An art exhibition in the Chinatown of Vancouver’s spotlights of street artists from the Eastside Center and their work

A one-day art show in Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Chinese Gardens in Vancouver’s Chinatown emphasizes street art with the artists behind them.

The show called Nch’ú7mut lam or [comm] UNITY, which means “unity to be in one house”, includes paintings and works of art by street artists from the East Side Center Smokey Devil, BOY, Ken Foster and Edgar Rossetti.

Jamie Hardy, also known as Smokey Devil or Smokey D, told the CBC On the shore On Friday, he has been doing street art – a visual art created in public places – in the neighborhood for more than 20 years.

He said he had noticed a change in the last few years, with younger artists marking their names on buildings and other works of public art.

“Chinatown is a place we have to take, we should not destroy it,” he told host Bal Brac.

A mural by artist Jamie Hardy, also known as Smokey D, is depicted here in the Vancouver Chinatown. Hardy says seeing positive reactions to his work is one of the best parts of creating it. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

The event comes amid ongoing struggles for residents and small businesses in Chinatown and the East Center (DTES), including homelessness, the toxic drug crisis and the rise in hate crime against Asia.

The event was attended by Sarah Blyth, co-founder of the Vancouver Overdose Prevention Society, who said it was an opportunity for Chinatown and DTES communities to work together as the area is going through tough times.

“Both communities deserve love and respect, kindness and compassion,” she said.

The work of art

The event was hosted by High Hopes, an organization that works to support underrepresented street artists in downtown Eastside by showcasing their art through exhibits.

Gala Vega, art curator of High Hopes, says she has worked over the past two years to draw more attention to the artists’ work. She says it’s good to see artists respected, as some people downplay their legitimacy based on where they live.

“It’s so wonderful to see them celebrated,” she said.

LISTEN | Vancouver Street artist Smokey D for street art

On the shore7:14Artist DTES Smokey D

Street art and graffiti tend to have a bad reputation these days, especially in downtown Vancouver. The local street artists’ organization, High Hopes, aims to change that.

In addition to smaller works on display at the art exhibition, people can find Hardy’s public works of art around Chinatown and DTES.

He painted several murals in honor of the people, using the Respect Chinatown label as a call to other street artists to stop marking murals and buildings in the neighborhood.

He dedicated a mural to Yucho Chow, the first Sino-Canadian professional photographer in Vancouver to work in the early 20th century neighborhood, painted on the side of a building near Main and Keefer Streets.

He also painted one for Jack Chow, a businessman known for his contributions to Chinatown outside of East Pender Street.

Earlier this week, Hardy and fellow artist Trey Helton were working on a new mural on the side of the Leo Fine hair salon near Gore Street and East Hastings Street.

It has a label “Respect Chinatown” and a universal symbol for a barber shop: a rod with white, blue and red stripes.

Kim Wong, who has worked as a barber in the store for more than 10 years, says he likes how the artists used Chinese characters in the piece.

“Everyone likes the picture,” Wong said.

Hardy says seeing Wong’s positive reaction to the artwork is one of the reasons he loves making these murals.

“This is the best part,” he said during the art show. “I like to make people happy.”

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