Bare Ankles & All

1 June 2019 – Oh, forget the calendar. Canadians know that once the 24th of May holiday is past … and the weather is warm… it is summer.

Time to enjoy.

Which is exactly what I see happening, in assorted manifestations, all along my walk west on the False Creek south seawall, up into Granville Market & South Granville, and eventually back over into Mount Pleasant.

Man props up his bike, sinks into a freshly-repainted Muskoka chair on Spyglass Dock, and relaxes into the sunshine, bare ankles & all …

Crow preens atop the nearest lamp post, bare beak & all …

Very small craft await spring fix-ups (in contrast to sparkling larger neighbours) …

Goslings learn to look both ways before they cross the bike path through Charleson Park …

Yellow Something pretends to be a bright red poppy in the Charleson Park Community Garden …

Labyrinth detail pretends to be the eyes & beak of a ferocious owl (or vice-versa) on a sea wall lookout near Granville Market …

Patch on battered building in Granville Market doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is, rust …

Child discovers the splash-pad fire hydrants in the Granville Market playground turn on and off, all by themselves …

A festival poster in the Market acknowledges (as all events now do) where we work, live and play …

Guys on the left edge of a Granville Bridge on-ramp watch pigeons eat grain, lower right; neither group pays any attention to the mural trio, upper right, admiring the mural tribute to Lawren Harris; for that matter, the mural trio pays no attention to man-on-bike emerging from that red door on their left …

A sunbather in Jonathan Rogers Park bares more than her ankles & toes (take that, Mr. Spyglass Dock Man) …

And a bakery signboard on the Kingsway …

proves that not all Vancouverites are fitness freaks.

Doin’ the Details

1 April 2019 – It’s a day for details all right, out here in the Strathcona neighbourhood of east Vancouver, first solo and then with Frances.

A black bird (crow?), for example, riding high above a doorway, with an artist’s brush in his beak.

Riding high above other doors as well, including the one on the white house on this cheerful line-up of homes along Keefer St. approaching Hawks.

But, cheeky/charming as crows are, there are many other ways to express yourself.

With a toboggan above the door, for example …

or a great wave of metal and glass in the doorway itself.

Or, instead, you can throw yourself into repurposing mode, and plonk a bathtub in the sidewalk verge, just waiting for spring plantings.

Why stop at a bathtub? There must be an old wringer-style washing machine lying around somewhere … or, if you’re lucky, two of them.

Behind the tubs, the red awning marks the home of The Wilder Snail Neighbourhood Grocery and Coffee, right at Keefer & Hawks.

Frances & I meet here for lunch before heading off to the day’s one planned event: a visit to the Catriona Jeffries Gallery, farther south and a bit farther east, on East Cordova.

We’re looking forward to visiting the Gallery, not least for the opportunity to see how Patkau Architects (the same Vancouver firm that designed the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver) has repurposed the old Pilkington Metal Marine workshop.

The patio entrance to the Gallery has a severe, calm beauty, tucked behind a tall black wall that shields it from the sidewalk, and echoing other corrugated metal claddings all around.

After that, it’s back out to fun on the streets.

Lookit this trompe l’oeil mural, for example! Those apparently structural yellow beams and pink alcoves frame blue paint, not blue sky; that is all solid wall.

Later, we play Spot-the-Special — after my walk up Sophia Street, my eye is in for Vancouver Specials. We see a number of them, all somewhat modified over time and well maintained.

This one on Union shows how the street cuts across a slope — the houses on this side are below sidewalk level, but on the north side rise well above it.

And now … and now I offer you an exceptionally boring grey bird house, on a politely pin-striped tree.

Hmmmm, you say.

I’d’ve passed it without a second thought, but for the plaque beneath. (Ever since the years of marching around Toronto with Phyllis, my Tuesday Walking Society colleague, I’ve been a great reader of plaques.)

This isn’t any old pin-striped tree, it is a Snake Bark Maple.

And it isn’t any old Snake Bark Maple — it is in the Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, though cared for by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Why?

