Here Kitty! (and Friends)

20 December 2018 – There she is, smirking at me with those clever-cat eyes …

and an elegant curl to her tail.

I’m pelting along Howe, crossing West Georgia, but I stop to admire Âstam minôs: Here kitty, one of the City’s bright photo-wraps on utility boxes, this one designed by Adele Arseneau with background by youth artist Krystal, Creativelife East Van.

Kitty, it turns out, is just the start of a day dominated by urban wildlife — a few of the creatures real, most of them art, and almost all of those out-on-the-street-for-free.

The next one, though, is indoors-for-a-fee.

I’m up on the top floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery with a friend, enjoying a show of works from the VAG’s permanent collection, selected by Senior Curator Ian M. Thom.

I’m particularly taken by unknown (to me) works by some artists I do know and and already love — Paterson Ewen, Pudlo Pudlat, Jack Shadbolt, Joyce Wieland, Michael Snow, Paul-Emile Borduas — and then I see ten neat inkjet printings on paperboard by an artist I know nothing about, Kim Kennedy Austin.

Including this rumination …

I laugh out loud. My friend looks, also breaks up, and soon we’re reminiscing about geckos and our gratitude that their clever little suction pads really do work and the geckos really do not fall on our heads.

Enough high-class art on a gallery wall! Back to the street!

Where, in my Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, I find a lion delicately sniffing a flower …

and his companion in full roar …

about to be tickled by a set of brave (or stupid) female fingers.

They are elements in an enormous mural stretching down East 10th just off Kingsway …

with the lion end by Gaidasheva Oksana, the octopus end by Emily Gray, and the whole painted during the 2017 Vancouver Mural Festival.

I turn around, and see I am not the only onlooker.

There is a shop called Birds on a Wire just a few blocks away,  selling regional artwork. It knows its neighbourhood.

I turn down Sophia, and meet more birds.

This time on a ventilator shaft (or something).

A whole menagerie fills the rest of the parking lot wall  …

with Antler Man declaiming, Ghost Triplets perhaps listening, and an audience of eavesdroppers & kibitzers stretching off to the left. This mural is a legacy of the 2018 Mural Festival, curated by Roxanne Charles and signed by Ahziyelli Gaia, Cayley Carlson and Andres SLZ.

One last touch of reality, as I loop around the library branch toward home.

I’ve always liked birds’ nests in winter, the sense of discovering something that lies so well hidden all summer long, and then, come winter, adds another sculptural element to all those bare branches.

Speaking of urban wildlife…

That Springbok I showed you, in my post of 26 November?

He isn’t.

“Definitely not a Springbok,” says a friend who knows his African wildlife, “but probably a Gemsbok or Oryx. The question is, what inspired someone to paint this on a Vancouver wall?”

My guess is, all these artists inspire each other, and that’s reason enough. Whatever the inspiration, I’m grateful.

 

T-Time

23 May 2017 – Not T-Time as in Tea-Time, as in trad English tea. Even if I am just back from England.

No, I mean T as in Transition Time — time to move from T-for-tourist to T-for-townie. As in, Resident. As in, newly minted Vancouverite.

Some of the digging in is just plain boring. Swap the driver’s licence; swap Ontario medicare for the BC version… Yawn.

But most of bright sunny today was huge fun, and a huge way-finding adventure as well.

I don’t really know the city yet, so off I go, bright & early, with my Compass card (transit system card) and my downtown walking map for guidance. I’m bouncy, because I’ll be signing up for things I really want to do, instead of have to do.

Join the Vancouver Public Library, for example! The soaring foyer is full of people, at 9:50 in the morning, sipping coffee at café tables, checking their smart phones …

because the VPL isn’t yet open. We are all waiting for 10 a.m., when the doors will slide wide and welcome us in.

By 9:55, there is actually a crowd, pressing up to the doors.

I find this wonderful. Imagine! A line-up to enter a library!

I enter. I become a member. The new plastic card still warm in my fingers, I promptly sign up for a 31 May workshop on using library resources (physical & online) to research family history. Clearly my time with family in England has had impact.

Then I’m back out on Robson St. at Homer, fumbling for my map until I spy the info-tower on the corner. Thank goodness for all these i-towers, a godsend for tourists and new residents.

I check. And right there, under the West End heading, my next target: the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Hoof-hoof-hoof back west on Robson, right turn on Howe, and in I go.

I join. Another new bit of plastic for my wallet! And up I go, out onto the VAG’s beautiful outdoor patio, to celebrate with a latte.

It is so pretty out there: fresh breeze, balmy air, chamber music playing discreetly in the background, riotous plants tumbling out of their urns …

and generous umbrellas overhead, framed by blazing Japanese maples.

I sit there feeling wildly decadent. Maybe that’s because my latte has company: a slice of blood orange & thyme cake. Of course I don’t need the cake! But of course I can’t resist those exotic ingredients.

Fortunately, I have a third join-up destination on my list, one that can sop up the occasional slice of cake.

The YMCA.

Skytrain to West 49th, and a short walk east to the Langara Family YMCA. I grin all the way through my preview tour. The environment is so familiar, so comfy! I finger the various gym and pool times & activities. Lane-swimming every morning, 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

I’m still not quite back in this time zone, meaning that I still wake up at “silly o’clock.” (Thank you, Rick, for the phrase.) Meaning I won’t be there at 5:30, but still in good time for an early swim.

After months of inaction, my swimming duffle bag is packed again, and ready for action.

 

 

  • 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"

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