ART AND THE CITY: Day 1
Today I began a week long art trip in Vancouver, British Columbia and boy was it a cosmopolitan day! The last time I met towering architecture this grand was in Toronto, earlier this year. I began my day following a 'to set' sign for the TV show Backstrom, to the front door of the Vancouver Art Gallery, where they are under major renovations to their façade. With scenes of Christmas and smells of fresh paint, I wondered if I was already under the influence of this booming west coast metropolis. I toured the 4th floor native art exhibit of photography, weaving and carved masks, from the GUND Collection. From there I followed the crowds to the new Nordstrom flagship store and found myself lost on marble runways filled with leggy models towering above me, the crowds were for queens of fashion and style. Ivanka Trump was owning the scene in shoes, while Anna Wintour was taking tea with an audience of patrons on the 2nd floor. I found my way out of the leggy jungle and packed my camera down to Gastown, where I visited my second art gallery, Lumas. This is the first Canadian location for this European photographic art gallery. The liberation of photographic art, they say, and I concur. I immediately fell in love with the work of Rene Twigge, her photo manipulations of florals are passionate abstracts of form and colour. A good first day on the other side of the pond. More tomorrow.
ART AND THE CITY: Day 2 I began today with a double macchiato from an Italian coffee place on Howe. Touting the 'best coffee in town' I'm not sure what woke me more, the booming Italian enthusiasm or the strong espresso, either way it set the tone for the day. I got my bearings above the city with a 360 degree view of Vancouver from the famed lookout at 553 feet above the city. I visited two more galleries today; Jennifer Kostuik in trendy Yaletown and Harrison Galleries near Gastown. The first showing interior photography of Russian landmarks and opera houses, and the latter showing historic Canadian landscape paintings. It was a spectacularly warm autumn day so I walked to Coal Harbour and the beginning of Stanley Park. Yachts, bicycles, leaves, and Harbour sights made for a day that delivered nature as well as it did luxury. This evening I wandered down to the Fox TV set near the art gallery and watched the crowds and security dance, almost like a game of chess where each was working hard to out think the others move...another adventurous day. This panoramic photo was taken from the living rooftop of a restaurant on the Harbour. A secret park if you are willing to climb a few stairs. I wonder what tomorrow holds?
ART AND THE CITY: Day 3. The sun continues to shine down on the city and I followed it to today's destinations, ArtWorks Gallery and the Contemporary Art Gallery of Vancouver or CAG. The first is three floors of mostly abstract paintings, a gallery built for designers looking to fill large projects. The CAG was filled with conceptual curiosities provided by artist Ryan Gander from Chester, UK. This ambitious exhibition filled with questions, that come after experiencing the work. The most engaging piece being large animatronic eyes triggered by visitors movements, I found myself in a showdown with blinking eyes on a wall. It's a busy metropolis now, Vancouver. In New York at rush hour, traffic on the sidewalks flows in organized streams that you maneuver in and out of sharply. In Vancouver everyone seems to have their face stuck in their phone, iPad, or they are just looking to be noticed. People flow in all directions cross-crossing and even tripping on one another. Tossing garbage to the street seems acceptable and no one holds a door for anyone unless they are paid. There are too many people sleeping in the street, and too few looking out for one another. It's a place where you see a custom Maclaren on one curb and people just trying to get out of the way on the next. It's a surreal piece of Canada. Tomorrow I visit galleries on the other side of the bridge to downtown, hoping to find some great paintings!
ART AND THE CITY: Day 4. Today I visited the trendy district of South Granville on the other side of the Granville Street bridge. I found some exceptional paintings by Canadian painters both emerging and historical. A great day of seeing, talking, and immersing myself in art. Standouts included Andre Petterson, Jim Park, David Pirrie, and the fire bolt below by Sean William Randall. I also discovered Goodge Place - art, design, and Parisienne coffee and treats. Bowler hat lamps and stuffed hares made me feel as if I had wandered into Alice's wonderland. Tomorrow I hit the Main Street district, where there is a renewed hum drawing crowds.
ART AND THE CITY: Days 5 & 6. After six days walking all the art beats in very different neighborhoods of greater Vancouver, I gave in and hopped a Skytrain, for one leg of the journey. Day 5 lead me across False Creek, down through the site of Expo 1986 and to the silver globe known as Science World. My destination was the recently revitalized and funky neighborhood called Mount Pleasant. 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.' Painted on a wall on Main Street, this sentiment greets you as you enter an area filled with funky, grass roots businesses. Entrepreneurs whose goals were to re-build a community through supporting local, including a few highly successful artist-run galleries. Affordable art galleries featuring emerging young artists, most notably, 'Hot Art, Wet City.' Hot young Vancouver artists, in a city that is known for it's rain. A visit to this area is a must for anyone who enjoys handmade and original art of all kinds. In six days I visited fifteen galleries, in five very different districts of Greater Vancouver. I put about 10km on my Chuck Taylor's daily, while carrying an 8lb camera bag on my hip. From the glossy photography of Gastown, to the aboriginal art of downtown. From the designer art of Yaletown, to the painterly South Granville district. Finishing up on Main Street, where a community is being re-built and is flourishing thanks to a few passionate and committed citizens. You can get it all in Vancouver, and it has grown rapidly since my last visit. I am happy to be home, in my studio on the ocean, ready to set up the next canvas. The noise of the city feeds an important part of my soul, offering new experiences and perspectives. Any time away from the routine offers an education, now I am happy to return to my conversation with the canvas.