The Sketch-a-thon and no-staple mini comic workshop last weekend went very smoothly! Thanks for joining us for those events!
But the fun trains doesn’t stop with Cloudscape, oh no.
This weekend, you are all invited to the Vancouver Comics Art Festival at the Roundhouse (181 Roundhouse Mews,
Revisiting the So Many Things mural not long after I photographed it reveals it has been white washed. It’s true it had seen better days; now it appears that the proprietors are shopping the site as a commerical / retail opportunity. While they managed to scrub some of the mossy green from the signage, I think they need to work a little harder than this…
Have you heard of these things called blogs? Blogging wasn’t new in 2005, but it was still a niche hobby for the technologically minded. I had been maintaining a personal blog, and was a regular blog reader. I saw multiple-author blogs devoted to certain subjects and…
Emily was one of eight Canadian artists selected to illustrate the new Chinatown Gate Stamp Series for Canada Post. These stamps feature eight different gates of Chinatown, located in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa and Montréal.
The stamp series was launched in Canada Post locations on May 1, 2013.
As a followup to last week’s Hotel Vancouver #2 mural, here’s another long lost mural from the Hotel Vancouver #3.
In 1939 Charles Comfort depicted Captain Vancouver as the guest of honour at a Northwest Coast Native potlatch ceremony for the foyer of the newly constructed Hotel Vancouver.
In the previous mural, a group of completely out of place Plains Indians appear far off in the background on the right hand side. At least here, the Northwest Coast Natives are depicted with greater accuracy, prominently placed in the foreground with artistry.
But it’s hard not to view the depiction of the First Nations in a subservient manner. The three white men stand on podiums like track and field winners, looking rather pompous with their ship’s oar, navigational aids, and British flag. A massive totem pole looms in the background while birds fly idyllically overhead. With a target audience of visiting tourists, the intent of the mural was clearly to welcome and inspire the guests. There is no foreshadowing of the potlatch ban that would come years later.
This image is seen on the cover of the book National Soul: Canadian Mural Painting, 1860s - 1930s by Marylin J. McKay. Ironically, the painting itself is on the other side of the country in the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, PEI.
HMS Discovery & Chatham Becalmed June 9, 1792, depicted here in Puget Sound in watercolour by Captain Steve Mayo in 2012. This is a little out of our jurisdiction, but we could just as well imagine these ships making their way into Burrard Inlet. He blogs about the painting here:
My painting shows the two vessels around 3:00 as the wind died off in the middle of Rosario Strait with Mt. Baker in the background. The south part of Cypress Island is prominent behind the Discovery. Strawberry Bay, their destination, is just beyond the scene to the left. The Chatham has drifted a little further east and has lost steerageway. Vancouver has hoisted the signal to start towing; the Chatham has already manned her launch and is rigging a towline…
A detail of significance in my painting is the portrayal of the stern decorations on the Discovery. I have followed, as closely as possible, a photograph of a wash painting of HMS Discovery done in 1790-91. The original was painted from life by a professional maritime artist, (possibly) Robert Cleveley, while the ship was moored in the Thames River just prior to her epic voyage.The contemporary artist, Mark Myers, alerted me to the existence of this photocopy and where it resides in Whitby, England. The wash painting is very accurate so the hull and rigging details match precisely the actual Admiralty plans ofDiscovery in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Unfortunately, the Admiralty plans do not show any details of the ship’s stern decorations so that wash painting is very revealing. It also bears out the unusual detail from her body plan that we have known for years: the Discovery was built with no tumble-home to the sides of her hull.
Self-Indulgent Comics #42
Another new mini-comic for the upcoming (May 25th/26th) 2nd annual Vancaf Small Press Convention coming up at the Roundhouse (it’s also free to attend). In this issue I enter the hallowed halls of ART! This one was painted in black, white and grey gouache, a nice flat medium but difficult in that it drys a different tone than when applied wet.
Please note that this mini-comic and many others are available from Colin Upton Comics - firstname.lastname@example.org - both individually and in sets at reasonable prices.
Via Allan Peters blog, the Target advertising reveal for Vancouver. Credits from the blog: Sr CD: Ruth Balbach; CD: Steve Chirhart; Sr. AD: Allan Peters; Sr. CW: Sage Rider; Illustrator: Lab Partners.
