Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Story About a Coyote Story

I return to our table. The hitcher is chatting with our server. In the hitcher’s hand is a black felt pen and in her lap a sketch book open to a drawing of the ficus behind her. The server asks how long it took her to become an artist, and the hitcher says:

“I’ve always been an artist -- I was born that way. When my mother went out she would sit me at the kitchen table with a box of pencil crayons and a roll of paper and I would draw. Sometimes she would tell me a story while making my breakfast and I would draw what I saw in my head. But most times she didn’t and I just followed my hand, adding colours as they occurred to me. Sometimes the drawings didn’t look like anything, and those are the ones I remember best, but not the ones my mother kept.” 

“Abstractions?” says the server enthusiastically.

“You could call them that,” says the hitcher, returning to her drawing, touching it up. “But I’ve never liked that word. Abstractions from what, right? Like they started from people or buildings or landscapes and turned into something that didn’t look like anything?”

A couple comes into the lounge and the server leaves to attend to them.

“What were some of the stories your mother told you?” I ask.

“Oh, you know,” says the hitcher to her sketchbook, “stories from storybooks. Stories she had read to me so many times she knew them by heart.”

I watch as she blacks out the spaces between the leaves of her ficus, bringing the plant closer to her, as if into focus. She blacks out a few leaves and it looks as though a wind is passing through it.

“I remember one story,” she begins, her voice slow with concentration, her ficus now shimmering. “A coyote story about the arrow-trail that the Lower Earth People -- the Animal People -- a chickadee -- made with its bow and arrows to link them to the Upper World Land; how the Grizzly Bear was the last to climb this long line of arrows and broke it; and how the Lower Earth People who were already up there found everything -- all the food -- guarded and then, after suffering many suns, made their way back to the arrow-trail, only to find it was no longer there.”

“How did they get back?” I ask. 

“They jumped,” she says. “Sucker jumped first, thinking the blue part was water, but landed on the rocks beside it, smashing his bones into a million pieces.” She looks up. “That’s why suckers are inedible -- too many bones.” Returning to her drawing she tells me how Bat was next, but was so excited to jump that he forgot his wings and flattened out.

A moment passes. “And that’s why bats--?” I ask.

“That’s why bats are ugly,” she says quickly. “They used to be very handsome.”

Another moment passes before she holds up her drawing, moving it closer to her, then farther, turning it this way and that.

“What about Coyote?”

“Oh yeah,” she says, closing her eyes in concentration. “First Coyote turned himself into a pine needle, which fell fast. Then he became a leaf and floated gently to the ground. Then he returned to his own form.”

I recognize the passage. A recitation of the penultimate paragraph from Mourning Dove’s “The Arrow Trail”, which I read last week after I was introduced to Coyote Stories(1933) by a classmate, Mourning Dove’s great-granddaughter, Corinne Derrickson. “And after that?”

“After that,” the hitcher says closing her eyes again, “the Animal People were content to stay on earth, where they belonged. The breaking of their arrow-trail was the will of the spirit-chief. He did not want the Animal People bothering the people of the Upper World Land again.”

The first thing that occurred to me after reading “The Arrow Trail” was Genesis 11: 1-9, the story of the Tower of Babel. But in Genesis, God’s concern is not with those on Earth mingling with those in Heaven, but of a unified group whose tower would protect them not so much from another flood, but from another Act of God.

God writes:

“6. Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

7. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.

8. So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

In 2007, the theologian Theodore Hiebert offered a new interpretation of Genesis 11: 1-9, “arguing that the story ... is exclusively about the origins of cultural difference and not about pride and punishment at all.” I am not sure I buy that. Seems if cultural difference is valued, then why would it be predicated on the dissolution of something as positive as a group who came together to protect their families from floods and physically meet with the deity responsible for them. I share this with the hitcher.

“I don’t know,” she says. “The Bible was not a popular book in my house growing up.”

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Fintry Provincial Park

Okanagan temperatures continue to rise. To escape the heat, we gravitate towards water bodies and immerse ourselves.

Lake Okanagan is one such body, and Fintry, on its western shore, is a place to take its waters.

