Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yaletown Afternoon

Since it is absolutely pouring rain today I am very pleased that yesterday we were able to take advantage of a classic summer day to do a gallery and garden tour in Yaletown. My first stop on the journey was the downtown library where, in the best Vancouver tradition, someone was filming a surreal movie scene. Extras dressed in over the top costumes circa 1940 were milling about vintage cars against a contemporary backdrop of neon sushi signs and gawkers in t-shirts and shorts. I gawked a bit myself, then went in the library to check out some books on Darwin. I need a bit of a break for bees, so I've been doing some research on moths. Darwin writes about them too of course, and he even predicted that the orchid bees would become extinct because orchids were so good at self-pollinating. Did this come true? The implications are fascinating. He cultivated many orchids in his garden and green house at Down House in Kent where he did much of his writing and research in later life. I checked out a biography of Darwin called Darwin's Garden: Down House and The Origin of Species by Michael Boulter.

Next, I went to the Artstarts Gallery to see the exhibition where some of the art created by the students I worked with at Graham Bruce Elementary. I'm happy to see there are photos of the process so you can get an idea of the interdisciplinary nature of the residency. I zig-zagged down the hill to the CAG and enjoyed the work in Sentimental Journey. So many of the contemporary pieces in Vancouver galleries have become dry and antiseptic; it was refreshing to see some work using found objects, and a warm, humorous and at times poignant aesthetic. My favorite piece was by Gareth Moore: The Road Through the Forest by Lyman A. William. It was almost like an epitaph in a vitrine. I like the elements of theatrics--costumes and props that help you construct the fiction of a hobo's life.

My final gallery destination was the Numen Gallery in Yaletown where Diana Burgoyne and Robin Ripley are showing Interface/Interfacing:Kinetic and Sound Installation. The gallery is tiny, but in spite of its size it is packed with an incredible amount of art work. I was surprised to see how many artists had pieces on display. Robin and Diana's collaboration took my breath away. I pushed the switch, as guided by a sign on the wall, and slowly a needle hanging from a thread began its way on a vaguely triangular course. The wheels at the corners of the triangles are bobbins and a pattern of thimbles spreads out in the back ground, making the wall into a three dimensional map. Once the needle passes over brass-coloured disc, it activates a sound, perhaps that of an old sewing machine. The needle's journey is delicate and sensuous. One begins to invest concern in it's fate. Will it become tangled? Will it make it around the entire circuit? I immediately related it to the processes in our aging bodies--how our involuntary body functions become affected by outside forces beyond our control. Maybe I related to it this way because the wires in Burgoyne's sonic elements look so much like veins and neurons and because the thimbles heighten my sense of touch.

The rest of the show is Robin's work made using sewing notions. It is delicate, sensitive and obsessive. (Wow, there are a lot of knots!) My friends had joined me at this point and we were all drawn to the white buttons spilling out of a tiny box--bony, bubbly and almost frozen in mid-action. The other piece we were drawn to was the one with all the knots which hung like a gothic version of a weaver bird's nest. I'm really glad we got to see the show and it's on until September 5--highly recommended. The curator was very approachable and friendly.

Right in the heart of Yaletown is a group of community plots surrounded by skyscrapers where two of my friends who are chefs have garden plots. I had seen photos of their plots online and I asked for a guided tour. You should see the tomatoes! Little ones, big ones, ripe, green, dainty, pendulous, they've got it all. The trick is picking them before the birds get them. The plots are stuffed full of flourishing herbs, edible flowers and even some vegetables besides tomatoes.

Check out these potatoes growing in bicycle tires in Chef K's garden. What a great idea! She says that as soon as she saw the call go out for community gardeners for these plots she got on the list and spread the word. Chef K. is a tireless volunteer. She does a food-sharing program and if she sees someone who looks like they are hungry and "shopping in the garden" she'll try to give them something from her plot because some of the gardeners here might not be exactly well off either. She makes syrup out of the lemon balm growing in her plot, and like Chef C, has incredibly creative uses for everything that she grows.

Beer cans allow the water to penetrate the soil.

Some people just want to grow flowers. And that's good too, especially amidst concrete and glass.

Garden touring is thirsty work, so we head to the Sexy Scientist's pad for cocktails with the kitties. The cocktails are smooth and refreshing and before you know it we are laughing it up and sharing stories and offering opinions as the sun sets over False Creek. I headed off to Bella Pizza for a couple of slices, wandered aimlessly in Urban Fair for a few minutes and caught that cute new C23 bus which I love so much. I looked out the window to see if there are any falling stars, but not last night. The ones I could see were all fixed up there pretty tightly.

No comments:

Post a Comment