Dude Chilling

Photograph by: Nick Procaylo , PNG

Photograph by: Nick Procaylo , PNG

Artist Viktor Briestensky cleverly copied the standard Vancouver Parks Board signage to create Dude Chilling Park on the site of the officially-named Guelph Park. He installed it without permission in November 2012, but it was subsequently removed by the Parks Board.

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Folks liked it, and an 1800-signature petition by locals convinced the board to return the sign to the park.

More than a year after citizens reacted with anger over its removal, the park board has voted to permanently reinstall a famous fake sign to its former chilling spot at an East Vancouver park.

During a meeting Monday night, the board approved Commissioner Sarah Blyth’s motion, returning the guerrilla-art installation of the “Dude Chilling Park” sign to Guelph Park (East 7th Avenue and Guelph Street). – Vancouver Sun, Feb 3 2014.


Since its reinstallation the work has been vandalized and now someone has stolen it…but Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth says it will be returned, she hopes, or replaced.

Twitter image.

Twitter image.

Which dude stole it? How will a cool sign remain, when there are so many basement suites begging for a “Dude Chilling” sign?

Some comments following an article in the weekly Georgia Straight:

Mark Bowen
A bit of harmless fun in “no fun city” and some people still find something to bitch about. Some real grumps around this place I tell ya.
Guelph Park is essentially named after one of England’s worst and most idiotic kings. Great change that reflects the community instead of dead royalty.
Doesn’t government approval make it kind of lame now?

‘Alka’ chilling out at Dude Chilling Park renamed from Guelph Park on Feb. 27, 2014. (Nick Procaylo/PNG)

‘Alka’ chilling out at Dude Chilling Park renamed from Guelph Park on Feb. 27, 2014. (Nick Procaylo/PNG)



Jonathan Borofsky

This video, produced by the Real Estate Channel for the Vancouver Biennale 2014-2016, is part of the Biennale’s BIG IDEAS educational program, which engages students with public art in various ways.

Human Structures Vancouver is located in the Olympic Village on the south shore of False Creek in Vancouver.

This sculpture, comprised of a series of brightly-coloured interconnected figures, conveys a sense of universal connectivity.  The distinctive shape of the galvanized steel plates refers to pixels, the base unit of computer imagery, and comments on the structural connections in our digital world.

For Borofsky, the organic, modular structure of Human Structures Vancouver suggests an ongoing process of building and learning.  In the artist’s own words, “we are all constantly in a process of connecting together to build our world…Humans use structures to build our world, not only architectural, but psychological and philosophical structures.” – Vancouver Biennale


OSGEMEOS: their largest mural

Gustavo and Otavio, or it is Otavio and Gustavo?

The Brazilian street artist twins Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, who call themselves OSGEMEOS (os gemeos = “the twins” in Portuguese), are currently (August 2014) painting what will be, at 7,162 square meters (23,500 sq.ft.) their largest mural to date. This is one of the key events in the current Vancouver Biennale (see also the previous article). Commercial painters were hired to apply the undercoat of 15 colours on the six sand and gravel-filled silos at Ocean Concrete, which is on Vancouver’s Granville Island next to the public market, restaurants and the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Throughout August Octavio and Gustavo, working from articulated lifts, will be spray-painting seven days a week. Over complex patterns, six characters will emerge, one per silo, each character alternately facing north (toward downtown) or south.

Granville Island. Photo © Evan Leeson

Granville Island. Photo © Evan Leeson

Granville Island Map


August 15, the underlying coats have been applied:

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One of the many challenges facing the twins is that this is a working site, and the silos are in use with sand and gravel. Sometimes the material spills over the side: you can see, in the second photo, a streak of windblown sand down the nearest silo, only hours after the paint was rolled on. Rain is a problem, delaying the start of their work by two days. And on the water side, there is a very narrow area for the lifts to operate in, between conveyer belts, girders and pipes, and the silos. In effect, to paint that side, the only way they can “step back” as every artist needs to do is to either take a water taxi across to the other side of False Creek or walk up onto the Granville Street bridge which is where these photos were taken.

Sunday August 17, morning

Sunday August 17, morning

As Michael Mann wrote recently in the weekly entertainment newspaper The Georgia Straight, the

360-degree, 23-metre-high public art project…will spread over the six Ocean Concrete silos on Granville Island. When it’s unveiled on September 7 for the 2014–2016 Biennale, not only will the mural be a beacon for art enthusiasts around the world, it’s certain to become the most Instagrammed landmark in Vancouver.

