Thursday, October 27, 2016

Robson Public Market

The Kingsgate Mall at Kingsway and West Broadway is known by many names and is the butt of many jokes. I first knew it as place where a friend of my parents opened a card shop. This was in the 1970s, when the mall itself opened. And I was there! A bright shiny mall where the Vancouver School Board offices once stood. Now when I think of the Kingsgate Mall I think of a touch of Northern B.C. in the gentrified heart of Vancouver.

The West End has its own version of the Kingsgate Mall: the Robson Public Market (pictured above and below). Opened in the early 1980s, the RPM was where my father had his Saturday coffee after he moved from the westernmost end of Nelson Street to the corner of Haro and Nicola.

Last Saturday I walked through the Robson Public Mall and was shocked to see how quiet it was. Many of the businesses were not open, and many more looked like they had not been opened in months. This was most apparent upstairs.

A couple years ago the Western Front commissioned artist Casey Wei to program a month of activities at the Kingsgate Mall. I have heard that Casey would like to do something similar at the Robson Public Market. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Business Run Centre

For years the building at the southwest corner of West Hastings and Hamilton was a branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Outside the building hung a plaque (below) in honour of a CPR employee who "in the silent solitude of the primeval forest...drove a wooden stake in the earth and commenced to measure an empty land into the streets of Vancouver."

In the early 2000s developer Michael Audain purchased the building and there was talk that the Belkin Gallery would renovate it and use it as an annex. After sitting empty for a number of years, it was leased to the Vancouver Film School.

Recently the newly re-designed building re-opened as the Charles Chang Innovation Centre. Now located at 308 West Hastings (formerly 300 West Hastings), this six-storey building will feature "four floors (52 rooms) of graduate student rental housing [SFU Beedie School of Business is a partner], a second floor innovation and technology space for teaching and learning, and a ground floor cafe for informal networking among budding entrepreneurs," according to the Globe and Mail.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


The picture above is from Feyrer and Henderson's The Last Waves exhibition at the Belkin. The glass was blown by Brian Ditchburn, under the supervision of the artists.

Below is a picture of Neil Wedman's oil-on-linen painting Organon (1996).

Monday, October 24, 2016

Amanita Muscaria

Finally made it to the Belkin for Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson's The Last Waves exhibition. This is the third iteration of an installation that was first mounted at the Walter Philips Gallery in 2013. On my way to the gallery I pass a cluster of amanita muscaria mushrooms.

Two hours later, while touring through Anne Low and Gareth Moore's Kitchen Midden curatorial project at North Vancouver's Griffin Art Projects, I notice an amanita muscaria switch plate -- the same one I gave to Geoffrey Farmer ten Christmases ago and, according to the exhibition legend, he (re-)gifted to Anne and Gareth!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Proposition 11/8

We have heard how it takes a village to raise a child. But will we hear in the wake of 11/8 how it took a humiliation to raise a fascist?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"On Inventing Women Artists in a Post-Truth Era"

On the flight back to Kelowna from St Catherines I thought a lot about what Lisa Robertson said to me after I delivered my paper on post-war through lines in Vancouver art, the birth and death of a city built on real estate (speculation), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the "conceptual poetry" of Kenneth Goldsmith and U.S. police shooting victim Michael Brown.

Lisa said I did not say enough about women artists, and though I will agree with her every time on this topic (one can never say enough about women artists), I myself could not call her on fictions that, for instance, had her declaring Jane Ellison to be a founder of the Western Front when, though Jane has been continuously active at this artist-run centre since the late-1970s, she is not considered to be amongst the group that acquired the building in 1973 (once again we have real estate determining the narrative of our cultural ecology).

Does someone have to be there at the beginning of something to qualify as a founder? What is it, then, to found something? I am grateful to Lisa (whose own paper was entitled "The Collective: a Truly False History of the Kootenay School of Writing") for inspiring me to ask these kinds of questions.

This morning I awoke to a nice article by Caoimhe Morgan-Feir on the Canadian Art website, where, in this age of operative portraiture, the Canadian Art editor gives a recent history of invented artists, not "real" ones. Among those mentioned (I was waiting to see her name when I started the article) is Carol Sawyer, who for years has shaped, modelled and performed the mysterious -- and under-recognized -- pre-war European artist Natalie Brettschnieder.

Carol is the third presenter in UBC Okanagan's Visiting Artists Series and will be reading at Room UNC 106 at noon on November 14.