September 13, 2016

The Roberts Creek Mandala

Last month, while visiting friends and attending a play on the Sunshine Coast, we wandered out to Chak-Chak Point. Mainly to get some fresh air and to kill some time before the play.

The sun was shining, a light westerly was present, and the waves were tumbling into shore.

A bit more walking and we discovered a large mandala painted on the pavement leading to the point.

It's a beautiful thing to see, especially when one is surprised by what one sees right before their eyes.

The Roberts Creek Community Mandala is a non-profit, public art work open to everyone. It began in 1997 when five friends came together to paint over negative graffiti in the parking lot on the eve of a summer event.

Nineteen years later, hundreds gather every summer to paint a new mandala.

The Mandala is something special to see, and the community's involvement in creating an expression of peace, love and unity, is inspiring. Good things happen when people come together.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

September 12, 2016

The Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver

Jeem and Sherry recently visited the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art located in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The gallery is, quite simply, a gem.

The gallery is named after the acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid (1920 – 1998). Reid was a master goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer, broadcaster and one of Canada's greatest artists.

Gallery highlights include: Reid’s gold and silver jewelry, his monumental sculptures in bronze and stone, and a full-scale totem pole, carved by James Hart of Haida Gwaii.

This is a fascinating place to visit. Popular with tourists, it should be seen by locals too. Especially the various special exhibitions that appear through the year.

On until October 2nd, is The Seriousness of Play by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. This too, is an amazing exhibition and features Haida Manga, a contemporary art form "that offers a playful way of viewing and engaging with social issues as it seeks participation, dialogue, reflection and action."

Influenced by traditional Haida iconography and contemporary Japanese visual culture, Yahgulanaas has created an original artistic practice celebrated by an international audience.

Sometimes, even in gallery of this stature, some things are askew. Normally Jeem is the one who puts things right, but on this day Sherry decided to make things better. Helping out is good.

Hmmm.... this is more difficult than it looks.

Well, after talking with several nice but burly security people, and promising not to touch anything else, we were escorted to the door.*

The Bill Reid Gallery is located at 639 Hornby, and it's a Vancouver treasure!

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

*As part of the Seriousness of Play by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, 
visitors are invited to discover new ways of looking at this piece called Tongues, 
by rotating it.

September 11, 2016

September 11 ~ 15 years of the War on Terrorism... and counting

Another September 11th. Another anniversary of a terrible day.

And we are now fifteen years into the war on terrorism. The great powers of the US, the UK, France and their "allies" managed to destroy the nation states of Afghanistan and Iraq, creating Islamic State in the process. The great powers, with additional help from Russia when needed, then went about the destruction of  Libya, Somalia and Syria. Almost weekly US drone missions continue to bomb targets in Pakistan, and other places we don't know about.

It's difficult to know who will be the next leading terrorist state. Iran? North Korea? Venezuela perhaps?

On the home front of this war, we have governments of otherwise democratic nations spying on their own citizens. Even in Canada our government collects and sifts through information it collects on virtually all of us, through our emails, phone calls and credit card transactions. All because of the war on terrorism.

Gore Vidal was an American writer of fiction, essays, screenplays, and stage plays. He was also a prominent intellectual known for his educated manner, wit, and a polished style of writing and speaking. We would do well to remember the words of Gore Vidal  from October 25, 2006:

You can’t have a war on terrorism because that’s not an actual enemy, it’s an abstract. It’s like having a war on dandruff. That war will be eternal and pointless. It’s idiotic.

That’s not a war that’s a slogan. It’s a lie. It’s advertising, which is the only art form we ever invented in America. And we can use it to sell soap, wars and presidential candidates in the same fashion.

As with most wars, somebody has made a great deal of money off this one. We should follow the money.

Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

September 10, 2016

A late summer sojourn to Salt Spring Island

Towards the end of summer we headed back to Salt Spring Island and Lakeside Gardens Resort, where Mark had reserved our favourite cabin for us. Lakeside Gardens is situated on St. Mary Lake, and Number 7 is literally on the water's edge.

The sound of shore birds greets us every morning, along with the brilliant sunrise colours on the western side of the lake.

Alas, this will be our last visit to Number 7 for another year, offering one last opportunity to enjoy the early mornings.

One last chance to walk along the north end of the island, where some people walk in the shade, and others celebrate the heat with additional layers of clothing and the direct sun.

It's our one last time to swim in the lake with the geese. With a straw hat on our head.

And one final time to view the ever-changing colours of the sun on the lake, the trees and the sky itself.

Until next spring of course.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

August 17, 2016

Commercial Street Cafe

No, it's not on The Drive. This is Commercial Street. Near The Drive but not. And that's a good thing. Less hassle, fewer cars and more people from the neighbourhood itself.

And it appears to be a neighbourhood in transition. Detached homes, apartments, new stuff going up and that light industrial thing happening too (and probably exiting due to the increase in land values).

At the heart of it all is the Commercial Street Cafe: less attitude, great  coffee and a nice sense of belonging to its neighbourhood.

It's kind of deceiving, this coffee shop located in the refurbished and historic Gow Building: it's larger than it looks and would make a damn fine meeting place if only it were in the proper riding. But that's another story, and we already have Gigi Blin, the best coffee shop in Marpole.

Commercial Street Cafe is owned, and operated, by four young people who live and work in the area. The coffee is from Matchstick, the East Van coffee roaster,  and it's truly excellent.

There's lots of space inside, and some tables outside too. Friendly and inviting. Excellent coffee, good pastries and sandwiches, and nice people too.

The Commercial Street Cafe is well worth the visit. Why take The Drive when you can enjoy the coffee here? And on that point, it's worth the drive.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.