Vancouver Deputy Mayor Heather Deal has a number of portfolios – usually all the ways to make sure our City is becoming delightful – including Arts & Culture. She is passionate about the topic and a Councillor Liaison to the Arts & Culture Policy Council so I asked her to tell me more. She shared stories about her conversations with Vancouverites on public art. 1. Poodle on a Stick

Poodle (no official name) by Gisele Amantea got negative media when someone from the area complained that Main Street isn’t a poodle neighbourhood. Which is awesome because public art got people talking about the identity of their neighbourhood.

There were also complaints about cost and it not being a local artist (both based on inaccurate reporting).

(TP note: How many of our public art pieces have their own Twitter account? Follow @MainStPoodle)

When people complain to me about the poodle, I ask them what piece of public art they do like.

2. A-mazing Laughter

9/10 answer: A-mazing Laughter at English Bay – a Vancouver Biennale piece. So I ask them 3 questions about it:

Does it reflect the West End?

How much did cost?

Where is the artist from?

No one can answer that. Not one person to date.

(TP: I was able to answer all 3 – including who negotiated the counteroffer and donated it.)

3. The Third Piece

Then I ask for opinions about a third piece of public art. Very few can name one. Some come up with Myfanwy MacLeod’s The Birds in Olympic Village.

Some can name Giants by OSGEMEOS on Granville Island – another biennale piece from an international artist team.

4. I love it when people talk about our city.

Art is a great place to start that conversation. Learn about the hundreds of pieces of public art in Vancouver at the City’s website here.

5. Notice art.

Think about whether you like it or don’t. Look it up and learn about the artist and their inspiration.

Did you know that the poodle was made by an artist living in the region at the time and that it was inspired by the antique shops on Main Street? (TP: I had no idea.)

We also want to encourage people to think about what they like and want in public spaces such as art (murals, pieces, etc.) and what type of programmed space, festivals, and unprogrammed squares or plazas they’d like.

Ask yourself: Do you want to be entertained? Amused? Challenged?

Reminded of something in our history, negative or positive?

Awed? Do you want to be able to interact with it?

Does it compel you to take a selfie with it?

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David Sucher from Seattle tweeted this one from Granola Shotgun by Johnny.
Listen up, Surrey, Langley and Abbotsford; this is the future talking.  Your problems may not be as bad as the decaying American ‘burbs, but cheaper rents and a building stock ready for conversion still apply.  Artists in strip malls!

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I have a peculiar theory about where the next generation of counter culture folks are going to set up shop. You know… artists, musicians, small scale entrepreneurs, gays, refugees, and whatever passes for the political and economic fringe in the future. When I look back at these locations from the past there’s a clear pattern. The two primary ingredients are 1) Cheap real estate and 2) A relatively unregulated environment. …

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The above photos are from the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. Cheap. Mostly ignored by the authorities. These folks chose to live in bohemian surroundings for $400 a month – that’s $200 each – in order to have the freedom to do their own thing. There was no HOA. There were no NIMBYs. But Kensington is rapidly gentrifying and prices are rising as $300,000 condos and upscale brew pubs emerge. These guys have already moved out of Kensington in search of greener pastures. But it was great while it lasted. …
Here’s where I think the next Mecca of the creative class is most likely to emerge.

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This is the kind of rapidly declining suburban landscape that is in evidence all across North America. It isn’t leafy and tranquil like the better suburbs. The schools are crap. But it isn’t vibrant like the best urban locations either. This spot is too far from the city to easily access good jobs, but it’s just close enough to receive the undesirable overflows from the greater metroplex. …

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It’s the Mid Century Modern version of restoring an old Victorian. Get enough of these clustered in one neighborhood and you might just start a revival. If not, you still have an affordable place to hang your hat and do your own thing. Pick a subculture. Mormons. Vietnamese. Retired school teachers. Urban permaculture gardeners. Whatever. The trick is to establish a critical mass of like minded individuals that support each others’ productive activities. You don’t want to be the only gay in the village.

