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2014 Eastside Culture Crawl

Man in the Mirror

Standing outside David Robinson's gallery on the 4th floor of the 1000 Parker Street building was a man in a mirror.

1000 Parker is immense and labyrinthine, overflowing with artist studios and workshops. Reflecting on my previous visits there, it was only ever for client meetings in an office at the front, and never into the back. A definite must-visit during the crawl if you can stand a little bit of close-quarters with other art-goers.

My finger inside the barrel of a ray gun

My finger lighting up the glass

Sasamat Creative had a tiny little room in the Mergatroid Building, showing off their neon gas creations that responded to touch thanks to our own conductivity. I got to touch their orange geometric shape and ray gun (shown below). The Georgia Straight profiled them in this year's Culture Crawl issue

Ray gun, $1,000

Process and result

I loved visiting the artist work areas converted into galleries for the weekend, seeing the tools, large and small, that people used to make their creations.

Vegetable dumbbells

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The vegetable dumbbells I encountered in 1000 Parker were very odd, and very heavy. Not shown are the photographs next to this by the same artist of buses printed on old maps.


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Walking into the Mergatroid Building, who did I run into but Jason Vanderhill and his bust. What a strange sight to see someone looking into their own eyes.

Alain Boullard

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Also at the Mergatroid, we watched as Alain Boullard painted a portait.

Matchsticks art at Propellor Design in Strathcona

Art at the entrance of Propellor Design in Strathcona


A photo posted by Richard Eriksson (@sillygwailo) on

After crawling through 1000 Parker and the Mergatroid building, I set about walking the area around Hastings and Clark to play Ingress, coming across a Jimi Hendrix mural and Vespa Motors. Stumbling around Strathcona, I encountered Propellor Design, which garciously let me take photographs of their mountain ranges, matcstick art, and workshop.


A photo posted by Richard Eriksson (@sillygwailo) on

Jérémie Laguette welcomed crawlers into his abode, and this sign greeted us at the door.

Parking lot of 1000 Parker during the Eastside Culture Crawl

Here's the scene, from David Robinson's gallery, of the food carts and gatherings in front of 1000 Parker St.

Nick Gregson

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Nick Gregson let us watch as he painted in his drawing of the Vancouver skyline as seen from North Vancouver.

Tiny entrance on the side of the Grandview Cavalry Baptist Church

On the Sunday, I went around Victoria Drive and came across the Grandview Cavalry Baptist Church. This sign just outside the tiny entrance beckoned me in to the ceramics studio in the basement.

Hot Talks at Hot Art Wet City: Eastside Culture Crawl Artists Speak

The Eastside Culture Crawl, where artists invite you into their studios (many of which are their homes) to see their creations, takes place November 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Visit the Culture Crawl website (which, disclosure, I help maintain) for more information. Tonight, at Hot Art Wet City, a wee little studio on Main & 6th Ave., I heard from several artists talk about their work and how they do it. I took only the briefest of notes, so I hope to have captured at least a little of what they had to say.

Jon Shaw (Culture Crawl profile) talked about this paintings of alleyways, devoid of people but replete with evidence of people. He expressed an interest in graffiti, what he referred to as “street typography.” I'm particularly drawn to his his baseball bat and blue jay for reasons obvious if you follow me on Twitter.

Blue Jay

Baseball bat

Robin Ripley (Culture Crawl profile) showcased her tree art, referring particularly to her installation at the Sun Yat-Sen garden, which comes down on Monday. I'd better get out there to see it!

Patsy Kay Kolstar (Culture Crawl profile) regaled us with her story of how she ended up in Farmington, PA for a three-day workshop in her quest to make one-of-a-kind jewelry. She blogs at My Life in Jewels.

Claire Madill (Culture Crawl profile) had the most to say about the business side of art, introducing me to the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and her porcelain graffiti spray can.

David Robinson (Culture Crawl profile) gave the most conceptual talk of the night, the word ”monument” coming up a lot, and figures as an ”extinct” art. He highlighted his Equestrian Monument and his work with plinths. If he's written a book, I'd sure like to read it.

Jerk With a Camera (Culture Crawl profile) showed us his photography, especially his purposeful mistakes, such as his film and digital double exposures. He, like Jon Shaw, explores the depths of Vancouver trying to find that perfect shot.

Holly Cruise (Culture Crawl profile) showed us her glass robots (below) and told us funny stories about raising kids while managing and working and finding time to make her wonderful art.

