Moving on out – from Fort St John to Vancouver

My last kick at the curating can at Peace Gallery North was the exhibition of student works, The Exquisite Corpse: A Surrealist Game for Three Players that resulted from two workshops on Modern Art I did with 60 grade 4-9 students at Freedom Thinkers Education, a local independent school in Baldonnel. Lots of learning and fun!

Below you can see the new gallery manager Catherine, who helped me hang the 60 drawings.

Here’s an article about the changing of the curatorial guard at the gallery by Matt Preprost in the Alaska Highway News. And, finally for this part of my life, two videos on Shaw TV about this exhibition and my departure from the gallery.

Moving is horrendous! I felt like I had been packing for months, and 3 days before the truck was due to arrive, there was still an enormous pile of stuff to go into boxes from all three stories of our rental townhouse. Hard on the aging back! With three days to go, Ty & I put our collective noses to the grindstone and got it done, 8000 pounds worth of material belongings packed into 200+ boxes was finally ready on Friday morning before the Ellis truck was expected at 8:30 am. Yippee! I had been stressing about how it was all going to go for weeks – was there going to be a hassle with the neighbours getting the truck into place for the move? Would someone park their vehicle on the side of the building so the moving truck couldn’t get it? Would someone need to get in or out of their garage in the middle of the move? Fortunately, none of those dire scenarios happened. Lorne and his crew of 2 were pros, and wrapped, packaged, and moved everything out in five hours without taking a break.

As the guys loaded the truck, we cleaned the place behind them, going from top to bottom, a more onerous job than it might have been if I’d done more cleaning while we lived there. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, kitchen, and enormous garage all had to be whipped into shape before our 4:30 pm meeting with the management company to determine whether we would get our damage deposit back. (And, wouldn’t you know, our outside faucet had broken the day before our move and water carried a crap-load of mud into the garage that had to dry and be swept out.) But we did it, as my painful back attests!

Both of us breathed an enormous sigh of relief as the truck rolled out of the complex and away with all our worldly possessions. After a lovely last evening at Sandra’s with friends, dinner and conversation, and a night spent at the FSJ Howard Johnson, a tired, run-down venue, we cruised on down the highway towards the south coast.

For the first hour or so the temperature was about -8 or so and dry, perfect conditions for driving, according to my co-pilot Ty, who announced every change in temperature as we went. After turning off onto the road through Pine Pass to Prince George, the snow flurries started and it got warmer, moving up to the dreaded -1 to +1 temperature range where the driving conditions become sub-optimal as the snow and ice melt. The car shimmied down the highway for an hour or so with me easing off the speed every time it started to dance, making for a somewhat stressful stretch of drive.

As you can see from these photos, the clouds were quite socked in on this part of the journey, hiding the mountain tops. But there were very few vehicles on the road and the snow flurries weren’t too dense.

Arriving in Prince George around lunch time, we cruised down into the city proper, searching for somewhere to eat, and deciding on a sushi spot – Wasabi – right downtown. Ty gives it the thumbs up!

Downtown Prince George looked quite nice, with some good-looking heritage buildings in the city core. After our tasty lunch Ty took over the driving duties and we pressed onward to Williams Lake. The sun came out at some point in the afternoon, making the drive a bit more pleasant. We noticed that, in each of the communities we passed through, the Mom and Pop stores and shopping malls have been all boarded up, replaced by Tim Horton’s, A & W, and Walmart – sad to see.

After a wrong turn along the highway and a cruise through the residential streets of Williams Lake, we eventually found our way to the Super 8 Motel, our resting spot for the night. Ty got together with his old friend Les who has lived in Williams Lake for 30 years, and I took it easy in the motel room, resting my aching body.

After a not-too-bad free breakfast at the Super 8 we were on the road early, passing through Lac La Hache, 100 Mile House, Clinton, and various other small towns on our way south through Caribou Country.

At Spences Bridge boulders rolling down onto the highway meant road crews and one lane traffic and a delay of only 10  minutes as we waited for the big trucks to do their job.

