Solstice, one more time, and an FSJ Canada Day

I had flashbacks of all those many days and years commuting from Vancouver to Nanaimo while on the BC Ferry back to town. Luckily, it was a beautiful, blustery sunny day for the trip and I was able to take lots of photos of the beautiful mountains that I miss up here.

It is such a cliche to say that we take our everyday environment so much for granted, but, yes, it’s true in my case. I did not fully enough appreciate the beauty I was surrounded with each and every day.

Barb had invited me to join in a solstice cycle with the biking group she sometimes ride with and I was looking forward to seeing her and hopping in the saddle again.

On a gorgeous sunny warm evening a group of about 12 of us rode from 11th Avenue near Alma down to the beach and along to the altar at the western end of Spanish Banks just before the hill up to UBC.

Although I hadn’t gotten the dress memo, amazingly enough I was wearing just the right purple-pink attire for the ride.

Although you can’t really tell from these photos, it was a busy time down at the beach, everyone being starved for sun and sand with the very grey and damp Vancouver spring this year.

Also under the category of things not sufficiently appreciated … cycling in Vancouver! I had not been out on my bike since last September and it was wonderful to cycle on the bike paths and along the beach (although I was definitely saddle-sore the next day). Thanks so much to Pam for the loan of the bike!

Along with our cycling party, a group of three police on dune buggies were at the shrine, enjoying the late afternoon sun and slightly impeding what was going to be a slightly more bubbly toast to the solstice!

Just can’t resist those mountain photos! So much more snow on them this year than the last few years. I remember when we were at Sun Peaks two years ago and there was absolutely no snow to be seen on any mountain tops anywhere …

And freighters!

Charlie Lake is the only significant body of water in these northern parts and no freighters ply those waters, only small sailboats and kayaks …

Yet again more money is being spent on Cornwall Street; after having been turned into what is primarily a bike and pedestrian thoroughfare last year, it’s now being dug up again for a purpose that escapes me, to the ire of some of the residents.

I also took a spin around Kits and Spanish Banks and through Jericho Park on one more occasion, really enjoying the lushness of the greenery.

On my way to Beatrice’s place for lunch, I stopped in at Aberthau Community Centre, down by Jericho Beach, to look at their big empty rooms, contemplating a projection or two in their darkened space.

We enjoyed a scrumptious veggie repast in B’s beautiful garden oaisis.

Under the heading of wonderful views is the sunset from the Burrard Bridge.

Christine, Marsha, and I caught the opening day of the new Monet Secret Gardens show at the VAG; luckily, the lineup to get in was not too long.

Monet as an old man in his garden brought two thoughts to mind: Ty in the distant future and ZZ Top.

American photographer Stephen Shore did a series of Giverny garden photos in the 1980s, a set of 25 in different light conditions that are included with the Monet show. With my current mania for reflection images, I enjoyed taking close-ups of these photos with the reflection of the exhibition patrons seemingly in the background of the works.

We spent quite a bit of time looking at the enigmatic Jeff Wall image below, as you can see by our reflections in the photo.

I really love this Rodney Graham piece below, especially since it’s taken at the mouth of the Capilano River at Ambleside, a place that I spent many days at over the years. This was one of my Dad’s favourite places to walk. The photograph, although taken recently, has the colour palette of one of those old 60s postcards.

Here’s a close-up of the figure’s somewhat deranged look, as if he’s having a senior moment and can’t remember where he is or where he’s going.

Below are two samples of the work in Pictures from Here, images of this part of the world, many of them night scenes with theatrical lighting (which I love).

After a light lunch at the outdoor patio in the gallery cafe, enjoying some of the music from the jazz fest below wafting our way, we returned for the final two floors.

I really enjoyed the “alchemical lab” installation piece below, from Persistence. Here is info about the piece from the VAG website: “a collaborative installation by Vancouver-based artists Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson. Invoking theatre, play, myth and ritual, The Last Waves: Laboratory (2016) recycles and animates various found and fabricated objects in a capricious, sometimes disorienting response to materials. ”

While the exhibition text does not mention alchemy, that eccentric predecessor of chemistry, the piece certainly does call that up in my mind. Folks have been fascinated for a long time with the idea that worthless dross could be magically turned into gold  and alchemical labs were a staple of 15th & 16th century imagery, especially in printmaking, which it itself a kind artistic alchemy. The engraving below is by Breugel and called The Alchemist from 1558.

