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Here are highlights from the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl

From Earls Cove to Langdale, 169 studios and galleries participated
Multidisciplinary artist Mallory Donen (left), whose Back to the Future: Digital Art Through Embroidery is currently featured at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, and aspiring multimedia artist Emily Picard were among more than 200 exhibitors in last weekend’s Art Crawl.

The 2022 Sunshine Coast Art Crawl inspired hundreds of artists and aficionados as the number of host venues returned to levels not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The three-day event, which has now been held 13 times since its launch in 2010, concluded on Oct. 23. Along an 80-kilometre route stretching from Langdale to Egmont, 169 studios and galleries participated by opening their doors for free public visits and demonstrations. 

Sales during the annual pilgrimage are expected to surpass last year’s record proceeds that topped $528,000 in weekend purchases plus a further $80,000 from commissions and workshop registrations. 

The Art Crawl is coordinated by the Coast Cultural Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes cultural development and tourism.  

“The exposure for artists that [the Art Crawl] provides is really significant,” said Linda Williams, chair of the Coast Cultural Alliance and a core volunteer. 

Williams attended seven of the official drop-in parties held on Oct. 21. In the absence of provincial health guidelines limiting organized gatherings and events, the number of gala receptions this year swelled to 16, including retailers like Sechelt’s Redecor + Design, commercial galleries like One Flower One Leaf in Gibsons, and home-based studios like that of multidisciplinary artist Simon Haiduk, who used the occasion to open his new gallery in Roberts Creek. 

This year, the Art Crawl grew to include literary artists alongside its regular complement of painters, potters, photographers and others. The Gibsons and District Public Library and the Sunshine Coast Arts Council organized events featuring local authors and poets. 

Some exhibitors, like illustrator and muralist Ken Walters of Pender Harbour, noticed a modest decrease in the number of visitors. Walters is a three-year veteran of the Art Crawl who acquired a visual arts degree in 1980 after working for the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Many venues hosted multiple artists. At the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, in Sechelt, painter Emily Picard shared space with Mallory Donen, a multidisciplinary artist from Vancouver whose work fuses digital art with embroidery. Reflecting on her Glitch series of cross stitch works, Donen observed, “Sometimes beauty can be the result of accidents and chance meetings.” 

Some participants collaborated to form geographic hubs. “This year, we have these small but strong pockets of artists that co-promote each other,” said painter Eva Taylor of Langdale. Taylor’s delicate tree silhouettes were among works featured by four studios and seven artists in the so-called Langdale Loop. 

At the Henderson Hotspot, Carolynn Doan estimated that 420 visitors toured the cluster of six studios at the western extremity of Roberts Creek. Doan, who has an academic background in biology, paints florals, forests and wildlife.  

“One of the best parts was engaging with the kids that came,” Doan said. An 11-year-old boy pored over Doan’s colourful accumulation of beach detritus. “He looked at it and said, ‘You know, you could make a beautiful flower from this garbage and then everyone would look at it and they’d realize how horrible it is to throw it down on the beach,’” recalled Doan. 

Painter Dawn Miller of Gibsons participated in the Art Crawl for the first time, showing works on subjects as diverse as eelgrass and anti-war polemics. “It’s a social — as well as an art — opportunity,” Miller said. “Our neighbours used it as a chance to come and meet us.” 

In Halfmoon Bay, fibre artist Elly Van Alfen displayed a selection of her quilts whose geometric patterns blend traditional craft with modern design, selling nearly every item. “I’m almost speechless because it was so fantastic,” Alfen said. Alfen was surprised when the patriarch of a visiting family from North Vancouver informed her that he had learned to sew during the COVID-19 lockdown. “I told him ‘You are an amazing dad,’” Alfen said. 

For painter Philippe Sokazo of Garden Bay, whose bright abstracts earned him celebrity status in his native France before moving to the Sunshine Coast, Art Crawl traffic was non-stop. “This year was amazing because I have never had so many guests,” he said. “Sometimes I didn’t have time to eat.” Sokazo spent $1,000 to promote his studio during the event, supplementing the advertising provided by the Coast Cultural Alliance. 

The most northerly venue, the Earls Cove studio of Holland-born ceramic artist Pia Sillem at Geopia, has been an Art Crawl fixture for 11 years. “It’s always surprising that people come all the way up here,” Sillem said. “Interestingly enough we had people that came up straight from Vancouver, drove all the way up to Earls Cove, and then worked their way down.”  

Complete listings for participating Art Crawl venues and artists remain online at 

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to Pia Sillem as Pia Sillem Geopia. Sorry for the error.