We hope you found this article interesting, enough to read to the bottom. Help us publish more in 2022.

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past two years, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

We’re on a mission to add 650 new monthly supporters to our ranks to help us have another year of impactful journalism – will you join us?

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Help us hit our year-end target of 650 new monthly supporters and join Tyee Builders today.
We’re looking for 650 new monthly supporters to fund our newsroom – are you one of them?

Small independent news media are having a moment – we’re gaining supporters, winning awards, and publishing more impactful journalism than ever. We’re starting to see glimmers of a hopeful future for independent journalism in Canada.

The Tyee works for our readers, because we are funded by you. We don’t lock our articles behind a paywall, and we focus all of our energy into publishing original, in-depth journalism that you won’t read anywhere else. It’s our full-time job because readers pay us to do it.

Over the last two years, we’ve been able to double our staff team and publish more than ever. We’re gearing up for another year and we need to know how much we are working with. Thousands of Tyee readers have signed up to support our independent newsroom through our Tyee Builders program, and we’re inviting you to join.

From now until Dec. 31, we’re aiming to bring aboard 650 new monthly supporters to The Tyee to help us do even more in 2022.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Help us hit our year-end target of 650 new monthly supporters and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Artists and the Drive

Is the famed East Vancouver street still attracting creative types? Portraitist Frank Vena captures Commercial today.

By Christopher Grabowski 13 Oct 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Christopher Grabowski's photographs and photo-essays have appeared in various European publications as well as the Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, Financial Times, El Mundo, Utne Reader, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, MacLean's, Ottawa Citizen and Geist. He has received several awards in photojournalism. Among them, the Michener-Deacon Fellowship, Canada's premier award encouraging the pursuit of investigative journalism that serves the public interest.

A few days ago, I encountered a man in the park. He was walking a dog off leash, smoking an unfiltered cigarette and looking vaguely bohemian. To my joke about violating several bylaws, he responded with a delightful French accent: "Why? It is not marijuana!" It turned out that he was visiting East Vancouver from Corsica.

When he resumed his stroll, leaving behind the distinctive aroma of his Gitanes Brunes, I felt a pang of envy. Have we been bylawed into submissive greyness? Or does the Commercial Drive area still resemble, even slightly (allowing for time and space remoteness), early 20th century Montparnasse, where Canadian Morley Callaghan hung out and got drunk with Ernest Hemingway before either of them managed to publish anything?

Should we dare to expect as much as Marc Chagall, when he explained why he had settled in Montparnasse: "I aspired to see with my own eyes what I had heard of from so far away: this revolution of the eye, this rotation of colours, which spontaneously and astutely merge with one another in a flow of conceived lines. That could not be seen in my town. The sun of Art then shone only on Paris."

Is there a critical mass of artists and other imaginative individuals in East Vancouver to inspire each other, to argue, to fight and to make up, and in general, to endow the Drive with a creative bohemian environment attracting intellectual and artistic life?

The drive project

Vancouver's documentary photographer and portraitist Frank Vena explores these questions and more in his latest body of work, The Drive Project (the title refers to both Commercial Drive -- the locus of the project, and to the "drive" of artists to practice their discipline).

582px version of Geoff Berner, East Vancouver, Artist
Singer, songwriter, accordion player Geoff Berner at Grandview Park. Portrait by Frank Vena.

Vena's approach is unique. He uses the subjects as co-art directors for their own portraits. The images are the result of a collaboration of creative talents in front of and behind the camera. Throughout this interaction, the subject's individuality is imprinted into an image that is simultaneously informative and symbolic.

As observed by filmmaker Guy Bennett: "Frank Vena is the first photographer who expressed interest in the arc of my life, rather than just the thing I am currently promoting. After telling him that I began my career as a shipyard welder, he arranged to do a photo shoot in the same shipyard I worked in 30 years earlier, wearing a suit, holding an oxyacetylene torch, standing in front of a tugboat. It was the first time in my life I have ever stood in front of a camera and NOT felt like a bore and a fraud."

582px version of Veda Hille, morgue, East Vancouver
Singer, songwriter Veda Hille at the Vancouver Police Museum. Portrait by Frank Vena.

The creative cooperation will continue at the exhibition's opening night reception.

On Thursday, Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m., at The Cultch, 1895 Venables St., East Vancouver, there will be musical performances by Veda Hille, Wyckham Porteous, Torsten Muller, Geoff Berner, spoken word by Dennis Bolen and Soressa Gardner and theatre by David Bloom.

The photo exhibition runs from Oct. 13 to Nov. 6 at The Cultch. The exhibition will be free to the general public. Admission to the performances at the opening is $14 ($10 students).  [Tyee]

Read more: Music

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll