by Stevie Wilson | With the ink of my recent Ghost Hoods feature on Brewery Creek not yet dry, I took a look inside Mount Pleasant’s Western Front building at 303 East 8th Avenue to learn a little more about the history (as well as the current goings-on) of this neighbourhood landmark. After over 40 years as an artist-run centre and exhibition space, the building is full of distinct history and remains the oldest existing centre of its kind in the country. What’s more, it was once home to the Vancouver chapter of the Knights of Pythias, and they even have a few old ceremonial capes and spears to prove it.
One of the (many) unique features of Western Front is how the building’s original design has been preserved to accommodate and complement the needs of the staff and various exhibitions. Their Development Officer, Kristin Lim, explained how the address has transitioned quite seamlessly from a Pythian headquarters to an internationally renowned artist centre by simply utilizing the space’s existing structure. The various small rooms and cozy layout emphasize the centre’s differences from typical gallery sites.
The building was originally constructed in 1922 as a lodge for the Pythians to conduct, well, whatever it was that they did – secret meetings and such. When they sold the property in the early 1970s, they left behind various paraphernalia including their signature capes, a trophy, club signage, and a portrait of their fraternal leader. During my tour we ran into celebrated Canadian artist and co-founder of Western Front, Eric Metcalfe (formerly known as Dr. Brute, who regaled me with more amazing history and anecdotes than I could possibly fit into a short article. He mentioned that when the space was founded by himself and eight other artists in 1973, the place wasn’t in the most pristine condition, which happened to be ideal for this group of young people engaged in the contemporary Fluxus movement. Of the creativity and freedom of the early years, he observed simply, “It was a party time.”
Over the last several decades the space evolved into the professional, prestigious centre it is today, yet the building has undergone only a handful of minor repairs and changes, the most significant of which was the 2013 renovation of the Luxe Hall to uncover previously sealed windows. The original architecture remains, including the large windows, wooden wainscoting, traditional doorways (complete with Pythian peep-holes), a vintage telephone booth, and the awesome original fixed side seating in the performance hall. “One thing replaced the other,” said Metcalfe of the transition from lodge to artist haven. “The architecture informed our practice.”
For more information on this fantastic piece of Vancouver art history, visit their website, or better yet, pay them a visit! The space is open to the public – just buzz! – and offers plenty of (generally) free events and exhibits involving new music, contemporary art, media, and so much more. Who knows, you just might run into a legendary Canadian artist with a few stories to tell!
Archival photos courtesy of the Western Front Archives
Chocolate Arts is located at 1620 – West 3rd Avenue in Vancouver, BC | V6J 1K2 | www.chocolatearts.com
Vancouver, BC | Vancouver’s Chocolate Arts chocolate shop and café is your one-stop shop for sweet surprises this Easter. Offering a tempting selection of edible artistry, from bite-sized confections to show stopping centerpieces, award-winning chocolatier Greg Hook lends the harried Easter Bunny a hand.
Chocolate purists will delight in Chocolate Arts’ high-quality cacao selection of solid, dark or milk chocolate eggs in a variety of sizes. Mini eggs are available in elegant 3-or-9-piece packages and optionally embossed with silly faces for the young at heart. For co-workers, friends and neighbours in need of a vacation, offer a tropical twist with limited-edition dark chocolate-coated Coconut Lime Eggs, filled with white chocolate, organic lime reduction and organic coconut milk ganache. For an element of surprise, let your Easter hunters crack open 40g and 240g chocolate eggs filled with either a single foiled solid chocolate or five mini chocolate figurines, and decorated with cocoa butter in your choice of several colourful designs.
For those who prefer hares over hens, Chocolate Arts provides the demure and decadent Fleur de Cao Bunny, made of silky single origin 72% dark chocolate. Also available from the rabbit warren is the charismatic Chocara Charlie, a handsome handcrafted chocolate bunny available in dark or milk chocolate, filled with five bestselling mini Chocara bars carefully crafted of house-made caramel, peanut butter and organic rice crisps. The adventurous chocoholic will enjoy the decidedly unconventional Pop Rocks Bunny made of rich milk chocolate and effervescent popping candy.
To complete the Easter menagerie, Chocolate Arts offers their aww-inducing chocolate Cheeps—dark chocolate eggs filled with a bright and playful house-made passionfruit marshmallow and decorated as plump chickadees—and the portly, wide-eyed chocolate Piggy, concealing a small fortune of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs in its generous potbelly. For the truly deserving, pick up a Chocolate Arts statement Signature Egg. Available in two sizes, in either dark or milk chocolate, they boast intricately decorated lids and are filled with a curated selection of assorted and seasonal chocolates and truffles. [ Keep reading ]
by Grady Mitchell | The East Van studio of painter Noah Bowman is stacked high with canvases of all sizes – some as small as a paperback book, a couple as large as a queen mattress. He’s arranged them into a sort of art fort, and it’s in here, surrounded by his previous work, that he creates new pieces.
Although his initial interest in art was sparked by the pencil portraits he sketched as a child, he’s since solidified his style as an abstract and conceptual artist with a vivid palette. His work floats in the space between the familiar and abstract, blending segments of reality with conceptual elements to find deeper meaning in the everyday.
Noah’s recent series Reverso explores corner spaces. While artwork is generally presented in the center of a room’s most prominent wall, Noah is creating paintings specifically for neglected corner spaces, angular two-panel pieces that either envelop protruding corners or slip into recessive ones. He strives to link or balance each half with the other, presenting a traditional pattern on one juxtaposed with an abstract image on the other.
