On Saturday, June 18, 2016 WePress Community Arts Space collaborated with Karen Ward (Gallery Gachet), Justin Siu (J B Siu Creative), and Cara Seccafien to present an exciting multi-disciplinary event that brought together artists and communities from diverse backgrounds. The open house began at 1:00 pm, with a drop-in workshop by Karen Ward on bookmaking. During the workshop, the artist demonstrated various bookmaking techniques, including Japanese side stitch, saddle stitch, and accordion stitch, all of which the workshop participants were able to try out and learn. Participants included Chinese Canadian seniors from the neighbourhood, Vancouver Drug User Resource Centre members, and neighbourhood residents who chatted with one another as they created their books. Potluck style snacks, sushi, and chicken karaage that we purchased from Fujiya were enjoyed by all. Each participant went home with at least one book that they created.
Please view photos of the event here:
Throughout the drop-in open house, Cara Seccafien demonstrated a new technique of platemaking that combines 3D printing and letterpress. Custom-designed plates were printed on the 3D printer then mounted onto the letterpress for paper printing, successfully combining two different, low-/high-tech art forms. This cutting edge print research was developed by the WePress collective during summer and fall of 2016, and was still in an experimentation phase when we showcased it to the public at the event. Visitors were very interested in the technique and in both technologies.
The event also included an opening reception for Women’s Washroom art installation by Cara Seccafien. Women’s Washroom re-fabricated the familiar space of a public washroom, complete with stalls, by depicting a series of non-functional art objects using diverse visual languages. The obviously handmade objects and components, such as sinks, paper dispenser, and toilets, worked together to create an illusion of a functional space. Visitors were encouraged to write on the “stall walls,” much like a public washroom, and public participation through “graffiti” enriched the installation. This installation was developed in 2014 and was exhibited and shown publicly for the first time at this event.
At 3:00 pm, WePress was joined by Gallery Gachet members who had held a simultaneous event called The Elders Say We Don’t Visit Anymore with artist Dylan Miner at their gallery nearby. This visit by members of an already established community art organization was a gesture of friendship and community-building and connected the two events. The members brought bannock and jam that was enjoyed by workshop participants.
The event was documented by photographer Justin Siu. He had taken fantastic photos of the beautiful work of Kisyuu, the Japanese Calligrapher, which had been on display at WePress the month before. He was willing to help us out and we thought that displaying his photos at the final Neighbourhood Small Grants Event would be good exposure for him. WePress is also promoting his work through its website and printed promo materials.
The open house and drop-in workshop was an important defining event for WePress. The event showcased its mission, which is to foster community-building by bringing diverse groups of people from the neighbourhood together to create art, to connect with local community organizations, and to support local artists by showcasing their work and their talents. The overall atmosphere throughout the open house was festive and friendly, with visitors and workshop participants enjoying creating their own handmade books and watching the letterpress demonstrations. Through the event, WePress was able to build our capacity by expanding on their membership base, developing new relationships with local residents and artists, and promoting the space in general.

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