsilano on West Fourth at Bayswater. Like Yac Tac its open on weekend afternoons and by appointment. The gallery is a single storefront room facing West Fourth. Former incarnations are alluded to by a single brick chimney in its center. In spite of this intrusion the small space has hosted works from six foot cyanotypes to art couches whose cushy upholstery is undermined by disturbing imagery. Unit 17’s small size is in inverse proportion to its ambition. A rack of magazines and artist’s journals facing the window invites reflection as the “reading room,” while a yard behind the gallery does double duty as an organic garden and sculpture park. Most recently its show: Super Natural, playing off B.C.’s self-promotional marketing mantra, hosted works touching on our relationship to nature by sixteen artists from Vancouver to London.


This image shows Yac Tac in its entirety, looking down the length of the corridor facing Pender St. Carved and shaped works in wood by Mia Loeb hang suspended from the walls.

Over at the Conduit at 165 E.Hastings at Main, Angela Smailes is showing a collection of built and assembled forms. In the centre, a swooping field of mesh panels undulates through space, collecting accretions of assembled whats-its that cling to each other randomly on their journey through space. Around the gallery’s perimeter, a series of placed and suspended white Platonic forms (circles, squares and triangles) provide a Classical counterpoint to more assemblages composed of industrial detritus, billowing stiffened fabrics, and scattered textures. Her show: “Nailing Down the Sunlight: Test of the Tardigrades,” is based on questions arising from research into the relations between quantum mechanics and life forms.