BY ŽENIJA ESMITS
Pieces of art are once again appearing willy nilly all over Vancouver. Under the heading Biennale as a feeble attempt at legitimacy if nothing else, lets remember the installations that came before.
Before the maniacal laughing figures* at English Bay (thanks Chip Wilson for keeping the nightmare alive), the inflated jelly beans strewn around False Creek and before Ocean Concrete's six monolithic silos on Granville Island morphed into a 200 foot mural, Vancouver already had a healthy collection of public art. And believe it or not, South Granville is housing its fair share.
Far more subtle than the above mentioned examples, is the piece hanging over the entrance of the Block Building on Granville and 11th. Natures Own Geometry, it’s called. A copper low-relief sculpture, it’s text-book midcentury art. I love it and would hang it in my inappropriately sized living room. Many wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole - or longer.
The next South Granville piece ranks a 10 on a scale of subtlety / misinterpretation. The large piece on the south west corner of Fir and 13th is often mistaken for a ventilation system of some kind. Wind Blown Mounds is a yellow fibreglass sculpture produced in 1975 by famed stained glass artist(?) Lutz Huafschild. If you live at 1616 West 13th you are likely seeing the piece as it was intended, from above. However it's extraordinarily difficult for anyone else to enjoy it as it's entirely covered by foliage of various kinds. Which is why I think most assume it’s an extension of the building’s heating and cooling. It’s not.
On a gorgeous sunny day a couple of weeks ago SGI-er Helena and I went on a mini photo safari. We began with the bulbous yellow domes I’d been so curious about. Being a total idiot, I assumed there’d be a entrance to the building’s sculpture garden. Realizing quickly that this was not the case, I did what any sensible 38yr old would do. I started macheteing my way through the spider web draped hydrangeas. I arrived nose to nose with Wind Blown Mounds, which it be came evident, were meant to be viewed from a distance, as opposed to the intimate perspective I was enjoying. The sculpture is certainly windblown. Coated in a fine crust of dirt and with various sneezy grasses growing around it I wonder if it was intended to be hidden for 40 years?
Certainly the up close and personal view I enjoyed is interesting and knowing artists and their zany ways, this could indeed be the purpose of the exercise. The exercise being the challenge viewing of their art. How bad do you want it? Being so close (and photographing at that distance) doesn't really assist with the scale of the two Mounds. Their topographical measurements are roughly 5ft in height by 12ft. This includes the negative space where I had wedged myself in hopes of a half decent shot. I could peer over them quite nicely, but had difficulty scaling them with any success. Although they screamed out to be climbed. Tease.
Perhaps in the winter months we'll be able to see more Mounds (note to self). Until then, take a wander and peer through their leafy enclosure. Plus wasp season is coming to a close, I guarantee you'll have an easier time of it than we did.
*titled A-mazing (if you know me, you will understand the irony here)