Living Room Art returns to Burnaby Heights

Art isn’t something to be enjoyed only by the elite, hanging on the walls of silent galleries. It’s meant to be shared and celebrated and created as a community.

That’s the philosophy behind Living Room Art in the Heights, which returns to Burnaby Sept. 30 for its fourth year. It brings an evening of visual and performance art to a private home at 5518 Georgia St. from 5 to 9 p.m.

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People of all ages are invited to turn out, kick off their shoes and make themselves comfortable for an evening that runs the gamut of art forms, all presented by local artists.

Living Room Art was the brainchild of Yunuen Perez Vertti, a filmmaker originally from Mexico City who came to Burnaby via Houston, Texas, where she was the production manager for a similar living room art series.

Living Room Art’s local debut in 2014 captured the imagination of local artists and the visiting public alike; each year since, it has seen more and more people turn out to enjoy a night of arts and entertainment of all kinds.

This year, Vertti is joined by co-organizer Grant Withers, a Burnaby-based photographer. He’s enthusiastic about the diverse roster of artists – more than 20 in total – who are taking part in this year’s event.

“It’s quite a range,” he says. “We have arrived at a stable place where we have such great support from the community and from artists.”

Visitors can experience storytelling by Philomena Jordan, films by Perez Vertti and Ciaran Davis-McGregor, installations by Bill Thompson and Ninna Snider, painting by the Gamma Garage collective (Pat Sexsmith, Sheila Chowdhury, Wilma Cook and Dianne Yard) and sculpture by Mark Hamilton, for starters.

There will also be fashion designs by Yifat Jovani, whom Withers noted has really jumped in to the local arts scene.

“I really admire her approach to women’s fashion,” Withers says.

Music and dance performances will happen throughout the evening, and an interactive art project that will give visitors a chance to take part is also in the works, with artists Dawn Livera and Tami Cline.

Withers and Perez Vertti have also collaborated on a video project involving Withers’ photographic work, which will be screened outdoors in the yard.

That’s another aspect of Living Room Art in the Heights that Withers appreciates – the way it has brought artists together and spurred collaborations that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.

The event also includes offerings from young local artists, but this year, instead of having a separate “youth artists” area, organizers are mixing their work in with everyone else’s.

“We want to recognize the artistic goals and achievements of young people in our community and to welcome them as fellow artists,” Withers explains.

Displays and performances will be spread out throughout the house, making use of its many open spaces on various levels.

“It’s probably the biggest home we’ve had so far,” Withers says, noting that having homeowners willing to open their doors for the event has been critical to its success each year.

“It’s a commitment to a sense of community,” he says. “Opening up your home is kind of an exciting thing that not many people do.”

Withers notes it’s always tricky to get an exact count of visitors each year, but they can always tell by the buzz in the community – and the growing pile of shoes outside the door – that it’s getting bigger each year. They’re hoping this year’s event might draw 350 people.

The timing of the event has also been shifted slightly this year; typically, it has happened in mid-October, but it’s been moved earlier to line up with Culture Days – a nationwide celebration of the arts that’s designed to build community through cultural events.

Withers says Burnaby, and in particular the Heights neighbourhood, is perfectly positioned for an event like this one.

“Building that sense of community, building community through the arts … it creates a new Burnaby culture,” he says, noting that that artists’ desire to build community is shared by the people who attend. “Many of them also share that same sense of community and believe that arts can be a part of that.”

The event is funded by a Neighbourhood Small Grant from the Vancouver Foundation.

It’s free and open to all ages, and visitors are invited to drop in and out at any time through the evening. See




What: Living Room Art in the Heights

When: Saturday, Sept. 30, 5 to 9 p.m.

Where: 5518 Georgia St., Burnaby

Details: Free, open to everyone. Find more details at

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