September 2012

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on September 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm


It looks like West Van and Kitsilano want in on some of East Vancouver's street cred. After Stephen Hui of the Georgia Straight brought our attention to these versions of the iconic East Van Cross going up on the Westside, we got to thinking about other symbols and images that make our ever-changing city distinct and how they're also continuously being reworked and redefined. Join us this week for a little exploration of the Vancouver Special, the possible addition of bike paths to two major Vancouver landmarks, an effort to battle the city's lonely image, and finally a report on the growing popularity of a very West Coast lifestyle choice: midwife assisted births. 
Vancouver Chic. It looks like our boxy, bland Vancouver Specials might just be well-built enough (and big enough) to be part of the next trend in high-end housing. Often derided for their clunky design, builders like Jonathan Kerridge and Jason Hagemeister see potential in the sturdy structures that became ubiquitous in the city starting in the 50s and 60s. With renovations such as the addition of cedar, skylights, and a yoga room, they have put their most recent converted Vancouver Special up for sale at an asking price of over a million dollars. As Kerridge points out in this Globe and Mail piece  “We think there is a lot of opportunity to revitalize these homes. Most of the time, they are in original condition. It’s almost like the demographic is such that they just bought them and didn’t do anything to them.”
Bridging the Bike Gap. One of our best known landmarks, the Granville Street Bridge, might also see a major transformation in the coming years. The bridge could see its two centre lanes converted into a "greenway" or shared space for pedestrians and cyclists depending on the response to a recent feasibility study. The proposal also envisions an expanded bike lane for the Cambie Bridge connecting downtown to the 2nd Avenue off ramp. But as OpenFile explains any major decisions on the proposal will likely be years away. Until then, we'll have our fingers crossed. 
The "Make New Friends" Task Force. As Francis Bula reports on her blog a new task force has just been announced at the Mayor's office. The focus? Fostering community building and interpersonal relationships in our neighbourhoods. Partly in response to the recent Vancouver Foundation findings on social isolation the task force will "identify ways to increase neighbourhood engagement and improve the ways in which the City interacts and connects with its residents." Very excited to see what this group comes up with over the next year. And while we're on the subject, we'd like to know your own thoughts and ideas around this. Shoot us your comments in the section below!
BC Baby Catchers. In their recent piece on BC midwives, The Tyee explains the rise in popularity of midwife assisted births: "...Like all things local, organic and au naturel, midwives are now being embraced by a new generation of parents." In fact, UBC's midwife school, one of only seven programs in Canada, will double its enrolment capacity in the next five years. But the story is not as simple as an easy growth in numbers to meet the demand for the kind of one-on-one, personalized birth planning that midwives can provide; those in the profession still think they could be assisting with more births and for those living outside BC's major cities access to midwives is severely limited. The good news? Efforts are being made by the Midwives Association of BC to increase incentives and benefits for rural practitioners. And there are hopes that midwife students who do rural practicum placements will end up staying where there is greater need. 
At the MOVeum:
October 10 - MOV Legacy Dinner
[Image: Westside crosses. Photo by Stephen Hui
Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on September 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Ballistic Rose by Tobias WongIt could be considered a shield for the heart, or a statement on a culture of fear following 9/11. You could admire it as a beautiful brooch, or an interesting piece of art. Tobias Wong hit chords soft and strong when he produced the Ballistic Rose back in 2004.

Accompanying the rose is the Bulletproof Quilted Duvet, a black duvet cover made from Kevlar and sewn with a pattern of ivy and centered with a rose image. Usually, we don't associate roses with violence, or bullets with bedding. In my life, roses have typically been associated with old lady furniture, 1990s Home Interior decor, birthday cards from my grandmother, and things I need to buy for my mother's birthday.

To get a sense of just how far out the Ballistic Rose is from what we typically think of as roses, I hit OpenMOV with a search for "rose".

If this isn't "normal" for roses, I just don't know what it is. Laura Chadsey handed out these calling cards way back c. 1870-1890. A cute cat, a red rose.

A 1880s calling card w rose

A bit more unusal for the search for roses is a Foncie Foto of Rose McCarthy, who was visiting Vancouver from Winnipeg on a windy day in April 1955.

Foncie Foto from MOV collection

But my favourite is Pauline Johnson's lingerie bag - a small drawstring sack owned by the famous Mohawk poet and writer who was born in Brantford, ON, and died and was buried in Vancouver. She is known for writing Legends of Vancouver, and when she passed away in 1913 her funeral was the largest held in Vancouver to date.

Pauline Johson's lingerie bag

In this video clip, Object(ing) co-curator Viviane Gosselin talks about the Ballistic Rose.



