Our weekly round up of the news and cultural happenings we followed this week—and what’s coming up at MOV.
Think Velo-City-meets-Art of Craft: Last summer, we introduced our new look and mission with Velo-City: Vancouver and the Bicycle Revolution, an exhibit on the rise of local cycling culture. This summer, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design hosts Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle, focusing on “the designs of six internationally renowned bicycle builders whose work in metal, as well as graphics and artifacts, elucidate this refined, intricate and deeply individual craft.” (Museum of Arts and Design)
Better in the ‘burbs? Vancouver’s not the only city trying to create a green businesses hub. This week, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts “added clean-energy companies to the list of business that can get a break from the city if they locate there.” (Globe and Mail)
Wish we’d been there: So often Vancouver’s brightest artistic and design talents are celebrated outside the city limits. Last week, Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen of Molo Design were in New York speaking about a new museum they recently designed in Aomori, Japan. Much like Molo’s design practice, the city is known for its artful paper expertise, hosting an ancient paper festival each year. The museum will “house the festival’s floats year round and give visitors a chance to view the handcrafted floats as they’re being made.” Click the Azure magazine link for slideshow of their work and renderings of the museum project. (Azure)
Coming up at MOV: We’re about to change the scenery here. On Sunday, April 11, our two Cultural Olympiad shows, Tracing Night and Art of Craft, draw to a close. Before they go, we’re hosting round two of DIY@MOV, the social-crafting night we piloted a couple months back. We were thrilled with the response. This time around, there will be workshops on weaving, drawing, felting, spinning, jewellery making and collage. We’ve also expanded the onsite craft market. Click here for the complete list of vendors and to buy tickets. Happy long weekend!
Image credit: Sacha White via Museum of Arts and Design
Internationally acclaimed artist Ed Pien arrived in Vancouver a few weeks ago carrying his work Tracing Night in two suitcases. Created in 2004, it’s now part of his personal collection and, he says, representative of 20 years of pushing the act of drawing into three dimensions.
The idea to create art you have to walk—sometimes crawl—into to fully explore first occurred to him at a showing of his paintings in 1985. Looking back at the canvases as they hung on the gallery wall, he saw only the depth of the stretchers. “They [the paintings] seemed dead to me,” he told an audience at a recent MOV talk. “I wanted to come up with a way to engage viewers more thoroughly, and keep them engaged for longer periods. That was really the beginning of my three-dimensional installation work.”
Pien calls himself a “drawing-based artist” but concedes it’s hard to define drawing precisely. “We have sentimental ideas that drive the definition of drawing. Drawing to me is what it doesn’t have to be.” With early installations, like this one, Pien focused on painted drawing. More recent works feature elaborate paper cut-outs. He’s now working with rope to achieve a three-dimension quality to the lines of the drawings themselves. Another layer, another dimension.
He begins building his pieces by first wrinkling sheets of glassine paper he buys in five-foot-wide by 300 ft.-long tubes. The paper starts to lose its tinny sound, he explains, and begins to stretch. “I change the sound, and the paper takes on an elastic quality, like skin… Once I have an idea and a sense of the space [the piece will be installed in], I’ll sketch and walk through it in my head.” The actual drawing and building happens a mere two months before a show opening. The tight timeline is the only way for him to commit, he explains, “Or it would roll around in my head forever.”
The supernatural is a recurring interest of the artist. “Some may find my work scary, but I’m hoping that it’s not so dark that people can’t see the work itself… What I’m interested in is ghosts. Whether they’re real or not, it’s interesting how they impact us.”
“We’re complete opposites,” he continues. “They’re not here, where we are. When we enter their realm, we’re the other.”
Tracing Night is view now through April 11.
Image credits: John Armstrong. A slideshow of images is available on Edpien.com.
Tonight marks the opening Tracing Night, the second exhibit MOV is hosting as part of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad, and on view until April 11. The launch party starts at 7 p.m.; tickets available here or at the door.
