SEEN IN VANCOUVER #521 | New “No Way” Cafe Opens Up On The Downtown Eastside

November 12, 2014 

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“No Way” is a brand new cafe from Mike Payette and Todd Lewendon. It’s just opened up at 247 Main Street off East Hastings. That’s the old Solder & Sons located right beside the Super Champion Cycle Shop on the Downtown Eastside. It’s a tiny spot – just 11 seats in 200 sqft – but it’s nice and cozy with some beautiful woodwork on display (dig the tiny wood wrapped sink behind the counter), not to mention a fun selection of zines. They pull good shots of Origins espresso and offer a wee selection of fruits, baked goods, salads, and cereals, plus a wrap or two. Check them out Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 3:30pm, and 9am to 3:30pm on Saturdays.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #520 | “Big Bertha” Lands At Main Street’s Brassneck Brewery

November 6, 2014 

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This 4000 litre foudre - immediately nicknamed “Big Bertha” – just arrived from France at Brassneck Brewery on Main Street. Co-founder Nigel Springthorpe says it was quite the ordeal getting the giant oak fermenter in place, not to mention getting it into the country in the first place. “It comes from a French winery and we bought it way back in June,” he explains. “The French port of Marseille went on strike so it just arrived after lots of waiting.”

Proud brewmaster Conrad Gmoser (pictured above) gave us the nickel tour once Big Bertha was in place. It’s massive. He’ll be using it for its Brett-affections in the second fermentation of the brewery’s “Stockholm Syndrome” beer, which is artfully described thusly on Brassneck’s website: “We kidnapped a Saison, held it hostage for several months, letting it sit and condition on Brettanomyces…”

As far as we’re aware, this is the only foudre in operation at a BC brewery, and one of very few in Canada. The first batch of beer goes in next week, and should be available to the public in about four months.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #519 | Destination BC’s Dreamy New Video, “The Wild Within”

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We spend hours daydreaming and planning road trips to the wilds of other lands, so much so that it’s easy to forget about the paradise right on our doorstep. We were reminded of this today when we pressed play on The Wild Within, the new promotional video from Destination BC (see below). It was released this morning as part of a new corporate strategy and tourism marketing plan, one that comes complete with a cool new overhaul of the “Super, Natural British Columbia” brand (see above).

Watch it. If you didn’t live here, you’d want to.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #518 | Aaron Koehn & Gabriel Dubois’ Exhibitions At BAF Studio

October 31, 2014 

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by Grady Mitchell | The Burrard Arts Foundation (BAF) wants to get artwork in front of as many people as possible as often as they can. To do that they run a gallery space at 108 East Broadway and also organize art programs and public projects, most recently a massive, maze-like outdoor mural at 259 Powell Street by Vancouver artist Gabriel Dubois. “As Vancouver continues to grow as a city of international prominence,” says director Christian Chan, “it’s vital that the arts and culture keeps pace.”

More of Gabriel’s precise, geometric and vividly coloured work is on display at the BAF Studio in a show entitled Deft Senf. The artist just recently returned from a year-long trek through Germany, Japan, India and the UK, so the show is a great opportunity to see how his experiences abroad have influenced his style.

The BAF Studio is also holding a show by New York artist Aaron Koehn (pictured above). It’s called Good, Better, and Aaron gave me a quick walkthrough of his pieces. Early in our tour he told me that “choice is a hard thing to define; that’s part of the title of the show.” In other words, there can be no ‘best’ because that’s a purely subjective assessment. It seems particularly apt in reference to the appreciation of art, which is a wholly subjective experience.

Rather than only two-dimensional pieces hung on a wall, much of Aaron’s show occupies real space in the room – not in a sculptural sense, but more as the collision of standard objects with art. A centrepiece of Good, Better is a series of Ikea LACK tables – one of their most ubiquitous models; some laid on their sides on the floor, others disassembled and mounted on the wall. For each one Aaron printed a macro photo of the extreme reflective surface of a buffed car, then wrapped it around the table. Viewers can piece together details of the car’s surroundings through the warped shapes reflected in its polished surface.

