Posted on Apr 24, 2013 in Vancouver | 2 comments

Heritage Hall, Main Street, Vancouver, BC

The weather improved and I went back to Main Street to do another sketch. I had wanted to draw Heritage Hall (the building with the tower and flag in the sketch) at our last outing, but it had rained and I sat inside a warm coffee shop instead. Built in 1915 and designed by A. Campbell Hope with the chief architect David Ewart, Heritage Hall was originally a post office. Now it’s a community and cultural resource centre, with the beautifully renovated main hall available as a rental for events. I have been there to at least a couple of events myself: once to attend a large birthday party, and another time for the annual general meeting of one of my clients. The upper floors house offices.

My Mt. Pleasant street banner design

My design-competition-winning street banners. I got an extra copy of them to display at my art college graduation from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. They hung along several blocks of the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver for about 8 years in the 1990s. I didn’t live there then, but it’s my hood now.

There also used to be a street car going up and down Main Street in the early 1900s.

Back when I was a graphic design student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, there was a banner design competition for the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood. My design won, along with the design of another student, my friend Carmen. I had incorporated an image of the old street car and a man running for it while hanging on to his hat. Carmen’s banners showed the Heritage Hall tower and a child looking up at it. All banners were screen-printed on metal and hung all over Main Street and the intersecting part of Kingsway, where they remained for at least 7 or 8 years. I started to wonder if they would ever come down.

My banners in a major piece of art

My banners ended up in a major piece of art — see full artwork below.

My banners even ended up in a major piece of art called “In the Street (The Cologne Series)” by one of my college instructors, Ian Wallace. I was able to visit this piece last year at the Vancouver Art Gallery when a major retrospective of Ian Wallace’s pioneering photographic art was on display. I don’t know why its subtitle is “The Cologne Series” but since I was born and grew up in Cologne, Germany, it seems right to me that it has my banner in it.

But I am sure Ian Wallace had no idea that one of his students designed the banners, not to mention my Cologne connection. My banners just happen to be in the photo he took, in the city where he lived. Part of his concept was to portray the banality of an urban street and the spontaneity of a snap shot even though his photos are completely staged. Just like the traffic light or the mass-produced Dodge dealership sign, my banners were part of this urban scene.

Please note that his artwork is about 3m x 2m which is about 10 ft by 7 ft. Standing in front of the original art, its large scale makes you feel as if you are part of the scene. This produces an impact which contrasts the banality of what is depicted.

In the Street (The Cologne Series)

Ian Wallace
In the Street (The Cologne Series), 1989
photolaminate, ink monoprint, acrylic on canvas
2 panels, 203 x 152.7 cm (each), 203 x 305.5 (overall)
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund, VAG 94.8.1 a-b
Photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery