Thursday, June 30, 2016


Now that we are allowed to talk about the Lower Mainland real estate market as a commodity market driven by foreign financial institutions (mostly Chinese), something similar is happening in our provincial parks, where RV rental companies are snatching up campsites and, after doubling or sometimes tripling the government permit price, are adding them to travel packages geared at the tourist market (mostly European).

In other news, the Vancouver School Board has said no to the provincial government's suggestion that it sell VSB-owned land underneath the Kingsgate Mall (valued at 80 million dollars) in an effort to balance its budget. In response, B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier tweeted: "Very disappointed the #VSB had a chance to help students and they said no they would rather own a mall."

Mike, how is selling the Kingsgate Mall lands going to help students? Not the students in school today, but those down the road? A longer term solution might involve sharing some of the property transfer tax revenue the government has benefitted from despite having lost millions of it while turning a blind eye to the now-outlawed practice of "shadow flipping."

Which brings us to another recent announcement: the B.C. government will once again regulate the real estate industry (the previous premier, Gordon Campbell, had it deregulated because his brother the moneytalker told him to), this time appointing a Superintendent of Real Estate.

Parks have superintendents, schools have superintendents, so why can't real estate?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Three Cultural Stereotypes

The inheritors of NAFTA are meeting in Ottawa today. I wonder what they will talk about. Brexit? Likely. A national housing program? Doubtful.

Doubtful Señor Mexico will remind Señor Canada that the latter is the only G8 country without a national housing plan.

Doubtful Senor Canada will suggest that a national housing plan would not be an issue if the current Vancouver real estate market was not such a global shit show -- as corrupt as the now-defunct Vancouver Stock Exchange that preceded it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bad Finger to Superfinger

While visiting Jeremy Borsos's Mayne Island studio in advance of his Immaculate Debris exhibition at Deluge Contemporary the artist showed me a picture he made (rephotographed) from four photographs he purchased online, after typing in the words "lens obstructions."

What unites these photographs, what makes their assembly a work of montage, is the four corner distribution of their "obstructions" -- what becomes, in effect, a super finger.

Immaculate Debris is up until July 16. Click here for my exhibition text. And here for one of my favourite rawk songs, ever!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Stairway to Seven

Yesterday Julian and I worked on "Caged Bag", an art song we are composing for the hell of it. After a couple hours we took lunch at Don't Argue, then to Dynamo, where artists Andrew Lee and Khan Lee (above) have mounted Ascending: Black, White, and Brown, an installation featuring electric organs (Farfisas, Galantis, Wurlitzers) that the two gathered ("free") from Craigslist and placed on a seven-step stage.

Once installed, the organs are plugged in and, as if to prompt the gallery-goer, objects are placed upon their keys. The result is a drone that begs to be broken, but like most of what passes for life these days, can only be augmented, diminished or suspended.

Here is Julian:

Another gallery patron below him:

And another at the foot of the stage, on the church organ:

Ascending is up until July 3.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

This Flight Tonight (1971)

One of the most powerful of the unchallenged subject positions took a hit this week. Not in Great Britain, not in the UK, but in England, home of the English.

Could I really believe what I was hearing on the radio as I was driving around town on errands: that the English could be so confused about who they are as to vote in favour of something they did not think would happen and are now signing petitions so that they can vote once again for what they really want in a political economic relationship?

As for Scotland, it is this country's residents, not England's, that should have (had) a bigger say at the dinner table of what we might soon be referring to as the FUK (Former United Kingdom).

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Strange Bedfellows?

A September 1, 2015 press release from Steven Galloway:

A June 23, 2016 tweet from Raziel Reid:

Friday, June 24, 2016

Art Hopping

Marina Roy's Your Kingdom to Command (2016) is the latest in the VAG's Offsite series. As with all the Offsite projects, you can find it at the foot of the Shangri-la Hotel, across the street from the PResUMpTive International Hotel & Tower.

From there to UBC's Belkin for the opening of the gallery's summer collection show. Below is a tempera-on-board painting that was recently accessioned -- Margaret Peterson's Diana of Ephesus (1967). Peterson was familiar with the work of Matisse and Picasso, but had she heard of Daphne Odjig?

Also at UBC was the debut of a recently-installed public artwork by Glenn Lewis -- Classical Toy Boat (1987).