The picture above is of a lighthouse thirty feet from the beach and the three young men who climbed its ladders and jumped from it.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Selling of Alphonso Davies

Earlier this week it was announced on CBC radio that the Vancouver Whitecaps "sold" their star player -- seventeen-year-old Alphonso Davies -- to a German football team for 20 million dollars.

Of course the player is not literally sold, like hockey player Wayne Gretzky and his contract were sold by the WHA's Indianapolis Pacers to the Edmonton Oilers in 1978, but the rights to negotiate a contract with that player. Whether this contract means the same amount of money, or more, for Davies and his agent has yet to be announced.

Friday, July 27, 2018

"I like that you can take a concept to an artist, and watch them rise to the challenge."

_______ is on the rise. That’s the general sentiment of the urbanites who flock there each year. They want the all the benefits of a big city without the costly rents and rat race. There’s also something to be said about living in a city where the creative energy is strong. ______ _____, an art dealer who honed her chops in ___ ____ at galleries like ______ ______ and what is now __________ ____________, recently made the move to the _______ area to open _____ Projects, a 4,600-square-foot contemporary art gallery located in the _______ _______ building on ___ ________ ______ in __________, ________, just a 25-minute drive from _______. _____ Projects opened with the group show developed with artist _____ ______ titled __________ ____— on view through May 26 —  which explores the themes of surveillance, labor, privacy, oversharing on social media, the unobtainable balance between work and life and mistaken identity. The exhibition features works by ____ ___, ____ ______, _____ _______, ____  ______, ________ ________, _____ ______, _____ ______, and ___ _______. I quizzed ______ on decamping ___ ____ for ________, opening _____ Projects and the premise of the inaugural show.
What made you leave ___ ____?
_______! I was drawn to the idea of coming to a city that’s experiencing a surge. I feel like I’m in the most exciting part of _______ right now. ___ ____ has become a very rarified place, especially in the art world. And I love it there, but you can get goosebumps here in a way that you can’t in ___ ____. I wanted to be on the ground floor of the culture. And my family is here. 
__________. ________ seems like an odd place to start a gallery. Why did you decide to open your space there instead of _______?
_____ Projects is not the first. I like to think we’re following in the footsteps of a rich tradition in the arts. _______ _______ was a pioneering gallerist based in __________ for 40  years, paving the way for contemporary galleries like ours.
How do you plan to make sales when you're not in a typical destination for collectors?
Well first off, ________ has a rich collecting community, especially ______ ______ (__________, __________ _____). These are people that travel the world to discover fine art and design. Collectors follow the art, wherever it is. Culture will always function as a cultural oasis—look at the community that rose around Marfa, or Miami Basel. You find that if you have work that you truly love, that speaks to you, that stands out to you, it’s not difficult to sell. That’s the barrier to selling art: your total belief in the work. I could sell these artists from a payphone on the side of the highway. Although I’d prefer not to.
How did you find the space? Why did you choose that space?
We wanted to be in the heart of the city! I was looking for something particular: big, and with the right light. The space you choose for your gallery can elevate the work. I wanted to find a raw space that I could design in the way that I saw fit. The _______ ________ building is a landmark, and I feel it’s special that we can be here, and tailor the space to our needs.
Explain the whole concept of __________ ____.
Working with artists directly is a big part of who I am as a person. I like that you can take a concept to an artist, and watch them rise to the challenge. Ideas are their medium, in so many ways. __________ ____evolved out of some of the thematic interests you see on the reality TV show, that in an art context are incredibly potent things to think about: surveillance, labor, privacy, oversharing on social media, the unobtainable balance between work and life, and mistaken identity. In fact one artist in the exhibition _____ ______ is frequently mistaken for the bass player from the stoner bands _____ and ___ ________.
What is that whole story with the fake review lines?
The press release is a gag. Another case of mistaken identity. I think the show deals with its heady themes in a way that's also humorous. That's what art can do, give a dialogue a new context.  
How did you select the artists?
The ethos behind the gallery is creating opportunities for _______ artists to show and sell their work and be put in context with established and emerging artists from hubs like ___ ____. Of course many of the artists I’m bringing with me are old friends from ___ ____, from when I showed them, or worked with them at __________. To be frank, I picked the artists with the work that I love. The work always comes first. 
What are some of the exhibition's highlights?
Well, I’m particularly excited to be featuring ________ _______. He’s from here. The gallery showed him at the ______ Art Fair, our first art fair, and we sold out the booth in its entirety. _____ ______’s also _______-based, and has some incredible new roller paintings for the show.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