Reflective surfaces are a large theme of the show; Aaron took his first Mac laptop and polished it into chrome. Even his childhood baseball bat shines, despite dings and nicks from years of use. As you lean in to study them you’ll see your own hazy silhouette staring back. Aaron is interested in the question of when a copy is no longer a copy. Where exactly is the point when it becomes its own separate entity?

“Good art is that which poses questions rather than answers them,” says curator Elliat Albrecht. “Aaron’s work gestures towards ideas rather than making declarative statements. That’s so valuable for an art viewer; not telling them exactly what an object is gives them space to breathe and think.”

Aaron’s show features many forms – there’s a number of substrate prints using UV ink that explores logo manipulation, among other concepts, as well as an interactive light component and even a pair of shoes – but all are exploring the same idea. “Things can look very different but be very connected,” he says.

Good, Better is up now and runs until December 20th.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #517 | Heady Show Opens At New Serpens Gallery In Chinatown

October 28, 2014 

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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.)

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #517 | In The Forest Hunting Mushrooms With The “Acorn” Crew

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by Michelle Sproule | Mushroom Season is upon us. The warm wet days of Autumn bring with them the perfect conditions for fungal growth and the little buggers are popping up everywhere right now. I tagged along with the crew from Main Street’s Acorn restaurant (chef Rob Clarke, sous chef Brian Luptak, kitchen staffers Heather Dosman, Matt Gostelow, Peter Warszycki, Dylan Williams, and owner Shira Blustein, plus Jared Blustein and Christina Paradun from the FOH) as they followed professional mushroom forager Alexander McNaughton on a recent hunt/hike through the North Shore mountains.

Being familiar with the area and knowing likely hiding places, Alexander marched us through some serious terrain to uncover yellow chanterelles, puff balls, angel wings, and cauliflower shrooms. It was an arduous and rewarding adventure, but it should be remembered that going off-trail and eating mushrooms without proper identification are both very dangerous activities. Don’t fuck around. Be a pro or go with a pro.

Back at the restaurant, the kitchen crew crafted a rich and beautifully balanced foraged mushroom tart with sorel emulsion, goat’s cheese, watercress, cured egg yolk, and reindeer lichen — amazing. If you’re stoked on mushrooms but not interested in the bushwhacking, Acorn has a bunch of tasty shroom dishes on their menu this week. Starting Saturday there will be Hen of the Woods mushroom pasta with sunchoke purée, pickled shallots, and pepper hazelnuts as well as a vegan portobello and walnut pate with preserved lemon gel, pickled walnuts and caraway taro crisps. Take a look…

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #516 | Local Architect Argues To Keep The VAG Exactly Where It is

September 26, 2014 

Local firm Peter Cardew Architects just sent us an email and video link countering the already accepted and established plans for the new Vancouver Art Gallery. “How can we ensure the public supports a new VAG? Ask them.” Food for thought:

In the search for alternate sites on which to construct a new Vancouver Art Gallery there was little public participation to ensure the best site was chosen for a major public building in the city. Also, in an economic climate that is far less robust than when the idea of a totally new gallery was first proposed, it is critical that public money be seen to be wisely spent. Only through actively encouraging open dialogue about such issues can governments, the public and potential donors be assured of enthusiastic public support. This video is intended to stimulate that dialogue and that enthusiasm.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #515 | 66 Shots That Make It Easier To Accept The Arrival Of Fall

September 24, 2014 

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It’s been tough to officially say goodbye to summer this week, so to ease our pain we’ve combed Scout’s photo archives for some of our favourite Fall photos, which we’ve arranged below for your therapeutic perusal. Too further (musically) moderate your mood to be right as rain, we recommend either Il Giardino Armonico’s treatment of Vivaldi’s L’Autunno or Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #514 | Staff Tasting At Highly Anticipated (Imminent) Gyoza Bar

September 3, 2014 

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by Andrew Morrison | The highly anticipated Gyoza Bar – a new 80 seater at 622 West Pender St. – is set to open for its first service this Saturday. The restaurant, which comes to us via Seigo Nakamura (owner of Miku and Minami), underwent staff training/tasting last night and is headed for a “friends and family” dry run this evening.

