“ The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.” – George Sand
On a rare downtown visit as the summer season waned, I found myself sitting on the Vancouver Art Gallery Cafe’s terrace after a tasty lunch eaten underneath huge patio umbrellas listening to soothing classical music. We had a refreshing rain that morning and the lush foliage still glittered in the pale sunshine as we ate. With the warm air, jewel-like hummingbirds and noisy starlings flitting about, it was the perfect setting for writing a line or two before heading to two free art exhibits still sitting on my summer wish list, fast becoming an autumn list.
The first exhibit called Appearances was at the nearby Pendulum Gallery showing the work of a talented artist (Jianjun An) capturing the immigrant experience by weaving the symbol of a white mask into each painting. When I first observed the paintings I did not notice the masks but on closer inspection, I was delighted to see parts of people’s masks peeking out from bags, blending in with one woman’s careful makeup or casually tucked into clothing – the only painting without an obvious mask was the larger than life laughing face of a grandfather lifting a happy child up in front of his face (a keen observation made by a fellow patron). After a wonderful interlude, I made my way home to pop into the Listel Hotel to wander through the Sculpture Gallery East to feast my eyes on a collection of edgy photographs that caught my eye ending what turned out to be a rather inspiring day of art appreciation!
Another exhibit on my wish list was to check out Cabin Fever at the Vancouver Art Gallery on one of the Tuesday night admission by donation days, I recently made time to walk through the various rooms housing life-size structures smelling of freshly painted wood with cut-outs representing windows where photographs of peaceful forest scenes projected on darkened walls made me feel for a moment that I was on a fall getaway. It was a joy to look at old books under glass, classics written by the likes of Thoreau and Kerouac as well as mythical copies of Popular Mechanics and Whole Earth Catalogues enticing us from city pursuits. As I continued to walk through the exhibit, my eyes taking in the many photographs and architectural models of cabins from here up in Whistler, down to California and across Canada to Ontario – my travels to these very same places made it feel like I was re-visiting old friends.
Walking home with a beautiful sunset smudging a still blue sky, I reveled in the evening of culture I left behind, ever thankful for the donation days allowing those of us living on simple budgets to enjoy some much needed cultural space here in our busy city. As I neared my mother’s downtown apartment building, I saw her neighbour Sarah who quickly invited me up to her own creative space to see her current art in progress, decorating the lovely wooden wine boxes that previously housed this year’s Bordeaux offerings that the public can pick up at the front entrance to any local liquor store. A call to my Mom inviting her down and a nice cold beer added a delicious note to the evening.
I’m diving deep as the lushness of summer gives way to the mosaic that is autumn, there are windblown and rain-drenched leaves creating a colourful abstract on the sidewalks now and the waning light is beginning to lead us into twilight much earlier as we draw our blinds against oncoming night at hours that only weeks ago found us exulting in the sun’s warm embrace.
Summer is over now, a few weeks after I wrote this post my father passed away and a good friend moved back home to Australia…the warm autumn days since have soothed my heart and have started to stir the writer within me once again.