Walkin, talkin', artin' & smokin'

Today, I had the pleasure of spending time with @Quinnation. We agreed to meet for lunch, but following a comedy of missed busses, last minute tuition payments, non-vegetarian friendly menus and a flash-mob of #420 enthusiasts at the VAG today, we were a bit later than planned in procuring our midday meal. However, we found ourselves at Nuba: Cambie location & thoroughly enjoyed a La Feast & my favourite fresh pressed juice around (besides my addiction to Jugo Juice).

After lunch was settling in our bellies, we took a walk along the waterfront at Coal Harbour. I suggested that we take in some of the outdoor sculpture locations that are part of the Vancouver Biennale. I am committed to trying to see them all before they are rotated to other cities (or stolen/vandalized). The map showing all the structures is a one page static PDF which makes interactivity difficult on the go, but I was able to determine that sculptures 10-14 were along our route. Navigator that I am, we found ourselves at a piece called the Drop (not listed on my map) which is located along the walk that contours the convention centre. The colour is the first thing one notices as they approach the installation. On a bright day, I would assume one could completely ignore it as it’s backdrop is the blue water, mountains and sky facing north. However on an overcast day like today, the colour was artificial and bright. I have since learned that this installation is NOT a part of the biennale project but rather the Vancouver Convention Centre Art Project. The picture you can find on the site is a great combination of blues and shows what I’m talking about. The sculpture is a beautiful interpretation of our well known Vancouver local; rain.

Back on track, we headed west to find the pieces marked on our map. I was glad to have a companion, as Quinn was engaged and patient as we took in sculptures 10-12 & 14 (Ceramic Forms, Meeting, King & Queen, & Pillows), somehow missing #13 (Skin of Time) completely. We had the most conversation around the King & Queen installation as it is a very cohesive piece. We commented on how the structures managed to convey gender through simple shape manipulation and how even the bolts that fixed the piece together were considered.

Thinking back on our walk, I am still most taken by the Ceramic Forms installation because of its simplistic beauty. The contrast of the gold adhesive vs. the light and delicate colours of the china is striking. I am not usually a fan of china or ceramics in general. They have their purpose and they can be lovely on their own, but the act of displaying fine china has always been lost on me. Even when my mom and I visited the MOA a few weeks ago, we both agreed to spend a very little amount of time in the ceramics gallery. However, the act of destroying, distorting and reconstructing ceramics definitely has a personal appeal. I am a fan of mosaics and can recall a few pieces that have incorporated ceramics that have spoken to me, so it’s not really all that surprising how much I like this piece. I’m not sure how well suited ceramics would be in any of my pieces, but the thought is timely as I explore mixed media. Ceramics are so delicate. I am not attracted to fragile, subtle materials. This says something about me as well as there is little that is subtle or delicate about me. Perhaps an exploration of shatterable substances is the next step in my personal pilgrimage through mixed media.

I really enjoy outdoor installation as the artists need to consider, not only how nature will affect their pieces but also, how to stand up against human interaction. Outdoor sculpture always calls out to me to touch it. The only local sculpture I can think of that I have no desire to touch is the Terra Nova installation behind the Roundhouse (if you’ve been on a walk with me in the past year, I’ve probably dragged you back there…). The separate parts require that you stand back to take in the entire piece, so tactile participation isn’t really necessary. But for most outdoor sculpture, I always want to run my hands over the materials & feel how it’s stood up to the elements. Whether it is rain, bird poop, sharpie marker or the slow erosions from a thousand asses sweeping over the surface not unlike waves or sand to leave a depression behind, outdoor installations have a random element that infuses a local flavour that cannot be removed unless the piece is intensionally altered and restored.

Intellectually stimulated, we reached the end of our sculpture walk and headed back into the city. Without thinking, I suggested we pop back to the art gallery, park ourselves on the café steps and people watch only to be reminded that it was April 20th (4/20). Not really deterred, we headed over and slowly made our way around the perimeter of the gallery. I’ve popped by the event in past years, but this year’s rally had more of a political focus than I’ve found in the past. Even compared to when Marc Emery was still presiding over the event, this year had a considerable amount of speakers & signs calling for people to vote. While I was unwittingly dressed for the rally, I quickly became aware that my slumped-shoulder stance, clear-eyed gaze and hoodie was marking me as a potential buy source rather than a tourist. We decided to angle in through the crowd and escaped into the gallery itself. I was delighted to see that the WE:12 Manifestos for the City was still on, a perfect counterpoint to Ken Lum’s post-modern pieces & self-named show on the second floor. Not to take away anything from the excellent principal show, I was most impressed with the WE:12 Manifestos exhibition. I don’t believe I have ever been to such a modern show that represents my generation and my surroundings. The work that went into the exhibit itself was staggering. I was constantly proclaiming my pleasure at seeing familiar elements that I feel make this city great. From eating locally with the 100 mile diet and Salmon n’ Bannock to reviewing the way we move with the controversial Critical Mass and Vancouver Public Space Network events, each exhibit reminded me why I love urban city living and why it is so important to continue to support local events & projects. This is why I moved to the city. This is why I love Vancouver. I want to be a part in my generation. Sitting on my couch in a suburbs raising kids and watching television is not how I plan to spend my adult life and this exhibit reminded me why.

Interested in taking in the WE: Vancouver – 12 Manifestos for the City? Consider giving me a shout. The exhibit ends on May 1st and I would gladly go back before it’s gone. I’m also very happy to share my sculpture walks with you. Give me a shout, and let’s take a walk together.

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