Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blogging Vancouver: Art School Cool, or the Vicarious School of Art

I am a little behind ... the consequence of staying with friends who entertain and talk instead of leaving the lonely traveler to his musings. All for the better, of course. Frobisher and I just returned from a couple of plates of raw fish. As is often the case, we enjoyed the more standard, less cool place than the chi-chi place we dined at the first night I was here. There are three sushi places in a row on Yew Street at Cornwall, right across the street from Kits Beach which is one of the finest uban beaches I have ever encountered.

The main event today was lunch with Gary's mother, IB, and his daughter, DB. I am going to write about that later, but it was a fine affair. Rather longer than I expected, so I had to skip the Vancouver Art Gallery and the current Georgia O'Keefe show ... but the fine company made up for that.

I want to talk about Art School cool. AW showed me around the Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design where he is a fourth year student in the Industrial Design program. AW has that sort of crossdisciplinary plastic talent that awes those of us who have trouble with re-uniting a shirt with its lost button. Everything he touches turns into design. I cannot say why he chose to go to school, but I can say that it has had the effect of organizing and coralling his talent. No doubt it has grown as well.

That is what school should do, and especially art school. I was impressed by the physical plant because it appeared to emphasize collaboration and exchange. Emily Carr in on Granville Island (which is not discernably an island) under the scary and starkly pre-postmodern Granville Bridge. (I walked over the bridge today on the way home from lunch with Gary's folks, and my tendency to a little acrophobia certainly asserted itself, especially when I took a few pix at the apex. The hutling traffic no more than 3 or 4 feet away did not help any fleeting feelings of security.) They have recently completed a new building largely dedicated to Communication Design and Industrial Design. AW complains that the Communication Design people get pots of money while Industrial Design lags ... if MRU is any guide, the key to money is rich alums, and Industrial Design should produce a few of those.

It is a postpostmodern structure of concrete and steel and glass, but there is a lot of natural light. It was sunny the day I was there, but no doubt on the more numerous gloomy days, the light and the concrete merge to produce a visceral spaceship Vancouver. Little art things all over the palce of course, but I was chary of photograhing people's work in progress. I stole a couple of shots, and took photos when AW directed me.

O, to have been an art student ... notwithstanding my complete lack of talent. It got me thinking, then, and later, and especially on Wednesday as I was tooling around the West End in the diminishing drizzle, that creating is about making objects. Writing only makes an object when someone else can look at it. There is more writing going on now, I would assert, than at any time in human history. So making writing into an object is cheper and more vain, in both senses, than every before. I have felt for a while that I have to make some larger writing object ... that is why I started writing this blog, to get in practice as it were. I've written one book ... the hallowed dissertation ... but it is essentially a private book, and it would take little effort to start floggin it ... not to underestimate the slim likelihood that it would ever see print.

So wandering around Emily Carr with AW made me think about making another bigger writing object. I have an idea for it, and I will track it here.

Back to the tour. We wandered through the painting studio where people seemed aloof and didn't look at us ... AW told me that he never goes there, and would have been uneasy doing so today had he not had a visitor to show around. Is this the ystique of painters, do they seek to keep their corner isolated for the purpose of burrowing into their work? AW pointed out a graffitto, and I shot it at his instruction. I missed the perfect framing because I was nervous that the little stud painter around the corner would see me and shoot me a withering eye.

As we left the new building, we stopped by the library that had a bunch of discards for sale at fifty cents each ... cool ... I got three books for less than a twoney, if I am using and spelling the colloquialism correctly.

The other building, the main and original building from when the former Vancouver School of Art moved here in the late 70s, felt more like a school ... lockers, a cafeteria, people bustling about. AW gave me a long tour of the ceramics department where he hopes to spend two years in post-graduate study. They are a much friednlier lot in there, and the vistas of the old building were grittier and more inviting, if just as concrete steel glass. We ended up in a brief tour of the gallery which I promised to re-visit after lunch ... but that was not to be as we headed off cmapus and out to West Broadway to a Singpaore Noodle House hole-in-the-wall which provided a great mid-afternoon Malay treat.

I took a bunch of photos of Granville Island, and I will try to mount a post about them at some point. I want to leave this one about Art School ... maybe the best deal would be just to pretend in the evening that I am an Art School students, and make silly stuff and wonder what imaginary classmates will think of it. At this point in life, that is the most efficacious way to imbibe the joy of creating without pressure ... call it the Vicarious School of Art.

Photos by Arod.

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