Ocean Concrete, south face, August 28

Ocean Concrete, south face, August 28

A promo video I created for the Vancouver Biennale’s Indiegogo campaign:

Not a one-man show

Unbelievably, there are still some in Vancouver and elsewhere who think that the Vancouver Biennale and its “Open Air Museum” and associated events is all about its founder and director, Barrie Mowatt. Or that somehow he uses it to sell art for his own profit. Or that–well, whatever the stories are, in fact the Biennale is a registered non-profit organization with a staff and curators on contract which will be doing some amazing things during the upcoming 2014-2016 exhibition, including a film festival, international artist residencies, and of course the signature events, the installation of artworks in Vancouver’s parks and open spaces.

Did you know: that this summer (and next year as well) 92 artists from 5 continents will be in Vancouver and surrounding cities working with local artists on residencies?

From the Biennale’s website:

Artists will arrive in groups of 4-6 and will participate in 4-6 week residency intervals from March to October in 2014 and 2015. Each group will have a coordinator including such luminaries such as Ken Lum, Sam Carter, Gordon Price and the winner of the 2013 Leonore Annenberg Prize, Khaled Hourani.

Each resident artist will lead public talks and public workshops through an alliance of local artist studios, local galleries and local arts organizations to engage a large local audience in each event.

The Open Air Museum begins with a new work in Thornton Park (the park fronting the train station), created by Canadian artist Ivan Eyre. Bird Wrap will be officially unveiled June 11.


The curators for the 2014-2016 exhibitions (full information here):


Zheng Shengtian
Senior Curator (Asia) Open Air Museum

As an independent curator, he has organized and curated numerous exhibitions including ‘Jiangnan: Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art’ (Vancouver), the ‘Art of the Proletarian Cultural Revolution’ (Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, Canada), ‘Shanghai Modern’ (Munich, Kiel, Germany), the Shanghai Biennale (Shanghai, 2004), ‘China Trade’ (Vancouver), ‘Reincarnation’ (Toronto) and ‘Art and China’s Revolution’ (New York).


Marcello Dantas
Senior Curator (Latin and South America) Open Air Museum

As curator, he was responsible for the shows of Bill Viola, Gary Hill, Jenny Holzer, Shirin Neshat, Tunga, Laura Vinci, Tunga, Peter Greenaway, Angelo Venosa, Arthur Omar and Anish Kapoor. Among his works for the stage are: Opera Mundi at Maracanã, the ballet Floresta Amazônica of Dalal Achcar, Uma Noite na Lua by João Falcão starring Marco Nanini, Como Chegamos Aqui a Historia do Brasil Segundo Ernesto Varela and the opera O Cientista. Highlights of the historical exhibitions of great success are: Antes – History of Pre-History, Art of Africa, both shown at CCBB, 50 Years of TV and More, Back to Light, the Memory of Writing, and Mano a Mano presented at Madrid Centro Cultural de la Villa. In 2006 Dantas was artistic director of the opening Museum of the Portuguese Language.

Curatorial Advisors, Open Air Museum:

Luis Camillo Osario
Jose Roca
Marc Pottier
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Steve Nash
Adriano Pedrosa
Mahnaz Fancy
Aissa H. Deebi

Curators, Biennale CineFest:

Ilko Davidov
Ted Grouya
Marek Hovorka
Inti Codera
Rene Rozon
Andre Vaillancourt

Advisors, Artist Residencies:

Helmut Batista
Shengtian Zheng
Marcelo Dantas
Marc Pottier
Galerie Fortes Vilaca
Guilherme Wisnik
Ana Paula Cohen
Dieter Rolstraete
Jose Roca
Sarah Fillmore
Bruce Johnson
Paul Walde
Richard Ingleby
Toby Webster
Pooja Sood
Bose Krishnamachari

and, of course, the man who started it all:

Barrie Mowatt
Artistic Director

Swelled heads

Too weird for my words, you can read about it HERE, but really, has Doug Coupland gone too far with this? A giant self-portrait upon which the public is invited to stick chewing gum…Gumhead will be installed outside the Vancouver Art Gallery for the summer.