Tiny glass art by Holly Cruise

A photo posted by Richard Eriksson (@sillygwailo) on

Glass Robot

A photo posted by Richard Eriksson (@sillygwailo) on

Vancouver Design Week Bike Tour

As part of Vancouver Design Week 2014, a senior urban designer from the City of Vancouver took us on a 3 hour bike tour of Vancouver's architecture. We started in Olympic Village, made our way north on the seawall to Chinatown, then rode through Gastown to the convention centre, after which we biked to Stanley Park and then to Third Beach, ending at Mole Hill.

View of Yaletown from SE False Creek

I got there 3 hours early because of a hilarious mixup. The time zone on the event listing was EDT, so what looked like 1 PM on the website was actually 10 AM. I emailed the organizer asking which one it was, but never heard back. So I had time to kill in SE False Creek.

Giant bird

We met by one of the giant birds in the Athletes Village Square. Not this one.

Fountain in Athletes Village courtyard

Walkway in Athletes Village courtyard

The fountain and walkway, open to the public but with a semblance of privacy, adds to the sense of calm in the neighbourhood.

Our guide pointed out the non-market housing that didn’t have any telltale signs on the outside.

Gastown setback

I spent a year working in Gastown not noticing the setback office buildings in historic historic Gastown.

Richard Henriquez building in the West End

Richard Henriquez building on Barclay St. and Lagoon Dr. The building has a listing on Condopedia and, well, there’s a thing called Condopedia.

Mole Hill courtyard

Mole Hill Creek Lookout

We ended the tour at Mole Hill, with a creek running through it, there's this tiny lookout.

Mole Hill Gate

Looking out from Mole Hill to Comox St. I biked past this spot at night once.

Terms and names that came up that gave me fodder for researching later on: Carlos Carpa, extrusion, micro-economy, envelope (as it relates to buildings), modest market housing, street wall, contemporary contextualism, Adolf Loos, Eugenia Place, Silvia Hotel, the history of the Cactus Club on Beach Ave.

Two Weeks of Ingress

While leaving a BBQ celebrating a friend's 50th birthday party, Richard Smith's tweet pointing out the Ingress app had been released for iOS flowed through my stream. For the last two years, owners of Android-based Internet communicators have been playing the GPS-enabled, location-based massively mouthful role-playing game. One hacks portals, deploys resonators, links them up with others, and attacks enemies' fortresses while belonging to one of two factions, either the Resistance or the Enligtenment. After Tim Bray, as longtime a player as one can be, wrote a warm welcome to iOS users, I followed his advice, joining the faction then behind in the worldwide standings. (I missed the part where he said to narrow it down to your geography.)

At this writing, I'm at level 6, which regulars inform me is the level to start serious attacks on rival portals. Tonight, barring unforeseen circumstances like the local transit meltdown that spooked me last week, I will meet fellow players for the first time at their weekly meetup. I've had a couple of near-encounters, with one high-level fellow faction member sending me a message saying he was across the street. Lousy notifications in the current incarnation of the app prevented me from seeing the message until a few hours later. I now assume that anybody walking while looking down at their phone is either a friend or foe on Ingress.

Many questions remain, all of which I'll ask in due course as I get my feet even wetter. The feature requests I have for the app are

  • Background navigation. That is, after exiting the app, I'd like the voice to keep me updated on how close I am to a portal I've chosen to hack.
  • Notifications of in-game events, such as an portal being attacked, resonators decaying, someone mentioning me in the faction chat. I don't know the implications of what notifications would bring: maybe the game is designed for playing on the go or setting out on a planned exploration rather than having your day interrupted with attempts to destroy your protectorate.

Virgin Mary in the courtyard behind the Holy Name of Jesus Church

Playing Ingress has led to some interesting Columbusings. It pulled me into the entrance of B.C. Children's and Women's Hospital, a place I haven't had a need to visit. (Yet.) The second sighting was the walkway to a publicly-accessible sitting area in the courtyard behind of the Catholic Church at Cambie and 34th. It also led to the Virgin Mary statue in the back yard church at Cambie and 33rd. A third sighting, related to the fact I was also playing Fog of World at the time, was a bike rack on private property next to a large home. Lastly, on Yukon and W. 10th, next to the bench facing the bike lane is a plaque commemorating Dad's cookies factory (my photo). It seems that Dad's cookies are a treat invented by an American who named the company after his father-in-law that had Canadian bakeries (Vancouver is not listed on the company's history page).

