A round up of things we have been following this week.
Beatty Street wall repaint. Painting is finally underway on the new Beatty Street wall mural. The project is jointly funded by the City of Vancouver and Concord Pacific and depicts figures from Vancouver’s past and present. More information can be found on the project’s Facebook page and Youtube.
Shortly before the Olympics the Beatty Street Wall was painted over by city workers conducting what was apparently routine maintenance. The move sparked the ire of a large number of people in the community. For those of you who may be feeling nostalgic, the original artwork is still visible on Google Street View, here.
Pop-up shop. Douglas Coupland partnered with Roots to open up a temporary store in Gastown stocked with several limited edition signature items. The event has garnered a lot of buzz and is part of a trend in retail and marketing that turns shopping into an event with stores appearing in novel locations for limited periods of time. Pop-up retail and marketing has already been used successfully by several companies. In a sense, the Cheaper Show uses the same model in order to create new markets for local art. I’d love to see this concept used for non-commercial purposes too, like education or community building.
The changing face of Gastown. The Westender focuses on the closure of Biz Books to highlight the pressures on independent businesses as Gastown gentrifies. In spite of the neighbourhood’s facelift, rents are rising and there is a growing number of empty storefronts as people wait for the renewal and residential density ushered in by Woodwards to arrive.
City calls for container housing. City council is considering a motion to explore the use of shipping containers in providing low-cost social housing. The Tyee ran a very positive story about this kind of housing earlier this year, but the comments below reveal that it is a very controversial idea.
Old Spice answers your questions. And a shout-out to Old Spice for launching an excellent social media campaign this week. In short: you send a message to the Old Spice Man via social media and he responds in a video on Youtube. This is in no way a product endorsement, I just think it’s a clever and entertaining campaign and Mashable is reporting some incredible stats about its’ reach and effectiveness.
Image credit: Kris Krüg, via flickr
Our weekly round up of local news, events, and cultural happenings we’re tracking. Off we go…
One more whale skeleton and we’ve got a trend. The soon-to-open Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC has devoted their atrium to a blue-whale skeleton. On Saturday, Ottawa’s Museum of Nature will unveil an exhibit of a juvenile blue-whale skeleton, on view for the first time since it was donated in 1975. The museum has undergone an extensive six-year, $250-million overhaul that was part renovation (a view of the show-stealing staircases inside their ‘lantern’ addition is pictured left), part restoration, and aimed at showcasing Canada’s rich natural heritage. “Probably the only thing Canadians agree on is their pride in the physical beauty and remarkable nature of the natural environment of the country,” says Joanne DiCosimo, the museum’s president and CEO. “And our public wants to learn more about their impact on the natural environment as well as, as much as we can tell them about the changes through time in the natural landscape.” Image slideshow, video tour, and article found on Globe and Mail.
The chickens are coming! Almost! After much debate, column inches, airtime, etc., Vancouver is one step closer to backyard chicken coops. Earlier this week, City Council approved a plan recommending amendments to zoning and animal control by-laws, the creation of an online registry for hen keepers, safety and health regulations, and the creation of a city-run shelter for abandoned chickens.” (!) Next step: a public hearing to legalize the zoning and by-law amendments. Slowly but surely. (Vancouver Sun)
A tale of three cities. Vancouver is densely built but expensive. Calgary sprawls over rolling prairie land but is starting to think skyward (see the new urbanist-style neighbourhood of Mackenzie Towne). Toronto is somewhere in between. For a tidy summary of how three Canadian cities developed and where their respective planning efforts are taking them now, click the link. (Globe and Mail)
Last week, a pixelated whale. This week, giant sparrows! More public art has gone up on along the city’s waterfront, this time on the Olympic Plaza in Southeast False Creek. Local artist Myfanwy MacLeod’s pair of 18-feet-tall sparrows reference the neighbourhood’s past and present. According to the artist statement, “Locating this artwork in an urban plaza not only highlights what has become the ‘natural’ environment of the sparrow, it also reinforces the ’small’ problem of introducing a foreign species and the subsequent havoc wreaked upon our ecosystem.” They’re stunningly beautiful, too. The complete artist statement and images of the fabrication are found on the City of Vancouver’s website here. Happy long weekend.
