Vancouver Confidential, the final version of the book cover; painting by Tom Carter. It’s official! I’m having a book launch, along with over a dozen of my close associates! I had initially posted the book here but a brand new painting has been completed just for the cover! The cover image shows Hastings and Main from an imagined elevated perspective, giving you a unique vantage point of downtown through a dense stretch of brilliant neon and bustling city streets. This book is not an art history textbook, but instead explores a host of untapped local history from the mid-20th century.

You are hereby invited to attend said book launch on September 21 in Chinatown. If you are a friend of one of us, you may be able to see this Facebook event. If you can’t see it, try this link instead! (No matter what the Facebook RSVP says, I am quite confident it will be a full house! Maybe standing room only!) To all attendees; please wear a hat! (hat optional, strictly for ambiance!)

Many of the contributors to this fourteen-author publication are likely to be in attendance! Drinks will be available from the Emerald Supper Club bar (no host bar).

  • 21 September, 2014 at 18:00–21:00
    the Emerald Supper Club
    555 Gore Avenue, Vancouver, BC

If you can’t make this book launch, I personally expect we will do more book promotional events in the near future, such as readings in libraries, public and private spaces, etc. For example, I am personally planning to give a reading at Long Table Distillery on the edge of Yaletown & False Creek (1451 Hornby St) in mid-October, just steps from the former Joseph Kennedy warehouse (it was at 1208 Homer St)! Details as they become available!

So what is this book all about?

From the back cover:

Most civic histories celebrate progress, industry, order, and visions. This isn’t one of those.

Vancouver Confidential takes a fresh look at the rare urban culture of a port city in the mid-twentieth century. These were years when Hastings and Main was still a dynamic commercial and entertainment hub, when streetcars thrummed through the city, and when ‘theatre’ meant vaudeville and burlesque. Street gambling and illegal booze cans peppered the map, brothels and bootleggers served loggers and shore-workers, and politicians were almost always larger than life.

This new compilation honours the hustlers and the hobos, the mobster and the muscle, the bent and the straight, the mug in the mug shot, the ingénue and the spy, the anonymous woman at the till, the victim at the murder scene, and the crusading reporter in disguise. It illuminates aspects of a city in disguise. It illuminates aspects of a city that was too busy getting into trouble to worry about whether or not it was ‘world class.’

Vancouver Confidential includes essays from Tom Carter, Aaron Chapman, Jesse Donaldson, James Johnstone, Lani Russwurm, Eve Lazarus, Diane Purvey, Cathrine Rose, Rosanne Sia, Jason Vanderhill, Stevie Wilson, Will Woods, Terry Watada and John Belshaw.

And what is my particular chapter about, you ask? It’s an exploration of prohibition in Canada and the US, cocktails in Yaletown, and an ambitious American entrepreneur named Daniel Joseph Kennedy. I’ve included some of my favourite photos on the subject in this post, and there will be much, much more revealed within the pages of this book! This is all very exciting, as these stories have not yet been told to this degree, and now you can read them all in one book! Very special thanks to Anvil Press for publishing, John Belshaw for editing, and Derek von Essen for designing the book! Such a diverse collection of stories by a very dynamic group. Thank you all for your interest!

Hastings Track (2013) 70”x40” acrylic on canvas by Taralee Guild, available at Art Junction. I first saw this on the 2013 Culture Crawl, and I must say, everything about this canvas is impressive! I took an action shot on Instagram in order to keep the memory of this painting alive, but I recommend you see it in person!

Hastings Track (2013) 70”x40” acrylic on canvas by Taralee Guild, available at Art Junction. I first saw this on the 2013 Culture Crawl, and I must say, everything about this canvas is impressive! I took an action shot on Instagram in order to keep the memory of this painting alive, but I recommend you see it in person!

Renderings of Development Application for 601 West Hastings Street by B+H Architects. From the design rationale:

Of primary importance to the success of this building is the function and  appeal of the public plaza. The integration of a large public space into the base of a tower requires careful consideration of openness, animation, and interest. It becomes a focal point around which the tower evolves and responds.

To create a visually appealing and unique space the concept for the park is a carving away of the base of the tower. An undulating form is revealed in the soffit that stands in contrast to the sleek glass above and distinguishes the plaza as a public space. The corner is lifted high to allow as much light as possible to enter the plaza, and the edges of the site mediate the changes in grade to allow multiple points of access and transparency for increased safety.