What rose artifacts do you have in your house or family?

Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on September 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm

About 400 visitors flooded the MOV last night for the opening of Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong, including Tobias friends and family - some from as far away as New York City and Hong Kong.

Photos from the night are now available on our Flickr account.

If you're interested in learning more about Tobias, grab a copy of today's Globe and Mail (Thursday, September 20) for a full page spread by Marsha Lederman, who includes quotes from both curators, his mom, and his friend and show content advisor, Pablo Griff.

You can also snag a copy of the Georgia Straight, where Janet Smith explores why Tobias is so notable.

Or, if your eyes need a break, listen in on Wednesday's CBC Early Edition piece, where Margaret Gallagher interviewed co-curator Viviane Gosselin.

A HUGE thank you to event sponsors Fork in the Road wine and Butler Did It catering. To Monnet Design who designed the truly beautiful catalogue. To Hemlock Printers for printing the catalogue.

We can't wait to invite you all to the opening of Sex Talk in the City next February!

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on September 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

This week we're getting liminal, exploring the edges of what we consider public and private, indoor and outdoor, and social and solitary. From the Great White Urinal, rooftop (and indoor) gardens, and designs for more social living, this instalment of MOVments is playing and engaging with Vancouver's in-between spaces.

Great White Landmark. Since the early 1970s, the corner of Granville and Georgia has been dominated by what some claim to be the "ugliest building" in downtown Vancouver (nicknamed the Great White Urinal for its large, white, windowless exterior). But not any longer. The plans for a new building designed by James Cheng were revealed yesterday. The new development will see Sears leave its long time home and a new Nordstrom's department store open in the heart of the city. Some city planners are hoping that the modern, glass building will help connect the feel and aesthetic of Robson Street, Robson Square, and the Vancouver Art Gallery to the rest of the downtown core. As architect Michael Heeney told the Globe and Mail"One of the reasons Robson dissipates and loses its energy is because of that block."

Gardens in the Sky. Another new addition to downtown Vancouver? The first "urban vertical urban farm" in North America. Alterrus Systems is building a garden that will run on hydroponic technology and is expected to produce more than 150,000 pounds of leafy green vegetables and herbs annually. And yet another leafy answer to Vancouver's density dilemmas? Gorgeous rooftop flower gardens like this one featured in Forbes magazine. The owner of the house, Nick Kerchum seems like he has the right idea when it comes to gardening: his flowers are completely self-sufficient, and don't need to be watered or pruned.

Growing Up, Growing Together. In response to a recent Vancouver Foundation survey that looked at the increasing loneliness and isolation felt by many Vancouverites, architects Bing Thom, Michael Heeney, and Andy Yan, have written a manifesto that calls for more community-oriented urban planning in our city. Their piece is chalk full of quotable quotes around the need for creative responses to our evolving skyline: "Higher density residential living is ultimately unsustainable if the end result is simply the construction of gated vertical suburban communities in the sky." And the shortage of public spaces that encourage dialogue and promote comfortable interactions between strangers is an undercurrent throughout. Drawing an intriguing parallel, Thom, Heeney, and Yan bring attention to the in-between spaces that may need some tweaking, "Before (and probably long after) Facebook and Twitter, public spaces and streets were the original social network and, once in a while, this network could use some upgrading." On the other hand, sharing space on the streets may take some getting used to, as illustrated by this little story about recent food cart feuding.

Business Time. And lastly, Toby Barazzuol, chair of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association and upcoming Interesting Vancouver speaker, explores the intersections between business and community development in this fantastic opinion piece from the Vancouver Sun.

At the MOVeum: 
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong 
September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold 

[Image: 700 Granville Street, west side, 1981. City of Vancouver photo, CVA 779-W02.16]


Posted by: Amanda McCuaig on September 17, 2012 at 11:21 am

In Object(ing): The art/design ofTobias Wong, the MOV looks at relatively new objects - every day objects - that have been altered and given greater meaning by the Vancouver artist Tobias Wong.

Co-curators Todd Falkowsky and Viviane Gosselin have worked with more than 50 people from around the world to find Tobias' pieces, get stories, and find images. Tobias' had a great sense of humour, and in one of his pieces he took the Burberry pattern and put it on pin on buttons - thereby making this high-end fashion pattern accessible to everyone.

1" pin on buttons are so regularly used for making a statement, it got me thinking: what non-promotional (such as the PNE or Woodwords) buttons do we have in our collection? And I dug into OpenMOV.

There are, of course, political campaign buttons like this Vander Zalm button from 1986...