A lot of popping sounds these days. Especially at night. At first I wasn't sure what it was, so I recorded it and, after learning of someone who could listen to any sound and tell you what it was, sent it to her.  Here is her reply:

Gunshots from an Armscor M206 .38 Caliber Snubnose Revolver fired into two firm four-inch thick foam mattresses on the floor of a concrete room and recorded onto 1/4" tape at 7.5 inches i.p.s, transferred to a MacPro and played through Boss Audio NX654 6.5" 4-Way Speakers from either a 2010 Ford FIT or 2012 Toyota Matrix travelling at 35-40 k.p.h.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Masters Thesis Projects

On my way upstairs to defend my Masters Thesis Project (Course Language: How the Reader is Encouraged to Collaborate on Our Seminar and Pass Me) I stopped into FINA Gallery to visit Tania's exhibition. Tania defends tomorrow, and after that we par-tay.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Roadside Photography

Designer chicken coop, encased in chain-link. There's a one-foot space between the chain-link and the ground, so I don't get it. Nor do the chickens. There are none.

I asked the gate post. No one home there, either.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

An Oven Full of Pies

We managed to pit most of the 20 pounds of cherries we picked on Thursday. Kelly, Liz and Brian purchased some pie shells yesterday morning, and in the afternoon we packed them tight, setting the oven at 375.

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Bowl of Cherries

The tree rarely ripens before it is picked clean by birds. Not this time. Yesterday we filled this stainless steel bowl.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Goats will be goats, so we gathered two faggots of fifty-year-old cedar stays and applied them to this gate.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre

Figure 1 is publishing a book in celebration of wood and our relationship to it. Not wood as a logging product, but wood in its aestheticized form, as an architectural material.

As a contributor I was assigned three sites -- the Cheakamus Centre in Brackendale, the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre and the Penticton Lakeside Resort and Conference Centre -- and asked to submit a 1000 word piece that uses these sites as exemplars of this new relationship.

Yesterday I dropped by the Penticton site to tour its five-storey addition. The photo above was taken from the stairway that leads to its first storey atrium, an ascent that brought to mind everything from Emily Carr's 1930s paintings to Barnett Newman's Voice of Fire (1967).

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Monday, July 16, 2018

Granville Signs

Strange to see the Movieland sign on Granville Street's booze-fuelled "entertainment district" -- especially when there are no longer any "shooting" games inside. Fantasy Factory doesn't really have a sign anymore, only this in the window:

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bastille Day

Yesterday was Bastille Day. Vancouver celebrated at the Yaletown Roundhouse. But the blue in the bunting above -- not the blue I think of when I think of France's flag. More like the blue below: two tablecloths over a wheeled whiteboard, the kind used in seminars and retreats, wherever "blue sky" sessions are sold.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

VAG Openings

Cheryl L'Hirondelle shared with us two songs to open Ayumi Goto and Peter Morin's how do you carry the land? exhibition at the VAG last night. Before starting, Cheryl responded to exhibition title by repeating it, then replying, "With language -- that's how."

After the performances I saw Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill and asked if she and Cheryl are related. "All the L'Hirondelles are related to each other," she told me.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mattie Gunterman

The VAG's Dialogue with Emily Carr is an on-going program that has the paintings of Carr (1871-1945) displayed with another artist or artists, living or dead. The current "pairing" of Carr and Mattie Gunterman (1872-1945) is my introduction to the photographic adventures (adventures in photography?) of this Wisconsin-born, Kootenay-based artist.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Tomorrow is a travel day, so I am gathering a few things for my trip. On the radio, a phone-in show focused on Greyhound's cancellation of routes west of Sudbury, save the route that links Seattle and Vancouver.

