Murals & Time Travel

10 August 2021 – I have murals on the mind and in my eyeballs; the 2021 Vancouver Mural Festival is underway. I am wandering around Mount Pleasant, epi-centre of the Festival that began as a small movement in 2016 and now — with a magic happy combination of civic, social/artistic and local business support — has 300+ murals to its credit in 11 neighbourhoods, with another 60+ due to be created this year.

But not created yet, so my time travel is spent with works already in place.

And it starts with one that, far as I can see, has no connection with the VMF, no signature of any kind. Well, that doesn’t matter, does it? Especially since I’ve never noticed it before.

I prowl around it happily for a while, and then notice, down in the lower-left corner, that its sight-lines shoot my eye on down West 7th toward a flash of colour near Ontario Street — colour that I know is another mural, and one that definitely is part of the VMF family.

See? ‘Way down there?

But there’s another mural treat along the way, two tucked into that same block between Manitoba & Ontario.

We’ll get to the one on the right; first please admire that garage door. Like the first mural I showed you, not signed, but isn’t it terrific? It belongs to Green Works Building Supply, and seems a logical fit with their environmentally responsible sensibilities. I’m especially fond of the slogan on the door:

Enough of that, on to Cosmic Breeze down at Ontario, the work of Olivia Di Liberto for VMF 2019.

This next image is not a mural, doesn’t in any way fit my apparent theme, unless you’re generous enough to slide with me into my larger “city-as-art-installation” theme. If you are that generous, we can make a case for “berries ripening on wild vines climbing all over chain-link fence beside barbed wire & scruffy wall.”

Back to murals. I’ve loved this one since I watched Atheana Picha painting it during VMF 2018, love it still, and love viewing it in its alley-corner framework, here on Ontario south of West 6th.

This next one is streetscape, not mural — wall plus front façade, framed sides/top/bottom by textures of grey and photographed through construction fencing. The only ID is that austere Tierney Milne lower right, so elegant I wonder if this is the branding of a design house.

No it’s not, I later discover: she is a Montreal-born, Vancouver-resident designer/artist. She also, I further discover in the VMF Mural Gallery, has participated in several of the festivals, though this building seems unrelated to all that.

That diversion had me back on West 6th between Ontario & Quebec, now I’m climbing south on Ontario toward West 7th, taking in the whole long frantic madness of an epic 2018 creation by a collective with the world’s best team name: Phantoms in the Front Yard. The work is the whole side-wall length of this long building, jammed with people, cats, dogs, wine glasses, action & attitude. I’ve shown you bits before, and I see new bits every time I walk past.

This bit, for example, bottom left corner, with the woman all thumb’s up in gesture but thumb’s down in face:

Always so satisfying to see something new!

I look across the street, and while the image isn’t new for me, I’d guess by body language that is both new and fascinating for that lanky pedestrian just entering frame on the left.

He is puzzling out Animalitoland, a VMF 2020 creation by Graciela Gonçalves Da Silva, which features — along with that puckish face — an A-Z list of neatly printed adjectives, running the gamut of our emotions as we lived that year of isolation and pandemic.

In describing her mural, Da Silva comments: “Street art is so much more than paint on walls. It has a unique way of connecting people…”

I don’t know this quote when I pull out my camera again, deep in the alleys S/W of East 7th & Main. I’m not thinking murals at all at this point; I am just captivated by that H-frame, rearing up into the sky. (I love them all, you know that — but this one especially, the way it pivots smartly at a 45° to accommodate the intersection.)

Then I’m back in mural-gear, because a mural wraps that corner as neatly as the H-frame beside it.

This is Why Can’t They See Us? by Doaa Jamal, VMF 2018, the rendering in Arabic square Kufic script of a verse from the Qur’an: “We have created you from male and female and made you into tribes and nations that you may know each other.”

Connection. Despite tribes and nations and pandemic: connection.

Back to Baffled Brains

Several people were kind enough to send me definitions of blockchain, including Lynette d’Artey-Cross. Here’s an excerpt from her contribution (which you can read in its entirety in post comments): “essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain.” Since that post, the Vancouver Biennale has been advertising for volunteers to train on the AR/blockchain aspects of Voxel Bridge, who will then serve as serve as hosts at the installation, and help the rest of us enter into it more fully.

Leave a comment


  1. Thank you very much for the shout-out. 🙂
    I love the garage door with the reminder that every exit is also an entry. The mural festival is such a fantastic idea.

    • I misspelled your sur-name, saw the “e” in d’Arty and tried to remove it but the Block Editor format wouldn’t allow me to. (Do not let me get started on my feelings about Block Editor vs the previous editor…) Glad you like that garage door, oh yes!

  2. No problem. 🙂 The blockhead editor can be very cumbersome; I’ve been using it for about eight months now. You can still use the classic editor, though. Here’s an article:

    • blockHEAD editor, ohhhh, very good! – adds new complex possibilities to blogging & meanwhile makes the basics harder to do – think I’ll just trudge on, since eventually they’ll stop supporting “classic” — !!! just remembered! Coca-Cola changed formula back in what, the 70s?, and so many people went beserk they had to reintroduce the previous formula, under the name of… “Classic”

      • Yes, I had forgotten about that! (Maybe they will eventually listen to their customers??) My thinking has been the same as yours, that WP will stop supporting classic, and it’s just as well that I get on with learning the block. I don’t think much of it; I definitely have a blockage in this area. 😉 Ugh.

  3. Very nice! Thanks.

  4. I’m just trying to wrap my head around that block between Manitoba and Ontario….a sort of no man’s land, I guess.
    The exit/entry quote on the garage door is great! But rather than city as art installation, I just like to think of those berries as nature taking over. I always loved stubborn manifestations like that. In the industrial city of Hoboken, New Jersey, across the river from NYC, there was an Ailanthus tree growing out of the old train station roof. And Tansies along the railroad tracks. Probably all gone now, since Hoboken became popular.
    Love the way you photographed the mural by T. Milne – with the sky and pavers playing as strong a role as the mural. And the person entering the frame on Animalitoland (That’s fun to say, isn’t it?) – fantastic!
    Superb H-frame! Oh, yes, the way it’s angled in there, and you created such a nice composition with all that’s going on around it. I love this photo. (For once, a recycling bin adds something, right?) 🙂
    The final mural’s quote is one I wish the Taliban would take to heart.
    Good news about the Voxel Bridge mural….

    • Well don’t you have sharp eyes! and a fine grasp of how the provinces line up… I thought I knew the simple answer, namely, it’s not that they thought “Saskatchewan” is too long to fit on a sign, it is because at the time they did this line-up of place-names (1888), Saskatchewan was not yet in Confederation. This is true, but the chronology leaves other anomalies unexplained: how did Yukon (1898) & Alberta (1905) get on this list? And, if Yukon, why not NWT (1870)? But here’s a link, which I must say only somewhat helps:

      Thanks for your comments re the various photos: yet, that young man walking into frame near Animalitoland was a total gift!

      I agree about the joy of seeing “nature taking over” in dire urban circumstances, and I love your Hoboken descriptions. You remind me of a photo I took a year or two ago that fits the theme — I’ve decided to make it my next post, & will credit you with the inspiration. (You’ll see!)

      • 🙂 Thanks for explaining the provincial history – I’m rushed this morning and may not get to the link but thanks for that, too. The man walking into the frame was a gift that you were smart enough to receive. 😉
        Thanks for the nature in the city post – I’ve sent it to the person with whom I lived back then. I bet he’ll enjoy the comments, AND the photo. 🙂

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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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