6 hidden art gems around Vancouver that are worth a trip this summer

May 31 2022, 3:30 pm

There are so many elements that breathe life into a city — from its food scene and live shows to its fashion sense (even if that fashion sense often involves activewear and Blundstones).

But what truly feeds a city’s unique idiosyncrasies is its arts and culture landscape, from the graffiti that coats alleyways to the prestigious galleries that draw in spectators from all spots on the map.

And in Vancouver, there’s no shortage of art-filled activities in and around its core, all of which can be discovered through West Coast Curated. From art festivals to architecturally magnificent galleries with gawk-worthy exhibitions, we’re proposing six reasons why a trip west is the move for every art buff this summer.

The Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver

The Polygon Gallery (@vancitywild/Destination BC)

The exterior of this gallery alone is outstanding, a modern, architecturally incredible building directly overlooking the Vancouver Harbour from Lower Lonsdale’s Shipyards District which is accessible by the SeaBus, a short public transit ferry from downtown Vancouver.

But once you enter inside, it just keeps getting better. The lobby area is a contemporary shop with unique products by various graphic designers, luxurious coffee table books, and other giftable treasures. Once you’re ready to embark on an exhibition, whether its focus is a world-renowned or emerging artist, acclaimed Vancouver photographer, or an innovative show of historic and vernacular photography, entry is by donation — all day, every day.

And the gallery’s upcoming exhibition, Ghosts of the Machine, will use various multimedia to “dismantle binaries to unlock the true potential of the metaverse.” Now that’s something we’ve gotta see.

Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival

Fort Langley (Destination BC)

Fort Langley in itself is a destination for any art lover, with its historic character and density of artisan-style shops. But especially from Thursday, July 21, to Sunday, July 24, 2022 — the Fort Langley Jazz & Arts Festival will transform it into a medley of music and art activities.

This weekend will feature, of course, an extensive lineup of jazz performances, but amidst these shows will be various art events happening across the grounds. From July 23 to 24, the Art Zone at Fort Park will boast an array of exciting activities, from the Opus Outdoor Painting Challenge for artists of all ages and skill levels, to the festival’s Art Market which will see an exhibit area for visual artists, a music stage, and food trucks.

Also in the Art Zone will be the Kwantlen Art & Cultural Exhibition at Bedford Plaza which will showcase the rich talents, culture, and history of Kwantlen First Nation. And if you’re more in the mood for a collaborative paint-by-number event, there’s the Community and Kwantlen Art Mural Project.

Vancouver Mural Festival

Vancouver Mural Festival “The-Evening” by Fintan Magee (@ccracke/Destination BC)

Once grassroots, The Vancouver Mural Festival is now a “world-class, multimedia art consultancy and production agency.” Murals used to be found primarily in the trendy neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant, but today, maps are available to search for colourful works throughout 11 of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. Simply pick your area, and set off on a sightseeing journey of building-hugging masterpieces — maybe pit-stopping for a beer or two along the way — with the goal to see as many as possible during the time of your stay.

Audain Art Museum

Tucked between Whistler Village and the local-loved Lost Lake, this stunning, modern museum sits within central Whistler. The exterior of this spot alone is photo-worthy, as the building’s architectural design has won various awards, not to mention the array of artworks indoors that primarily celebrate the province of BC.

The museum’s Permanent Collection features nearly 200 pieces that compose a visual journey through history — from the 18th century to the present day — and hosts special exhibitions up to three times a year, such as this summer’s Wolves: The Art of Dempsey Bob,¬†featuring brilliantly carved masks, wall sculptures, and regalia spanning from the 1970s from this award-winning artist.¬†

From this galley’s structural design to all of its Pacific Northwest gems inside, it’s a must-see for any art and design fanatic.

Van Dop Gallery

Van Dopp Gallery (Destination BC)

A short SkyTrain ride from downtown Vancouver, New Westminster is a locally loved community along the Fraser River that boasts plenty of heritage buildings and notable restaurants. It’s also home to the Van Dop Gallery, a distinctive space celebrating contemporary Canadian fine art.

Offering a “unique art-viewing experience,” this gallery runs out of a quaint house along Richmond Street packed with unique art on display in every room. This spot could serve as the perfect place to discover an addition to your art collection, whether that’s an elaborate watercolour painting or locally crafted ceramics.

Kamui Mintara (Playground of the Gods)

Totems at Burnaby Mountain (Destination Vancouver)

The Kamui Mintara is a gorgeous, meticulously carved structure of bound wooden poles that were gifted to the city of Burnaby from its Japanese twin city of Kushiro.

Created by the Ainu people (an Indigenous population living on the Japanese island of HokkaidŇć) the Playground of the Gods sits atop Burnaby Mountain, just a short walk from SFU Burnaby. The structure tells the story of “people, gods, and creatures living together on the earth.” The bound poles are a visual representation of the ties between the Ainu people are their gods — who are symbolized on the tall poles by animals, whereas people are represented on the smaller poles. A truly unique piece, this is a pacific-northwest artist must-see.

Are your creative trip-planning juices flowing yet? Learn more about all the enthralling artwork and why you should take a trip to Vancouver this summer at westcoastcurated.com.

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