Because it is part of the Palas Por Pistolas project of Mexican artist Pedro Reyes. In 2007 he began trading food vouchers for firearms, which are then melted down and turned into shovels, which are then used to plant trees. Ours, planted in 2008, was the first installation outside Mexico.

Speaking of installations-on-the-street … One last example, back at Main Street, under the Georgia Viaduct.

“Blank walls invite graf. Let us put nice art instead,” says the tidy block lettering — and, after thanking the city for this “fresh new canvas,” that’s exactly what the artist does.

A very satisfying last detail, to crown a very satisfying day.

Gita in the Underpass

1 February 2016 – I didn’t expect to find chapter 3, verse 35 of the Bhagavad Gita in a Dupont St. underpass. Who would? Nor would I have known I had found it, but for the fact that I did my Saturday walk with my friend Gauri, just back from a month visiting family & friends in India.

We don’t start the walk on Dupont, we’re up on St. Clair West near Dufferin. I have food slightly on the mind. Before we set off, Gauri shows me some photos from her trip, including a close-up of a succulent dish traditionally prepared for Marathi weddings, but — because she loves it so — prepared in her honour during her visit.

Perhaps that’s why I interpret the central image in this street-corner montage as a jar of jam.

Lauder Av at St. Clair West

It seems singularly drab, compared to the Marathi feast. Still, the two heads are lively enough …

We walk, we talk, we laugh, we stop for coffee a bit farther west & finally head south, angling across Davenport to Lansdowne. More laughter as we go, being with Gauri involves lots of laughter, but we fall silent at the intersection.

Davenport at Lansdowne

We contemplate the “ghost bike,”  a white bike marking the spot where a cyclist has died. This young man died in November 2012; the bicycle has been here for years, but these are new floral tributes.

Down Lansdowne, more public art, yet another mood. These graphics swoop along the underpass that guides us all beneath railway tracks. It’s another StART (Street Art Toronto) project, perhaps a commentary on the construction above?

Lansdowne n of Dupont

We defy death — death, I tell you — to scamper across Lansdowne in order to see that graphic as a whole. “I’m just back from India,” boasts Gauri. “This is nothing!” I scuttle along in her wake.

Barely through the underpass, and we see another image, this one small enough that we consider recrossing the street to see it up close. Then we assess the increased traffic, plus the jump involved in getting ourselves down to street level — and chicken out.

So here is Green Lady. From afar. In the gloom. (Sorry.)

Lansdowne n of Dupont

Now we’re at Dupont, and I drag Gauri westward. There’s a small gallery along here I like to check out — and another much-decorated underpass along the way.

I know this underpass, I’ve seen these images before, but … wait a minute … is this something new?

Right here next to an EGR face … is that an Anser tease? Just a few elements of his distinctive flowing face-graphic, woven into somebody else’s design?

Dupont w of Lansdowne, n side

Not sure, but what do you think? Here, for comparison, is a full-blown, for-sure Anser (photographed a year ago in the Distillery District).

Anser face, Distillery District

I’m still squinting at the maybe-Anser on Dupont. Gauri has moved on, very slightly. I join her. She reads a dramatic triangular panel, and says: “Gita!”

Pardon?

Bhagavad Gita,” she says.

Dupont underpass w. of Lansdowne

It’s a translation of a verse, she explains, and then quotes the Sanskrit. (“My grade 10 Sanskrit!”)

I demand a transliteration, which she supplies right there on the spot — and later supplements with the bhagavad-gita.org link for this verse online, complete with quotation, transliteration, anvaya and translation, all four.

Gauri’s transliteration is very good indeed. Let’s hear it for grade 10 Sanskrit classes (and her excellent memory).

The online translation is rather more fulsome than the Dupont St. version.

Performing one’s natural prescribed duty tinged with faults is far better than performing another’s prescribed duty perfectly; even death in performing one’s natural prescribed duty is better; for performing prescribed duties of others is fraught with danger.

An advantage of the online version: it completes the final thought, blanked out by someone’s aluminum paint on the Dupont St. version.

After this, the gallery show is an anticlimax.

