My sister enjoys walking. I like to bike. She lives in at Granville Island. I live near Cowtown Calgary. So how does this prairie girl get her ocean-loving sister to ride the seawall in Vancouver? You take her on an art ride!
My sister moved to False Creek years ago. When I would visit her at different times of the year, she would often have to work and she would leave me one of her cruisers to ride the seawall. I would return from my trips and tell her about the various sculptures, murals and creative sites on my journeys. Thus began our yearly rides to discover what new inspiring works were on our route.
I would read up on the various art and be quite intrigued and fascinated at the variety of creativity and money invested in these projects. These are my top eight – my favorite number – over the years………
Giants by Os gemeos are the smiling, gigantic, colorfully painted silos at Granville that are apparently the most photographed objects in the Vancouver area. You really can’t miss them! There are six towers reaching 70 feet into the air. Half of them face the water at False Creek and the others look inward toward Granville Market and the concrete plant. These creations are gigantic and the name Osgemeos is Portuguese for the Twins who are Brazilian Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, the artists whose graffiti work spans the globe. Colorful creations!
A maze ing Laughter by Yue Minjun is a replica of a shirtless man laughing in 14 different three-meter-tall bronze statues posing at English Bay. In 2009, the work was installed as part of the Vancouver Biennale. Today it is recognized as a popular outdoor art work for kids and adults alike. The statues swing from the arms, replicating the fun poses and grimaces of the faces. It is worth a modest $1.5 million from its original $5 million. People like getting into the laughter to have their photo taken amidst these characters!
Totem Poles by First Nations Artists
The nine colorful totem poles towering above the trees at Brockton Point in Stanley Park are on traditional Coast Salish land. They are one of Vancouver’s most visited attractions. Even though the poles are replicas of older originals, they are important both artistically and historically. The various animals and birds are important parts of the First Nation myths and culture representing both present and past.
Spinning Chandelier by Rodney Graham
Every day at noon, 4 pm and 9 pm, the giant chandelier lowers, spins and returns to its place under Granville Bridge for a total of about three minutes. This stainless steel piece is 7.7 metres tall and 4.2 meters wide. It has more than 600 “crystals” and weights about 3,400 kilograms! This $4.8 million Spinning Candelier was commissioned by internationally acclaimed artist, Rodney Graham. Apparently buildings over 100,000 square feet in Vancouver require developers to contribute a piece of public art. Thus this spectacular piece hangs under the bridge for all to see as you drive, cycle or walk, compliments of Westbank.
The Birds by Myfanwy McLeod at Olympic Village
The giant sparrow sculptures that are a few hundred times the size of real sparrows, were created for the 2010 Olympics. They have literally been flown across the world to China and the country to Calgary, Alberta to have restorations, reinforcement work done to them in 2017 but they are back at False Creek now. McLeod’s work shows one male and female house sparrow. Each of them are about five metres tall and were inspired by the 1963 film, The Birds, by Alfred Hitchcock. Hopefully they won’t be flying anywhere for some time.
Love Your Beans by Cosimo Cavallaro
The mantra “Love your Bean” was coined by the artist when he created the joyful, colorful, playful smooth, organic shaped beans. The beans now have a new home in Edmonton Arts on the Ave as of November 2020. The collaboration with the Vancouver Biennale brought that love to another city. This series of artwork was used to change the neighborhoods into community arts districts. Human beings can interact with these beans who are dwarfed by their size. A whole new meaning to “Love your Bean” on the vegetable plate!
Murals at Granville Island Parking
In May of 2020, the city made space available to ensure that their goal of repurposing public space was a step in the right direction for the 2040 plan. The 40 parking spaces, both outside and inside are sometimes used for parking or temporary public space. The original, dynamic murals were created in conjunction with the Vancouver Mural Festival and Granville Island. It’s like walking through a concrete art gallery. Space has been revitalized in a colorful and meaningful way. Go for the gallery gander!
The Proud Youth – Chen Wenling
Any other time in history, this Asian exploration of the body, would shock viewers; however, the bright red 18-foot sculpture is based on the popular martial arts hero Wuxia from the novel, The Smiling, Proud Wanderer. In Chinese tradition, Wenling’s art is a political allegory signifying a carefree life in a world of strife, which is one of his themes in his art. The three-ton naked hunched-over boy can be found in Yaletown with a smirk on his face. Another piece of art that is not hard to miss along the seawall juxtaposed against the blue ocean and sky, green grass and trees. It’s worth a stop to look.
And thus, my bike adventures continue to evolve as I joyfully pedal my way through the districts each time I head to the coast for a visit. Just as various artists share their work and evolve into what they were created to do, they too have fun doing what they love. I can’t wait until next summer to see what new works are enroute along the seawall in Vancouver! I have my sister convinced that biking is the best and outdoor art is the bonus!