The game takes me outside of my well-worn routes, sometimes doubling the time it takes me to get somewhere. Now that I have the basics understood, it's time to interact with some of the players and go on group missions.

Two Random Running Routes: Kensington-Cedar Cottage and Kerrisdale

The first try was an unmitigated disaster.

I plotted a running route in Vancouver's Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood using an online tool. I accounted for the part of the route that crosses a busy street at an uncontrolled intersection and instead had it take the crosswalk near King Ed. A test run, which is to say, a test walk with the Co-Rider app to make sure turn-by-turn directions with a previously-defined route was successful. I made the mistake of updating the app the night before. And it started to snow just as I started my run.

Arriving at my hand-picked start and end point on February 22nd in the alleyway at E. 28th and Ross and Fraser area, I encountered a critical bug introduced into the version I updated to the previous night. The app itself would start but I could not press "play" for the turn-by-turn directions. I followed the route by looking down at my phone at every turn to see where I'd go next.

Apple recommends that one operate an iPhone 5 in between the temperatures of -20º and 45º Celcius. At the end of the run, with about 20% battery left, at an outside temperature below or just at freezing, the phone turned off on its own accord. Miraculously, the Couch-to-5k app had already logged it (twice, somehow), so I can count Feburary 22nd, 2014, against Week 7 Day 2 of the program.

This was the first run where I let a website randomly generate a running route which started and ended at the same point. As a way of seeing as much of Vancouver as possible, I didn't want to decide what direction to go it to see it. RouteLoops can randomly generate a map suitable for different modes (walking, running, cycling). You set the distance and it calculates the route, ending you where you started.

Things were decidedly different for my run in Kerrisdale. A week after my first run, on March 1st, instead of hand-picking a starting point, I used the Random Point Generator. It chose a spot on W. 47th Ave. between Yew St. and West Boulevard. The route, randomly generated by RouteLoops, had me turn right on West Boulevard, skip over to the parallel East Boulevard using 49th Ave and then run down East Boulevard to 50th Ave. With its lack of sidewalks, I had to run on the street. Turning right on Angus Dr., I found these pleasant little stop signs.

The second-longest leg of the run, Angus Dr. took me to W. 57th for a block, then turning left back on to West Boulevard where I saw a trolley pass by.

Hanging a right on W. 60th took me past Dr. R.E. McKechnie Elementary School, around Arbutus Park (by taking Arbutus St. and 59th Ave.) to SW Marine Drive.

Suspecting that SW Marine Drive lacked sidewalks, before the run, I looked it up on Google Street View. Arriving at the scene I got my final confirmation:

I ran against traffic, which was a little harrowing. At least one car cut the white line separating traffic from the shoulder, right in front of me no less. I know better than to run on any street like that again.

My 5K program for the "week" ended about 2/3 on SW Marine Drive. I was determined to finish the rest of the route and saw some construction on the 45th Ave. bike route.

  • construction on the bike path
  • Ryerson church.

All the while I had the Fog of World app track my movements. How do I describe Fog of World? I remember playing Warcraft II, and any movements into unkwown territory would reveal the map. As you left, the map would stay but you couldn't see any of the activity there. Fog of World operates in the same way: you visit a place you've never been to, and it "unlocks" that area.

The app runs in the background and when tracking is turned on, shows you the places you haven't been to yet. (It's possible you've been to that place before, just not with Fog of World turned on.) My FoW data suggested that I had already been on a portion of 45th, and it wasn't until I came upon the Ryerson United Church that I remembered how that was possible: at some point a few years ago, it seems I had been going in the wrong direction biking from Kerrisdale and must have turned around. (This was captured by RunKeeper, the data of which I imported into Fog of World.) I took a quick photo of the church and I was back to finishing my randomly generated route.

Kerrisdale doesn't loom large in my image of Vancouver, so I'm grateful that a computer chose for me to go there. Without randomly selecting a starting point and randomly generating a route, I'd have to rely on the invitation of others or know about its significance. This way of exploring a city leads to little surprises, like the mansion surrounded by trees, (barely) seeing unusual architecture, and a little exercise along the way.

SkyTrain leaving Renfrew Station

Taken from the mound just north of Vancouver Technical Secondary.

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