Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vancouver Heritage Restoration Program

A few weeks ago Adele Weder published a great piece in the Tyee concerning Vancouver's erstwhile heritage restoration program. At the top of the list of buildings to feel the pinch is the Dal Grauer Substation on Burrard Street. Weder refers to it as a 'gem' and it truly is; it has, unfortunately, been allowed to fade over the years, to the point where it's become almost unnoticeable along one of the city's busiest strips.

But the bones are there and a restoration on this building - including the BC Binning designed colour scheme - would add great flourish to Burrard and tie back in nicely with the Electra next door. As Weder points out, it would also go well beyond mere 'decorating' to remind Vancouverites of the exciting confluence of business, modern architecture and art that the building so beautifully represents.

Graham Residence

In recent weeks the story of the Graham Residence in West Vancouver has received coverage in Vancouver papers. Some links are below.

The condensed story is that the owner of the Arthur Erickson-designed house has applied for a demolition permit, due to an apparent state of disrepair.

Designed in 1962, it is one of the iconic houses in Vancouver, owing much of it's success to Erickson's beautiful handling of the architecture as it steps down a dramatic rocky site above Howe Sound. All the west coast elements are here: large expanses of glass, copious wood, post and beam construction and a conscious relationship to the elements.

Erickson's own book on his work (Tundra Books, 1973) showcases the house well through Simon Scott's photography and shows some commonalities with the later and more well-known Smith Residence.

It's unclear if it will be saved; let's keep our fingers crossed.

Vancouver Heritage Art Show and Talk

Last night was the Vancouver Heritage Foundation's art show focusing on the Vancouver painting scene in the 1960's. It was a follow up to last year's event that covered painting in Vancouver in the 1950's. The evening was hosted by the AIBC at their space and featured a talk by Brian Dedora. The show collected works by artists such as Michael Morris, Roy Kiyooka and Ian Wallace among others.

Brian had some excellent insights into the work, including the idea that these artists were drawing more of their influences from 'popular' culture and that this was reflected across the board: not only in painting, but in performance, photography and video art. Brian stressed Kiyooka's importance to the scene, both as an educator and artist and noted that his later photographic works coincided with the start of the Vancouver School of photography.

One of the most interesting things about this evening (and last years' that showed work by Binning, Jarvis, Smith, Thomas etc.) is the chance to see a unique collection of Vancouver art brought together for the first and most likely last time. A one-off show that provides context and allows the works to reflect off each other.

Thanks to the Diane Switzer and the Vancouver Heritage Foundation for shining a light on our local art and history. And thanks to Brian for the research and excellent commentary.