Here is some info about this piece: In Bruegel’s image, a dilapidated family kitchen doubles as a laboratory. The alchemist sitting at the hearth on the left appears to be placing the family’s last coin in a crucible to be melted in the alchemical process. This point is further underscored by his wife, who is seated in a hunched posture behind him and attempts to empty the contents of an already empty purse. While the alchemist’s shabby torn clothes and spine clearly revealed through his skin signifies their desperate poverty, his thick, wiry hair, also conveys an impression of vagueness and absurdity, not unlike the modern stereotype of the distracted and dishevelled mad scientist. Both the scene and figures imply that the alchemist neglects himself as much as his family in the single-minded pursuit of his occupation. The scholar on the right, in robes consulting alchemical texts, appears to be instructing the activities of the alchemist and his assistant. As if looking through a window to the future, a secondary scene unfolds in the background as the family walks to a poorhouse. This implies that they have squandered the last of their money in the hopes of achieving transmutation in the quest for the elusive Philosopher’s Stone. Furthermore, the scholarly figure and the assistant are no longer with the family, which possibly suggests that the scholar is the corrupter of those who are more foolish to work in the laboratory aspects of transmutation. In this regard, Bruegel’s print serves as a duel representation of the alchemist as both a fool and charlatan. (Dana Rehn, The Image and Identity of the Alchemist in Seventeenth-Century Netherlandish Art)

Out the front of the gallery, in the refurbished plaza, the jazz festival continued, with a large audience of people perched on the front steps eating hot dogs and sushi.

My final day of the visit saw me heading to our old stomping grounds in North Vancouver to have dinner with my family at Capilano Heights Chinese Restaurant across the street from Cleveland Dam. My nephew Aaron just graduated from the Police Academy and a very proud family saw the ceremony. Father Jess, just retired from the force, welcomed Aaron to the ranks.

Lonsdale Quay gets better and better, with new restaurants and an expanded Presentation House Gallery being built down on the docks.

The bus took me up to the dam where I spent a few moments reliving my youth as I appreciated Grouse Mountain and the greenery of the park surrounding the dam. The last time I had been here a couple of years ago during the terrible summer drought we had, the water was so low in the reservoir; not the case this year; you can still see snow on the Lions in the background.

While in Vancouver I had the pleasure of enoying Pam and Cec’s backyard, an oasis of flowers, with Pam hidden in the background sweeping up a few fallen flower heads. So nice to spend time with these folks and other good friends I was able to catch up with on this whirlwind visit and sorry to miss some of you good people this time!

And finally, I leave you with a beautiful sunset I photographed while walking back to Pam and Cec’s place that night.

See more photos here.

Back in FSJ and I’m gainfully employed once again, having accepted a position as Gallery Manager at the North Peace Gallery in the Cultural Centre here. It’s fulltime at the moment but I will be looking for an assistant soon to help out. Below is a photo of part of the main exhibition space, with changing exhibitions each month; it also has a nice gift shop carrying local arts and crafts.

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Working F/T is a bit of a shock to the system! After work this past week, Ty & I drove out to Sandra’s place and enjoyed dinner and a brew on her back deck, complete with grand kids, which Ty of course got all wound up.

For Canada Day we cycled over to 100th Avenue and took in the Parade; both of us agreed that it was pretty good. We had a great spot curb-side where we could see all the action.

Not surprisingly, there were lots of vehicles, big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones – lots of vintage tractors and cars,

small racing wagons, trick lawnmovers driven by excited riders, hot rods,

motorised toy cars – the Tin Lizzies below,

huge combine harvesters,

horses,

dogs,

and a convoy of first responder vehicles with lights flashing and horns blaring.

The lowrider below, with the snazzy paintjob, is for sale – could be yours.

I managed to score a red, pointed Canada Day party hat to go with my red cycling jacket.

After about an hour of roaring vehicles and flying candy, we rolled down 100th to Centennial Park to listen to music, consume smokies, and check out the plethora of vehicles – more than 140 came out for the day, some of which looked like they hadn’t seen daylight since the building of the Alaska Highway in 1942. Almost all were in fantastic shape, with their proud owners sitting nearby to bask in the glory of our admiration.

The Famers Market was in full swing, as were the food vendors, with long lineups snaking around the parking lot of the Aquatic Centre.

