By Lauren Donnelly
VANCOUVER – Megan Dietrich is sitting on the patio of Mount Pleasant’s Kranky Cafe. “This place has my favourite iced coffee,” she says. She’s kind of an expert. It’s her second cup today and coffee consumption is a foundational part of her artistic process.
“In terms of my process – my comics are so observational – there’s a lot of sitting with coffee and my sketchbook and just doodling face after face after face,” she says.
Her process is as unpretentious as she is. Dietrich’s mixed media abstract work is currently exhibited at Victoria’s Madrona Gallery, but this July she’s showing a different side of her art in a Vancouver show.
It’s called LOOSE, and Dietrich has planned a two-day pop-up shop and art party that bucks traditional art show conventions. The party opens Saturday night with live music and a bar that includes vodka slushies and merch sales. On day two, there’ll be a vintage shop curated by local fashion plate Lydia Okello. Some of the proceeds will go to the Chinatown Action Group to acknowledge the neighbourhood hosting the event.
It’s a new multifaceted venture for Dietrich, but it’s a natural progression. She’s curious about the interplay between consumption, story, and pop culture. That’s where the merch comes in. Hats, shirts, cards, and prints will be on display and available for purchase, allowing the audience to really make her art their own.
“It’s rooted in story and consumption,” she says. “It’s poking fun at the way we see, the way we view things and the way we characterize ourselves.”
Her illustrated work is an outlet for what she calls “satirical cultural critique,” and her comic, Loosely Based, is a dark commentary loosely based on her own life. To supplement her artist income, Dietrich has worked a multitude of jobs, ranging from event setup to construction to serving bratwurst at the Christmas market. As it turns out, being a millennial is fertile ground for comedic one-liners.
Through colour and form, her art provokes thought without condescension. The concept behind this show is collaboration – from her creative partnership with Okello, to the relationship between the audience and the art.
“We talk about being involved in a story and connection and community,” Dietrich says. “And I think when you make a show a party, it’s a little more approachable. By collaborating, it positions my art in a different context – it just creates a better vibe to share work.”
LOOSE kicks off at the Playground at 434 Columbia Street with a party on July 7 and runs until July 8.Megan Dietrich