by Stevie Wilson | For the past several decades the southeast corner of Main Street and King Edward has been home to Helen’s Grill, the familiar diner best known for its all-day, greasy spoon breakfasts and table-side jukeboxes.
But it’s much more than that. Today, Helen’s Grill stands out in the community for having remained largely unchanged since its humble beginnings in 1961. It’s sphinx-like indifference to the world of change beyond its doorstep only adds to its appeal.
The jukeboxes aren’t the only vintage item that Helen’s has to offer, either. The bones of the building itself are relatively ancient. 4102 Main Street has been home to a number of other coffee-slingin’ businesses over the years. The current brick structure appears to feature elements of the Mission Revival style, including rounded clay tile roofing, which suggests it was built sometime between 1910 and 1930. However, the corner originally featured a smaller shop (likely built circa 1910 after the Walden Block next door) and according to city records, previous occupants include a millinery, a jeweller, an oil driller, Gary’s Dairy, and a Royal Bank in 1920.
At some point over the years, the original structure was either demolished or massively remodeled to accommodate a string of new businesses (share your insights if you have any idea about the date). It was a confectionery by the late 1920s, and in 1945 the address is listed twice, as Tom Gray’s Cafe and later as Morray’s Coffee Shop. The following year it became Salsbury House, which was noted for “Fine Food” and hamburgers. And in 1948, the address was renovated to become the 7th location of the locally famous Aristocratic Restaurant chain.
Though Helen’s might not be very fancy these days, that doesn’t make her any less charming.
by Grady Mitchell | The new Serpens Gallery (replacing the Positive Negative Gallery at 436 Columbia St.) opened its first – and very Halloween-appropriate – show this past Friday night. It’s called Sahelanthropus; the name being a reference to the ancient humanoid skull that marks the point when chimps and humans began to diverge some 7 million years ago. It’s curated by artist Colin Moore, who say he’s ”always wanted to do a skull-bawd art show, and what better time than right before Halloween?”
Along with Colin’s work, the show features painter Jose Rivas, black and white illustrations by Peter Ricq, and two ceramic artists, Michael Holler and David M Robinson, whose works jive with the tactile, three-dimensional nature of the show’s theme. “Every artist learns to draw a skull at some point in their lives,” says Colin. “It’s good for learning anatomy.” Sahelanthropus will allow viewers the chance to see these studies first-hand, as well as some interactive aspects that you’ll need to check out for yourselves over the next two weeks.
(Regarding the gallery’s name change: former curator Adam Lupton has left for New York and grad school and handed the gallery off to his friend Steffen Quong. Steffen has given the gallery a rebrand and opened up much of the back area into a lounge-like zone complete with art and a long, communal table. He’s looking to keep a healthy variety of weekly events up in the space, including things beyond art exhibitions.)
(via) Can Vancouver honestly claim to be a “world class” city without a great bookstore? By great we mean one that stops people in its tracks, ensnaring and enchanting all who enter it with the way in which it is artfully arranged. We don’t think so. It might have a handful of bookstores worthy of mention, but none are gobsmackingly massive or iconic (the stunning main branch of the public library notwithstanding). Chain behemoths like Chapters don’t count, and tangled labyrinths Powell’s in Portland or the Strand in New York are old hat. We believe that Vancouver should have something different and more modern — something like the voluminous, open-concept Livraria Culture in São Paulo, Brazil. Designed by Studio MK27 “to encourage shoppers to stay and read the books they’ve purchased or to simply hang out with friends”, it’s sexy as hell. Accordingly, we imagine it occupying the ridiculously over-sized Victoria’s Secret location on the corner of Robson and Burrard, which is no stranger to books in the first place.
The GOODS from Cavalier
Vancouver, BC | It might be the time of year to layer up, but you mustn’t forget about your accessories. We wanted to keep it simple this Fall and go with understated and refined sterling silver pieces that can be paired with nearly any outfit. It’s also getting close to that time of year when you need to start thinking about holiday gifts so the shots above are a little inspiration from our latest Fall shoot featuring designs by Army of Rokosz, Catherine Hartley, Foe and Dear, Hilary Druxman, and Wolf Circus. Learn more about the shop after the jump… Read more
(via) As serial campers, we treasure a reliably warm and functional “base layer”. Accordingly, we’re digging the hell out of this Poler x Airblaster Ninja Suit. The four-way stretch Merino Wool and lycra onesie suit comes complete with hood, chest zip, thumb hook cuffs, and a crotch fly for #1 access. It’s bright and weird and the badge makes it clear that you’re not to be fucked with. There’s no way a Sasquatch would dare approach the unpredictable wearer of such an imposing garment. It’s just too dangerous! A little pricy at $189.99, but as soon as we started thinking of it as lingerie it made sound financial sense.
The GOODS from The Cinematheque
Vancouver, BC | Halloween gets the Cinematheque treatment with a trio of art house horror classics screening from brand-new restorations: Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre with superbly creepy Klaus Kinski as the Count; 1973 cult folk-horror favourite The Wicker Man; and David Lynch’s enduring midnight movie Eraserhead.
On October 31 and November 1, all three films will screen in special Halloween triple bills at a special price: $20 Adults / $18 Seniors/Students. To celebrate the just-announced return of Lynch’s uber-bizarre, uber-loved Twin Peaks, we encourage you to dress up as your favourite character. There’ll be refreshments, decorations, and damn good coffee. Read more
This mesmerizing photo series depicts the isolated stillness of transit passengers from the outside looking in. The work by London-based street photographer Nick Turpin is aptly titled Through a Glass Darkly.