 

 

 

 

 

Beach & Boots & a Q&A

14 January 2016 – We’ll start with the Q&A. Well, with the Q.

As follows:

Why did the traffic light turn red?

I’ll get to the A later. Promise!

Meanwhile, join me at the very eastern end of the Beaches neighbourhood, right where Queen Street begins/ends, a boundary marked with Art Deco flourish by the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant — still functioning in that role, but with historical designation for its architecture.

I’m not gawking at the water treatment plant. I’m down on the beach gawking at ice on rocks, glinting against the grey Lake Ontario waters under a chilly grey sky.

ice on Beaches rocks, Lake Ontario

Even the nasty abutments pushed into the lake to baffle wave action become sculptural, given a sheathing of ice.

Beaches, Lake Ontario

 

As always, quite a few people are larking about with happy, bounding dogs — the pooches busy fetching sticks, lugging fluorescent tennis balls to and fro in their mouths, & pushing indelicate snouts into delicate places on total strangers, in equally total certainty they will be praised & stroked, not scolded.

Lifeguard stations dot the lakefront year-round, all currently bearing their seasonal notice.

on Kew/Balmy Beach

After a while I take myself back up to Queen St. East, planning to walk on west toward home until … well, until I either reach home or hop a streetcar en route.

Not surprising that I almost immediately see another dog. This community loves it dogs.

outside a Queen E grocery store

I contemplate Doggie-Two-Boots a moment. Has the little devil shucked two boots, or — for some arcane reason — does he only have two? (About an hour’s-worth of walking time farther west, I see him again — all four paws neatly encased in boots.)

Somewhere near Coxwell, I catch a surprising sight down a short alley-cum-parking-lot. I start down the alley to investigate. “Yes?” calls a voice behind me. The man attached to the voice is wearing a restaurateur apron & has just rushed out of the adjoining building. “Can I help you?”

Which, we all know, means: explain yourself.

“Just want a photo,” I reply, smiling as endearingly as I know how & waving my camera in his direction. His smile matches mine as he waves me on down the alley.

This is what the fuss was all about.

off Queen nr Coxwell

Well, it’s very odd, isn’t it? I realize I’m thinking of it as a barn, a corrugated metal barn, but of course it isn’t that & I don’t know why it strikes me that way.

A bit later on, another just-off-Queen sighting, this time at Curzon.

N/W Queen E & Curzon

It could have been projected, that tree silhouette; a perfect art installation against the wall. (Come to that, it is projected. By the sun.)

Somewhere in there I peer hopefully up Craven Rd., home to “Tiny Town” and the city’s longest municipally maintained wooden fence. Also the city’s longest wooden-fence public art gallery.

Except… it isn’t, not any more. Finally all that wonderful art work has tattered itself to the point of (or so it seems) being removed. Just a long, very naked fence. I’m glad I have images, first shared on this blog in November 2013 and several times since then.

Between McGee and DeGrassi streets, some public art that is increasingly battered looking, but still in place: the animal vignettes running the length of the railway underpass.

Queen E railway underpass at McGee

This guy is one of my individual favourites in the series. Each side bears a whole wall’s-worth of images, currently enhanced with a few icicles in the framing arches.

RR underpass south wall

I angle toward home through Joel Weeks Park, north of Queen & just east of the Don River. I could have chosen many other routes — but I cannot resist the squirrels.

south end, Joel Weeks Park

I’m as amused as ever. Acorn worship!

detail, squirrels & acorn in Joel Weeks Park

The A to the Q

Did you get all impatient on me & scroll down? Or did you wait?

Before totally wowing you with the A, let me give credit where credit is due: I read this on the sidewalk “street talker” for The Sidekick, a Queen East coffee & comic books emporium.

Remember the question? It asks: “Why did the traffic light turn red?”

Answer.

You would too, if you had to change in the middle of the street.

Was it worth the wait? I hope so.

 

 

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "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"

  • Recent Posts

  • Walk, Talk, Rock… B.C.-style

  • Post Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 94,730 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,735 other followers

%d bloggers like this: