Saturday, April 21, 2018

My Urban Eyes. . . City Charms

 This has been a word-heavy week on the blog; Monday's and Wednesday's posts each took a fair bit of work. Thank you for your warm and lively response to both. The conversation about bread is great, and I'm so pleased that a number of you were moved to order a copy of Carol's book (she and I had breakfast yesterday, and she's completely chuffed). After expending all those words, however,  I skipped yesterday's post. I know you understand. . .

But week before last, I posted about feeling a bit low, missing my old island life a bit, and -- as an antidote, looking for urban charm, not just in the city's parks but also right on its concrete streets and sidewalks.

And under bridges. . .
 Pater and I biked past this the other day on our first cycle together this year, headed out to Spanish Banks. I waited 'til the return trip (after he'd detoured solo in the direction of his favourite doughnuts at Granville Island) before stopping to investigate.
 I was first intrigued by the colours of the three wooden platforms
 then, closer up, swooned a bit over the wonderfully aged surfaces of this vintage stool,
 then gradually recognising the whole as an art installation of some sort
 searching out the plaque that could tell me more. . .
So this is a "temporary participatory sculpture" designed to evoke and invite re-imagined versions of concerts in more formal venues. Busking is encouraged, although prospective performers are to consider the posted guidelines about etiquette.
 We have a week of sunshine ahead, according to the Environment Canada website, with temps in the high teens by the end of the week. It's warm enough now that all but one of the mason bees has chomped its way out of the coccoon. Maybe the weather will lure some musicians out as well, and these three seats will be occupied, the amphitheatre under the bridge filled with an applauding audience.

In the city, anything's possible . . .

I'm cycling to my trainer's later this morning (she's worked up a new program for me -- expect to hear loud groans all next week as I adjust!), and then have plans for some gallery-visiting, some granddaughter time, and some serious time with a book on the cozy cushioned lounge out on the deck -- Serious Vitamin D time!

And you, what does your weekend hold? And tell me, are we mostly city or suburb, house or condo/apartment dwellers here? Do you find it easy or difficult to suss out the charms of a concrete environment? And I expect there may be a variety of opinions about this "art" installation as well -- don't be shy (although, as always, do be polite ;-)

Happy Saturday!


  1. I really like that installation...the spareness...the stool and the office chair (who once sat on them? who will?).

    Now, your up the garden and reading about M Clemenceau (my enthusiasm has not waned), city, house, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend...hope those temperatures materialize...

    1. The response below was for you, Georgia, but I didn't post it properly. . .

  2. I'm glad you like it. I do too. So evocative in the spareness. The slight shabbiness too. At first it made me think of the homeless, who often find themselves shelter under bridges. And the colour that transforms the shabbiness, especially on a sunny day.
    You've really dug into your historical investigations, haven't you?! And now you're nearly ready to dig in the garden. Hope your spring won't be deterred now. . .

  3. I'm impressed,as usual,with your ability to find art like this. I like it,it is thought-provoking,with the past,present and future meaning and a role-but I'm not so sure that I would find it myself,under the bridge!
    Here is beautiful,too warm, weather,I've spent yesterday on the lake Jarun (we had a coffee-with šlag!-there with Pater,remember?)It was a family celebration in a restaurant by the water ( seas,lakes,rivers and waterfalls are my love,so I could understand and sympathize with your blues-your island home seems like a fairytale to me. And all the friends and memories....but,than,you'll always have them)
    As you know,I live in a house in the capital city,in a suburb ,and always have been living in houses ,but with an eye toward the future and the condo
    My wishes were to spend at least four months every year at the sea,but life had other plans :-)
    I've spent a couple of days in Vienna last week and hope to stay at home and have a lazy evening today

    1. With space at a premium in Vancouver, and three bridges spanning a narrow inlet that cuts right into the city centre, the areas underneath them get well used. We cycle or run or walk beneath bridges often, along well-maintained pathways. Isn't it nice that they put some art here for us ?!

      Reading your description, I was right back sitting with you and Pater in the heat, watching the waterfowl, drinking my coffee -- yes, of course, with šlag!! Mmmmm.
      I do hope you'll get back to spending time at your beloved seaside.. . Glad you had those days in Vienna -- I must write you soon about meeting up in June.

