Peerings & Hearings

Occasional Musings on Arts & Community in the City of Glass

ART MAKES US, Vancouver Art Gallery sign; photo: Jami Macarty

Welcome to our every other month conversation on arts and community in Vancouver! I am delighted you’re here and to share with you the art that’s enriched my days and brought me into community since we last met.

Drum circle at the Vancouver Mural Festival unveiling of East Van Pigeon mural by Haida artist Corey Bulpitt; photos: Jami Macarty

Join me as I respectfully acknowledge that I live, foster community, make art, and write this post on the unceded Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam lands. Deep bows to these founding peoples for generously hosting me, you, and this post’s artists, on their beautiful, holy lands.

Art! Everywhere I’ve walked in the last two months, there’s been art. My life is charmed by art! In this blog, I want to share with you the art I’ve discovered on my walks, which are taking place even more extensively now that I’ve been gifted a Fitbit Charge 2.

Artist M. W. Bowen’s kitten hero, Super Bubbles at Powell & Columbia; photos: Jami Macarty

For instance, behold kitten hero Super Bubbles (above) by artist M. W. Bowen. Bowen’s artistic wonders clandestinely pop up on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). A new-form of blank canvas, this street light junction box regularly features his graphics or comics. I love cats and always wanted to be a superhero, so I’m delighted this piece is on one of my regular paths.

Number 6 in this blog series featured the graffiti art of Smoky D.; to see more of his work, (re)peek at the February 20, 2017 post.

A Message from Downtown Eastside (DTES) graffiti artist Smoky D. to those in the “CITY OF DOPE”; photos: Jami Macarty

Different from those laneway images that vibrantly recorded the anguish of fentanyl overdose deaths in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), this message/ public service announcement graces a busy Hastings Street construction site plyboard. Smoky D. enlists…

Too Everybody deep in tha dark “City of Dope grab a free narcan kit an help a homie bounce back 2 life! — it totally works go to INSITE take the 5 min course an SHAZAM! HELP FOLKS BOUNCE BACK TO LIFE

As on M.W. Bowen’s Super Bubbles junction box, Smoky D.’s piece has been augmented, in this case with the cynical tag: “FENTANYL: CHINESE MORTGAGE!” referring to the criminally profitable labs, supposedly Chinese, that are producing the fentanyl that’s ravaging North America.

Time is an epidemic, especially for Salvador Dali! Dance of Time I., one of the most iconic sculptures by the Modern master is farther west on Hastings Street at its junction with Hornby.

DANCE OF TIME I. by Salvador Dali, presented by Chali-Rosso Gallery, loaned from the Stratton Institute at Vancouver’s Hastings & Hornby Streets; photos: Jami Macarty

As part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, the City of Vancouver has been temporarily gifted the original 1984 Salvador Dali sculpture, Dance of Time I. For the 150 days between May 6 and September 31, Vancouver residents and visitors enjoy unrestricted access to the nearly seven-foot sculpture, exemplifying Dali’s quizzical and contrarian relationships with time and memory. What could be more topical as Canadians reflect on the past 150 years, the many years before Canada became Canada, and wonder whether climate change will melt even our most cherished institutions?

Walk with me now (south) to Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) and into its new exhibit Claude Monet’s Secret Garden, which VAG is callingthe most important exhibition of French painter Claude Monet’s work in Canada in two decades.”

Installation view, Claude Monet’s Secret Garden, 2017, photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery
I only know that I do what I can to convey what I experience before nature and that most often, in order to succeed in conveying what I feel, I totally forget the most elementary rules of painting, if they exist that is. -Claude Monet, 1912
Weeping Willow, Giverny 1922 & Path under the Rose Trellises, Giverny 1922 by Claude Monet; photos: stock

Of the thirty-eight paintings from the collection of the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris that span Monet’s long career, I was most struck by the series of paintings that culminate the exhibition, rendering weeping willows and the path under the rose trellises in Monet’s garden in the French village of Giverny. For me, Monet’s sustained visual explorations enact his belief that a single canvas could not do justice to his chosen motif, e.g. roses bushes, willows, etc. His use of dark paint, especially browns, distinctively captures the brambles dense twists and conjures the variable natural light.

For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment. -Claude Monet

Art, as the Vancouver Art Gallery sign says, makes us curious, discover, proud, connect, share, dream, thrive — and grateful! I say art MAKES us, and makes us, us!

Now, let’s dance! First, Canada 150+: Thunderbird Dance Performance, an Indigenous and non-Indigenous dance collaboration by Aeriosa and Spakwus Slulem Eagle Song Dancers held at Vancouver Public Library in partnership with The Drum is Calling Festival.

Girlfriends of all ages et al at Canada 150+: Thunderbird Dance Performance at Vancouver Public Library; photos: Jami Macarty

With our girlfriends, we gathered in anticipation of the aerial show. Then, we looked up to the dancers in the air!

Ariosa in Canada 150+: Thunderbird Dance Performance at Vancouver Public Library; photos: Jami Macarty

And, then the dancers came back to earth.

Spakwus Slulem Eagle Song Dancers at Canada 150+: Thunderbird Dance Performance; photo: Jami Macarty

Walking onward and east, let’s take in sculptor Martin Boyce’s suspended lantern installation in the laneway behind TELUS Garden.

Martin Boyce lanterns, public art in the alley behind TELUS Garden in downtown Vancouver; photos: Jami Macarty

Entitled Beyond the Sea, Against the Light, Martin Boyce’s installation links three contiguous chains of lanterns, activating the laneway space above with color and light, below with shadow and shape, and between buildings with chain and links.

One of the thrills of the last month was to happen upon Haida artist Corey Bulpitt painting his mural, East Van Pigeon, featuring pigeons in formline style, the visual language of the Haida and many other people indigenous to the Pacific Northwest.

Haida artist Corey Bulpitt painting the eastern wall of his full building wrap mural, East Van Pigeon; photos: Jami Macarty

East Van Pigeon is a full building wrap of Pigeon Park Savings (92 E Hastings), commissioned by Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association and produced in partnership with BC Housing, Vancity, Pigeon Park Savings, Portland Housing Society, the DTES Market, and the very fine people at Vancouver Mural Festival.

Details of completed East Van Pigeon mural by Haida artist Corey Bulpitt; photos: Jami Macarty

Once the mural was complete, there was, of course, an unveiling, taking place at the DTES market, where Corey Bulpitt welcomed the community, a drum circle offered song, and Save On Meats fed us complimentary B-B-Q.

At DTES Market: Haida artist Corey Bulpitt & his son; the drum circle, the good people at Save On Meats; photos: Jami Macarty
At DTES Market: The movers & shakers at Vancouver Mural Festival & Save On Meats; photos: Jami Macarty

Adrian Sinclair, director of engagement et al at Vancouver Mural Festival and Landon Hoyt, Executive Director of Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association are doing the elegant, important, good work of community by bringing people and organizations together through art.

It is my sincere desire and hope that I do that same good work here, in this blog series. And, that what motivates me to continue.

Of all the things you could read, you’ve been here with me. Thank you, dearest readers.

Look for the next P & H in two months.

In the meantime, reach out, leave a comment. Tell me what you want more of and less of in this blog — and in your community — and what’s just right. It’s always good to know what’s just right.

You can also follow me @herkind to discover my other articles.

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Be Kind. Make Art. Foster Community.