I took a look inside last night as the staff were eating their way through the menu. There was a great energy in the space with all the opening hires getting to know one another over a shared, educational supper as GM Nicola Turner and corporate chef Kazuya Matsuoka guiding their chopsticks.

It’s an awesome-looking menu, and the few bites I managed made an impact. When you eventually go for the first time, set aside your gyoza cravings for a moment and aim for the chicken shio ramen. The broth is like an umami sauna, plus they sous vide the meat so it’s wicked tender. Bonus: the noodles,  prepped in house, are insanely good.

Check out the menus in the images below and let the drooling commence. You have until Saturday…

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #513 | A Look Inside The (Almost Finished) “Red Truck Brewery”

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by Chuck Hallett & Andrew Morrison | There’s a reason breweries are located in industrial districts. Brewing beer is, at its heart, a result of light industry. It’s a chemical manufacturing process what converts a standard set of input ingredients (barley, hops, yeast and water) into an end product. It differs from producing wood pulp only slightly, and most of that is because the end product is that magical elixir we call beer.

Smaller breweries often play down the technical aspects of beer production simply because they can. Polished concrete countertops and wood-panelled tasting rooms are sexier than the industrial patchwork of tanks, pipes and coolant they conceal.

Once you bust past a certain size, though, the process of actually making beer takes centre stage, as well it should. This is the case with Mount Pleasant’s newest craft brewery: Red Truck. The company has expanded out of their 3,600 hectolitre micro-brewery on the North Shore and into a 40,000sf, 25,000hl facility directly on the spot where the old Brewery Creek emptied into the now-filled False Creek Flats. The added capacity is already allowing them to crank out a steady stream of packaged lager, IPA and pale ale, along with (soon) the odd limited bomber release of something more interesting.

This is a cavernous warehouse of a brewery, with a forest of gleaming 2 storey tall fermenters dotting the snazzily tiled floor. Piping interconnects and steel cat walks criss cross left and right, and a control station on a 2nd floor outcrop monitors the whole operation like it’s some sort of fermentation DJ booth.

Capping off the whole operation is a fully restored vintage red delivery truck, which is suspended from cables above the heads of the workers below. Waxing and washing it is a task that will presumably fall to the interns.

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Still to come on the sunny south-side of the building is a retail kiosk and growler station, plus the highly anticipated 70 seat old school Red Truck Stop diner, which will serve burgers, hot dogs, wings, liquor and plenty of booze in addition to beer. Bonus: a sun-drenched 40 sat patio — a feature not allowed under the more popular Brewery Lounge license.

The numbers above might seem huge but in reality they really aren’t. The 60hl brewhouse is the next logical step for a growing craft brewery, and a 25,000hl/year production target doesn’t even crack the top five list for BC. For comparison, Deschutes Brewing in Oregon’s annual production is just about 750,000hl, proving it is possible to make delicious beer in large quantities.

As mentioned up top and made evident in the images below, the brewery is already making beer. They’ve had their state of the art bottling and packaging line whirring, plus the machine that goes bing has gone bing. There’s not that much left on site to do save for cladding the building’s exterior, finishing/furnishing some of the offices and conference rooms (installing AV, etc), and giving the whole thing a good once over with a broom and a hose.

It’s more complicated than that, of course, but you get the point. They’re close. Hours aren’t yet set in stone, but 10am to 10pm might be right. We’re crossing our fingers for it to be part of our lives by Christmas or New Years.