The trip through the Fraser Canyon was not as pleasant, with lots of rain and quite a winding stretch up from and then down again to the Fraser River. Since the clouds were so low, we couldn’t see much of what would have been a scenic part of the trip.

After making good time, we stopped for tea in Chilliwack with Ty’s sister Cynthia and nephew Anthony, before getting back on the Number 1 for the home stretch. The drive into town from Abbotsford to Langley was horrible, with such torrential rain that I could barely see anything in front of me. But upon reaching the Port Mann bridge, the sun came out again – halleluia!

Both of us were so happy to be home! Fantastic to be back on the south coast (and out of the vehicle)! Arriving at Jill’s about 4:30, we decided to immediately head over to Granville Island for a celebratory seafood feast at the Sandbar, enjoying a wonderful King Crab dinner. Yippee!

And some good news about my latest films; An Accident of Being and Life After Life were both selected for the Cefalu Film Festival in Palermo, Italy.


The Really Big Print Project on Granville Island

Art fun in the sun – the Big Print Project is happening this long weekend down on Granville Island. The brainchild of Peter Braune and Richard Tetrault, this project sees several artists creating gigantic four foot by eight foot woodcuts on particle board, which are then printed by a steamroller. All the action is taking place in the alleyway between Railspur and Cartwright Street.

First the ink to be used is rolled out on a glass slab.

(Photo above by Esther Rausenberg)

Then the huge plates are inked up and placed on the ground.

Below Richard makes sure that the plate is correctly positioned to be printed.

Peter has a look to make sure all is okay.

Then the paper and blankets are gently lowered onto the inked plate, making sure that the paper is in the correct position.

Peter then fires up the steamroller and drives back and forth over the plate; the ink is then transferred from the plate onto the paper with the pressure of the drum.

The unveiling is always the fun part – will it have worked?

First the blanket, then the paper is pulled gently off the plate.

Voila! The artist is pleased.

Another couple of plates ready to go (photos below by Esther Rausenberg).

This time Andrea drives the steamroller.

Doing a few little touch-ups by hand.

Fantastic job! Check it out if you are in the area.

Canada Day on Granville Island

We had a fantastic warm, sunny day for Canada Day here on the coast. Ty and Brubin were dressed up in their red and white flag gear for a trip to Granville Island to enjoy the festivities there.

As we walked along the seawall towards the aquabus stop, we marvelled at the action on the water: pirate ships, tug boats, ferries, paddle boarders, kayakers – everyone was out on the water.

The Hornby Street aquabus stop was packed out with throngs heading over to Granville Island and Brubin was pretty excited about being part of the gang.

Once across False Creek, we took advantage of the opening of the wooden tug Master for public viewing to check it out. The Master was the last wooden hulled steam tugboat running up and down the coast of BC, built in 1922, and is beautifully maintained.

We also caught a few minutes of the free International Jazz Festival concert near the Market.

Since it was hot, we hung out in the shade of the Granville Bridge and watched red and white clad people walk by with their ice cream cones and bubble blowers.

Everyone was in a great mood and the vibe was festive.

Marching brass bands and disco queens entertained the crowds. The “free” (not sure why that was emphasised given that the event took place on the street) disco dance, with DJ, silver disco ball, and big-haired grooving disco ducks was great fun – of course I had to join in the action and danced up a sweat in the 25 degree sun.

We decided to wait for the parade coming down Railspur Alley on the patio of the Artisan Sake Studio where we had a ringside seat in the shade – huzzah!

We decided to sample the trio taster and cheese plate combination; the rice wine was very tasty, especially the original version, but the “cheese platter” was the world’s smallest, consisting of three crackers and the tiniest pieces of cheese I have every seen a restaurant try to get away with.

We had been told by a marshall that the Granville Island Canada Day Parade was “three times bigger than last year”, meaning it was eight minutes long instead of three … but we enjoyed it anyway, reminding us of the community parades that we had seen on Cortes Island.

Poor old Brubin was a bit too small to be able to see the passing parade.

Good Times and great fun had by all!