The tower acknowledges and responds to its neighbours and surrounding context. The curved corner and gentle roof peak address the street corner and the primary views of the building while maintaining some of the design language of the plaza. The proximity of the neighbouring buildings is addressed with two gently curved setbacks that serve to bring additional focus to the plaza and also maintain some separation and views between the buildings.

I came across this application thanks to Heritage Vancouver, after researching the building that was on the site previously, the Empire Building. I did a then and now mockup here which I have also included above. A glass dome sits on the site currently, creating a rather curious semi-public space in the city, which may not be with us for much longer if this application is built.

I should announce that I will be featuring architectural renderings in a big way in the near future; watch for more info in following posts!

Paintings by Leef Evans. His work has been exhibited at Gallery Gachet this past year, most notably at the exhibit One Hundred Self-Portraits in One Hundred Days this fall. From his website:

I have no political agenda. I have no historical perspective. I have no social ramifications I’m seeking to address. What I do have is lots of paint and a fat brush. The fat brush and brash gobs of paint don’t permit me to fret or obsess. The fat brush doesn’t allow me to wallow in incidental detail. The fat gobs don’t permit me to remain in one place and burrow into concerns. I move on. I allow for accidents. I revel in movement. I paint accidental psalms. This is what the art does. It moves me into little fugue vortexes. The art, the paint, the brush is the only process…

A series of linocuts with watercolour by sketchalina, Carol McQuaid, on exhibit at the Unitarian Church in Vancouver later this month. From her blog:

Here are some more for my upcoming show. It’s at the gallery in the Unitarian Church on 49th and Oak here in Vancouver. It’ll run from September 16th to October 15th, and there’s a reception on Sunday the 22nd from 2:30-5…
This church is an amazing community member. They put on a great organic farmers market every Wednesday…There are two awesome gallery spaces, one in the sanctuary and another called the Fireside Room, and they always have interesting shows…
The Ridge screened its last picture show on February 3, 2013. It hasn’t been a part of the Vancouver Film Festival since 2009, but even with the loss of the Granville 7, VIFF marches on! In addition to Vancity and the PC, we’ll be able to watch the big screen in the following venues: The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts, the Vancouver Playhouse, Cineplex Odeon International Village (3 screens at Tinseltown), SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, and the Rio Theatre! On with the show!

Sewn art series from Sarah Mulder. The first two tapestries feature the iconic Woodwards W, and the third features PNE and Playland. Don’t forget, it’s the last weekend of the PNE!

artists against artists - 2011 dtes woman’s housing march, a monochromatic painting mounted to the construction wall right in front of the former Pantages Theatre on Hastings Street. More photos from the walk here.

artists against artists - 2011 dtes woman’s housing march, a monochromatic painting mounted to the construction wall right in front of the former Pantages Theatre on Hastings Street. More photos from the walk here.

iantangallery:

Mark Boyko
East Hastings, 2012, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 60”
Mark Boyko’s canvasses are forcefully immersive and strikingly beautiful to look at. They are especially successful when seen in person and on a large scale. With elongated brushtrokes bursting from a strong vanishing point, Mark invites the audience into his bleary Vancouver landscapes. Despite their monochromatism, the paintings have an energy which breathe both inwards and outwards, sometimes highlighted by a single stroke or fleck of pale colour.
A student of world-renowned superstar artist Alessandro Papeti, Boyko, fortunately for us, has translated this painting technique to capture his hometown of Vancouver in an aesthetic language that depicts space as emotion rather than description.

iantangallery:

Mark Boyko

East Hastings, 2012, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 60”

Mark Boyko’s canvasses are forcefully immersive and strikingly beautiful to look at. They are especially successful when seen in person and on a large scale. With elongated brushtrokes bursting from a strong vanishing point, Mark invites the audience into his bleary Vancouver landscapes. Despite their monochromatism, the paintings have an energy which breathe both inwards and outwards, sometimes highlighted by a single stroke or fleck of pale colour.

A student of world-renowned superstar artist Alessandro Papeti, Boyko, fortunately for us, has translated this painting technique to capture his hometown of Vancouver in an aesthetic language that depicts space as emotion rather than description.

Kenworth Truck Calendar, acrylic painting from 1979 by George McLachlan. The scene depicts the corner of Granville and Hastings, a popular intersection to take a picture perfect postcard, as many images in the Vancouver Archives are taken from this very same vantage point.

The name Kenworth came into being in 1923, and this truck appears to be from this early era. The style of manned traffic light system shown here remained in effect until 1928, according to Chuck Davis. This would explain why the Trorey Clock is missing from the painting, as Birks had purchased the Trorey business back in 1907 and moved the clock up to Georgia & Granville in 1913.

