Early summer fun

I love Summer Solstice, that magical time when the night’s as long as it gets. For the second annual time, the Downtown Gathering Place Community Centre held a Solstice Celebration at George Wainborn Park; luckily this year, unlike last, the weather was glorious.

Beginning at 6 pm were the Kunaka Marimba, a youth band on what looked like home-made marimbas, whose sound attracted a young boy like moth to flame.

Following them, the Indian Time Drummers and Dancers featured four men banging enormous drums and three women, a beautiful older woman festooned with turquoise, and her two grand daughters attired in fabulous medicine dresses, dancing.

While they entertained the crowd in one corner of the park, the Vancouver Morris Men dancers kicked up a storm next to the fountain. When asked what the banging sticks were all about, one dancing man replied by flexing his muscles and grunting – all about the masculine mystique … Ty made me a solstice garden wreath at the tent set up in the far corner of the park.

As the evening wore on, in the distance along the waterfront we could see a procession of people (Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal came to mind – the final scene in which death leads a band of followers dancing over a darkening hill).

As the procession approached, we could see that it was an orchestra – the Orkestar Slivovica to be precise – playing the wonderful music of Eastern Europe.

Weaving among the crowd were stilt walkers, dancers and dogs with their owners in tow.

Read more about the Gathering Place here. See more pictures here.

Coming on the heels of Summer Solstice, this first weekend of summer has been sunny and warm, perfect weather for the Annual West Broadway Greek Day Sunday. Ty and I headed over on our bikes, cruising through Kits point and along the now-crowded beach.

All the beautiful people were out in force. Kits Pool glowed a brilliant light cerulean blue like the South Pacific waters to which we’re heading soon.

Mostly Greek Day seems to be about food; each refreshment tent had an enormous lineup of hungry people snaking back through the crowd.

Of course, I had to try out the photo boards, firstly as a satyr, accompanied by a small pan-fluted companion,

and secondly as … Greek shepherds, I suppose, with one tiny sheep sneaking in at our feet. I’m digging the look –

I’m not quite sure who these guys were meant to be; possibly figures from the Persian or Pelopponesian Wars …

Later in the evening saw us back on the bikes, cycling along the BC Urban Parkway to the MOP Community Garden at 6th and Saint Catherine’s for their first summer Tea and Art Garden Party. This event attracted quite a good crowd of art and garden enthusiasts sampling the tea grown from the garden’s herbs and home-made bannock bread from beneath a beautifully crocheted tent (made by Sharon Kallis, I believe).

The event was billed as a celebration with solar powered lanterns and phosphorescent installations; throughout the smallish garden space were several pieces, most created by artists in conjunction with community workshops. In a small cylindrical tent next to the gardening shed Lori Weidenhammer embodied a psychic, uttering strange, random and sometimes eerily prescient musings as visitors came and went in front of her fabric nest.

Flying high over the garden is a replica of a Grouse Mountain Gondola made by a sculpture instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley.

MC David Gowman told the assembled multitudes about the garden and its uses; here he’s standing near Diana Burgoyne’s sound bugs made with a local elementary school class.

David makes musical instruments from the plants, such as gourds, that grow in the garden, an idea which I love.

Beyond the garden Ken Lum’s East Van sculpture glowed in the distance as twilight drew on.

Featured installations are by Naomi Singer and Second Site artists, in addition to those mentioned above, David Floren, Robin Ripley, and Peter Courtemanche.

Inside the fabric tent I discovered Styrofoam heads adorned with plant materials; as the sky darkened these glowed in the dark.

Robin Ripley’s project, made with school children, illustrates the paths and traces of the various animal inhabitants of the garden, such as racoons and moths.

I loved the evening, a gentle, enjoyable celebration of the season. For more information on the MOP garden and its artist projects, click here. For more information on the work of organiser Sharon Kallis, click here. For more information on David Gowman’s work, click here.

There is almost nothing I love more than riding my bike at night in the summer; I especially love the colours of the illuminated buildings glowing along the edge of False Creek.

See more pictures here.


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