The Unsolved Mystery of Leg-in-Boot

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The year 1887.

They found a human leg trapped in a boot. As the story is remembered, the leg washed up on the shore of False Creek. No one claimed it, even though it was prominently displayed in the local police station for all to view. No one showed up or even appeared to be interested in the unusual display. It remains an unsolved mystery.

The police station is no more. Yet, the narrative remains alive, over 100 years later,in the name, Leg-in-Boot Square. And now there is great interest in the current display – Acoustic Anvil: A Small Weight To Forge The Sea.

Leg-in-Boot Square, once a thriving part of False Creek’s industrialization, has taken on a more serene, even sedate, orientation. The chaotic mishmash of forges, boat-builders and stevedores, has been replaced by walkers, runners and bikes that share the Vancouver Seawall. It is a place of respite with benches offering a view of Vancouver’s ever growing skyline and the sailboats berthed at the nearby marina.

Art remembers and gives voice to our histories and legends. This month, the “Acoustic Anvil: A Small Weight to Forge the Sea” gives a hearty nod to Vancouver 1887. Maskull Lasserre has created a massive sculpture, with measurements of approximately three-by-eight-metres, to celebrate False Creek’s industrial era.

The Acoustic Anvil arrived on Thursday, July 19th at 10:30. Dramatic, vibrant, solid – those were the words that came to me when I reached out my hand for the first touch. Then I heard the music.

“What is the sound? Where is it coming from? Where does it transport you.”

Canada Secret Mountain

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There is a special place in our hearts for artists who live big, bold and fully committed to their creative mission. Their vibrant lives act as a strident call to action that prompts, or rather demands, that we follow their example and explore, experience, and share our personal creativity. We are the voice of this time and place, the generation whose moment has come to write our story within the narrative of humanity.

Spanish artist, Okuda San Miguel is one of those bright lights who motivate us to seek a deeper understanding of where imagination takes us. His work is recognized for its geometric prints and multicolored style and design. There are mythological undertones that speak to the need for meaningful dialogue.

Okuda San Miguel’s mural, “Canada Secret Mountains” has come to Vancouver and resides on a building at 325 West 4th. The stories of the British Columbia’s west coast, embedded with Okuda’s insights, has been written for all to see and experience.

May we answer an artist’s call to action and, today, live big lives.

The Drop

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“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” Anton Chekhov

Water!

The ubiquitous compound, consisting of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen in every molecule, supports our very existence and safeguards our world and all inhabitants that call earth their home.

Water is important – we recognize this axiom.

Do we understand our responsibility to that truth?

In our reality, we are facing profound and complex questions of who will share the clean water? the fresh air? and nutritious food?

We are a global community with global agendas that will demand our full participation and collaboration.

We can count on artists to signal a call to action. Along the Vancouver Seawall that passes by Vancouver Convention West, “The Drop” stands tall, a forceful reminder that life is embedded in drops of water

Art Under a Bridge

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The idea of permanence imbues feelings of safety and security.

Stability, durability, endurance, constancy – these words allow us to indulge in long-term planning and undertake big dreams that will happen sometime in the future.    The assumption of indefinite unchangeability suggests that we have time enough for everything because what is today, will surely be here tomorrow.

Tomorrows are fresh starts and they chose their own destinies.  All we are given is a reasonable expectation or likelihood of what may, or may not, occur.

For all our supposed need for permanence, however, what lies within us is something far more profound – the need to explore, to experience the extraordinary, to live big lives.  Now, in the present. Not in the opaque and unknown future.

One thing that remains steadfast is our desire for community, for belonging, for a place to call home.

#ChalkTalks – a student project by CityStudio “made by us, for you” appeared in the afternoon and left the same evening.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island, wrote, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”   That thought came to mind when I walked under a bridge and experienced this remarkable temporary art installation.

 

Within a few hours, the crowds dispersed, and the music stopped. By morning, all that remained were a few chalk messages left on cement walls.  And yet, what these students said through art, remains with those who experienced the moment.

Perhaps that is the only permanence we need.

Creative Spirits & Innovative Cities

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FAÇADE Festival 2017

It was a late night in early September.  The summer warmth lingered, still unwilling to give way to a cooler season. The muted lights of Vancouver’s downtown cafes spilled onto the streets, mingling with laughter, voices and the aroma of fragrant spices.

In the midst of a vibrant night scene, one street commanded a hushed audience fully engaged within a mythological world of light and music.  It was opening night of the FAÇADE Festival 2017 that began at 7:30 p.m. and would end at Midnight.

The FAÇADE  Festival is a week-long public art production presented by the Burrard Arts Foundation in partnership with the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Jane Jacobs once wrote, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because and only when they are created by everybody.” Artistic expression is the foundation of bringing communities together.  When we recognize and share our creative spirit we are building innovative cities that will continue to thrive within a vast global world.

 

Three Goddesses & A Garden

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The Bandstand

The Bandstand and Sir William Young’s six urns.

There were once three goddesses who watched over the elegant Halifax Public Gardens, a gift from the estate of chief justice Sir William Young.  Born in the year 1799 in Falkirk, Scotland, a city situated at the junction of the Forth and Clyde Canal in the Scottish Lowlands, Sir William Young immigrated  to Nova Scotia with his family in 1814 and went on to become the Premier of Nova Scotia in 1854.  He lived during the Romantic Period when there was a increasing awareness of ancient Greece and Rome, which was reflected in his private garden.

Flora, goddess of flowers, spring and youth,

Flora, goddess of flowers, spring and youth.

On his passing in 1887, three goddesses and six urns were given to the Halifax Public Gardens.  The three goddesses left Sir William Young’s estate to take their place along the Petit Allée.  First there was Flora, the Sabine-derived goddess of flowers, spring and youth.  Next came Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon, nature, woodland and wild animals.  Last came Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, and fertility. These statues embodied the quintessential characteristics of the Victorian age.

Ceres

Ceres, goddess of agriculture, grain crops and fertility.

Alas, in March 2012, Diana was the victim of vandalism, knocked to the ground by unknown persons.  An outcry went throughout Halifax for Diana was a 138-year-old Haligonian cultural icon.  Year after year, families would gather around Diana to take wedding and graduation photos.  Memories were built under her gentle gaze.  Now, the garden is in the keep of Ceres and Flora.

Our Memories of Diana 2003

2003 –  Our Memories of Diana, goddess of the hunt, the moon, nature, woodland and wild animals.

All is not lost!  There are whispers that she is merely resting, waiting to be placed inside a public building.  Myths have survived centuries; they do not stay silent for long.  They live in our music, poetry, dance and literature.  And especially in our gardens…