Gung Hai Fat Choy – Happy Lunar New Year

Ty and I checked out the Lunar New Year Lunarfest at the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza last night. In addition to some cool blue light projections on the VAG facade, spot lights roving around the sky and a large yellow swaying moon, the Lunarfest folks have set up large tents containing what is billed as the world’s first “Lantern Aquarium”. It sounded intriguing so we spent about three quarters of an hour in line to get in to see the installation. Once inside the big tent, we saw many small lanterns decorated by children hanging from the ceiling, flexible light ropes, a gigantic colourful sealife lantern, and, in a smaller tent adjacent, white paper fish lanterns with small blue LED lights floating through space. The verdict? Beautiful objects and a very cool idea but somewhat lame in installation execution – some kids were knocking the lanterns off the ceiling and others surreptitiously slipped the LED lights into their pockets on the way out, the tents were really too industrial and cavernous for the art work, that, in spots, seemed lost in them, and, most lame of all, the waiting room tent in which nothing at all was going on and the sullen CIBC employees who were supposed to be manning the lantern table looked like they’d rather be anywhere but there.

Here’s the blurb from their website:

About LunarFest

February 3-13, 2011

Open daily between 4pm-11pm
at the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza

Started in 2009 and built to be a Vancouver Winter Olympics Legacy event, LunarFest is Canada’s premier presenter of contemporary expression in Asian arts and culture. It endeavours to reach new Canadians and those who have been here for many generations to share in the diversity of Canada. It also encourages and fosters the collaboration of Canadian and International cultural presenters to create new forms of artistic expressions. LunarFest is a festival that brings together Soul, Art and Life on one stage.

Being one of the top 10 Cultural Olympiad events chosen by Georgia Straight, LunarFest was one of the spotlights in Vancouver Downtown Core during the Games. More than half a million people witnessed the magic of LunarFest and countless photographs were taken; it will forever be a part of the Olympic memories of many Canadians and visitors around the world.

In 2010, following the guiding principles of environmental initiatives and community engagement of the Winter Olympics, the Lantern Forest used only LED lights to illuminate the Granville pedestrian corridor. Over 12,000 children from Canada and Asia submitted their lantern drawings to share their cultural heritages and their ideas on protecting the environment. Over 2010 lanterns were chosen to display on 40 steel trees alongside with five large totem lanterns and ten public art lanterns created by professional artists to form the world’s first Lantern Forest.

Join us in 2011 from February 3 to 13 where we will reveal the world’s first lantern aquarium!

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After the Lantern Aquarium visit we wandered down Granville Street seeking inspiration for stuffed animal companions for our trip around the world coming up soon (stay tuned!); we found it in a memorabilia shop next to the Commodore Ballroom:

After searching through two small bins of cast-offs – voila! – we found what we were looking for – three small ugly stuffed toys which will accompany us attached to our backpacks.

Granville is a street in transition from its former life as a sleazy, cheesy home to 25 cent peep show shops, 50s diners, and SRO hotels to its current emergent incarnation as upscale “Entertainment District” for young hip types from the burbs; who knows how long these reminders of a bygone era will last.

See more pictures here.

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