Tuesday, December 31, 2013

marking my clark park:: near the end of the year

 "...that is an indigence of the light,
a stellar pallor that hangs on the threads."*

and so it snows...for a few hours on a december day...near the end of another year...

may the new one be full of Lebensweisheitspielerei!

[*from the poem "Lebensweisheitspielerei" by Wallace Stevens, 1954]

Sunday, December 15, 2013

princess house

it is snowing leaves of gold the wind shaking them loose as they flutter down in front of the pale pink house full of slow shadows and faded doubts
the mesh-veil framed around the porch held up by dark pink columns muffles the light and mutes inconsequential secrets pulled back into the dark hallway
a hand quivers behind the drapes blinded by the inaction of certain grey days running damp and dirty down princess avenue of the unroyal house and home
continues up the warped stairs to sit in dusky rooms and lie a while on the saddled bed of mechanical emotions rolling over onto the final broken sacrament

Saturday, November 2, 2013

a mud-slinging screamfest

a clay orifice upon flesh -
fill the dark hollow with a howl...
sonic containment within,
psychical release without -
mouth to mouth resurrect.

If you feel the need to unleash the mother of all screams without disturbing the peaceful setting of West Vancouver, go and pick up one of these clay pots at the West Vancouver Museum and expand your lungs for a major howl into it. Your muffled bellow will barely ruffle the feathers of any sedate West Van matrons around!

These "scream pots" are the objets d'artifice of an exhibition conceived by the not so vociferous Babak Golkar whose magic persian carpet mushroomed a miniature city of intricate buildings at the Charles H. Scott Gallery last year. The terracotta pots are hand-crafted into varied shapes and sizes to affect the tenor of the screams emitted into them. Even if one does not feel the need to cry out, the tactile nature of the clay invites one to touch, hold, caress...


The second part of the exhibit includes a digital projection of blobs of clay being hurled at a wall with the accompanying plopping sound effects - the aptly scatological visual [and audio] is somewhat mesmerizing to watch and presents another release of sorts in the physical force of flinging mud...
[Gabriel Orozco also once pitched clay balls in one of his projects, but at the pots themselves as they were being turned on the wheel...[Cazuelas (Beginnings), 2002]

The "turds" dried and fell off with the resultant staining still manifest on the wall, creating a monochrome messy dot "painting" a la the Japanese eccentric Yayoi Kusama - with the baked pieces scattered on the floor below their previous elevated surface like so many dropped and inedible crumbs...

in the end, a lumpen being of baked clay
lies dejected, hardened, unused -
and failing to rise again,
sinks to the floorboards of life...

Dialectic of Failure
New Work by Babak Golkar
October 11 to December 7, 2013
West Vancouver Museum 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

lost in the woods...

the waterlily pond stasis of a clogged Giverny
without artful conventions in a west coastal setting,

and hidden within a pedicured city garden lurks
the overgrown portal to an interior forest...

the tree trunks reconfigured and reassembled
to hold up the rainproof canopy and glass curtains - 
still trying to keep the forest sliver within safe 
from being lost to the deep dark woods...

The Forest Education Centre in the VanDusen Botanical Garden was built in 1976 by Vancouver architect Paul Merrick.  Originally underwritten by MacMillan Bloedel and featured as "A Walk in the Forest", it was donated to the Park Board in 1986, which continued to offer educational programs until 2011.
This relatively unknown diminutive glassed "babylon" of westcoast modernism is now considered for demolition, or repurposed into a glorified outhouse!

For more information... awalkintheforest2013.blogspot.ca

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

a horse did whinny...*

"a horse did whinny in the afternoon -
he had no pity for the old buffoon...

a horse did whinny in the pale sunlight -
he had no eyes, he had no insight...

a horse did whinny in the middle of the day,
a horse did whinny as if to say...
go away... go away... go away...... go away..."* 

[* the selected lines are lyrics from a song by Enzio Verster of Half-Chinese, a too-cool Vancouver band on the move to Montreal...]