When Target launched it’s first 200 stores in Canada, the brand needed to make a few friends. As the lead Art Director on the Canada social team, I came up with the idea to create vintage travel poster inspired artwork showing bullseye the dog traveling across the country. The posts were strategically leaked throughout the day starting with a tight crop and the post “Hi Neighbor! Bullseye is out on the open road helping celebrate our Canadian store openings. Keep checking in and see if you can spot where he is next”. This invited the audience to participate in a guessing game based on the landmarks revealed in the illustrations. At the end of the day the location was revealed with a message stating how excited Target was to be their new neighbor.
Has anyone photographed the Target - Skytrain wrap? Let me know if you spot it in person or via Twitter, Flickr, or Instagram.
The Spiro Tower, seen above in a period flyer via Emporis.com. I don’t normally feature photographs, but in this case, given the relative obscurity of this item, I’m including anything I can gather! Facts about the tower, built 1968, demolished 1979, from Emporis:
- Diameter of tower: 8 feet 2 inches.
- Capacity of gondola: 60 persons.
- Traveling speed: 295 feet per minute.
- Rotations of gondola per trip: 3.
- The tower was Swiss design and manufactured and imported from West Germany.
- Built by Mercedes-Benz who placed their logo on the top at installation (removed later for advertising space).
- Tower was located just inside the main Playland entrance gate on Hastings Street.
- The structure’s purpose during its 11 year existence was as an observation tower/amusement ride.
- Traveling height of the 2-level cabin: 216 feet.
- Tower was opened the same year Spiro Agnew was elected US Vice President (Richard Nixon’s running mate), so many people mispronounced its name as SPEAR-RO Tower instead of SPY-RO.
Also seen above is page 165 of 100 Years of Fun, the retrospective book on the PNE. The PNE sent me some additional images, including their 1968 Annual Report which featured the tower on the front cover. From this annual report, the footnote text on the back cover stated:
A spectacular 300-foot high elevator ride into space was the exciting high point for visitors to Playland during the 1968 Pacific National Exhibition. Gently rotating three times on the way up and down, the picture windows allowed each passenger an uninterrupted panoramic view of not only the 184 “Acres of Fun”, but of the most beautiful city in Canada—from atop the new, exciting and unique Spiro-Tower.
There’s got to be more great photos of this tower/from this tower in your parents and grandparents photo albums! Here’s a great panoramic shot from Harold H Johnston for instance. Keep an eye out for them, and post them soon!
This is the last week of the ECUAD Grad Show, so check it out! Here’s a detail from a painting by fine arts student Amanda Niekamp, who shows a little bit of west coast Miami in this painting of the Villa Maris, aka the Pink Palace in West Vancouver (Google Maps). She’s also got a fab retro noir poster / painting of the Beacon Theatre you should check out in person! via her blog:
Just a glimpse of what is to come. Putting this aside for a few days. #Miami #westcoast #pink #palace #Vancouver #oil #painting #art #pulp #illustration
I attended the opening of Charles Keillor’s show Lotus Land in Deep Cove on Friday, and I have to add a followup post to implore you - you must go and see this show! The scale, detail, technique, and impact of these drawings all in one show is not to be missed! I wish I could feature the Buntzen Lake Power House drawing here, but it just falls outside the “Illustrated Vancouver” jurisdiction. Perhaps Charles will choose to draw the Dal Grauer substation, or the Electra next? Head to Deep Cove for some kayaking, and then some fine art! The show runs to June 2, 2013.
I’ve posted these photos from 1969 previously, but I think it’s worth a repost. On the left, we have the photographs of Nicholas Russell from 1969, showing the demolition of the Lyric Theatre (the former Vancouver Opera House, among other names over the years). The demolition crew creatively used the historic theatre backdrops as demolition curtains, enough to make any heritage advocate cringe! On the right, I’ve photographed the former Sears building, with mesh netting just recently applied, during the demolition of the building’s facade. I missed my chance to shoot right through the building before the netting was installed, but then the idea struck me to feature a little ‘then and now’. It’s also hard to get the precise identical angles as the scale of the buildings are so dramatically different, but I’m happy with the result. I’m also extraordinarily grateful for folks like Nicholas Russell for documenting the evolving landscape of our city when it was still relatively uncommon to do so. The three 1969 photos are courtesy of the Vancouver Archives [one two three]; my photos are on flickr.
There’s still an opportunity for someone to photograph the building from the other side of the block!
