When in Vancouver, don’t miss out on its art scene. Art is in the air in the whole city. Here is one walk through Downtown and Gastown to explore museums, galleries, architecture and street art.
In front of the gallery, you can sometimes spot street art. During my stay, I found this amazing interpretation of the Caravaggio painting “The Lute Player” in front of the Foot Locker store.
(Source: Catherine Opie; Vancouver Art Gallery)
I really enjoyed the exhibition ‘Residue: The Persistence of Real‘ featuring Canadian and American Artists. I particularly liked the works by Babak Golkar who buys everyday goods such as a gym mat, takes pictures of them, changes the product and returns the goods back to the stores with a note for the future buyer. But my favourite artist featured was American photographer Catherine Opie. Based in LA she got an offer to take pictures of Elizabeth Taylor. She didn’t exactly end up taking pictures of the actress herself: Opie’s vision was to let people get to know the actress by showcasing her house: her jewellery, closet, pictures of friends. Liz Taylor died in during the course of the photo project. Therefore, the pictures also show how her personal belongings started to be wrapped up for storage. My favourite picture shows Fang, Liz Taylor’s cat, in between Chanel shoes.
At the moment, only 1-3% of the gallery’s collections are shown. But stay tuned – the gallery will soon be extended by Herzog and de Meuron.
Leave the gallery and turn right walking down Hornby Street. Turn round and look at the roof of the gallery. There are for ships in different colours on top of it. ‘Four Boats Stranded: Red and Yellow, Black and White’ by Vancouver-based artist Ken Lum. The boats pointing North, South, East and West tell the history of the city of Vancouver: the red ship stands for a First Nations longboat, the yellow for a ship bringing Chinese immigrants from Fujian in the 1990s, the black one for the Komagata Maru, the infamous Indian immigrant ship in the early 1900s and the white one for Captain Vancouver’s ship. (Source Vancouver Art Gallery)
You will pass the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. It was built in the late 1930s and is the only hotel entitled to hold the name ‘Hotel Vancouver’.
Across the street, walk into the lobby of Rosewood Hotel Georgia. The art déco style building from the 1930s hosts artworks by Patrick Hughes with 3D illusions about the canals of Venice. Stop by Bel Café, at the corner of the hotel and enjoy their strawberry-lime-dessert.
Walk down to the Bill Reid Gallery (639 Hornby Street). Bill Reid was an artist with a Haida-background, indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America.
The gallery’s focus is contemporary aboriginal art of that region. Focus on the videos during the exhibition to get an insight into the artist’s family history and his development from goldsmith, carver, sculptor to writer. I was amazed by the collection of his gold and silver jewellery. I recommend the gallery to all those of you who’d like to start getting to know aboriginal art of the region. It was my first time as well and the gallery offers a first insight into the people’s lives and art. The gallery shop sells prints of Bill Reid’s artworks and aboriginal jewellery, accessories, artworks and books. Outside of the gallery, there is a small garden to relax after the visit.
Walk down Hornby Street to West Cordova Street and keep on walking until you reach the Woodward’s Building in Gastown (128 West Cordova Street). The building with red steel decoration dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and hosted the Woodward’s department store in the former city centre of Vancouver. From the early 1990s onwards the building was empty and revived in the early 2000s.
Walk down Carall Street until you reach Maple Tree Square and explore the area around Water Street. You will find a lot of small boutiques and galleries.
The Innut Gallery (206 Cambie Street) focuses on Canadian aboriginal art and have a big selection of sculptures, graphics and jewellery. I spotted an artwork by Bill Reid but I liked even more the colourful paintings by Linus Woods. The sculpture “Rookery” by Ben Kobic reminds me of British Columbia’s beautiful mountain scenery:
(Source: Innuit Gallery)