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.
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.
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!
Ted Harris Paints by Won Kang, via his blog.
British Columbia Electric Company Limited, convertible sinking fund debenture, 6% series B for $1,000, dated November 1, 1959. An engraving of the Electra building features prominently; it would have been just 2 years old at the time; here’s a brochure of the Electra from 1957. This certificate was seen on the CentreA tour of the old BC Electric Terminal (1912) last Saturday. They will be offering another tour Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29: 2-3pm as part of Culture Days in Canada. RSVP required.
Admiral Hotel Mural, from Background / Vancouver - An Artist’s View of the City, October 30, 1972, originally seen in an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1974, recently posted to michaeldecourcy.com. From his bio:
Michael de Courcy, born 1944, in Montreal, Quebec, studied at École des Beaux Arts, Montreal and the Vancouver School of Art. Over the past 45 years he has maintained a studio in Vancouver, British Columbia and exhibited internationally. he has lectured and given workshops at many cultural institutions including the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, York University, the University of British Columbia and Emily Carr College of Art and Design.
The Admiral Hotel is located at 4125 Hastings Street in Burnaby. I’ve been meaning to investigate this in person on the off chance that some part of this mosaic has survived. If anyone has any more photos, I’d love to see them!
Empire Field, from the 1954 British Empire & Commonwealth Games, illustrated on a Macfarlane Lang & Co’s biscuit tin, from Glasgow, Scotland. Seen previously, this biscuit tin from competitors Gray and Dunn.
The Harland Bartholomew & Associates development plan for Exhibition Park (aka the PNE) drawn December, 1948. This file was recently added to the City of Vancouver Archives at Archive.org (image tweaked for a cleaner black and white image.)
Here’s one thing which didn’t come true that we can be thankful for; the envisioned front entrance would have allowed 2762 cars to drive right into the park and create a giant parking lot in the bottom corner of the site. Of course, lots of the parking inevitably still surfaces throughout the surrounding neighbourhood. But looking at the top of the map leads me to believe there were plans for the CPR to make a direct stop at the park, perhaps providing a form of early rapid transit?
And what about the aesthetic design of the park? The bottom left corner of the park bears a certain resemblance to the present day PNE. To the right there are orderly plans for a Future Exhibit of unknown variety, right where the midway is today.
Up in the top left, they decided to install the Gayway (a term synonymous with midway today). Gayway was also the term that was used at the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco in 1939-40. I don’t want to get too far off topic, but the Golden Gate Expo is another favourite topic of mine. Who here knew the GGIE also featured Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch? About a month ago, I spotted this on ebay; the 3 page proposal for the attraction by the Bert Levey Circuit of Vaudeville Theatres.
I don’t see any clothing optional sections planned for the PNE in Harland Bartholomew’s development plan, but it does look like the designers did try to add a hint of romance to their plan, putting a dance hall at the end of the meandering Gayway. And if you weren’t up for some romance, they put the roller coaster right next door, so those who chose not to dance could still have the ride of their life! Oh, designing is such fun and games, isn’t it?
Update! I just learned that the midway WAS at the back corner of the PNE back in the day. While the park didn’t evolve exactly as envisioned above, at least we did get a new wooden roller coaster in 1958 designed by the legendary roller coaster designer Carl Phare. Incidentally, it’s the last remaining Carl Phare designed roller coaster in operation in the world.
There were at least 3 other coasters that pre-date the Carl Phare design at the PNE, according to rollercoastersofthepacificnw.com. First there was Coaster (Dip The Dips) - 1915-1924. Heritage Vancouver has posted a photo from 1914 of the first rollercoaster under construction here, and there’s an aerial view of the finished coaster from 1919 here. Happyland got a pair of coasters known as Giant Dipper - 1925-1947 and Baby Dipper - 1928-1944. Then along came a string of smaller roller coaster rides for Playland; Little Dipper - 1958-197?; Mad Mouse - 1958-1964?; Monster Mouse - 1965-1971?; Super Big Gulp - 1972-1994; Wild Mouse - 1979-2008. And finally, there was another roller coaster in Stanley Park called Dips circa 1913-1923. I’m hoping I come across some artwork of this one day.
Hastings Wharf, Vancouver, a watercolour by Thomas Mower Martin, RCA. From the book Canada, described by Wilfred Campbell LL.D. and published by A&C Black Ltd. London. 1907, still publishing today! Print (page from the book) offered for sale on ebay. T. Mower Martin lived from 1838-1934; a listing of 134 of his paintings that sold at auction Saturday, October 27, 1883 is available at archive.org. The portrait of him at his desk is from the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, AB, where they have a complete fonds dedicated to him. It looks like this fonds was acquired as a gift of John Harbert in 2003, with thanks to the Michael H. Dunn Trust, 2011. Here’s an excerpt from the biography they have posted:
Thomas Mower Martin, 1838-1934, was born in London, England and received art training at a number of institutions. He and his wife, Emma Nichols, 1842-1911 moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1862. He painted mostly landscapes, animals in action, still lifes and some portraits and traveled widely throughout North America. In 1887 he made his first trip to Western Canada under the sponsorship of the Canadian Pacific Railway and returned approximately ten times. A collection of articles entitled “Canada from an Artist’s Point of View” (1895) details some of his activities in the west. Martin was a founding member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1872 and was director of the Ontario Government Art school from 1877 to 1879. He was also a founder of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1880…
An early watercolour rendering of the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood by Maud Rees Sherman. This scene is a very early view of the PNE grounds, which took a great deal of fine visual sleuthing to pinpoint. Gary Sim writes:
The view in the watercolour is, to the best of my knowledge, taken from 3642 Dundas Street, where the Sherman family lived from 1913 - 1988. I date the painting c1920, as it fits into the Places to Sketch series that has some paintings dated 1920 - 1922.
The layout of the Vancouver Exhibition Grounds as shown on page 16 of The Pacific National Exhibition - An Illustrated History by Breen & Coates matches the buildings in the watercolour pretty closely … the athletic field is the flat white area just below center, surround by grandstand buildings and other structures. Additional buildings (stock judging pavilion) go up the hill on the right, to Renfrew street, which has some structures along it top left.
This view also matches aerial photos taken by Stuart Thomson in 1919 (Vancouver City Archives), which showed to my surprise that there wasn’t a tree left standing in the whole area.
This painting took me quite a while to identify the location thereof, I thought the white centre was a frozen lake surrounded by cabins. With the info above, plus having been to the house on Dundas, I’m now pretty sure that I have the correct location.