Vancouver artists put custom spins on Lunar New Year red envelopes for Get Lucky Art Show

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THE LUCKY ENVELOPES that Pearl Lam fondly remembers from the Lunar New Years of her childhood were traditional red, stamped with gold foil emblems and letters.

But today, in her third Get Lucky Art Show, the bill-sized red envelopes—“hongbao” in Mandarin—become canvases for a wild array of imagery by local artists: think graffiti spray paint, collage cut-out designs, and handpainted muscle cars, dragon skeletons, and even guinea-pig-shaped soup dumplings. The array of talent spans well-known artists like Sandeep Johal and Priscilla Yu, Eastside Culture Crawl stalwarts like Rachael Ashe and Jeff Wilson, tattoo artists like Lauren “Queen of Vermin” Elms, as well as prominent graffiti names like Taka Sudo and DEDOS.

“It speaks to how the vibe of Chinatown has been changing over the past number of years,” Lam tells Stir of the array of artists. “There are so many working artists tucked into so many studios here, and at street level, people are making art.”

Playing off Chinese culture’s lucky number eight, she’s gathered 88 emerging and well-known artists, across multiple media, to design envelopes for a show February 10 and 11 in the old Vancouver Police Department digs at 312 Main (now a social, cultural, and economic-innovation hub established by the Vancity Community Foundation). The family-friendly, free community event, copresented by One More Life Gallery and District Local, celebrates the Year of the Dragon. It features a dumpling bar by Dicky’s Dumps and raises money for local nonprofits.

The seed for Get Lucky Art Show began almost a decade ago as Lam looked around the city’s hub for Lunar New Year and her childhood.

“Basically it was weighing on my heart and mind—just the decline of Chinatown,” explains Lam, cofounder of Dicky’s Dumps and District Local. “I grew up in Chinatown in the ‘80s, and going there was such a part of my childhood. So I was trying to revive the same feeling. I wanted to give back to the energy of the neighbourhood.”

Her first happening was an instantly-popular dumpling-making workshop to mark Lunar New Year in 2016. In 2017, she launched the Get Lucky Art show with just 35 artists, doubling that number for 2018, and adding food and drinks, hosting the event at the Fortune Sound Club.

Then life, and a busy day job, a dumpling business, and a pandemic intervened. This is the first return of Get Lucky since then, in a bigger venue with gallery-style walls. 

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