(Hi Sylvain!)

And, finally, this from the beach below:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sointula Co-operative Store

Mayne Island may have the oldest continuously operating hotel in B.C (The Springwater Lodge, est. 1892), but Sointula on Malcolm Island has the oldest co-operative.

On the side of the multi-service Sointula Co-operative Store is a mural that depicts the row boats used by the island's first Finns, who rowed there in 1901 from Nanaimo to escape the coal pits of Vancouver-based property developer Michael Audain's great great grandfather.

Below is a view from the residency studio at the Sointula Art Shed, a project started by Tyler Brett and Kerri Reid in 2013.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Man-Woman (1963)

In his book Pop (London: Thames and Hudson, 1974), Simon Wilson writes:

"Allen Jones, like David Hockney, gained a rapid success after the 1961 "Young Contemporaries" exhibition. His earliest themes were, in rather odd contrast, sex on the one hand and buses, aeroplanes and parachutists on the other."

Below is a work by another Young Contemporary: Serpent Stripe (1962) by Derek Boshier.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Moon and Sun

Last night's moon, taken at 10:00pm from the southwest corner of Kingsway and Clark.

This morning's sun, taken at 5:38am from my back door.

Tonight's moon will be a strawberry moon, the first time since 1967 that it should coincide with the summer solstice.

Below is a 1967 demo of the Rolling Stones song "Child of the Moon" (sans vocal tracks). I recognize some of the black and white footage from Vancouver's Stanley Park, where my family would walk every Sunday.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

310 West Cordova Street

Years ago, when I was running the Malcolm Lowry Room out of a closet in the Mercantile Building, deLuxe Junk occupied a storefront just east of it, at 310 West Cordova Street. I remember buying gifts there, bits of jewelry, a dark grey worsted sports coat. I also remember the clutter, the conversations, how chummy everyone was...

Saturday, June 18, 2016

CSA Space

I am not sure how long ago CSA Space opened its doors, but co-founder Steven Tong tells me it has been twelve years since the uncovering and opening of its lone exterior window.

No disrespect to Tegan Moore, whose current CSA installation includes a rather claustrophobic video of a warehouse where houses are tested, but while visiting last Wednesday I found it difficult to concentrate on anything other than the air coming in through that window.

But that's the point, right? How the opening of that window in that space was intended by the artist to contrast with the "controlled" laboratory environment in which houses and their materials are studied and, in this instance, conveyed to us through the closed box that is its monitor?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Shon Yee Benevolent Association

Among the many histories that contribute to that afghan known as Canada, it is our country's Chinese benevolent societies that I would like to hear more about.

One such society -- the Shon Yee Benevolent Association -- is in the news today. Not it, per se, but one of its buildings -- the 120-unit Royal Building at 262 East Pender Street, which was put up for sale this week. Price tag: $9,999, 000.

One of the many questions being asked is, What will the building's seniors do if evicted by the new owners? Another is, What is a benevolent society doing selling a building when housing is at a premium?

So I will ask it again. What is a benevolent association doing selling a building when housing is at a premium? Are the taxes too high? Does the society want to reinvest the money in something more sustainable? Is someone putting pressure on them to sell? Do they foresee a burst in the seemingly unburstable real estate bubble?

There is more to this story. And I would like to hear it.

[UPDATE: As of 10PM CKNW is reporting that City of Vancouver officials have no knowledge that the Royal Building (home to the May Wah Hotel) was ever put up for sale. For more, click here.)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Transit, Transit, Transit."

In one hour Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, B.C Premier Christy Clark and a bunch of Lower Mainland mayors will gather at a Burnaby Skytrain station to announce some serious federal spending. That they are meeting at a Skytrain station and not at the Vancouver Art Gallery should tell you what the feds will be "investing" in.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Not sure what it is about hebes and northern climates. The one in my garden has everything it should ever want and, at twenty years old, is only a foot tall -- or a tenth the size of the perfectly rounded ones I saw on Haida Gwaii a few years back. The hebe in this post is from Sointula and, as you can see, looks like a brain. You can tell it is thinking because it is in bloom.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Visual Equivalent of a Pocket Call

Sometimes the camera that is my phone goes off on its own and takes something that is worth taking again, or editing ("crop"), and this is what happened in Nanaimo.