The lost murals of James Blomfield. Until I read the book A National Soul: Canadian Mural Painting, 1860s-1930s by Marylin J. McKay, I was not aware that James Blomfield had painted these two murals in the former Royal Bank building at the corner of West Hastings and Homer (now part of VFS). From  Volume 18 (1905), Issue 10, page 149 of the Canadian Architect and Builder (available online btw), here’s the brief text description:

These wall paintings have an allegorical reference to Vancouver and the Royal Bank. Vancouver Triumphans represents the rising City of Vancouver with Industry on one side and Agriculture on the other. The figure in the lower panel is a personification of Acadia, representing the Maritime Provinces in which the Royal Bank had its origin. The coats of arms inserted in the frame round Acadia are those of the Crown, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and, (at the bottom) the City of Halifax, which is the parent city of the Bank.

Vancouver Triumphans may have actually inspired Paul Goranson consciously or subconsciously when he drew this proposal for the British American Bank Note Company in the 1930s

I can’t tell exactly where these murals would have been painted, but perhaps we can determine this after a closer look inside the building. Though I can’t be sure, these murals may actually be buried under a few layers of paint!

Speaking of lost murals, another one of James Blomfield’s greatest works was destroyed by fire on April 15, 1957. James had painted the ceiling of the ballroom at Government House in Victoria in 1903. From page 31 of A National Soul: Canadian Mural Painting, 1860s-1930s

The work was composed of colossal figures of Indian warriors on the spaces between the ceiling arches, connecting by an interlace design of pine cones, pine needles, dogwood, and other local flora. Painted with the totems (protective spiritual images) of various Northwest Coast Native tribes, these figures appear as “Canadianized” classical personifications.

Images B-08471, C-07768, D-03031, E-02750 of Government House are from the BC Archives. But if anyone has any pre-1957 images in colour, please let me know!

Special thanks to the VPL librarian for your assistance with this post!

Only Seafood III by Kellie Talbot, who is having a solo show entitled "AMERICAN LANDSCAPES" at the Smash Gallery from February 1st to March 2nd, 2013.

Only Seafood III by Kellie Talbot, who is having a solo show entitled "AMERICAN LANDSCAPES" at the Smash Gallery from February 1st to March 2nd, 2013.

Hastings and Cambie Streets, Vancouver in 1905 (aka the Flack Block) and the Planetarium (now aka the Museum of Vancouver) by Vera Skye, 1975, from Dick MacLean’s Guide, December 1-14, 1976. Vera was featured in the magazine with a complete bio, which describes how she came to Vancouver from Ontario at age 16, traveled alone to the South Sierras, and worked as a lettering designer and assistant manager at the Old Pender Ballroom.

Heritage Vancouver tells the story of the 1908 Pender Ballroom here, but confuses the address slightly with its neighbour to the east, 319 West Pender Street. The Pender Ballroom was destroyed by fire in July of 2003. Pacific Coast Apartments was built in its place, construction occurring from November 23, 2009 to completion in April 2011 at 337 West Pender Street. As ChangingCity states, “Once home to Grateful Dead concerts, the site now provides 96 units of housing…”

Merry Christmas from the Beacon on Hastings Street, a painting & Christmas card by Tom Carter. Tom writes on his Christmas card:

My friend Arthur Irving suggested the subject of this year’s card, the Beacon Theatre (built as the second Pantages in 1917, subsequently the Hastings Odeon and finally the Majestic before it was demolished in 1967). Arthur fought valiantly to save this theatre in the 1960’s but at that time, unbelievably as it is for us now, not enough people cared and it was lost. Thanks to Arthur’s dedication and hard work at that time, a wealth of information has been kept about this theatre - without a doubt the finest theatre ever built in Vancouver.

The letters spelling Merry Christmas are to a certain extent, artistic license, not based on an actual photograph, but instead inspired by the giant marquee letters that were changed regularly depending on the title of the show. The signs shown above include The Birth of a Nation in Sound, March 31, 1932 (VPL 11021); 5 year old boy psychic Jackie Merkle, December 20, 1932 (CVA 99-4282); and Texas Guinan in her 1929 film Queen of the Night Clubs, October 28, 1933 (CVA 99-4563).

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The Dominion Building, in situ; another great sketch by Matthew Cencich, via flickr.

The Dominion Building, in situ; another great sketch by Matthew Cencich, via flickr.

Ted Harris Paints by Won Kang, via his blog.

Ted Harris Paints by Won Kang, via his blog.