Turpin peered in from a distance to capture individuals as they stared out foggy windows during the winter months. Some have wiped the fog away to get a better view of the exterior while others have rested their heads against the glass for a nap. The fuzzy profiles of men and women, young and old, is indistinct. As a result, viewers are invited to invent stories and interpret the scenes based on only what we can distinguish through the haze.
Needless to say, Vancouverites should find the works strikingly familiar. More here.
by Grady Mitchell | All things artisanal are in high demand these days, but few craftspeople can say they’ve been at it as long as Ken Diamond. Since 2002 he’s been bent over hunks of leather in his workshop, meticulously cutting, sewing and glueing them into beautifully handcrafted pieces that are each one of a kind.
Ken took a nine month course in upholstery when he first arrived in Vancouver. After plying that trade, he moved into building sets and props for theatre and film, and it was there that he first handled leather. His upholstery background gave him a basic grasp of the work, and the rest he taught himself. And he’s still learning every day at his workbench. Although he enjoyed set design, he was less fond of the film industry. He’d always dreamt of launching his own business, and not long after he started working with leather he founded Ken Diamond.
Perhaps best known for their line of moccasins, the company also offers items that will hold your cards, cash, and secure your pants. Every piece that leaves the workshop is hand-made by the man himself, his wife Marla, and his apprentice Lukas. What machines they do use are of the old-school, press-and-punch variety. And they plan to keep it that way.
Although their popularity would handle speedy growth, Ken plans to keep things small, to continue building by hand, and to grow slowly rather than burn out. That care and patience is what makes his work so excellent. You can see it firsthand if you visit their open storefront at 756 E Powell, where you can check out the goods personally, and watch them being made just a few feet away in the back room. To learn more about Ken Diamond, visit his website.
by Grady Mitchell | If you frequent coffee shops around East Van, you’ve probably seen artist Sean Karemaker intently hunched over drawing in a notebook or sketch pad. He got started as a kid, growing up “off the grid” on Vancouver Island. “I turned my closet into a little comic studio,” he says. The comics led to painting – “I wasn’t very good at sports, so I started doing watercolour courses with a bunch of old ladies” – and from there, things kept rolling. “I guess I haven’t really stopped.”
Many of Sean’s ideas start as scribbled passages in those sketchbooks, each paired with an aimless painting. Those poetic snippets usually detail a remembered experience or worldly observation. From these early concepts Sean will later create his larger, more involved pieces.
Even if the words don’t appear in the final piece, it wouldn’t exist without them. For a picture to speak to Sean, it has to tell a story. “Sometimes people aren’t looking for that, they just want an image,” he says. “But without that exploration it just feels flat to me, it doesn’t feel like I’m making anything meaningful.”
The final form of those stories take many different shapes. Of course, he’s painted on traditional canvases and created comics, but he’s experimented with other forms as well. For one project, The Life of People, he detailed the span from birth to death over an uninterrupted 27-foot scroll. Most recently he’s begun using epoxy and rubber mouldings to build detailed, 3D dioramas where his characters emerge from their wild backgrounds.
While investing personal stories into his work was daunting at first, it soon became the core of his art. Pouring himself into the work allowed others to relate and connect, which for him is exactly the point of making art in the first place. That’s why, if you see him working in a coffee shop somewhere, you should never hesitate to say hello. He tries to leave the studio at least once a day to sync back in with the real world. He loves when curious onlookers ask him about his work. “You get a lot of energy off of people,” he says. To see more of Sean’s work, visit his website.
The Vancouver Lexicon – our A-Z dictionary of local slang, myths, legends, and such – might appear to be complete, but we mean to keep adding to it every week. Today we aim to highlight five more localisms that everyone in British Columbia should know about, that is if they don’t already. They are East Van Calamari, Strathcona Village, Kinfolked, Fogtober, and Snortside.
Gasclown | Slang/Insult | A twenty-something suburbanite who comes into the city with the goal of “getting laid” but ends up highly intoxicated, confused, and belligerent, yelling “Hey bro!” at disinterested cabs throughout Gastown until 4am. A dangerous creature of the night, best avoided.
Usage: “I was there Saturday. It was a total Gasclown gongshow…”
Guilt Pylon | Slang/Phenomenon | Any person with a clipboard who asks, “Do you have a minute for [insert name of cause or charity]?” while you are minding your own business on the sidewalk. They are most commonly found on Commercial Drive and in Kitsilano, the two Vancouver neighbourhoods currently breeding sympathetic youth. An unkind slur.
Usage: “Man, I was on The Drive this afternoon and it was like walking a slalom course through a forest of guilt pylons!”
Drizzlepiss | Slang | The particularly disheartening (some might say maddening) style of rain prevalent across the Lower Mainland between the months of November and April. Distinct from showers, pours, spitting, cats and dogs, et cetera. What drizzlepiss lacks in intensity it more than makes up for in monotony.
Usage: “I couldn’t get out of bed this morning for the longest time because all I could hear was the mind-numbing hum of the drizzlepiss…”
Citidiot | Slang/Insult | A portmanteau of “city” and “idiot”. What many residents of the community of Tofino on Vancouver Island call especially obnoxious tourists, particularly those who outwardly exhibit wealth and/or symptoms of urbanity (eg. flashy cars, fashionable clothes, etc.).
Usage: “I gotta go, Ma…yeah, a big BMW SUV just unloaded a bunch of fresh citidiots…I’ll call you back later!”