And what continues to happen now that I am back, exploring the outer limits of my phone's filters and treatments.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tree Farming Country

I arrived in Port McNeil on the ferry from Sointula shortly before 8 a.m. yesterday and exactly three hours later pulled into the Nanaimo ferry terminal at Departure Bay. Still, with two hours until the next ferry (12:50 p.m.), I was the last car on!

While in Port McNeil on Thursday I noticed the city nickname on the side of one of its public works vehicles. Who would have thought thirty years ago that one of the biggest and meanest logging regions in B.C. would one day bill itself "Tree Farming Country"?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

"Where fishing, luxury and relaxation await you"

On Saturday I visited Mitchell Bay, where the first Finns landed in 1901 after rowing all week from Nanaimo. Later, in the 1960s, counter-culturalists made their first homes there. In 1984, Dave and Sally Sund purchased the nearby fishing lodge. In 2005, they sold it to their son and daughter-and-law who have made it what Sportsfishing Magazine has called "one of the finest fishing lodges on the entire British Columbia coast."

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Roy Small, Puppet Master

Yesterday afternoon Tyler took me to the home of Roy Small, puppet master. For many years Roy was part of Patchwork Puppets (est. 1966), a company that has performed throughout the world. Roy makes his puppets, writes his scripts and has much to say about his craft.

The picture up top is of the production centre at Roy's Sointula home studio. Below is a puppet Roy refers to as The Allegory. When asked why he calls it that, Roy tells me that some communities prefer not to have the Devil represented, whether by name, shape (horns) or colour (red). "So in its stead," he says holding up his puppet, "we have this -- The Allegory!"

Friday, June 10, 2016


The drive from Nanaimo to Port McNeil is basically the same distance as the drive from Vancouver to Kamloops. The main difference is that the road from Campbell River to Port McNeil is one-lane.

Spent an hour kicking around Campbell River, visiting thrift stores, chatting with locals. The Campbell River Art Gallery looks to be doing shows with artists who show regularly in BC and beyond.

Next up is Sonny Assu, who is from these parts and will be leading workshops with local youth. Following Sonny is Amy Malbeuf and Jordan Bennett, followed by Samuel Roy-Bois.

The picture up top was taken around 9:30pm last night on the beach outside the Malcolm Island Inn at Sointula, where I am staying. Below that and to the east -- a rainbow!

Thursday, June 9, 2016


On display as part of Trusses are a series of new mid-fire glazed ceramic works by Gailan Ngan.

A shame about the shadows. But the gallery, as director Julie Bevan mentioned in her speech, will be getting its makeover soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Marinaside Hotel

In Nanaimo for the opening of Jesse Birch's group show Trusses at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. The view from my hotel room is a Jeff Wall.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Popsicles of My Youth

Something about that shade of red and that shade of blue -- together.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Forest Walk

Things happen on walks. We let go of a lot. Room is made.

Space presents itself. A lack of obstruction. Time stretches.

I enjoy what we allow ourselves _________________ on walks.

Someone saw the makings of a face, made more so by ________

The song I hear _______________________________

____________________________________ so gently.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Paired Chairs

Last night I returned from a trip to Mayne Island, where I was hosted by Jeremy and Sus, who were touring me past a couple of houses they had built when I took this picture. The tour is part of a walk these two often take. When we came upon the chairs I asked them if they have ever seen anyone sitting in them, and they said no.

As we continued I told Jeremy and Sus about my mother's house in White Rock, how in her backyard she has a number of chairs -- always in twos. Sometimes when I am visiting my mother I sit down in one of these paired chairs, thinking she might do the same, but she never does. These chairs are not for you and her, Sus says, they are for those who visit her imagination.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Peter Wohlwend

Outside Midori and Peter's house is a bench that faces east. Earlier this week a note went out that Peter, who for years kept us in touch through the Dickens Community Listserve, had passed away after a long illness.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Earlier this week I was in Kerrisdale visiting old haunts like Hill's, where I buy a pair of pants every year or so. Parking was hard to find on this day, so I parked on East Boulevard, across the street from my old high school, Point Grey Secondary, and walked the four blocks from there.

The picture up top is a bush of ripened salmonberries. Behind it, what is going up at the site of the recently-demoished Leigh Block (southwest corner of 37th and West Boulevard), where, as a teenager, I had a friend I would visit who sold grass and told stories.