Tracing Night defies easy classification: it’s an installation piece that serves as a stand-alone exhibit; it’s art layered with history, mythology, and psychology; it’s an elaborate drawing that needs to be entered into to be understood, and one heightened by video projection and a humming, eerie sound scape. In many respects, it’s an unusual choice for a city museum, but its location is somehow fitting, occupying a cavernous 1,000-square-foot gallery wedged between our permanent history galleries and Art of Craft, a binational survey of pieces from Canada and Korea (and our second Cultural Olympiad show).
Tracing Night was among Ed Pien’s early immersive works, and now, several years after its completion, it remains deeply personal to him. In an interview with Amanda Gibbs, MOV’s director of audience engagement, Pien described his intention to explore or recreate a child’s fear of, and fascination with, being in the dark. He researched different mythological interpretations of night and darkness, centering on the Rabbit Girl found in Inuit lore. She serves as the heroine of the piece.
“The mood is not meant to be that of a haunted house,” says Pien, “but a seductive experience where you’re drawn into the space… It keys on the possible darkness of the human soul, but it is ultimately a creative and joyful exploration—there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Pien is based on Toronto and represented by several galleries; the Pierre-Francois Ouellette Art Contemporain gallery in Montreal has an thorough description of his work and images of it. Click here for details.
On Thursday night at 7 p.m., Ed Pien will lead a discussion of Tracing Night (event details here), focusing on its references to Inuit culture and the compelling work of artist Irene Avaalaaqiaq; I’ll post an update accordingly.
Image credit: Edpien.com
Been a quiet holiday season at MOV (and quiet on the blog front! It’s been awhile!). Consider it the calm before the storm. In just under two weeks we’ll open Art of Craft, an exhibit that comes to us via the Cultural Olympiad. The exhibit is a national survey of Canadian craft with a section devoted to works from B.C. and the Yukon, and another section featuring 47 objects from Korea. (More posts on Art of Craft to come. Meantime, buy your tickets to the opening party on January 13 here.) A second exhibit from the Cultural Olympiad opens on February 4 and features the incredible immersive work Tracing Night by Toronto artist Ed Pien. Details here (and, again, more to follow in upcoming posts). In addition, we’ve extended the run of Working Wood, our look at the work of five Vancouver woodworkers, to February 7. Ravishing Beasts continues to the end of February. It’s a packed house.
But before we get too far into 2010, a quick look back. 2009 saw many changes to the physical landscape of Vancouver. A few things stand out.
—The Canada Line subway/SkyTrain system opened in September, and already draws 90,000 riders a day. Overdue?
—The Pennsylvania Hotel completed a painstaking and inspired heritage restoration in early January (image above), providing 44 studio apartments and on-site services to the area’s homelesss.
—The removal of the scaffolding around the original Woodward’s building revealed—at last!—the store’s old painted advertisements on the brick, reminding us of a time when picking up stationery was a regular errand.
—Outside Woodward’s, more neighbourhood changes. The storied Only Sea Foods (sic) restaurant closed after a drug investigation; Pigeon Park reopened after a lengthy redesign, though still seems in a state of transition with area residents continuing to gather half a block away.
—Across town, Slickety Jim’s Chat ‘n Chew—the cluttered east side eatery that drew a crowd long before Main Street was cool again—burned to the ground. Part of Slickety’s appeal was its tired decor and resistance to the new, minimalist polish underway at many of its neighbours. What will take its place?
—The reallocation of a car lane on the Burrard Street Bridge for bicycle traffic was a major news story this summer, and then the lane opened and, well, nothing happened. It just seemed to work.
All that talk of the cyclist’s place in the city worked in our favour, and timed out perfectly with Velo-City, our exhibit on Vancouver’s ongoing cycling revolution. It was a year of changes for us, too. We’ve written about some of them extensively here on the blog, so let’s just leave it here: 2009 was an incredible year of change for the Museum and the city. And 2010? More ahead. We’re looking forward to all of it.