Public Art

Mural Search – Mount Pleasant

After walking from the Olympic Village and snaking my way up to Broadway, I finally went south of Broadway. The Burrard Arts Foundation (BAF) was my first stop.

This small art gallery had been done up in mostly graffiti style murals, but there was at least one First Nations themed piece and one that I can’t quite describe.

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Mural Search – South Main

The mural search took a huge detour for lunch. I found myself at the Starbucks at the very edge of the Olympic Village. All I had was my iPhone and the Starbucks app to pay for food and drink. At least I had something.


I also decided to open up my Pokemon GO to see if anything was going on in the hood. That’s when I realized there was a blooming triple-lure spot. Couldn’t help but plunk myself in the Bird Plaza for about an hour to rest up my feet before setting out for more murals 😛

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Mural Search – False Creek Flats


South of the Main Street SkyTrain Station and Terminal Avenue, one can find a collection of the newest murals in Vancouver. If you don’t mind walking off the beaten path into the industrial False Creek Flats, you will be duly rewarded with artful surprises. Look for the Fontile Kitchen & Bath & Store and the Tim Horton’s. Those two business mark the southern corners of Station Street and Terminal Avenue. Head south until you find the giant red/peach mural on a warehouse wall on the west side of the street. Stand there and get to “Knot Yourself.”

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Station Street – North of Terminal Ave

The Vancouver Mural Festival had taken place on August 20. I didn’t have time to go out and take in all the murals that day. However, the Friday after I went in search of the murals on a hot and sunny morning.


I got off the SkyTrain at Main Street Station and went north thinking there might be some murals between the SkyTrain and the viaducts. At least that’s what the Vancouver Mural Festival map suggested to me.

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Remo Camerota’s Drainspotting

I came across an interesting article in the local Vancouver Chinese newspaper.  The colourful photos of manhole covers caught my attention.  And the photo of the British born, Australian artist, Remo Camerota, exhibiting his work in Hong Kong also caught my attention.

Camerota was recently hired by Hong Kong’s Towngas to design a unique manhole pit cover for the company.  He released a book on Japanese manhole cover designs back in 2010. It’s amazing what you can make a book from.  I would be one who has an interest in this kind of book because I have taken my own photos of unique Japanese manhole covers.


One was taken up in the onsen (hot springs) resort town of Arima in west Japan.  It depicts the river that runs through town and the gondola one can take to get up to the town.

The kanji in the middle is the character for “song.”

Here’s another one that I came across in Kyoto’s Gion district.  Gion is famous for being Kyoto’s geisha quarter.  You have a higher chance of encountering a geisha on the streets of Gion.

So I may just go and pick up a copy of Camerota’s Drainspotting if I can find it.  I think I’ll check out Oscar’s Art Books first to see if they have it.  Too many local bookstores closing these days.  I should try to support one when I can.

You can follow Camerota on his blog at

Cover of Remo Camerota’s “Drainspotting”

Walking Boston – MIT

After WardMaps, an adventure in desperately seeking restrooms, and an hour at a Starbucks in Central Square, I started to make my way to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  I was determined to walk the campuses of Harvard and MIT in one day.  They are two of the top universities in the entire world.

On my way to MIT, I actually bumped into one of my Airbnb hosts.  She had just done some grocery shopping and was heading back to her place.  I showed her some of the stuff I got at WardMaps.  She was amazed that I knew about WardMaps.  We parted ways after our little serendipitous meeting.

Actually, as I was writing this post, I realized that some of the buildings that I thought were just regular buildings were a part of the campus.  This Novartis building, which I thought was just a private pharmaceutical company off-campus is actually on-campus.  I also passed by the MIT Museum, but it had already closed for the day when I got there after 5pm.

After walking down a few blocks, I was onto the parts of the campus that feel like a university campus.  I was greeted by a large sculpture called The Alchemist.  It’s the form of a human but it is composed of numbers and letters.  You can actually step inside of the giant sculpture and get a different view.  It’s definitely a good and fun piece of public art.

Behind The Alchemist is the Kresge Auditorium and Kresge Oval.  The auditorium caught my attention with it’s striking curvilinear lines.  It is definitely a unique building. Also from the Kresge Oval, I could make out the Prudential Tower in between the buildings.  I can see that tower from almost any point in Greater Boston.  You’ll see the tower pop up in quite a few of my photos of Boston.

As I walked further south, I hit the Charles River.  I didn’t realize I was so close to the river until I got there.  There it was.  My hotel from the conference was staring right back at me from the south side of the river along with the John Hancock Tower and the Prudential Tower…again.