See more pics here.

Still Summer …

Here are a few pictures I took recently of rides around town and along the seawall.

A convoy of big red trucks was parked near Science World one night for an unknown reason.

I had noticed the colourful blue stripes on the base of the Cambie Bridge pilons before; what I did not realise is that they are a public art project designed to demonstrate how high the waters are projected to rise in False Creek as a result of global climate change.

As you can see, the water rise will be significant … and might happen sooner than we think, if the arctic continues to melt quickly – frightening.

Now that we no longer have a car, it’s bicycle commuting for me. And rather than the huge vessels of BC Ferries, my water transport is the Cyquabus across the Creek to Emily Carr.

Below are a few pics that I took from the Painting on the Edge juried show at the Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery on Granville Island.

From our place, we can still see a little slice of water and a tiny bit of Granville Island in between the towers that continue to proliferate downtown.

When the tide is low, it’s really fascinating to see the well-demarcated ecological niches of the creatures populating False Creek.

This bike tune-up guy is conveniently located on the seawall right near Science World.

This flower bed in George Wainborn Park is just amazing; I have no idea what these purple flowers are called but they have grown enormously in the last month of good weather.

AARRRRR – the Pirate Pub is a favourite pit stop along the seawall.

Two salty sea dogs on the sea wall ~

We saw this guy just floating around in the fountain at George Wainborn Park one beautiful late afternoon.

And these Fringe Festival folks waiting for the aquabus.

Malaspina Gallery has a really interesting show of print works by Kathy Slade and Lisa Robertson up – we stopped in to the opening.

BIMPE VII, the Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition’s seventh incarnation, opened on Thursday night at the Federation Gallery, offering 400 small print works from all over the world. Check it out if you have the chance – lot’s of great stuff.

I am really enjoying riding my bike around town; last week, with a group of cyclists, I rode out to Dundarave across the Lion’s Gate Bridge – joy!

See more pics here.


Summer in the City

Summer in the city means sun (we hope), cycling, and art.

Art Day in Cedar, south of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, involved painting, collage, and recycled materials, with each of us given the same images and objects with which to being our creations.

(For extra points, can you spot the common element(s) in these works?) It is always interesting to see how different the final products are when people begin at the same starting point.

The trip over and back on BC Ferries (now that I don’t have to commute on them any more – yippee!) was beautiful on a brilliant sunny day.

The opening of Collaborative Drawings by Kitty Blandy, Geoff Carter, and Michael Bjornson was great. I love the concept and the work – here are a few glimpses.

During an interlude of clouds, Barb and I rode out to UBC along the seawall and through Kits Point, where we stopped to read the scribbles of locals protesting the Harper Government’s short-sighted decision to close the Kits Coast Guard Station.

Most writers were not very complimentary about Harper, his government, or the conservatives in general.

Cycling around Vancouver is always a joy, but even more so when the weather is great.

Yesterday I was surprised to see that Soul Food, the downtown eastside community food garden, has expanded to the formerly empty parking lot near BC Place.

A huge garden of produce to feed local residents, grown and managed by locals and sold at farmers markets around town, has sprung up over the last six months – great idea!

Science World has a show on until the end of August focusing on the “genius of Leonardo”, mostly containing modern recreations of the machines and ideas recorded in his notebooks. There’s also a big section devoted to Leonardo’s most famous work, the Mona Lisa; however, none of the items on display are actually by Leonardo. All are photographic reproductions. Since I had already seen most of these before, more interesting to me was a small display of jewel-like insect art by a Singaporean man whose name escapes me.

See more here.

On our ride around Strathcona looking at murals and street art Barb and I also stopped at the original Soul Food Garden on Hastings next to the Astoria Hotel to see how it was growing.

After riding through the downtown eastside, we took the Main Street Viaduct down to Crab Park

and then under Canada Place, up to the convention centre,

along Coal Harbour and through the Park, over the Burrard Bridge to Go Fish on the waterfront at Granville Island.

Gotta love this city when the sun’s out. See more pics here.