In my ongoing exploration of Vancouver’s murals, I present to you one rare and extraordinary survivor from one of Vancouver’s greatest hotels. The Landing of Captain Vancouver by American artist Marion Powers Kirkpatrick. This mural measuring 8 x 16 feet once hung in the magnificent CPR Hotel Vancouver #2 of 1916. Paul Sternberg, Sr. writes about the artist in his book "Art by American Women":
Born in London, England of American parents, Marion Powers excelled in vibrant still lifes that had textile designs in them and large-scale murals. She began art study in London and then in Paris.
She married the English painter, W.A.B. Kirkpatrick [William Arber Brown Kirkpatrick], and in 1906, they settled in Waldeboro, Maine. Prior to living in Waldoboro and Friendship (summer studio) Maine, she and her husband maintained a studio in Boston. She executed a mural at the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Hotel Vancouver in British Columbia and also did still life with randomly displayed objects, painted only for the purpose of showing the objects.
She was an illustrator for “Harper’s” Magazine. She illustrated many magazine covers for Woman’s Home companion, Sunday Magazine various books as well as advertisements for Jello. Many of her still lifes involve food or flower arrangements with very brilliant colors. From 1906 to 1929, she exhibited numerous times at the annual exhibitions of the National and Pennsylvania Academies and was in many other exhibitions.
She is in the permanent collection of the Lourvre in Paris.
Not much is known about Marion Powers Kirkpatrick’s connection to Vancouver, but it is perhaps possible that Francis S. Swales, the architect of the hotel saw her work at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 and commissioned this mural in time for the Hotel’s grand opening in 1916.
The August 1916 edition of the Architect magazine is dedicated to the hotel, featuring text written by none other than the architect himself, Francis S. Swales. I got very excited recently when I discovered that this entire issue of the Architect is available on archive.org; I had seen the copy at the Vancouver Archives last year, and it is a phenomenal view of the greatest hotel we ever had. I actually searched all other posted issues of the Architect but failed to find any other major articles about Vancouver. But back to the mural, about which the architect writes:
A beautifully composed and richly colored decorative picture in the central lunette over the back bar, painted by Marion Powers Kirkpatrick, of Boston, is comparable with the work of Frank Braugwyn and gives the necessary glowing note of color that prevents what might otherwise be a somber effect.
The accompanying photos just barely show the mural in position over the bar on the lower level of the hotel. It’s hard to imagine having anything somber to say about the Hotel Vancouver #2, except for the fact that it was demolished just 33 years after it was built to make way for a parking lot.
This mural is currently on display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, where it is part of their permanent collection. The fact that this mural outlived the hotel is something of small miracle. The mural’s second home also faced the wrecking ball, but fortunately for us, it was once again rescued at the last moment. From the description of the artwork at the museum:
Commissioned from an unknown source, Boston area artist Marion Powers Kirkpatrick created this mural to hang in the Hotel Vancouver. The painting was later installed in the lobby of Pier BC, over the double doors in the lobby that led to the walkway along the roof over the sheds of the pier. Pier BC was opened in 1927, but it is not known when exactly the painting was installed [I speculate it was probably just prior to the demolition of the hotel in 1949 when most of the hotel fixtures were auctioned off]. It hung there until 1980, a few days before Pier BC was demolished. Canada Place is where Pier BC used to be.
As for the depictions in the mural itself, I will refrain from being too critical of the subject matter. The scene is pure historical fantasy. If the Native Indians on the far right of the scene appear to be out of place, remember this was painted by an American woman from Boston who lived in a time long before the aid of the Internet. Captain George Vancouver’s musclebound crew are seen showing off their shirtless bodies while feasting on a tropical bounty no doubt just in from Hawaii. The small child in the foreground acts as a reminder of man’s responsibilities, fitting for all those who find themselves seated in front of the bar for too long.
This nearly 100 year old work of art is one of our city’s great hidden gems. I highly recommend a trip to the Maritime Museum to see it in person, and when you do, try to imagine what it must have been like to sit at this bar when the hotel was just one year old and prohibition kicked into effect for four long years (October 1, 1917–June 14, 1921).
An etching of the Spencer’s building, from a letter to the Windsor Hotel, New Westminster dated September 8, 1942. Here you can see the actual building very much as it appears today. By contrast, you may recall the proposed structure I featured twice before which would have overtaken the entire block. Changing Vancouver delves into this aspect of the story here.
And one final bit of Spencer’s lore, here are two of my favourite bits of vintage Vancouver motion picture. Part 1 and part 2 of the Spencer’s Christmas parade believed to be from 1927, from the Colonel Victor Spencer family fonds at the Vancouver Archives.