café for contemporary art

Public Meeting Attendees Lend Art Project Overwhelming Support

Posted in exhibitions by tyler057 on May 20, 2009

Scott and Steve Proposal

The attendees of the Pinnacle Square Public Art Proposal meeting lent the project overwhelming support.

While there was one naysayer who left before the meeting got fully underway, the overwhelming majority of attendees seemed to really appreciate  how the installation would function to enrich the neighbourhood through Scott and Steve’s thoughtful engagement of the square’s current artwork Launch, by Elisabeth Roy.  Roy’s work comes with a plaque that says that the work “acknowledges the site’s transformation, from a workplace for the men and women who pioneered the community, to a place for the next generation to build upon.”  Accepting Roy’s invitation Scott and Steve begin the building upon by questioning the foundation, or the basic narrative within which Roy’s work functions.  Steve, displacing his zero from the original location of its guerilla installation, re-employs it in a disruption of the assumed temporal parameters of Roy’s work while allowing the consideration of new beginnings.  Meanwhile, Scott’s work, a self-portrait/welcome figure that awkwardly hovers in time between a pioneer past and a post-consumer present, questions simplistic and reassuring assumptions about pioneers.  Placing this un-selfassured person onto the landscape implies a shift in settler posture and self-image that may, like Steve’s zero, open doors to the consideration of the possibility of new beginnings.

While the attendees of the meeting gave great support for this particular installation, they also seemed invigorated by the fact that none of us are interested in a permanent installation, hoping instead that after a several months or a few years new works could be installed on the site transforming it into a space for ongoing cultural discussion through pubic art.  There was even talk of how it might be advantageous to the cultural vitality of the area if the public art agenda of the entire Pier developments could include an ongoing programme of periodically changing public art installations.  This discussion of course went hand in hand with talk of the re-location of the Presentation House Gallery to the area.

FYI, a handout presented at the meeting laid out the proposal in the following manner:

The Proposal:

Scott August and Steve Hubert propose the addition of two works to Pinnacle Square, namely Scott August’s twenty five foot tall die cut photo of himself representing a cowboy welcome figure wearing oven mitts and cut-off jeans and a replica of the zero Steve Hubert added to Vancouver’s Centennial Sculpture in October 2008.

3 Reasons to welcome the Pinnacle Square Public Art Proposal:

1.    The artwork enriches the neighbourhood by opening up a chance to imagine its past, present and future with a perspective that while inclusive of shipbuilder’s history is not solely bound to it.

2.    By showcasing a sense of humour, and a sense of being open to knowledge we don’t have full mastery or control of it welcomes the formation of a vibrant creative community that might not have otherwise been possible.  This, if Richard Florida’s theories about the implication of the rise of the creative class on real estate value have any meat to them, would in turn have positive effects on local real estate values.

3.     Rather than setting out First Nations and Settler narratives as parallel stories, it opens up a chance for narrative engagement between the communities.

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Pinnacle Square Public Art Proposal – Public Meeting May 16, 3pm

Posted in Uncategorized by tyler057 on May 12, 2009
Scott August & Steven Hubert, Pinnacle Square Public Art Proposal, 2009

Scott August & Steven Hubert, Pinnacle Square Public Art Proposal, 2009

This Saturday (May 16) at 3pm in conjunction with our current exhibition Scott August and Steve Hubert will host a public meeting to discuss their proposal for a new public art installation in Pinnacle Square, a quasi-public space adjacent to the cafe. They propose that an oversized zero and a 25ft cowboy in cut-offs and oven mitts be installed in this little square in the middle of Lower Lonsdale.  Should be fun.  So far lots of people have expressed strong feelings both for and against.  If you are interested in vibrant discussions about public art, this will definitely be worth attending.
A press release sent out by greatroadsideattractions@gmail.com, an email address known to be affiliated with Scott August’s public installation practice argues that if the installation is permitted it would be a departure from typical memorialisations of settler history and open up space for broader understandings and imaginings of the geography they might one day be installed on.
Passerby Views Public Art Proposal Billboard in Pinnacle Square

Passerby Views Public Art Proposal Billboard in Pinnacle Square

People communicating with the cafe have offered all sorts of angles.   The comments range from “You guys are radical this is awesome!” “I have a degree in Art History, I get what you are doing.  This is absolutely great!” “So is this just a conceptual work or do they actually want to put these things up?” and “Vancouver needs to loosen up, you know, Andy Warhol once came here and said, people here don’t buy art because they’re too busy looking at the mountains” to “so how far is the proposal along?  Did you apply to the city?…  I just wanna let you know I’m not too keen, this is going to block my water view… you know you’ve upset lots of people in the building here, we felt pretty blindsided by this proposal”  and red faced not so subtle threats to send the lawyers.  Some question how a cowboy might be relevant to North Vancouver, why not a whale, a lumberjack or a ship builder people ask, or, why his face and not mine.  Another said, “maybe in Castlegar, but a cowboy here?  No way!  This is an upscale neighbourhood!”
For me, I’m just thankful for the conversation and think the proposal has been a magnificent addition to the overall exhibition.  In no more than proposal form these works have opened a window to the sensation of disorienting interventions in a claimed cultural space and sparked hope for an urban environment with a sense of humour.
Totem pole next to the Credit Union building, Edgewood, BC, 2005 Photo: Jutta Ploessner Source: http://www.firstnations.eu/invasion/sinixt.htm

Totem pole next to the Credit Union building, Edgewood, BC, 2005 Photo: Jutta Ploessner; http://www.firstnations.eu/invasion/sinixt.htm

In some ways and for some people I guess the proposal can act as a kind of clandestine cognate to the the Sinixt’s totem pole, which was erected by BC Hydro in the late 1960s as a memorial to an extinct race.  This was some 10 years after the Sinixt had been declared extinct, and the Columbia River Treaty had been signed, and a massive portion of Sinixt traditional territory had been flooded out with damns.  Among the many problems with that public art commission were the facts that the Sinixt weren’t extinct and that they, like most Salishan peoples including those who once lived in what is now known as Stanley Park, never made totem poles anyway.   It just didn’t/doesn’t make sense.

Considering the way in which much of our art (public or otherwise) continues to inform our understanding of the territory we live on (here in BC, but probably elsewhere too), it makes sense to grasp for other possibilities.  And rather than just going ahead and confidently offering an alternative set of narratives it is probably worthwhile to welcome broader questions about our concepts of time and the constitution of memory. Perhaps signs like Scott’s and Steve’s are in order.  In their abstraction, absurdity and bold humour  they have already proven to act as a play on the orientation of the cultural tables.  Who knows, in the long run they might actually be able to help crack open some space for broader understandings and imaginings of the territories they engage with.  Who knows…

The Sinixt Don’t Make Totem Poles Either: Public, Art, Memory

Posted in Uncategorized by tyler057 on May 7, 2009

Tonight we open our second exhibition! If you have a chance come on out!

Where: 140 East Esplanade, North Van.
When: May 7th, 6-9pm
What: An array of works by Scott August, Steven Hubert and Marilyn James that may come together to percolate discussions about memory, our relationships to the landscapes we inhabit, the role of public art, how diverse communities relate to one another and so on…

ps: We now serve Flat Whites and we are featuring Ethiopian single origin coffee this month…