Wisdom

4 July 2019 – While up on the North Shore, following the Spirit Trail, I briefly and slightly detoured to walk along the Wisdom Wall on the rear façade of Bodwell High School.

Bodwell is an international boarding school, and the Wall is indeed a wall …

with life-sized silhouettes and quotes from a suitably global array of wise people, ranging from Confucius to Terry Fox to Lord Byron, David Suzuki, and Chief Dan George.

And Socrates.

I hope wisdom also begins in appreciating the ridiculous! That’s not a dunce cap adorning Socrates’ head, and nobody has awarded him a white feather — those are reflections of a traffic cone and my T-shirt, respectively.

Gallery Lane

18 August 2017 – Not named on any City-issued map of Vancouver, but right there on the Muralfest map: “Gallery Lane.” I’m back, the day after the big party, to explore what I missed the first time around. Judging by all the bright red dots on the map, I missed a whole lot, up and down the Lane.

So in I slide, dropping north from East Broadway into the alley between Quebec Street & Main. Right away I love it, it’s all grungy and eye-popping at the same time. A poster for the Mural Festival, its backdrop a tired old fire escape on the corner building…

Two more steps into the alley, and paff! A dumpster. A dumpster as set upon by Oksana Gaidasheva and Emily Gray, leaping with colour and life.

I practically fall into that corner owl, as mesmerized as any unlucky field mouse by those glaring eyes.

This starts well! I am happy.

On down the alley I go, prowling, pausing, cocking a head & a hip, again  & again.

Side trip just north of East 8th, to the Wrkless face at the end of a short cul-de-sac.

Look how it’s framed! Every element just right, stairs & security lights & wheelies & litter & windows & walls. The perfect streetscape art installation.

And now, just for the next few images, I want you to flip between this post and its predecessor, Main-ly Murals. ‘Cause we’re now in the East 7th & Main parking lot — bounded on the west by Gallery Lane — where, on Saturday, I showed you all those parking slots being turned into works of art.

Yes, cars are back in the lot, but the art still dances.

And yes, the women I photographed lifting the stencil off their car-slot left behind something terrific.

And yes! It turns out those kids creating the text mural knew all about apostrophes after all.

I fussed away, in the previous post, at their initial “Its” instead of “It’s.”

Well.

I am happy to show the world that I misjudged them.

A short conversation with a woman who carefully parks in a non-decorated slot & wields her own camera, and then on I go, north again in Gallery Lane.

I stand at East 4th, look back south, and have to stretch wide my eyes.

Behind the parking lot on the right, Andy Dixon’s big mural. Wrapped all around the building on the left, mural work by a team: Bronwyn Schuster, Lani Imre, Tia Rambaran, Amanda Smart.

One of the things I like best is that all this art becomes part of the working city. The alley is purely functional: vehicles block your view, mural segments painted across doorways disappear every time a truck has to drive into the garage.

And, all around, City workers are collecting trash, and pruning trees — here at the Main St. corner of that blue mural-wrapped building shown above.

I spin on my heel, head north again, bounded on my left by Jane Cheng’s blue-&-white fence work.

Across East 3rd, and I’m in Bunny & Bear territory.Thank you Carson Ting.

Also — did you notice? — another ripped T-shirt hanging on a utility pole.

I’ve noticed 4 or 5 by now, so it wasn’t the one-off that I thought on Saturday when I saw, literally, only one.

And the T-shirts are not all pure white, the art limited to careful rips & tears.

Which reminds me: I am hungry.

I head home.

Down, Down the Don

22 August 2016 – Who needs the Loch Ness Monster? We have our very own mutant fish, right here in the Don River.

detail, fish mural along the Lower Don Trail

Oh, all right, beside the Don River.

I don’t know that he, specifically, awaits me downstream, but I do anticipate art-by-the-Don, as I drop down from the Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge to join the trail heading south to Lake Ontario.

A powerful reminder: Bridgepoint Hospital there on the east bank, with its Bill Lishman sculptures tumbling down the river-side terrace.

view south down the Don, from Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge

I can’t, from here, see the sculptures with my physical eye, but my mental eye conjures them once more. (You can conjure them with this link to my December post, Artful Flows the Don.)

Some traditional graffiti art under the Gerrard St. bridge — framed & enhanced by reflections in the river itself.

under the Gerrard St bridge

Then again, who needs graffiti?

River reflections make art all by themselves.

reflections in the Don

I promise you: this image is right-side-up. That buff-colour horizontal line at the top is the far bank of the river; the greenery bottom-left is right at my feet; everything in between is converging reflections from a playful sky.

More not-amazing graffiti under bridges as I go, ho-hum, yawn.

I perk up again south of Queen Street, with this view westward through various bridge underpinnings to the edge of — I’m pretty sure — Underpass Park. Major-fine murals & graffiti in there!

view west toward Underpass Park

This means I’m approaching Don Landing, and access to the West Don Lands Park, once toxic wasteland, now wonderful. This takes me off-river — but hey, this is my walk, right? I can divert if I want to.

Up the stairs to Corktown Common, the playground at the park’s high point of land. Full of parents & kiddies — here a dad carrying off his toddler after patiently pushing her in one of those bucket swings for ages. (I know, I’ve been sitting under a tree watching.) They leave, but another little girl has already claimed a seat, and a young boy is fast approaching.

Corktown Common, West Don Lands Park

It’s all charming, but I find myself most charmed by the water-fountain arrangements. First, that they exist, because I am thirsty and appreciate free, pure water.

water founains, Corktown Common

And, second, that there is tri-level water for everyone: the Big People fountain, the Little People fountain, and the Doggie water bowl bolted into position on the ground.

Back to the Lower Don trail, and on to that mutant fish, just a little farther south.

mural south of Don Landing

I cannot find an artist’s signature. Sorry!

Then, just north of Lake Shore Blvd. East, I hit more expressway trestles & more art. Memory clicks in: I came by here in spring, when the artists were first beginning to lay on base coats.

Well! Look at it now …

expressway trestles n. of Lake Shore Blvd

The fish is the work of an artist that’s new to me. Correction: two artists, known as PA System.

Next up, girl with green hair, by MC Baldassari, someone I’m beginning to appreciate a lot.

MC Baldasaari's trestle

And then girl with black hair, by EGR — so distinctive! Once you’ve seen her work, you always know it.

EGR trestle

Right here, trails diverge east & west. I could head farther east, on to Ashbridge’s Bay, but I choose west instead, starting to loop back through woodland toward home.

One last art installation to amuse me as I go. Very urban-art. Very downtown.

in the woods...

Oh, those shopping carts. They do get around. (And so much for the vaunted “wheels-will lock” technology.)

I eventually emerge from the trails, pick up Cherry St., and cut north-west through the Distillery District.

Distillery District

Where, to my amazement and no doubt yours, I do not stop for a latte.

 

 

 

 

  • WALKING… & SEEING

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

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    "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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