Thursday, 24 July 2014

Where ART thou?!

Each and every year, the city of Vancouver hosts its annual culture crawl.  It's an opportunity for you to get out there to get to know your local artists and aritsans. The rest of the year, if you want creative genius, your best bet is to get out and about - go on. Go outdoors for a stint. It's good for you. In the best of all possible worlds, you can taste the sweet scent of the great outdoors while imbibing in the heady flavours of high art in an open air museum.  Vancouver is nothing if not the best of all places, so join me.  Let's see what the Biennale collection has on offer this year, shall we?

Beauty is truth, truth beauty.  Keats
Forget ArtWalk. Go for an ArtRide, a Tour de Biannale all your own.  In this town you'll find your trail blazed with art and sculpture easily enough.  It's simple. Just stick to the waterfront paths. Take the beautiful seaside journey, and you'll find all sorts of art out there, just begging for your appreciation.  C'mon.  Saddle up.  Let's see what we can find.

The reflecting pool is undergoing maintenance, so it's dry.
Today's guided tour starts in the heart of Kitsilano at the planetarium.  Do you ever feel crabby?  Ever get that nebulous feeling, you know, where you need to get far, far away from it all?

Grab a bike and follow me on an interplanetary adventure! Well, but maybe we'd better not get outta this world just yet.  For those extra-terrestrial adventures, we'll have to planet better.

Ahoy there!  What's this I sea?

Huh.  Well, what do you know?  It's a floating installation, an exhibit in Vancouver's third Biennale Open Air Museum. I wonder what Ai Weiwei is going to get up to...?  His contribution is still being kept secret, though it's sure to be provocative.  I can't wait to see it!  In the mean time,

you'll find all sorts of interesting sculptures along the waterfront.

What's that?  Feeling a bit rusty?  Never mind.  You'll fit right in.

Something weighing heavily on your shoulders?  

No problem! This bridge might not be built over troubled waters, but a ride across it is sure to ease your mind.  Art is always meant to be provocative, isn't it?  Its purpose is to engage its audience, to cause thought, reaction, and emotion, and in that sense, the Biennale collection certainly does its bit.

This installation is all about urban densification.  Can you tell? healthy cities have to grow taller.  Here in Vancouver, people always fight the development of high-rises along the light rail transit lines, but really, it's the healthiest choice. Urban sprawl is ugly, and counter-productive. And as Vancouver's west end so beautifully exemplifies, it is possible to create dense neighbourhoods which remain livable, tight-knit communities. This sculpture also reminds us that despite our many differences, we are all connected.  We are one.

Time ticks inexorably on, but a bit of electrolysis as it was submersed under water for at least a year has left a distinctive patina on this particular Time Top

Some exhibits are beside the water, others in it.

Every city should have a floating ray gun whose target changes with the tides. Don't you think?

Some exhibits are touched by the tides,

while others artistically express the wind's whims.  The wind as artist... that's soooo lotus land, don't you think? :) Biennale suits Vancouver, too.  It is a temporary thing, a fleeting artistic expression that is also one day gone with the wind, a thing of the past.  Unless someone does something extraordinary, that is.  Yue Minjun's A-Maze-Ing Laughter

was so well loved that Lulu Lemon founder and creator of the sheer yoga-pant Chip Wilson donated 1.5 million dollars to purchase the work and ensure that it could stay

to entertain Vancouverites and tourists alike for generations to come.  

Dennis Oppenheim's Engagement Rings stayed, too. 

If ever an exhibit had a ring of permanency about it...

On the other side of the park, sitting in the sand in all of its corroding glory, you'll find what amounts to a poignant reminder of the impermanence of absolutely everything, and despite being on permanent display: 
Bernar Vanet's arcs of steel.

I love how this art represents both the artist's unique world perspective, and and at the same time, it's a unique perspective from which to view the world.  

Imagine what this propeller's pilot  might have seen!

There is a lot of blue sky to explore up there!

So often you see toys made to look just like teeny-tiny copy of real life things. So for example, you'll see one of those London double-decker busses, only it's two inches tall.  This sculpture is great, because it is the exact opposite - it's a toy made larger than life!

Art, art everywhere...

sometimes it is tucked away, out of sight and out of mind till you stumble upon it. Whether you see it, whether you are aware of it or not, it is still there, silently standing vigil, waiting for each of us to come and explore, to enjoy.  Like this:

And people say I get around. :)

 Mmm balls.  :D 
Art always interacts with the world around it.  It challenges your pre-conceptions, it makes you think, makes you feel.

The thing I love best about Vancouver's Biennale is that it takes art outside, away from the traditional museum venue and into the real world. This way, it becomes an integral part of the world all around, so that our interactions with it are genuine.  Art becomes a part of daily life.  Continuing along on our way, we ran smack dab into the Olympic cauldron.  There's a thin line between art and propaganda sometimes.

I heard that they lit the cauldron when they opened up the Cactus Club restaurant next door.  Strange, that. I always thought that the Olympic flame is supposed to represent the spirit of competition, the athlete's passion, drive and determination, not mojitos and hot buffalo chicken wings.

double double toil and trouble, fire burn and corporate interests bubble
It sits idle, awaiting the next corporate grand opening, comfortably at home among the financial district's grand glass towers.  Imposing, not interacting.

But don't worry. We've still got Douglas Copeland.  All's well that ends whale!


  1. Do they burn natural gas or dollar bills to feed the cauldron's flames?

    1. Lol! Aren't they one and the same thing? Word is it costs $200 000 to turn them on for the two weeks the games run, and $5000 to light it for anywhere up to four hours.

  2. Thanks for the tour Babs! I always think it's great to see art in the urban jungles. Visits to Chicago and Nice both left a lasting impression largely because the sculptures add an extra emotional dimension to the place. Thanks also for working in two groan-worthy puns. :-)
    Ciao bella!

  3. Great to see you back pumping out some good k's on Strava too.

    1. Thanks, Harry... it sure feels good to finally get out there again! :D

  4. I will ride my first 50 in the next few months. I am not sure it is not partially due to you Babble. And I am vacationing on one of the islands off Seattle in a few weeks. I will have a rental bike and raise my glass in your direction. Thank you.

    1. Oh bless your heart, Mr Raney, and thank you kindly! What a lovely thing to say. I hope your holiday is everything you're hoping for, and please know that I will be raising a glass right backatcha. xo xo

  5. Ha! I thought you were wearing a snorkel in the "deadhead" shot!

    Must actually do the biennale tour myself one day soon..

    1. Lol! Always the fashionista...

      Yes. You definitely should, because really, any tour is worth your time in this town. Here's hoping I see you out there! xo