Buttons of support, like this simple yellow button that was part of a campaign for redress of treatment of Japanese Canadians during WWII, which resulted in a 1988 apology and financial compensation by the Canadian Government.

And there are protest buttons, like this 1997 No Casino button...

And then there are general statements, that pass as non-political but if you choose they certainly make a statement about possession...

I now encourage you to surf OpenMOV for buttons and share your favourites here!

And now we'll have the addition of Tobias' Burberry buttons. Covertly political, they make a statement on the posession of patterns, of logos, they speak to consumption and advertising and captialism. Here's Pablo Griff, Object(ing)'s Content Advisor and good friend of Tobias, talking about how the Burberry buttons came to be.

Object(ing) opens to the public this Thursday, September 20. Tickets are still available to the Wednesday evening opening party.

Posted by: Guest Author on September 12, 2012 at 9:14 am

By Todd Falkowsky, co-curator of Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong

The first time I met Tobias Wong was in New York City in 2004, where we both had shows at the Felissimo House.  As I was setting up my space, a small, very pleasant guy kept circling around and nodding his approval at what we were installing. As we were finishing, he finally came forward and introduced himself as a “big fan”. We chatted about the work and he shared some thoughts. It was only after he left, when I asked the curator who he was, did I find out that it was Tobias. Humble, interested, and filled with ideas. It was a genuine pleasure to meet someone with so much talent introduce himself as a fan when in fact he was a celebrated artist/designer with his star on an explosive rise. Well, the feeling was mutual.

I knew that designers appreciated Tobi’s work, but I realized his influence had run deeper when I was teaching at OCAD in Toronto. I was pleasantly surprised by how many design students wanted to do work like his. They were not looking to be designers in the traditional sense, but to become provocative and use product design as a mirror and comment on the status and purpose of our culture. They did not want to be Starck or Rashid; instead they wanted to be Tobias Wong, the artist who used design to break the rules. Tobi’s ideas and approach had impact on design practice, inviting designers to use their craft to create serious meaning and new ways of interacting with our communities.

Our paths continued to cross over the years and though we were able to work together a handful of times, we always talked about future projects to collaborate on, new shows, products, and publications. That opportunity was not meant to be — a reminder to grab the chances you have and to do the things you really want to do today, rather than tomorrow. I brought Tobias to Toronto in January 2010 for one of his last lectures, and showed his iconic “This is a Lamp” at the accompanying exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. This was the last time I talked to him.

Later that spring, upon learning of his passing, I immediately suspected that it was not real; the whole thing seemed surreal and mad, and in line with the shock that Tobi’s work sometimes embraced. I thought it was another irreverent yet more potent stunt, ratcheted up from past projects like his Core77 lecture or the elaborate installation, the Wrong Store in Manhattan. Reality settled in and as heartbreaking a loss it was for the art and design community, I felt his ideas and products would endure, and that his work should continue to be seen, discussed, and celebrated.

I had just moved to Vancouver and it struck me that Tobias’ international success deserved a long overdue homecoming, in the city where he was born and raised (and perhaps where his ideas had their beginning). For me, his work was avant-garde, blending design and art, opening both professions up to new directions; work that is still important and deserves to be promoted and shared.

The Museum of Vancouver has graciously opened their doors to me, and the idea for this show, bringing the work of this remarkable Vancouverite home. Tobi’s family, close friends, colleagues, and fans have opened their hearts to share with us their thoughts and experience to understand and contextualize the work (not to mention lending it to us in the first place). I am honoured to have played a part in bringing this exhibition together. I hope Tobias’ work lives on and continues to inspire, disrupt, and provoke. 

Object(ing) opens to the public September 20, 2012. A limited number of tickets are available to attend the opening night.

Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on September 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm

The way we envision, project, and ultimately imagine a community into being is immensely powerful (just ask Benedict Anderson). This week we're looking at how Vancouver is being shaped by our imaginings and ideas (or in some cases lack thereof) around streetscapes, public space, transit routes, and Aboriginal education.

Civic Bling. Have you ever tried to imagine what East Hastings might look like with more bike racks, trees, and street furniture? With Blockee, a new web-based app, you can redesign it completely using images taken from Google Street View. It's a pretty fun little project put out by Code for America, but as OpenFile reports, there are more serious applications. For example: with 150,000 more trees to be planted in Vancouver over the next eight years, OpenFile produced a greened up, and blinged out, vision for Hastings between Dunlevy and Gore, an area which has long been conspicuously free of greenery

Reimagining Public Space. GOOD and the BMW Guggenheim Lab have announced the winners of their 2012 Transform a Public Place competition. With over 120 submissions proposing innovative ways of making public space more comfortable, Vancouver's own Rodrigo Caula was awarded one of the top five spots. His team's Ingrain Reclaimed Street Furniture Project converted a 205-year-old fallen tree into a public bench that is currently being displayed on Granville Island. As he says, "...Our intention was to give it new life and to use its story as the foundation of a movement that seeks to better respect our precious resources." Woot! Go Vancouver!

