Monday, October 4, 2010

Another artist familiar with Strathcona is Ken Lum, who, along with his brother, parents and grandparents, occupied a crowded house not far from Al and Carole.

Lum's paternal grandfather, Lum Nin, came to Canada as a teenager, in 1908, one of many Chinese men lured by the promise of "Gold Mountain" -- in this case, a chance to work on the railroad, something Ken did as a young man. Not on the track, like Lum Nin and the other "coolies", but as a third cook on the passenger line.

While en route to Al and Carole's I passed Ken's forty-foot EAST VAN cruciform at the northwest corner of Clark and Great Northern Way. I remember Ken talking about this piece years ago, when the desired site was Kingsway and Main. As for the motif's origin, no one knows; it has been around forever, long before the punk band EAST VAN HALEN used it in their logo.

I have passed Ken's piece a number of times since its erection last year, but this time was different. At the base were a series of formal variations, rendered in spray-paint and marker, my two favorites being BALD DAD and HOT MOM. Ken would love this. Anything to get the ball rolling.

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