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From the Daily Scot:

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What do you get when you combine block upon block of old brick warehouses and functioning light industry with the creative set just a short cycle ride from Downtown?  The LA Arts District, of course.  Sandwiched between Skid Row, Little Tokyo and the Los Angeles River, the Arts District is a compact, walkable collection of restaurants, cafes, tech startups, loft apartments and, of course, artist studios.

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Originally a bastion for cheap studio space during the ’70s and ’80s, pioneering artists occupied abandoned buildings throughout the neighbourhood, many often living in the structures illegally.  The City of Los Angeles eventually passed an artist-in-residence ordinance making it legal for them to live in their studios, helping to encourage and promote the area as an incubator for the arts.   The district has been rapidly gentrifying ever since, with expensive infill apartments and loft conversions now commanding top dollar.

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The newer building development really stands out; portions of old factory shells are preserved while contemporary structures emerge from the upper floors.  It seems to be all about juxtaposing styles that are still very sympathetic to one another in scale.

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Not all residential development is well received, some such as this project, striking fear from residents that the character of this unique district will be destroyed.

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Signs of the neighbourhoods previous industry are everywhere.  Factories, warehouse doors, and numerous abandoned rail spurs serving old loading docks have all been preserved and re-purposed for work and play.
You can’t help but wonder if there are essentially two parallel gentrifications happening at the moment: the first consisting of original artists being pushed out due to soaring rents and the second involving industry (especially on the fringes) losing space to tech studios and creative startups.  Whatever the case, the LA Arts District is definitely one of the hottest hoods in town.

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A roundtable on housing and photography in Vancouver will be held at grunt gallery in relation to Henri Robideau’s Eraser Street exhibit.  The lineup:  Clint Burnham and Jeff Derksen (SFU English), Eugene McCann (SFU Geography) and Wendy Pedersen, Audry Siegel, Lorna Brown, and Henri Robideau.  . Information and Facebook page here.

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Saturday, May 9 1–4 pm 350 East 2nd Avenue – #116 .

Eraser Street

Artist: Henri Robideau

Exhibition Dates: April 9 – May 16

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Eraser Street Hubris, Humility and Humanity in the Making of a City! is an exhibition that mixes Robideau’s newest and oldest photographs of moments, milestones and monuments in Vancouver, tracing the character of the city and its residents during the last 40 years of non-stop growth. The work reflects upon the quality of life in Vancouver, the value of heritage, the economic engine of development, homelessness and the voice of the people. Robideau’s holographic satirical text charts history while critiquing the forces of government and commerce that have had a hand in shaping our urban environment.

ESSAY | Eraser Street – Hubris, Humility and Humanity in the Making of a City! – Henri Robideau – Written by Clint Burnham

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A new monumental work of art was unveiled in Stanley Park on April 25, just northeast of the Brockton Point totems: Luke Marston’s Shore to Shore:

Shore to Shore stands at the site of his family’s ancestral village site X̲wáýx̲way, and celebrates Portuguese adventurer Joe Silvey (“Portuguese Joe”) as well as his first and second Coast Salish wives, Khaltinaht and Kwatleemaat. The artist Luke Marston is the great-great-grandson of Portuguese Joe and Kwatleemaat.

Joe Silvey was born and raised on Portugal’s Altantic Azores Islands, though after several adventures, Joe found himself on the Pacific, and an early pioneer of Vancouver’s Gastown.

The sculpture honours the link between Portuguese and Coast Salish First Nations cultures, marks the land’s rich heritage, and symbolizes unity for the Vancouver’s present-day diverse inhabitants.

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It’s an extraordinary time on the Pacific Rim, as the DNA of western and eastern peoples meet and blend, particularly in this strategic place on the west side of the Pacific pond. As Shore to Shore reminds us, it’s not unprecedented.

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So our art (and artists) reflect our hapa reality.

 

Luke Marston

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PT loves including work by local photographers – east and west of Main!  So why not artists, like friend Leon Phillips:

I have added three new portfolios of paintings to my website: Flux 1Flux 2 and RYB. Flux is a series of 27 watercolours that I recently completed. RYB (red, yellow, blue) is a group of four oil paintings that I completed in 2013. All of these paintings were created with blue, yellow and red plus white; in some of the more recent paintings I have begun adding green.

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 Click to enlarge.

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More on Leon here.

 

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