It is rare to see more than a couple of hitch-hikers on my drives between Vernon and Vancouver. I will keep that in mind on my drive west tomorrow.

Monday, July 9, 2018


The architects of this year's subsistence garden have forsaken rows for hugelkultur, a horticultural system based on raised beds of rotting wood.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Picturing Mirror Image Texts

A mid-morning drive down Westside Road to Kelowna. Olivia Whetung's exhibition of framed beadwork/loomwork "reflections" at Alternator, a visit to Milkcrate Records, with its U-shaped sofa system before its paisley-carpeted stage, then a stop at Lake Country Art Gallery for Here > Over There.

A work by Hanss:

Followed by another -- this one bigger:

Saturday, July 7, 2018


UK-born architect Peter Cardew (b.1939) spent a year in Stuttgart, Germany, as part of his schooling. This was in the early 1960s, when he was barely in his twenties. In 1966 Peter came to Vancouver, where he took a job with Rhone and Iredale (he led the 1978 Crown Life Plaza project above), before going out on his own in 1980.

Stuttgart-born Fred Herzog (b.1930) left Germany in the early 1950s. He was well-established in Vancouver by the time Peter arrived, working as a medical photographer when not roaming the city taking pictures like this one at Nelson and Howe:

Fred loathed the rebuilding of Stuttgart along modern lines, preferring instead the vernacular city of Vancouver, with its Spanish Colonial, Edwardian and Deco architectures, its bouquets of neon and its burgeoning diversity:

Like many of us, Fred carries his own eccentric mix of modern and "traditional" sensibilities. One thing that both he and Peter despair is Vancouver's reduction of downtown Granville Street in the early 1970s to a "Mall", which Fred has likened to "something you might see in [Communist] East Germany."

Friday, July 6, 2018

East Vancouver

Late-May, 2016. Maybe 20th Avenue, the block east of Main Street. Maybe walking to Paul's studio, or to Organic Acres across the street from him, where I might bump into Rodney on his way to Exile, a music store on Main Street, where sometimes an autoharp sits in the window.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Peter Cardew Architects

Before driving to the Okanagan last Saturday I visited architect Peter Cardew's Railway Street studio to meet with him about his Reigning Champ store design(s) for a piece I am writing for Canadian Architect. The focus of my recent visit to Los Angeles was the R.C. store on South La Brea, which marked the debut of Peter's ceiling-tracked hanging shelves. The model to the right of Peter's in-progress mannequin model (above) is a hanging shelf. Below, a picture of the shelves themselves.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Time to re-paint.

Same colour.

A couple months ago I was told of a retailer who could match any chip of pant to its catalogue number. Curious to see such a machine, I took in my chip, gave it to the salesperson, and he said he would be right back.

"Can I watch?" I asked.

The salesperson looked uncomfortable. "Well, sure, I guess."

Into the back we went.

At a small desk beside the rear exit sat a young woman. She was playing computer solitaire. To her left was a steaming bowl of Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup. The salesperson handed her the chip; she took it, glanced at it, handed it back. "f4f3ef."

"Same sheen?" the salesperson asked. "Eggshell?"

Monday, July 2, 2018


Malcolm Island, June 2016.

Memories of a sunset.

I was staying at the hotel above the bar beside the ferry terminal. Part of my research into rural art spaces, residencies... BC Ferries representatives had come for the day (and night) to look around. They had chosen to promote Sointula in its literature.

Do you get sunsets like this every night? one of them asked the proprietor.

Oh yes, said the proprietor. Every night the sun sets.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


The creek is a good two feet lower than it was in May, when the cottonwoods were shifting and the bridge was threatened. Always unsettling to think back on how close things come.

On the bright side, I am happy to see that the mallow I pulled has not grown back, and that there is less of it than I thought when I left. Although it all looks like the same patch, I remember areas where it came out easily and more stubborn areas where it grows through tightly-packed rocks.

Eleven days before another trip to Vancouver. Hopefully this time I can leave with seeds in the ground and a sprinkler watching over them.