Negative

11 April 2018 – As in, space.  Negative space. Defined by the edges of the positive-space objects you are actively looking at.

I really don’t spend time in an artistic swoon, thinking I must go out and pay attention to negative space. But, sometimes, it is just right there in front of me, and I notice it.

For example, while waiting for the doors of Christ Church Cathedral to open for an Early Music Vancouver performance.

My eyes slide upward, between the cathedral wall on my right and bank & hotel towers on my left …

and are funnelled into this jagged slice of sky.

Rather the shape of False Creek, I think frivolously to myself, spun 90 degrees clockwise. Except for that pointy bit at the bottom.

Then they open the doors, and I leave frivolous thoughts — and negative space — outside. Inside, there is Bach & Hayden.

A few days later, over at Commercial Drive and East Broadway on a very different outing indeed, I look upward between two Sky Train tracks.

Smooth-curving tracks carve smoothly curved negative space.

That same evening, back in the east end but this time farther downtown, I’m leaving the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts after a DanceHouse sponsored talk about tap dance and jazz.

It is the “blue hour” of early dusk, and the negative space of sky is richly, warmly dramatic.

All the more so for the “W” revolving at its heart — the recreation of the iconic Woodward’s “W” that for so long marked the department store and now stands guard over the redevelopment of that site.

I walk back through Gastown to my bus stop. Lights twinkle and buildings straight to my eye curve magically inward in my camera’s eye …

tenderly embracing one final offering of negative space.

I get on my bus, and go home.

R is for Rust

28 September 2017 – Rust is on my mind, as I angle north/east-ish toward Dance House , this bright fall day, to discuss the volunteer communications project I’m about to begin.

Rust, a signature colour in nature each fall — and rust, a signature colour in metal, by time or design.

I see both, abundantly, in my zigzag travels along False Creek and then farther east to the trendifying old industrial area now home to Dance House, other creative organizations and, just this month, Emily Carr University as well.

First, as I hit 1st Avenue just west of Hinge Park, an example of rust-by-time.

I love the transformation of south-east False Creek from brownfield to green space — but I also love this battered survivor of the area’s industrial past. Toxic as it surely all was, it met the standards of the day and helped meet needs of the day.

And while that building has wrecking-ball written all over it, sections of old railway track right next door in Hinge Park will survive.

Rusty by time, but preserved by design, and rightly so. We need to honour the past.

Note, too, some companion rust-by-nature in the shrubbery, and just a glimpse, there in the middle-back, of my beloved “Rusty Sub.”

I round a corner.

More rusty leaves, to keep the sub company, and rushes turning tawny in the meandering little stream.

Then I’m down at Creek-side, right where Habitat Island juts into the water, and I start to laugh.

Looks like “R” has to slip-slide its way back up the dictionary from Rust, to Repose!

Goodness, he is so peaceful, chest rising/falling gently, relaxed in the still-warm afternoon sun. And, all around him, rust-by-nature in the shrubbery.

Lots more rust, all over the tree leaves that still half-obscure the Green Path signage. (Pedestrians this side; cyclists that.)

I’m almost at the end of False Creek now, right by The Village ferry dock, with its view of BC Place sports stadium on the north side and, to its left, a distinctly rusty-coloured building façade.

No ferry in sight at the moment, but I console myself with that bright red tug boat. I do love tug boats!

Still on 1st Avenue, just west of Main, and some more rust-by-design in the courtyard of a spiffy new condo complex.

Very minimalist, very appealing: the rich tones of the metal, the burble of the falling water, and sunshine & breeze teaming up to dance shadows on the wall.

On east I go, and I’m early for my appointment.

I wander on down to the cul-de-sac where East 1st Ave. does a dog-leg into a chain-metal fence along the cross-town train tracks.

Boxcars! Lovely rust-coloured boxcars!

With graffiti! (Bonus points)

See the young women sketching away down there, next to the inner fence right at the tracks? Students from Emily Carr next door, out on assignment. There are a dozen or more in the immediate vicinity, under the watchful eye of their man-bunn’d instructor, who circulates from one to the next, commenting as he deems appropriate.

And then I go meet Charlotte at Dance House, and we chat on the building green roof with its 180-degree view of the mountains, and we stroke a very insistent white cat as we talk — who assumes our adoration and so receives it, but that is another story — and finally I head south/west-ish back home.

Where, in an alley just east of Main, the letter “R” does another slip-slide and lands on the word “Retro.”

A wonderfully retro design, complete with the words “Todos borrachos aquí,” and … and don’t bother asking, I can’t explain it. No sign of a cantina, just an autobody shop.

But it’s fun.

 

  • WALKING… & SEEING

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

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