Source: Twitter @DougCoupland

Source: Twitter @DougCoupland

The official description from the gallery’s website is that the installation

is a seven-foot tall self-portrait that the artist has described as “a gum-based, crowd-sourced, publically [sic] interactive, social-sculpture self-portrait.” Viewers and passersby are encouraged to apply their own chewed gum to the sculpture so that over the summer months it is transformed, eventually obscuring the artist’s face. 

Reminds me of Seward Johnson’s Marilyn Monroe monstrosity, voted one of the worst pieces of public art ever…



Please don’t anyone bring it to Canada…we have our own gigantism….

Beaverlodge, Alberta

Beaverlodge, Alberta

Public engagement using video

Canada’s National Film Board changed the way documentary films were made and presented when, in the mid-1960’s, they created the Challenge for Change program, which put the then-new lightweight (by those standards) video cameras and recorders into the hands of community activists, recording meetings, protests and interviews on local subjects for local audiences. It was a great success and ran until 1975 when the government of the day cut funding (no doubt due to the program’s “challenge” to top-down decision-making). Challenge for Change films may still be seen on the NFB’s website, and are available in libraries across North America.

Sam and Joan SQUARE BrokenFrontMedium_flt_Warm_colcorr_shrp_12x12 copyHere in Vancouver, filmmaker David Vaisbord, after completing several successful, relatively big-budget documentaries, found that funding had dried up, and decided instead to find films he could make within a six-block radius of his home. What he found was Little Mountain, a low-income housing project that was being demolished, its families evicted, by a government intent on making a quick buck selling the park-like property to a commercial developer to build yet more low and medium rise condominiums in a city that had gone condo-crazy. Six years later, David continues to film the band of former residents who fought various levels of government and who have lost and won battles to retain social housing in this new development. Two of the most determined not to be forced out, pictured above, are Sammie and Joan, a blind couple. Neither of them will be moving into the new social housing they fought so long and hard for: Joan passed away this year, followed a few months later by Sam.

Making a long-form, multi-year documentary is not for the faint of heart, as the filmmaker explains…

David Vaisbord in conversation with Michael Cox

David Vaisbord in conversation with Michael Cox

Listen to Interview


urban space advocacy

Some ideas about the use of space in cities:

Five finalists have been announced for this year’s Urban Land Institute (ULI) Urban Open Space Award, an annual competition that recognizes outstanding examples of successful large- and small-scale public spaces that have socially enriched and revitalized the economy of their surrounding communities: http://t.co/OWsb0waxCh


One of the finalists is Santa Fe’s Railyard Park. An imaginative repurposing of industrial land, designed by Frederic Schwartz Architects (design and history here), it is a popular meeting place which the city has dubbed “Santa Fe’s Central Park.” It is cared for by the Railyard Stewards, a non-profit organization of volunteers.


Animating urban spaces by fictionalizing them is happening in Vancouver, where neighbourhood residents of the Riley Park area are collecting and creating short geo-centric narratives. This is a new project so there’s not much to go on yet, but an interesting way to involve people in the history of their community.

Putting the priority on liveable and useable public spaces, the Project for Public Spaces recently launched the PLACEMAKING MOVEMENT:

Over the past year, Placemakers from PPS have been invited to speak in hundreds of cities, where people are eager for new opportunities to create great places in their communities, from average citizens up to more and more enlightened city officials and private sector partners. We are currently leading some of the most boundary-pushing projects on every continent (Well, except for Antarctica; but it’s only a matter of time!). From the Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper re-imagining of Detroit, to the academy-shaking success of the Harvard Common Spaces program, to our work with JUCCCE [Facebook] to shape the new China Dream around Placemaking principles, to the widespread adoption of Place Governance principles inAdelaide, Australia, Placemaking is turning things upside-down on every corner of the globe.

Closer to home, the Vancouver Public Space Network is a model of how citizens can organize to advocate for the creative, democratic and cooperative uses of public space, which includes, of course, the installation of temporary and permanent public art [i.e. Vancouver Biennale]:

As an advocacy organization, the VPSN works to champion the importance of public space to the overall liveability of the city. Our efforts are wide-reaching and our organization is structured around eight key portfolios and project areas. Our work attempts to provide a blend of focused research and design work, creative community engagement and, a celebratory, solutions-based approach.

installation, Heather and Ivan Morison, Vancouver Art Gallery OffSite 2010

installation, Heather and Ivan Morison, Vancouver Art Gallery OffSite 2010