Art & Culture
August 4, 2020

Another Spin on the Chandelier

Here’s why the Spinning Chandelier as an accessible work of public art will be one of the most loved in the city – rather like “A-mazing Laughter” at English Bay.

Sure, “most loved” does not mean “best,” depending on your criteria, but those who dismiss it because of how it signifies class, or is an obscene expenditure when we have so many other priorities, or is just a marketing device, etc, will only annoy themselves when seeing how people engage with it.

Like this:

Nominations open for any more engaging works in the city.

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Every two years, Vancouver has been blessed with the sculpture Biennale – a celebration of art in public space.  And Price Tags has been documenting the Biennale since 2006, when we were still producing a magazine-style documentation of urbanism in the city.

Credit goes primarily to entrepreneur and philanthropist Barrie Mowatt, who has a long and accomplished history supporting the visual arts in this city, beginning with the establishment of the Buschlen Mowatt fine art gallery in 1979, and then the Biennale in 1998.  The latter would just be a good idea or a one-off without Mowatt’s ability to deal with the astounding logistics required to organize an international exhibition of this quality – especially one that takes place in some of our most prized public spaces, the waterfront parks of Vancouver, cautiously protected by layers of discretionary approvals.

But Mowatt has been aiming to do something more than just plop down big chunks of art on goose-strewn grass (or more politely, “transforming the urban landscape into an Open Air Museum.”)  He has expanded the scope of the exhibition to transform some of our leftover urban spaces into true gathering places for community – most notably “A-Mazing Laughter” (right) at English Bay.  The art truly does change how people see and use our public spaces.

He has also found a way to unite scattered pieces into something cohesive (that ‘outdoor museum’) by sponsoring the ‘Bikennale’ – so that numerous pieces can be viewed, appreciated and comprehended in a day.  With the pandemic making a single crowded event impossible, he has adapted the Bikennale (and Walkennale) into a month-long sequence of experiences – “SIX SUNDAYS THIS SUMMER” – that take cyclists not only along a route that connects the art but also brings in past pieces, the history of particular neighbourhoods and anecdotes about us as a people.

If you like to cycle or walk, sign up for the 2020 BIKEnnale/WALKennale Six Sundays (July 26 through August 30), check out www.vbbike.ca to learn more – a great chance to get outdoors (with appropriate physical distancing) and explore the history, architecture, and culture of a neighbourhood or two.

 

 

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Banksy is a British artist who has achieved fame by leaving public statements of art in the public realm in many countries. Yesterday he released an instagram video of his latest installation on one of London’s iconic subway train cars.

Banksy dresses as a maintenance worker as he gets down to prepping the walls with stencils of rats after shooing transit riders away. It’s all an allegory of what happens when you don’t use masks in public places during Covid times, and a bit of a directed  comment on the debate over mask wearing in public that is raging on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

The artwork “If you Don’t Mask, You Don’t Get” shows a rat that is sneezing, and another rat spraying anti-bacterial soap. Banksy even signed his name on the train door.

Sadly and I hope it’s not really true, BBC News reports that Transport for London was not amused and has already removed the art because of their strict anti-graffiti policy.

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Have you heard of Switzerland’s novel zero star hotels? They are not what you think they are~they actually are starry hotels, a hotel room without walls, light switches or television, outside under the night sky.

You can take a look at Selina Berner’s experience sleeping in a zero hotel which has opened in neighbouring Liechtenstein. Spoiler-it rained, they had to cover the bed in plastic, and she retreated to a shed.

This concept originally started as an art project by two brothers Frank and Patrik Riklin and partner Daniel Charbonnier in the Appenzell region of Switzerland to take away the formality of a hotel and engage visitors directly with nature. Surprisingly even the original concept comes with a well trained butler that provides concierge services and brings “room service” to the zero star hotel.

And here’s what you get~a double bed suite in a pasture is $420 Canadian dollars a night with a welcome drink, breakfast and the butler, usually the local farmer. The farmer brings guests to the “suite” and provides local news and jokes.

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North Vancouver District School Trustee Kulvir Mann has shared this YouTube collaboration with students from Carson Graham Secondary Choir and Bands.These students were to be in Southern California this spring and had planned to collaborate in a musical workshop with the Orange County School of Arts. Orange County School of Arts in Santa Ana.

Of course after all the fundraising and planning the tour was cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The two music directors and students  decided to work together to create a virtual choir collaboration with  Kyle Pedersen’s song written in 2016 “We Sing the Darkness to Light”. 

There are 25 students  from the Carson Graham Secondary School and 25 participants from the Orange County School of Art in this performance.   It’s a beautifully sung work  they describe as about “hope, compassion, mercy and unity”.

The choir starts performing  at 58 seconds on the video below.

 

 

 

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America Walks presents a new webinar  on walkability and public art.

Promoting walking in communities with noticeable disinvestment can be difficult. Public art is one way to lend to the revitalization of a neighborhood and invite people to be part of the process. This webinar will feature ways public art has been used to embrace the culture and history of a community while promoting engaging, walkable spaces. This webinar is intended for those just starting out on the walking path as well as those interested in learning more about the topic.

Presenters:

Ophelia Chambliss is a muralist, artist, educator in York, Pennsylvania who creates custom murals and public art pieces. She specializes in murals that project a message, serve a purpose, create community, and are a reflection of her client’s mission and objectives.

