Artists pioneer in East Village

Former Seafood Market building transformed into working artist studios.

Developers may just be drawing up designs for new condos in East Village, but city artists have already turned an existing EV building, the former Seafood Market, into a living, breathing, hub of the emerging neighbourhood.

The Seafood Market Studios, a CMLC initiative in partnership with Calgary Arts Development Authority (CADA), opened its doors just last September. Today, the studios house 45 artists of all disciplines in all stages of their careers: there are playwrites and visual artists of every medium, emerging talents and well-established figures. It’s a microcosm of the East Village to come: varied, dense, friendly, creative...and very good at ping pong.

“The market formerly housed offices, which are great for individual studios,” says Eric Moschopedis, who, with Mia Rushton, forms the quirky Each Other http://seafoodmarketstudios.com/content/mia-rushton-and-eric-moschopedis – and manage the building on the side. “Then everyone comes and hangs out in the common space where the ping pong table is. It’s a social space, which is one of the successes of the building.”

The studio just got more social with the recent inclusion of The Bakery Collective, a group of 13 ACAD grads. “Everybody knows everybody in the arts community,” says Eric, “but it’s not just the usual crowd here. Because we have so many different kinds of artists, the studio is a great snapshot of what’s going on in the city.”

For the artists, the “shared geography” of East Village is a “blank canvas.” “It’s unique in that it’s the only place in Calgary with an historical context, but you can also start from scratch here in a lot of ways,” Eric says. “East Village is ripe for commentary about that.”

Seafood Market Studios and its inhabitants are just one of the increasingly visible and vocal arts communities in Calgary, part of a dedicated and growing group that can say the words “Calgary” and “culture” with a straight face –and work to define both words in a rapidly-evolving city.

“Calgary is the sum of its parts,” Eric says, “and some of its parts need to be more visible. The density of East Village and its mixed demographics will generate some of that culture.”

Seafood Market Studios won’t be in East Village forever – the building is slated for eventual demolition. But the influence of the arts, and the pioneering artists who are bringing East Village to life right now, will be felt for years to come.

Find out more about Seafood Market Studios at seafoodmarketstudio@gmail.com