Hello, Marine Gateway

Part of my rationale in choosing Marpole when I moved to Vancouver in 2013 was not just the cheaper rents, but the access to downtown and Richmond via the new Canada Line SkyTrain station at Marine Drive and Cambie Street.

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Where there’s a SkyTrain station, development always follows, and now when I walk to that SkyTrain station, I see soaring residential towers and a whole new shopping hub that has been named “High Street” (I don’t know if I’d go that far since it’s not offering anything out of the chain store norm, but you know marketers…)

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I have to say I am happy Marine Gateway has arrived in my neighbourhood— a neighbourhood that I love yet is sorely lacking retail shops and more variety of restaurants.

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No longer will the Artist and I have to go downtown to see a movie in theatres—we can walk fifteen minutes from our apartment! I am particularly excited about the Winners and Shoppers Drug Mart for the convenience factor.

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I walked around there the other day, checking out which stores have opened so far. Tim Hortons and Dublin Crossing are still in the works (shown above), but Starbucks, Shoppers, CIBC, BMO, T&T Supermarket, and A&W are up and running. (A&W is my favourite fast food joint so this addition really thrills me).

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There’s even some public art in the plaza! Here’s a statue of Simon Fraser by Ken Lum, the explorer after which the university is named.

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And on the pavement, some writing about the history of the surrounding places.

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On the stairs leading down to the bus loop, I discovered some more public art that looks like it might be back lit at night. I couldn’t find a plaque so not sure what it’s about, though I’m guessing it’s an homage to the Musqueam people and their tools/ways of life who lived in this area first.

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Here’s a complete list of the calls for public art at Marine Gateway.

Marpole is certainly getting more attractive features, and it will be interesting to see how this affects traffic and housing and rent prices that I hope can remain affordable for this neighbourhood I call home on the edge of the city.

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Lingering in Lonsdale

Today was a spontaneous Friday. I found myself running some errands downtown and was finished by mid-morning. After having read a few chapters of Wild by Cheryl Strayed on a small patch of grass near the Province building where office workers were taking their lunch break, I glanced at the ramp leading from Waterfront Station to the Seabus and thought, In all my years living around here, I’ve never taken the Seabus. I’ve never even been to Lonsdale Quay. This is ridiculous!”

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So I changed that. I got on that ramp, purchased my two-zone ticket, and boarded a vessel that I thought would be more like a ferry where you can go out and walk about, but it’s entirely contained, and passenger-only. It really does feel like a bus on the sea.

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View of the North Shore mountains from the seabus.

It’s a quick 12-minute journey across Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver where the boat docks at Lonsdale Quay. Apparently my parents did take my siblings and I here when we were little. My sister and I picked out a few items from their miniature dollhouse store for the ones my dad was building us, but I have no memory of it.

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There was no dollhouse store. What I did see was a kitchen store, a soup place, Kin’s Farm Market, a sugary sweet confectionary, a few ladies and babies clothing stores (not combined), an artisan wine store, jewellery booths, souvenir shops, restaurants, and a take-out food area with seating along the pier.

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The Soup Meister looked tasty, except not on a 26 degree day.

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View of the indoor seating area at the south end of the market.

It was charming and the best part about it? It wasn’t crowded and overwhelming the way that Granville Island’s Public Market is. I didn’t get lost and saw everything in an hour and a half’s time, lingering in some clothing stores and in the excellent gift shop/artists’ collective Favourite. So yes, it is a lot smaller than Granville Island’s market but it has a great atmosphere and is nice for something different.

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These people were actually playing gigantic games of chess and checkers.

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And they had this public piano in an awesome blue.

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Lonsdale Quay: I will visit you again.

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Doughnut peaches from Kin’s Farm Market.

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View of the two-storied market, bathed in light.

Beautiful things we hide

How do I love thee? Let me lock you up.

Sounds a bit harsh, but isn’t that what we do with beautiful things?

Guggenheim Museum, New York City. I actually really like this circular space, but the walls are still white and you’re still looking at works of art in a museum.

We stick masterpieces in sterile environments like museums and art galleries. On one hand, this preserves the art. On the other, it sucks the life right out of them.

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. The building’s exterior may be unique, but the galleries inside look much like any other museum.

If art is meant to imitate life, where does life happen? In schools, streets, libraries, places of worship, pubs, cafés, offices, homes, malls, parks, public spaces—the list goes on. Instead of having beautiful things all grouped together in one place, wouldn’t art integrated with life enrich our day-to-day experiences?

How much more significant would it be to encounter Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère that I wrote about here when you’re ordering your drink at a bar? You would literally become that invisible yet reflected customer in the mirror who’s supposed to feel a bit uncomfortable.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. 1881-82. By Edouard Manet

Or how about seeing Degas’ Portraits in an Office or Edmond Duranty in your own office or workplace? The stack of papers and expression that says, “where do I begin?” looks pretty familiar.

Portraits in an Office, New Orleans. 1873. By Edgar Degas.

Edmond Duranty, 1879. By Edgar Degas.

There’s something about seeing art in the context it references that adds to the viewer’s experience. You don’t get the same effect when viewing art in a neutral space like a museum where every other painting shares the same backdrop. Let’s spread out the beauty. Many cities do have public art installations. How about indoors? Most restaurants and cafés hang art on their walls – I actually talked about this in my last post. Maybe even your workplace does. Can we extend this to other spheres we live life in too?

For example, I’m not a huge shopper and I have a strong dislike for malls, but even I would find a sterile suburban mall slightly more bearable if decorated with artwork such as these by modern Impressionist painter Leonid Afremov:

Day of Shopping. By Leonid Afremov

I’d be doing the same activity as these shoppers on canvas — there’s an affinity there between painted and real subjects. I am in their scene and they are in mine. In this way, seeing art in the context it references helps remove some of the distance between art and viewer that tends to get put up when visiting art in a museum. Even the term “visiting” has an alienating quality to it, like we are entering a world separated from ours when the two are, in fact, inseparable – nor should they be. I’m not saying every painting has to be put in the context it depicts (sometimes a piece speaks to us more if it seems out of place)  but I do think we should consider and play with the powerful space where art and life intersect.

Shopping District. By Leonid Afremov

What spaces in your life would you like to see come alive with art?

I’ll leave you with the song that inspired these thoughts.