Considering the current housing crisis in Vancouver, the Wheel of Time Gallery is truly making the most out of a bad situation. Occupying a Vancouver special just down the street from Renfrew SkyTrain station, the gallery — which doubles as a place of residence for the five multidisciplinary artists who run it — is scheduled to be torn down later this year, along with the rest of the houses on the block. Knowing they are the final tenants of the building, the artists at the Wheel of Time Gallery has been able to fully embody whatever creative whim they may have. In addition to hosting events, the house itself has been transformed — walls have been painted, floors altered, sculptures erected, studio spaces built, doors taken down. Every inch of the space, inside and out, seems to be touched by the idea that none of it will last.
Stepping inside, the entrance room was dominated by two floor-to-ceiling panels covered in the artwork of animator and visual artist Jocelyn Sanchez a.k.a. creamyskeleton. Hand drawn illustrations of detailed creatures hung next to digital collages of eerie forest paths, and frames from various animated shorts. Nestled unassumingly amidst the packed walls were preliminary sketches and drafts of the album art for dumbpop’s latest EP Domestic Dream Deity. Just down the hall, a room with a thoroughly paint-splattered floor doubles as Neo Oslund’s studio space and bedroom. The selection of his vibrant and energetic paintings on display drew in the crowds meandering through the eccentric space.
Upstairs, the majority of the evening’s audience instinctively gathered in the living room turned performance space. The first performance of the night, a dance piece choreographed by Linnea Gwiazda, was about to begin. Sitting on one of the couches, dancer Kayla De Vos began with small, repetitive movements of her head, before sliding down to the floor. Once she had moved to the centre of the room, her movements began to quicken and expand, spreading from head across her whole body, until she was dashing back and forth across the wooden floors. While the intensity and pace of the dance built, a low hum emerged from a set of previously unnoticed speakers, and De Vos’s movements shrunk back, slowly returning to her starting position on the couch.
After a brief break, where the audience was encouraged to explore the house, the musical segment of the night began. The micro-pop solo project of guitarist and composer Matthew Ariaratnam, dumbpop took to the stage. Truly embodying the short and sweet nature of the night, Ariaratnam sang a rapid-fire selection of sub-one minute songs, accompanied by his deft guitar playing. With every song ending almost as soon as it began — “When I Touch Cats” and “open my eyes” were two of the most jarringly truncated of the set — it took the audience a little while to comprehend the pace with which the set was flying by. But once Ariaratnam’s quick tunes settled in on the room’s ears, the crowd was captivated. Then, after twenty songs and twenty minutes passed, Ariaratnam introduced a new animated video for his song, “Shitty Town,” animated by Jocelyn Sánchez. Quick and jittery creates and landscapes flitted across the screen. For just under a minute the vibrant and lively animations captured the audience — they requested to play it again as soon as it ended.
Like a sand mandala yet to be swept away, the Wheel of Time Gallery forces the artists within it, as well as those who happen to experience it, to be fully present. Unfettered by the pressure of existing into the future, the freedom with which all the artists create in the gallery is unrestrained. The inevitable end looming just around the bend makes events like Creamy Pop all the more short and sweet.