["Horse did whinny" is the first song on their album We were pretending to be released by Sad Game Records, 2012]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

downtown westside:: the sexy sixties [episode three]

The Guinness Tower [by Charles Paine & Associates, 1969] is as sexy as the International Style gets back in provincial 1960's Vancouver. Almost 50 years on, it can still hold its own with its sleek proportions, its silver threading through aqua-green glass, its seductive black "leggings", and its ageless integrity. Mies van der Rohe would be justly proud of this well-heeled derivative of his own tall pristine temples.
And, of course, thank you, Guinness family fortune.

Within this paean to Miesian symmetrical sexiness is a full-wall tile mural in the lobby that is so unexpected in its large scale chaotic surrealist conception, as only a one-armed wild-haired Catalan artiste from the realm of Gaudi can execute. Entitled "The Fathomless Richness of the Seabed", the ceramic tile abstractions sweeps one into a maelstrom of swirling sea creatures and blue tidal depths in low relief. I learned about an artist whom I have not known of before - Jordi Bonet, born in Barcelona in 1932 and after moving to Montreal, sustained a most prolific practice in painting, sculpture, ceramics and public wall installations during his short life.
And thanks again to the fathomless wealth of the Guinness family, we are graced with one of his magnificent, albeit a little hidden away, creations in our fair city of aggregating richness.

The Guinness Tower at 1055 West Hastings Street
Completed in 1969 by Charles Paine & Associates

*Please enjoy my new photo-essay book, BARCELONA PRIMITIVA, available for previewing on blurb.ca/b/4589830-b-a-r-c-e-l-o-n-a-p-r-i-m-i-t-i-v-a

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

the bipolarity of blue bears...

strange strandings from arctic empires
moulding ice blue stance behind the stables
the late august sun beats inconsolate upon
the prowling pair, still durable and fierce
for another maladaptive winterwelter

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

down market alley...

The enigmatic riddle that is Vancouver's Chinatown has of late been unraveling in a decidedly un-chinese turn - the invisible knots of clandestine activities, the blank doors of self-protectionist secret dens, the survival commerce of basic needs, the resourceful stealth of a long marginalized and ill-treated race have all been slowly dissolving in the face of changing demographics and rising property value.
The Chinatown of old that had bordered on a swamp and been ghettoized in hostile restriction to a few square blocks grew inwards and upwards in ways that slyly mocked the building bylaws - what is not seen did not exist was the modus operandi.
Over a hundred years since its beginnings, while revealing a quaint and half-heartedly presentable face to tourists, there are still hidden layers to be found even as erosion due to age and neglect has continued. One such esoteric zone has long been obscured by a loss of customers and the lack of will to take it back from the drug dealers and addicts who scuttle in the shadows.
Market Alley was once a thriving collusion of a laneway between East Pender and East Hastings Streets and stretching two blocks from Carrall Street to Main Street, comprising of opium factories [the entrance of one such was at No. 34], gambling dens, covert restaurants, and assorted tinsmiths, tailors and shoemakers.
I recently joined a walking tour of this still grimy yet curious alley to learn more about Chinatown's guarded history and below are some of what caught my excitable savage eye [albeit in the safety of a group]...

[the smidgen of leftover green paint indicates where the infamous Green Door Restaurant was located - the Green Door had been a gambling den that also fed its denizens and eventually became a cheap and popular insider's chinese restaurant for the young and the stomach-hardy in the 1960's-80's]

[The Chinatown walking tour was led by John Atkin through the Vancouver Heritage Foundation]

Friday, August 9, 2013

ex oriente lux

across from the patricia hotel a ghostly sign glows luminous thoughts in strict chinese strokes,
the windows dark the building blank as the eastern words jack across a slow to 30 kph zone...
the drifters and the seekers spread out their accumulations in exchange for another day,
another day of rounding the block only to find themselves back in the same fabrications,
where the fabulists drown in their own spit and the somnambulists soothe the nay-slayers...

"The simple damning lust, 
float flat magic in low changing 
evenings. Shiver your hands 
in dance. Empty all of me for 
knowing, and will the danger 
of identification,

Let me sit and go blind in my dreaming 
and be that dream in purpose and device."*

[*excerpt from "The New World" by Imamu Amiri BARAKA, 1969]