Memorial Drive runs along the north side of the Charles River and there were plenty of MIT buildings here.  My Airbnb host later joked that MIT buildings are all numbers; whereas, Harvard buildings are all names.  That’s not actually true, but MIT does have a lot of buildings named with a letter and numbers.  Like the lovely building on the corner of Mass Ave and Memorial Drive with it’s cute castle-like towers bears the name W1.  A fitting name, isn’t it?  There were more buildings along Memorial Drive that were part of MIT.  It makes me think of the neo-classical look of D.C. when I see some of the buildings.

Along the Charles River, there was also a boat rental place.  The boats added a colourful splash on an otherwise grey and drab evening. The wind was picking up and the smell of rain was starting to permeate the air.  There were definitely no boats out on the river this evening.

After a long, long walk, I finally made way back inland from the river to the Stata Center.  This was my primary destination for my walk around MIT.  It was also my last stop, but not by choice.  Just after I snapped a photo of the back side of the Stata Center, the rain really picked up and I had to run for cover.

I ran up the stairs to the Stata Center.  There was no obvious entry into the building.  Every door seemed to require a card to fob in.  So I snapped one last picture of these classic Frank Gehry curves and reflections.

That was a wrap for me.  The rain shooed me indoors.  I made my way to the nearby Legal Sea Foods and sat down for a dinner for one.  I treated myself to a small drink and some sea food.  My feet were sore, my camera was full, and the rain was starting to come down really hard outside.  It was good to just be sitting and eating something warm like New England Clam Chowder.  Ah…rest.

Now that is totally different

Steeles West subway station gets hip, downtown facade –

10 for creativity and being different.  I have no idea what number I’d give for liking it.  One thing for sure – it is different.  I wonder if folks out along Steeles Avenue will appreciate this one.  The new Steeles West Station is designed by Will Alsop.  The same British architect that came up with the Ontario College of Art and Design’s building downtown.  Although when I first saw OCAD’s giant checkered floating shoebox supported by super long steel crayons, I didn’t like it.  However, it has grown on me and I think it’s a great Toronto icon.  We’ll see about this one.

Giant Rubber Duck takes Osaka

Have you seen a giant yellow 10 metre tall floating and inflatable rubber duck in your waters?  If you were in Osaka, Japan from August to September this year, you would have definitely seen one floating about in the river in Osaka.  The Rubber Duck Project 2009 was a part of the larger Aqua Metropolis Osaka celebrations this year and Nederland in Japan promotion.

rubber duck project 2009

It’s not the first time the duck has been seen in the world, but it is the first visit to Japan.  The Rubber Duck is the brainchild of Dutchman, Florentijn Hofman.

Any votes for bringing the duck to Vancouver?  I’ve got two hands up.

Nuit Blanche TTC Pass

scotiabank nuit blanche – October 3, 2009

For all you lucky Torontonians, Nuit Blanche is coming up on October 3, 2009.  It’s a “free all night contemporary art thing.”  Last fall, I lucked out being in Halifax for their all night art thing called Nocturne.

Toronto seems to have a lot more of these neat public art events.  Illuminato was a big event back in the spring and now Nuit Blanche.  Vancouver is severely lacking in the realm of public art events.

TTC and Nuit Blanche

TTC and Nuit Blanche

The TTC is also an active participant in Nuit Blanche and offering a Nuit Blanche TTC pass just for the event.  Sounds like a transit collector’s item.  Buses and the trains sound like they will be busy all night.  I better ask my friends if they are going and if I can have their pass 🙂

New take on the public washroom

CTV British Columbia- Vancouver architect proud of his public pissoir – CTV News, Shows and Sports — Canadian Television.

Here’s an interesting new piece of public infrastructure – a public outdoor pissoir.  Definitely a bold new step for any city.  Perhaps our Downtown Eastside could use one of these.  However, you’re likely to get somebody shooting up in one of these just as likely as you would find somebody relieving themselves.

The urinal is surrounded by about 150 vertical steel green pipes that have been welded together in a curvy design that is meant to evoke the arches in Victoria’s historic buildings, Soules said.

The pipes are spaced apart just enough to let an outsider know if the urinal is being used but still maintain privacy for the user.

Soules said the city sought a urinal over a toilet to target all the men who crawled out of nearby bars and urinated on sidewalks and alleyways.

However, the urinal does come equipped with handlebars if women want to use it, too.

The urinal also features low-flow technology and low voltage interior LED lighting for use at night.