* Correction: the draft published yesterday stated that Red Truck was owned by the Mark James Group. This was incorrect and we apologise for the error.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #513 | Gastown’s “Nelson The Seagull” Lands Sidewalk Patio

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Pay a visit to Nelson The Seagull in Gastown today. They’ve just scored their patio license, as evidenced by the shot above, which we’ve reposted from their Instagram feed. (“Better late than never,” reads the caption. Indeed!) Below you’ll find a couple dozen shots from the days when they were just starting out back in May, 2011.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #512 | First Look (And Taste) Inside The New “Cafe Medina”

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With the highly anticipated opening of the new Cafe Medina set for this Tuesday at 780 Richards Street, the restaurant’s kitchen crew and front of house team took Saturday to get in some practice with friends and family. The special “dry run” service saw delivery of chef Jonathan Chovancek’s new menu and our first look at the new interior by designer Brian Kane. Take a look below…

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #511 | Matching Fred Herzog’s Iconic Photographs To The Present

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by Andrew Morrison | As a summer project, my eldest son James and I have been walking around the city with a copy of Fred Herzog Photographs (Douglas & McIntyre, 2011) and trying to shoot the exact locations where the master framed up his most iconic shots. It’s a book that we both love because a lot of the pictures were taken really close to our house in Strathcona and all around the Downtown Eastside. Because of our familiarity with the territory, most of the locations have been easy to pick out. Others are proving far more difficult because much of what was once there is no more. Truly, working on this has really brought home how dramatic the changes to this city have been over the last 50-60 years. And yet, in some places, it’s uncanny how it has remained largely the same. There’s plenty of summer left and a lot more Herzog haunts to explore, so expect the gallery below – complete with higher resolution side-by-sides and descriptive captions – to expand.

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SEEN IN VANCOUVER #510 | Through The Viewfinder Of Photographer Andy Grellman

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by Grady Mitchell | On his long walks through the city and frequent trips around the coast, photographer Andy Grellmann is gradually piecing together a visual survey of Vancouver and the region around it. His work is divided into albums dedicated to the various neighbourhoods within the city and the islands beyond it, each one like a photographic map.

Although always a visual kid, he didn’t discover photography until university, when he bought his first digital camera. Soon he experimented with film and found that medium format cameras better fit his developing style of mindful, quiet image making – the act of looking down into a viewfinder and slowly composing a picture suited his meditative approach.

It’s tough, he says, to name exactly what it is about a given scene that compels him to stop and make a picture. “It can have light, form, shape, composition, whatever.” He says. “If everything else is there but the content isn’t there, then I won’t take the picture.” Those other elements should not be the focus of the image, he says, but should instead serve that central idea. The essential “content” can take almost any form. “If what I’m feeling inside is projected back at me, then I’ll take a picture of it,” he says. Although he’s always shot this way, he’s only recently begun to contemplate the way he works.

Much of Andy’s work is still life or landscape, people seldom appear in his images. When they do, they rarely face the camera: most seem unaware that they’re being photographed at all, and those that do know are usually turned away, their eyes diverted from the viewer. Recently, however, he’s ventured into portraiture, inspired especially by August Sander, a photographer known for his highly-orchestrated portraits of pre-WWII Germans.

Back when Sander was shooting, having your portrait made was a rare event. These days, you can do it yourself in a smudged bathroom mirror in ten seconds flat. So what’s the value of a single image in a world so over-saturated with them? It’s an even more challenging question for someone like Andy, whose work doesn’t rely on flashy spectacle, but instead documents quiet, everyday moments. In a world so packed with imagery, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect viewers to slow down and study each one. But for those that are willing to do so, the work of photographers like Andy offers rewards.

One of Andy’s most beautiful series is entitled Detache. It’s an assortment of small, enticing details: a pile of books, the luminescent glow of cracked eggshells, a drape wound around a bedpost. “Detachment” speaks to Andy’s role as someone removed from the action, a keen observer rather than direct participant. But in a greater sense it also describes the style of all his photographs in any of his series. In music, a detache is a quick, light stroke on the violin. In essence, a light touch. These little moments are, to Andy, the harvest of the small but profound act he pursues every day of “noticing poetry in your surroundings.”

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