East-end artists gather as Danforth East Arts Fair makes its return

After a two year absence during the pandemic, art in the park is back.

Locals were happy to see the beloved Danforth East Arts Fair envelop the park over the weekend.

Showcasing a variety of handmade art pieces and goods, the fair ran Sept. 17 and 18, and included more than 60 upcoming artists and established independent businesses from Toronto’s East end.

Many of the fair’s art vendors enthusiastically set out their work for visitors to buy while they strolled through East Lynn Park.

Local bands also performed at the Danforth East Arts Fair, as visitors enjoyed the day. (Irene Braithwaite/Toronto Observer)

“It’s always a great event … It’s very family friendly, with a great atmosphere and great food,” said Henry VanderSpek, a long-time photographer and documentarian.

VanderSpek honoured his tenth anniversary working with the Danforth East Arts Fair this past weekend. He has worked on a variety of art shows and has had his worked published in The Globe and Mail, BlogTO, CTV Ottawa and VICE Canada.

While juggling his responsibilities as a parent, he takes time out of his day to capture photos and create his unique pieces.

“It gave me something to be creative with, along with the craziness of young kids and caring for them,” VanderSpek said.

Henry VanderSpek poses with a custom-made pillow in his booth at the fair. (Irene Braithwaite/Toronto Observer)

While working for World Vision, VanderSpek rediscovered his love of photography, capturing photos from scenes through his travels in Africa and Tanzania. World Vision is a relief, development and advocacy organization that tackles issues of poverty and injustice around the world.

VanderSpek also credits his creative edge to his parents, since he was raised with a photographer father and an artist mother. He has a deep love for Toronto and its unique neighbourhoods, which he explores on his weekly photoshoots around the city.

“What moves me are scenes where there are symbols, objects, messages and human presence interacting in a way that creates something all together,” VanderSpek said.

VanderSpek displayed prints of his work at the Danforth East Arts Fair, as well as custom pillows too. His work can be viewed on his Instagram account and purchased on his website.

Hooked on a Feline Crochet makes its fair debut

Alongside VanderSpek, Catherine Schroh, the artist behind Hooked on a Feline Crochet, was also a vendor at the Danforth East Arts Fair. Schroh sold her crochet creations, which take hours of her time and dedication.

Offering everything from sweaters to custom lamp covers, Schroh is very experienced in her knowledge of varying stitches and patterns of crochet.

“I really like to make things that are unique,” Schroh said.

Schroh’s handcrafted items differ in colour and style with each of the shows she attends, and she takes input from those who purchase her pieces.

“I never take the same things to each show,” Schroh said.

This past weekend was Schroh’s first time participating in the Danforth East Arts Fair as a vendor, although she had attended the fair before the pandemic. Being a vendor meant a busy schedule beforehand, but Schroh was excited to display her work and interact with the community.

“It is a lot of work on the day of the show,” Schroh said, “but I do love meeting the people and talking about what I’m doing and seeing what they’re interested in.”

After the Danforth East Arts Fair, Schroh plans to sell more of her work in upcoming shows for the winter season, including Christmas-themed items and ornaments. Her work is frequently updated on her Instagram account and is open to making custom pieces through email requests at [email protected]

The event organizers who made it all possible

Shawna Cotton, the event’s organizer, was happy to see the show’s success after a long absence in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions. Many artists sold out of their pieces this year.

Cotton began working on organizing the Danforth East Arts Fair in 2018, and was a vendor in the fair 14 years ago. She said she’s glad to be supporting other local businesses and collaborating with the artists in the community.

Artists at the fair sold their work in individual tents throughout the park. (Irene Braithwaite/Toronto Observer)

“As a local business owner, it was nice to be able to do a community activity,” Cotton said.

After her involvement as a featured artist in the Danforth East Arts Fair, Cotton realized that the fair’s committee could use help in setting up the event yearly.

“I thought it would be great to help out,” Cotton said.

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Posted: Sep 19 2022 9:00 am
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