Art in unusual places is nothing unusual for festival pop ups, but an event taking place at Eastern Edge’s Hold Fast Contemporary Arts Festival captured my heart the moment I encountered the event listing.

The short paragraph describing “Cucumber Eyes: A Print and Drawing Exhibition” ended off with the following sentence. “Come have a drink and a feed of fish and chips and look at some art.” You just can’t argue with that, I thought.

Approachable art events at relaxed spaces really float my boat. Art is for everyone say I, and to demystify it and put it in a relatable place makes sure it reaches everyone.

The Big R, one of the best places for diner style all day breakfast and a deadly scoff of fi and chi, is a homegrown Newfoundland soul food joint. With no pretensions of slick modernity, the décor is described as old school by the youth and those who like to renovate. Simple folks like myself just call it welcoming.

I asked Amery Sandford, co-curator of the event with Allison Graves, how the location was chosen.

”We had different places in mind but we wanted to hold the show at the Big R not only for its incredible retro interior, but also because our dear friend Mary Macdonald had suggested it to us not long before she passed this summer.

“She supported my art practice and Allison’s writing in an extraordinary way, and I know a lot of young artists feel the same way. We knew she would get a kick out of this, and it will be really nice to be thinking of her, her family, and her friends during the show,” Sandford said.

Sandford and Graves have worked together before, focusing on providing platforms for kindred emerging artists. There’s much humour and illustration in this show, which includes zines, but they’ve approached curation “in a broad way” with works from all types of artists, local and national, ranging from self taught Montreal print artist JG to St. John’s print community staples Jon Keefe and Pascale Horan.

Mimi Stockland and Pepa Chan are two well known participants. Chan commented “It’s exciting to be part of exhibitions happening in non-traditional gallery spaces, curated by young emerging artists from various disciplines, and connecting artists from across Canada and bringing them together. It’s awesome and much needed in this small arts community. So proud of my pals.”

Cucumber Eyes is one night only, taking place from 4 to 8 on Saturday August 12th, the evening of the Hold Fast Art Crawl,at 69 Harvey Road, The Big R. It’s more than just ‘”ll that and a bag of chips.” It’s art with a side of fries.