Lashen Orendorff’s people are in the Slocan Valley.
The blacksmith and metal artist has made a home for himself among the punks and outsiders he says are worth celebrating as artists, musicians and community members.
“Weirdos in the woods. That’s what it’s all about.”
On Sunday, Orendorff helped showcase the talents of those weirdos with the first Punk Flea Market held at Passmore Community Hall. The event featured five local bands and 60 vendors selling everything from clothing and illustrations to crafts and even edibles.
During a weekend when holiday artisanal shows were common in the Nelson area, the Punk Flea Market stood out for its unique aesthetic. One table featured zine making. Another included a local activist answering questions about the rental market. In one corner, a tattoo artist put ink to a person’s arm.
The event was organized by Leo Blackburn of the Blackbird Arts Collective, a group of artists, sculptors and blacksmiths who focus on metal arts.
Blackburn had visited similar flea markets elsewhere in the world including Mexico City, which they said inspired the idea for a Kootenay version that was inclusive and community focused.
“Our vision is to be inclusive and work together with weirdos, with marginalized people, minorities. And that’s what we’re doing today. It’s not really metal work, but it’s all kinds of cool crafts. That was the goal.”
Affordability was also a theme. Vendors were only charged $5 for table space, and prices appeared cheaper than what items typical holiday craft fair might cost.
As British Columbians are priced out of urban centres, Orendorff said more are choosing to live rurally in the Slocan Valley. With that migration, he said, has also come a punk scene that is slowly finding its voice.
“It definitely feels like there’s some momentum happening right now. More bands, more events happening. More people moving out here.”
Blackburn thinks the scene has always been around — you just had to know where to look.
“There is a lot of punk here. They are just hiding in the bush.”