West Broadway Woes. So far we've heard about creative types re-envisioning Vancouver in unexpected ways, but the idea of a rapid transit line along West Broadway may represent a crisis of imagination for the city. Or so says Gordon Price in last week's Globe and Mail. He argues that given the endlessly complicated negotiations between TransLink, various levels of government, UBC, and private partners, we shouldn't expect to see a rapid transit line heading out to Point Grey within his lifetime. While TransLink is putting together preliminary reports on what form the line might take (above ground vs. underground), funding questions are up in the air and Surrey may actually be next in line to receive money for increased rapid transit infrastructure. Read more about the problems and the possibilities here
(Mis)Imagining Native History. Finally, this week The Tyee printed a revealing piece on the general public's knowledge of Aboriginal history and cultural in this province and across the country. In a recent online survey, when Canadians were asked about the relationship between Native peoples and the federal government "over two-thirds of respondents believed that not only are aboriginals treated well by the government, but also they receive too much federal money." As The Tyee points this couldn't be further from the truth: infrastructure like water systems and housing are incredibly underfunded across the board. What the survey ends up telling us is that we are not doing enough to educate around the ongoing struggles of Native groups in our school curriculums. On a positive note, UBC's faculty of education is doing its part to prepare its students to meaningfully engage with these issues in their classrooms through a course called Aboriginal Education in Canada.

At the MOVeum: 
[Image: Blockee image courtesy of OpenFile. With files from OpenFile's Trevor Pritchard]
Posted by: Anna Wilkinson on September 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm

As the Labour Day long weekend (and the annual Victory Square Block Party) mark the passing of summer, we here at MOVments are sharpening our pencils and getting ready to hit the books. This week we're getting into the back-to-school spirit by asking some tough questions around new housing developments and transit maps and exploring new work by a grad student around gay and lesbian retirement communities. So study up, think hard, and read on. 

Vancouver vs. Vancouverism. Last week Bob Ransford asked Vancouver Sun readers to rethink the practicality of what is commonly known as Vancouverism architecture. He argues that the tendency toward building high-density, glass high-rises, actually prevents more innovative, people-based designs from springing up. As his interviewee, architect Gair Williamson, suggests, "The trouble with architecture in Vancouver is that many architects are failing to look at the substance of how people inhabit buildings. They’re looking at how buildings appear. It’s about style over substance." In this context, dear MOVers, what do you think of the new proposal for development of 2220 Kingsway by Henriquez Partners Architects? Does this represent the future of our neighborhood strips? Of Vancouverism? Is it more stylish than substantive? (5 points per question)
Cartography 101. Mike Aynsley at OpenFile delves into an Atlantic Cities article that explores how transit maps dictate passenger behaviour. Basically, shorter distances on maps can influence us into choosing particular routes over others (no matter what our lived experience tells us). With this in mind, map makers are experimenting with making certain, highly congested routes less attractive on transit maps. This may be effective in some cases, but as Aynsely points out, "How do we make [the 99-B Line] straight-line route with few stops appear less attractive to the commuter? Can we just photoshop some dragons in along the line?"
Extra Credit Project. Alex Sangha, a grad student originally from Vancouver, is looking into conducting a feasibility study for a retirement home catering to gays and lesbians in BC. According to Sangha, there is a general need to support these groups in their later years when loneliness, depression, and isolation can become much more prevalent. There are also local issues that make this kind of support all the more necessary in our city. Particularly problematic is the fact that the 1980's AIDS epidemic decimated a huge percentage of the gay community in Vancouver leaving a diminished source of funding for this kind of facility. Additionally, the West End (where many members of the gay community live) is one of the priciest neighbourhood in the country making it a particularly difficult place to live as a retiree. 
Pop Up Hip Hop. And here's your final assignment: We'd like to know who the young rappers were who stopped traffic on Granville a couple weeks ago. Were any of you there? Hastings Crossing tweeted this about the crowd, "Good sign your hip hop career is taking off when VPD shut down Granville from massive impromptu crowd." It also seems to be a sign that your city is getting more agile and open to surprises.


At the MOVeum:
September 13 - Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers | Design Challenge Winners Panel
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold

[Image: Brockton Point 18th Annual Inter High School Sports programme, c. 1929. From the MOV Collections H2008.23.437]