 

Karla Osete is an Artist in Residence at LaLinea Art Studio, Controller at CanAm Pepper Company, Mountain Bike Coach for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association and Former Vice President of 0S3 Movement. She was a 2017 Walking College fellow, has a master’s degree in Business Administration, bachelor’s in accounting and associate degree in Art and Dance.

Melissa Johnson, Cultural Recreation Manager, has been with the Town of Matthews Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resource Department since August 2017. She manages the Matthews Community Center and the McDowell Arts Center, oversees summer camps and all programs at these facilities, and oversees public art for the Town of Matthews.

 

Date:  Wednesday June 10, 2020

Time: 11am PST

You can register by clicking on this link.

Images: Walkscore

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Here’s a beer commercial with actor Mads Mikkelsen showing why Danes are so happy. He of course points to Hygge, where Danes get the feeling of being  “all fuzzy and snuffy together”.

In this ad for Carlsberg beer, Mikkelsen bikes through a range of venues and surfaces, including on roof tops. I counted him riding his bike on ten different surfaces. And in this ride through the city, there’s something very evident~there’s not one vehicle on the road.

No wonder Danes are so happy.

 

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Ian Young, Vancouver columnist with the South China Morning Post, wrote a widely circulated piece which credited some of B.C.’s success at flattening the Covid curve to the early actions of the Chinese community.

Virologist Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Canada research chair in new and re-emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba, attributed BC’s “phenomenal” results to … the early behaviour of BC’s sizeable Chinese community …

“What you have in BC is a Chinese community that was seeing the impacts across Asia [and] had been through Sars … and there may have been a grass roots movement in that community to start with the physical distancing,” said Kindrachuk.  …

The local Chinese community was also an early adopter of face masks, which Canada’s chief medical officer Dr Theresa Tam only this week acknowledged as a way for the general public to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. “In Asian communities there is more comfort and a relationship with these things [masks] in public …

Ah, the mask.

Kindrachuk: (The BC Chinese community’s reaction to the outbreak at its early stages) “needs to be examined as we try to work out what things helped in different communities that we can all think about whether to adopt as time goes on.”

Will the mask now be another indicator of ‘West Pacific’ – a culture that combines habits and traditions in a blend of the new normal?

Until recently, whenever I saw someone wearing a mask over their mouth, I assumed they had been brought up in Asia.  An indicator of the immigrant, still wearing local dress, taking a precaution from a more-crowded culture.  I don’t see it that way anymore.

Of course, it will be appropriately redesigned:

Billie Eilish at the Grammy Awards, in January, wearing a Gucci face mask. Photo: AFP

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A group of Vancouverites who work in trauma and counselling have been circulating an email asking their friends for their favourite poems or prose that helped at a time of crisis. Among the poems being circulated is this one from  poet Naomi Shihab Nye, which was sent in by a librarian.

These are difficult times for everyone from many standpoints. This poem was a favourite of the crisis workers. The images are by photographer Ken Ohrn.

The Song

From somewhere
A calm musical note arrives.
You balance it on your tongue,
a single ripe grape,
till your whole body glistens.
In the space between breaths
You apply it any wound
and the wound heals.

Soon the nights will lengthen,
you will lean into the year humming like a saw.
You will fill the lamps with kerosene,
knowing somewhere a line breaks,
a city goes black,
people dig for candles in the bottom drawer.
You will be ready. You will use the song like a match.
It will fill your rooms
opening rooms of its own
so you sing, I did not know
my house was this large.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

Images: Ken Ohrn

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Last year I wrote about an American named Bill Heine who became the “local character” in Oxford Great Britain.Heine ran two cinema houses, and had garnered a law degree before turning to movies.

In 1986 Mr. Heine had a Big Idea and for some reason  commissioned the building of a huge headless fibreglass shark which he craned to the top of his house. The timing of his installation of a headless shark on the roof of his 1860 British townhouse was the  “41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.” The piece was created by artist John Buckley. Mr. Heine tried to say that his headless shark was a political statement. The shark weighs 400 pounds and is 25 feet from its tail to the top of its headless body.

The good citizens of Oxford were apoplectic about this shark among the roofs, and as   this web page on the Hedlington Shark attests  the local Oxford city council sprung into action.

You can read about that debacle here. The story spoiler is that Mr. Heine got to keep the shark,  with an appeal tribunal stating that this was not about the fact the shark did not blend in to the surrounding historic roofscape but rather the individualism that the shark did NOT blend in the historic roofscape. You can’t make this stuff up.

The Hedlington Shark is now a historic significant monument. But what are the chances that a local Price Tags Vancouver reader actually interviewed Bill Heine in person? And that this interview was published in People Magazine?

Dianna Waggoner wrote this piece in 1987:

The neighbors should have seen it coming. When Bill Heine, a 42-year-old American from Batavia, Ill. moved onto High Street in quiet little Heading-ton, England, he already had a reputation for strange roof embellishments. First he had stuck a pair of plaster arms above his movie house in nearby Oxford. Next he had put a pair of humorous, black-and-white-stockinged legs atop a second theater. Last spring, shortly after buying his brick house on High Street, he pulled his best trick yet. One Saturday neighbors awoke to see a 25-foot, fiberglass shark sculpture being towed through town by a farm tractor. Sure enough, before the day was out, the shark was up there on the roof, right above the ivy and the pots of geraniums, head-down in the shingles. What did the neighbors make of that?

“Downright disgusting,” observed Irene Williams from her front yard.

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