Along with Reverso and the other series’ that Noah is working on, he also promotes the accessibility of abstract art through integrating it into everyday items such as clocks, purses and pillows. You can see more of Noah’s work on his website and on display at the Stewart Stephenson Gallery at 1300 Robson Street.
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is located at 500 Burrowing Owl Pl. in Oliver, BC | 877.498.0620 | www.bovwine.ca
Oliver, BC | Burrowing Owl Estate Winery has just taken further steps to help BC’s endangered wildlife, including the burrowing owl for which the winery is named. The winery used funds raised in their tasting room to purchase land and return it to the South Okanagan Rehab Centre for Owls (SORCO) and the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC (BOCS).
In 2003, The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) saved the day for SORCO founder Sherry Klein, by purchasing her land that was the home of her rehabilitation centre for injured birds of prey. The site also attracted the BOCS. These two societies thought their future at that location was assured. In early 2013, however, TLC went into creditor protection and every property in its portfolio was at risk of being sold to satisfy creditors. This put both societies in a state of uncertainty, which has affected almost every decision they have made over the last year. It could also have had a negative effect on the amount of financial support the societies receive.
Jim Wyse, the Chair of Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, was able to convince the court that, for a modest fee of $50,000, this property should be released from creditor protection and conveyed to the two societies so that this situation would never repeat itself. Jim, who has been a director of both societies at various times, and has a land development background, was able to stickhandle through the bureaucratic maze to acquire the property with the court’s full approval. [ Keep reading ]
(via) Puppeteers Jim Henson and Frank Oz (playing Kermit The Frog and Fozzie Bear) improvise like the geniuses they were during this 1979 camera test for The Muppet Movie.
Kermit: “Well Fozzie, the thing of it is though you’re not a real bear. You’re not a real natural bear. I mean, you’re talking about a bear in its natural habitat…What do you have, you have sort of a fake fur. You’ve got foam rubber. You’ve got foam rubber and fake fur. You’re an artificial bear. Have you ever seen a bear with a magenta nose?”
Fozzie: “I got news for you kid. You have to hurt me, I’m going to have to hurt you. Are you ready for this? Are you ready? You got a wire on your arm. It’s only for movement. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I believe in you. I do understand that I am not a real bear but I know what I am. I am what I am. But I’m a real puppet. I’m happy with my lot in life.”
The Irish Heather is located at 210 Carrall St. in the heart of Gastown | 604-688-9779 | www.irishheather.com
Vancouver, BC | Join in the festivities this Easter Weekend with a sumptuous feast at the Irish Heather on Sunday April 20th and Monday April 21st. In true Long Table style, guests will gather round a communal table for an evening of good food, fine drink and much merriment, all at an unbeatable price.
The Long Table Series was originally designed as an alternative dining option when the recession was hitting hard and hindering folks from enjoying a night out. It has endured as a popular weekly event because it remains a unique and affordable experience that brings together all those who share a common love of food and good company.
This festive gathering marks the launch of the new Long Table Series menu for the season, and guests this weekend will enjoy what will become the Sunday special; Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Roasting Jus and Roast Potatoes, all washed down with a crisp pint of Grimbergen. Bring family and friends, or come to meet some friendly faces over a hearty home-cooked meal. At only $17 including the artisan beer, it’s hard to find an experience around town better suited for this holiday weekend. Details after the jump… [ Keep reading ]
(via) In Finland, citizens have the option of the Sauna Lauta, a three deck floating sauna with hammocks, outdoor grills, and diving platforms for dips after hot hot hot sessions inside the sauna. If the powers that be are serious about their “most liveable city” nonsense, they’ll green light a pilot project wherein a dozen of these bookable babies can be accessed at different points along False Creek…
Mamie Taylor’s is a new restaurant and bar at 251 East Georgia Street in the heart of Chinatown | mamietaylors.ca
Vancouver, BC | Since opening in August of 2013, Mamie Taylor’s has built its reputation on Chef Tobias Grignon’s contemporary comfort food and a thriving lounge and bar scene. It only follows, then, that Chinatown’s modern American restaurant offer a Southern-themed brunch, whether as an informal weekend stop-in or a much-needed and consoling pick-me-up for the day after the night before.
Served from 11am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays (beginning Saturday, April 26), brunch at Mamie Taylor’s will introduce Vancouver diners to unique regional specialities direct from the America’s southern states.
The Kentucky Hot Brown is inspired by its namesake, Louisville’s iconic Brown Hotel, where the hot sandwich of house-smoked confit turkey, tomato, crisp bacon and Mornay sauce has been welcoming weekend warriors since 1926. Egg and Grits, a staple south of the Mason-Dixon line, folds aged white cheddar into hominy grits. Topped with an egg and baked, it’s finished with tomatillo salsa verde, minced jalapenos, and scallions. Of course, no Southern-inspired menu would be complete without Chicken Fried Steak, served with charred green tomatoes and a drizzling of decadent white bacon gravy.
The new menu will also feature classic brunch fare, jazzed up in Mamie Taylor’s signature down-home style. The Biscuit Benny (choice of Smoked Pork Belly with Apple Chutney or vegetarian Poblano Chili and Goat Cheese) is stacked on a lighter-than-air biscuit, then smothered and covered with Hollandaise. Cobb Salad boasts fresh peaches and a house-made Avocado Ranch dressing. With an ironic nod to Americana, Freedom Toast substitutes French toast’s brioche for pan-seared buttermilk biscuit and is served with a seasonal fruit compote, clabbered buttermilk ricotta and a crumbling of candied pecans. Learn more after the jump… [ Keep reading ]