Guest Post by Michael Brown
Our first student/associate event of the summer took place at Raw Canvas, a – wait for it – wine bar, tap house and art studio located in the sleepy, yuppie-infused neighbourhood of Yaletown. It promised food, good conversation, and unavoidably, painting. An unusual combination anchored by a tried and true premise: a chance to unwind, talk about other things, and have a few laughs.
The entrance door to Raw Canvas had a sign taped to the glass announcing “Wet Paint”. Nothing wrong with a little tongue and cheek, I thought to myself. Yet the sign was no joke. There really was wet paint. And after holding the door for my fellow co-workers (insert “awws” for a selfless act of chivalry here), I was left with a gritty black paint mark on my right hand. However luckless, my folly felt like an appropriate start to the evening.
We were seated at a large table and briefed on the evening’s order of events. As a space, Raw Canvas is divided into 2 sections: the upper dining area and the aptly named “Paint Pit.” We were to take each in turn.
We also met the resident artist, Alex, who would later lend balance to our brush strokes. Soon adult grape juice was flowing into fishbowl wine glasses and freshly sliced baguettes landed on the table. Next came the charcuterie, and it was impressive. Five, no six! Now seven!!…floor tiles (literally) were crowded with items like duck rillettes, gigandis beans, cerignola olives and elk and juniper salami. To accompany, cheeses like taleggio, nostrala, bleu d’auvergue and le baluchon. The spread made other charcuterie I’d seen before look like a couple packs of Kraft Handi-Snacks and store-bought baloney.
As our taste buds traveled to new places, so did the conversation. A millionaire losing his fortune in Nevada real estate. The social dynamic of female drinking. Bob Ross. What the heck was all over Michael’s right hand?
As our miniature feast dwindled, Alex paid a visit to request our presence in the Paint Pit. Suddenly, there was a nervous energy in our group: hapless students and lawyers who hadn’t donned a smock since the year the song “Whoomp! (There It Is)” came out. But Whoomp! There we were, far from the calming comfort of our office chairs and annotated BCSAs, trading pens for palettes. Thankfully, we were not without precedent. Silk-screened onto each canvas was the subject of our painting, the outline of a fox gazing at trees. Or were the trees actually mountains? Couldn’t the fox be a wolf? What is the meaning of life? Where did I leave my wine?
Bristle met blank slate, and tensions melted. Alex watched over us. Some splashed colour all over, blissfully ignorant of the outline provided. Some strained to paint within the lines. Individually, we each took a different approach. But the collective result was the same. A chance to unwind, talk about other things, and have a few laughs.