  4. A close friend died last xmas & we have just returned from a party to celebrate his life . He wasn’t religious & didn’t want a funeral service of any kind . So there was a very small family cremation at the time with the promise of a celebration party when the better weather arrived . I really wasn’t looking forward to it but , against all my expectations , it was a lovely get together . There were a hundred of us gathered in a tiny old pub in the very beautiful little village where he was born , high on the Yorkshire moors . The pub was so small you couldn’t avoid chatting to the person you were inches away from & everyone mixed & talked & laughed . We spilt out into the sunshine for group photos outside the farmhouse next door where he was born & over the road to the house where his wife came to live for a while - & so they met . The oldest person present was ninety & the youngest eleven weeks - the new grandson who won’t know his grandad but has a big loving family around him .
    It doesn’t link in too well with your post but it has been my weekend .
    Wendy in York

    1. That must have been a wonderful gathering, so full of emotion, the way we might all want to be remembered and celebrated. And now I'm wondering what the chances that one of my cousins (one of them, Winn, lives on the Yorkshire Moors) might somehow have been there -- stranger coincidences have happened ;-)

  5. That is a creative use for what looks like a highway or bridge underpass. Those spaces are normally neglected in urban areas. Hopefully soon the little platform with the lovely old stool will host some talented performers for the city crowd to enjoy.

    Home is a house in the burb with a bit of land, and lots of quaking aspens, cottonwoods, fruit trees... Husband and I spent most of yesterday and today outdoors working in the yard and garden beds. The temps were in the low 70s so it was nice to get some much needed vitamin D. I'm almost done with Carol's book and will leave a note on your previous post. Crossing fingers and toes that sunny days and warm weather will hit your area soon, like tomorrow morning...:) Hope you had a pleasant relaxing weekend. Amelia

    1. It's true those under-bridge spaces can be neglected in cities. As I said, above to Dottoressa, that used to be the case here, but space is at a premium here and those areas were transformed, first in 1986, when we hosted Expo '86, and then in 2010 when we hosted the Winter Olympics.

      Your yard sounds wonderful -- I do miss my trees, I must say. Our temps this weekend weren't so high (mid-teens, Celsius), but lovely and warm in the sun, at least.

      I'm very impressed you so quickly got your hands on Carol's book and have almost finished it. Will watch for your note on that post.

  6. City dweller here. Concrete charms all around me in London. I especially love the graffiti-smeared concrete tunnels next to the path along the Thames River.And the whole brick wall covered with florescent colored light in tubes next to the OXO Tower on the river.
    Such fun this past weekend with our second group of visiting American friends, who also love art. We took them on a street art walking tour with a guide near Brick Lane. Walked away wanting to grab a can of spray paint and have a go myself. Public art, or street art, so enlivens a city, I feel.And I am especially fond of the type that you gently come across... as your example of mysterious table and chairs under the bridge.

    Saturday night we walked with friends from here and friends from the US, who had met last Fall in the US for the first time and marvelled at Tower Bridge- all lit up and proud. We had dinner at a table at the base of the Bridge, with all windows flung open to the night air.
    Looked around at the table, watching my sweetheart and friends from two countries,laughing and having meaningful, then more funny conversations in the city I love like no other. I realized then one of my life's dreams had come true. London

    1. You're making me wish we had a trip to London in our sights. Instead, we'll stay in Europe this next visit, but I'm beginning to plot. . . Your dinner with friends sounds wonderful, as does your impromptu street art tour.

  7. I must admit that there is a kind of sober beauty to the place you show in your post. Still, I have mixed feelings about it. Mostly beacause it reminds me of a summer many many years ago when I was doing voluntary work in London in a "gipsy"camp (that is what it was called at the time) installed in the middle of a roundabout right underneath a gigantic flyover. The most inhospitable place one could imagine. And all those children... in what was even then one of the richest cities in the world.

    1. I have the same mix of emotions, Eleonore. There are enough homeless here, in a relatively prosperous city, that intimations of it probably Should make us uncomfortable. I do wonder whether that's something the artists had in mind.


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