Image credit: Pawel Dwulit for the Globe and Mail
A round up of news stories we’re following, plus other events and cultural happenings worth a notice.
Whales, actual and pixelated. Last week, a grey whale swam deep into False Creek, apparently drawn to the rehabilitated shoreline fronting the new Southeast False Creek neighbourhood. Then, a new public artwork depicting an orca whale was installed on the plaza outside the Vancouver Convention Centre. According to artist Douglas Coupland, Digital Orca “breaks down a three-dimensional Orca whale (they are really dolphins not whales, but I digress…) into cubic pixels—making a familiar symbol of the West Coast become something unexpected and new.” It’s already drawing crowds. (Price Tags)
Remembering Lorne “Ace” Atkinson. The local cycling legend and owner of Ace Cycles on West Broadway passed away on April 23. He was 88. Last summer, his spare, handmade track bike from the 1954 Empire Games appeared in the MOV exhibition Velo-City: Vancouver and the Bicycle Revolution; a symbol of his long dedication to the sport. Yesterday, the Globe and Mail published a feature-length obituary on his life and impact on the city’s cycling culture. (Globe and Mail)
Maybe next year? As everyone in this city knows by now, the Vancouver Canucks are finished for another season. What does the team need? I retweeted this post from Vancouver magazine the morning after their elimination by the Blackhawks but it bears repeating: “1. Shrink for Luongo. 2. Byfuglien-sized forward. 3. All-Star-calibre D-man. 4. More Green Men. What else?” (Vancouver magazine)
What Vancouverites are actually reading. The most-read article on the Vancouver Sun’s website today was… this. (At least it doesn’t involve Kate Gosselin. She usually occupies the top spot.) (Vancouver Sun)
What we’re working on: Thanks to everyone who attended the opening party for Fox, Fluevog & Friends tonight. The exhibition opens officially tomorrow and runs through September 26, 2010. Our first related public program happens this Sunday at 7 p.m. with the premiere of The Colour of Beauty. The documentary-short examines racism in the fashion industry and is presented by MOV, Schema Magazine, and the National Film Board. A panel discussion and reception will follow the screening and—bonus!—admission to the film is free. Another bonus: a discounted rate of $10 gets you into the exhibition. Details on the event are linked here. Happy weekend.
Image credit: Susan Gittins
Is this an obvious choice? Absolutely. Can’t be helped. City of Glass continues to capture the zeitgeist of this place (well, minus the bit on “monster houses”; that battle has been fought and lost). With compelling photos, graphics, and illustrations, author Douglas Coupland has efficiently catalogued what makes Vancouver, Vancouver. Fleece as uniform. Sushi as fast food. Grouse Grind as singles bar. And how the city can stand in for just about anywhere on film. These things are now cliches, liberally quoted. This is the original source material.
My favourite lines are these: “My own theory about Vancouver is that we’re at our best when we’re experimenting with new ideas, and at our worst when we ape the conventions of elsewhere. Vancouver is, literally, one of the world’s youngest cities. Some day we’ll be old and creaky, but not now—right now is for being young.”
City of Glass is published by Douglas & McIntyre. A revised edition is out later this month. Click here for details.
So, summer has run its course. The air has changed. Kids in school uniforms have reclaimed the city buses. And here at Museum, the fall book catalogues have arrived, something that always prompts lively conversations about the most compelling books about Vancouver, set in Vancouver, written by Vancouverites—or some combination of the three.
Our fall reading list includes Douglas Coupland’s highly anticipated Generation A (if you haven’t watched the clever promos for the book yet, proceed directly to iTunes. The shorts come up when you search the author’s name). On the non-fiction side, there’s A Thousand Dreams, a look at the current state of, and future of, the Downtown Eastside, and co-authored by Vancouver mayor-turned-Senator Larry Campbell, Vancouver Sunreporter Lori Culbert, and SFU professor and criminologist Neil Boyd. Lastly, Charles Demers’ Vancouver Special promises an irreverent take on the state of the things. We’re intrigued.
But what of those books in the back catalogue? Those takes on the city we continue to refer to years after the first printing?
We’ve assembled a shortlist of our favourite titles, recent and not so recent, that we’ll be presenting in a series of blog posts over the next couple weeks. Undoubtedly some of your favourites will be missing, so, do send in your comments.