Here’s two overhead shots of the site at Centennial Park by Eagle Vision Video Productions:

Happy Canada Day to you all! See more pics here. Read more about the FSJ celebration here.

 

Summer in the City – July version

Gotta love Vancouver on a sunny summer day! We are having a fantastic July and I am out and about with the boys. Now that Brubin is a senior dog, he seems to have acclimatised to riding in the bike basket. Where before he used to shake and quiver whenever he saw us put on the helmets, now he has no problem hopping into his perch behind Ty on the bike.

One of the great places to cycle is along the paths through the trees in Stanley Park. Here Brubin is keeping a close eye on where we’re going.

The greens are incredible in the forest here.

The moss on some of the trees is thick and rich – long live the temperate rain forest! I’m sure there are many fascinating scents in the trees.

Another sunny day, another roll on the bike – here we are heading over on the seabus to the North Shore for a ride on the Spirit Trail along the shoreline.

Luckily, today the boat was not crowded – lots of room for the bikes.

The view of the Vancouver skyline from the water is beautiful.

After arriving at the Lonsdale Quay, we rode around the docks for a bit and tried to check out the Vancouver International Sculpture Biennial display. However, their “suggested donation” of seven dollars each was a bit steep for what we could see on display.

(Old Lady rant – I do not like suggested donations. Here’s a tip – a donation is a donation, whatever the donor wants to give. A suggested donation that is enforced is an entry fee and should be described as such.)

From the Quay, we rode west along the water, then up through a few blocks of the First Nations Reserve, past the beautiful old church, and back down to the trail along the water at the foot of Pemberton.

This is a really great ride, past a huge waterfront dog park, then over a railway bridge, through Norgate, past the Burrard First Nations Reservation, under the Lions Gate bridge, past Park Royal Shopping Centre and down to Ambleside Beach.

Using my camera’s zoom function, I could see several people fishing at the mouth of the Capilano River, and got a good picture of Siwash Rock in Stanley Park.

Below are a few more photos of freighters in the bay.

See more photos here.

Vancouver Spring This and That

You can just see Ty in the shadows of these amazing flowering cherry trees in our neighbourhood – two blocks of incredible pink profusion.

Since my sister Tracey moved to Saskatoon, there has not been as much reason for us to visit the North Shore but this day, the North Shore Art Crawl called to us; we took the Seabus over to visit the Lower Lonsdale studios.

The fifteen minute crossing gave us a close up view of some of the many huge freighters in the harbour, their red shapes contrasting with the surrounding blue of the mountains and ocean.

Here you can see one of the floating drydocks of Seaspan Shipyards.

The Lonsdale Quay is nice but has never really taken off as a place to be; it’s a bit of a pale shadow of the more popular Granville Island. Too bad because on a good weather day, it’s beautiful.

A row of restaurants still line the bottom of Lonsdale and we sampled the breakfast goodies at one, Raglan’s; unfortunately, for my dining pleasure, so did a group of loud and hungover patrons, whose uninteresting conversation impinged too greatly on my consciousness …

Across the way are the newly-refurbished buildings of the old Burrard Dry Dock. These, formerly the home of a bustling ship-building enterprise, are now empty and waiting for municipal government money to be brought back to life. Beginning back in the 50s and 60s my uncle and several of my parents’ friends worked their whole lives in these shipyards.

Some of those folks may be included in this enlargement of an old photo of the workers.

Below are some pictures of the shipyards that I took several years ago, after they had been closed down and before the resurrection.

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The pier is beautiful; strangely, though, there is no life saving equipment in evidence here.

New condos have been erected here, yet, on this beautiful day, hardly anyone was in evidence. Are these places vacant, we wondered, like the ghost towers of Coal Harbour?

The rear end of a Victory class ship is still standing here, all wrapped up in a white plastic bag … who knows why.

We visited the 106 West First Street building where several artists’ studios are located. On the hallway wall are a couple of frescoes; this one shows the Lynn Valley trolley car, part of ancient history around here.

The Holland/Croft studio was the largest and most impressive. These folks have a teaching classroom set up in their space, complete with some interesting props.

Further up Lonsdale Avenue, we stopped in at CityScape’s Nude Figure show.

Strangely, for all the talk of Lower Lonsdale being revived by new housing developments, the place seemed quieter than it was ten years ago when Tracey lived here. Opus has moved, the Petrov Gallery has moved and several storefronts were vacant … not sure what’s going on over there.

See more photos here.