Friday, October 29, 2010


A few blocks away from where I live a hotel has been going through  renovations. I have been watching every time I walk by and have been interested in seeing the job finished. Today I saw a new hotel.

The Waldorf Hotel at 1489 East Hastings was designed by architects Mercer and Mercer in 1947. In 1955 the complex was transformed into one of North America's most renowned 'tiki' themed bars and hotels.

As you can see the new design has kept at least a bit of the Polynesian theme. This door was previously green opaque material with the name The Grove on it. On an episode of Neon Rider Dr. Michael Terry, portrayed by Winsten Rekert had a scene in there. And rumour has it that Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie used to drink there. Before he quit drinking that is.
The complex looks so much brighter and open now. So much more modern.

Earlier this year musician Thomas Anselmi and restaurateur Ernesto Gomez took over the Waldorf Hotel and along with architect Scott Cohen have worked hard to put their vision of turning the complex into a creative hub in East Vancouver.

The hotel rooms have been renovated; a 1950s style tiki has been restored and there is a nightclub and banquet spaces. Click on the link towards the top of this entry to be taken to the complex's website and learn all about the opening.

Since we are talking about music I want to talk a bit about a place in Vancouver that no longer exists. Hogan's Alley. This was an unofficial name for an area in Strathcona that was about one block wide and three blocks long. It was Vancouver's first and last neighbourhood with a substantial African population. This is thought to be because the railroads, where many of the residents were employed, was close by.

Prior to 1935 Hogan's Alley was a red light district but when law enforcement cracked down on vice crimes, Hogan's Alley still flourished. That is until about 1970 when the construction of the Georgia Viaduct wiped out most of the area.

The original plan was to actually destroy much of Chinatown and Gastown, obliterating our history and instead installing highways and 'boxes' such as this one.

Thanks to the efforts of community activists such as Mary Lee Chan Strathcona, Chinatown and Gastown were saved but not until Hogan's Alley was effectively obliterated.

You may ask what this has to do with music and I'll tell you. On the corner of Main and Union is the Jimi Hendrix Museum and Shrine.

Opened in 2009 the museum sits near where Vie's Chicken and Steak House once was. Nora Hendrix, Jimi's grandmother apparently worked there.

The restaurant was famous, a prominent black-owned business and ran from 1948 to 1975. It was owned Vie Moore and her husband Robert.

Vincent Fodera, owner of the museum, has spent a lot of time, money and energy creating this tribute to a legend.

A fitting tribute to a legend and his ties to our great city.

Have a great Halloween weekend and be safe.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Places to Worship

While walking to my doctor's appointment on Tuesday I got a glimpse of this dome so I made a mental note to go investigate once I was finished at my doctor's. Once I got to West 12 Avenue I found the Holy Trinity Anglican Church.

Architect Samuel Buttery Birds designed this Neo-Classical church which was built from 1911-1912.

Pediments, massive columns, stained glass, brickwork and pre-cast concrete ornamentation adn the dome centred at the crossing highlight this structure.

Up until 1926 this was the Chalmers Presbyterian Church. In fact that name is still above the main door.

Here you see not only the original name but also an idea of the stained glass.

Chalmers United Church took over in 1926 and remained here until 1991 when the Holy Trinity Anglican Church took over.

This church is home to a senior citizens center and a theatre.
A very nice older lady stopped to talk with me as I was taking photos and she is very pleased with this church and the work they do.

Another church, this one in Strathcona and much more modest than the above one is the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church.

I know that this church was built in 1905 but that is about all I know. As you can see there is nothing fancy about, just a good place to worship.

I hope you realize that you don't need a building fancy or otherwise to pray and worship. After all God has created the perfect places to give thanks and feel a part of the world.

Okay,  I will admit that humans have aided in creating these natural places. But God did a lot of it. And I don't think there is anywhere better to give praise, give thanks and just talk with the Creator then outside with nature.

Personally when I go for my long walks and take  moment to wander into a park or somewhere similiar then turn off my iPod and just 'be' as they say I feel so relaxed afterwards. I get a calming feeling coursing through me as I stand on the earth and let the energy seep through my footwear and surge through my body. That is so rejuvenating.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wall Art for Everyone

Murals are considered to be one of the oldest forms of human art.

Murals date back to the Upper Paleolithic age and many have survived int he Egyptian tombs. Murals were a way of telling stories and/or expressing how one felt.

There are a few different styles of painting a mural and the terms come from the Italians.  A Fresco painting refers to when the paint is applied on the plaster or ceiling; Buon Fresco technique means painting in pigment mixed with water on a thin layer of wet, fresh, lime mortar or plaster. With this technique the pigment is absorbed by the wet plaster then, after a  few hours, the pigment dries and reacts with the air. It is this process with the chemical reaction that fixes the pigment in the plaster and the colors remain vibrant for centuries.

A Secco is a process where the painting is done on dry plaster and requires a binding agent such as egg (tempera), glue or oil to attach the pigment to the surface.
Mezzo-fresco is a style of mural painting that is done on nearly dry plaster. Although the pigment does partially penetrate the plaster this form does not have the longevity of the Buon Fresco style.
Tempera painting is one of the oldest methods of mural painting where the pigment is binded with egg yolk or egg white and diluted with water. But in the Greco-Roman times colors were ground in a molten beeswax or resin binder.

In 16th Century Europe an easier way of painting murals was discovered. The artist would complete an oil painting on canvas then transport it to the wall and attach the canvas. Oil paints however do not have the brilliance in color, tend to yellow from the influence of the binder or be affected by the atmospheric conditions. As well the canvas deteriorates faster than a plaster wall.

In modern times we have found many ways to mass produce murals and lessen the time needed to create them. Existing murals can be photographed and reproduced. These reproductions as well as digital advertising artwork can be attached to large sheets of vinyl then attacked the a wall and although they are technically known as 'wallscapes' they may be referred to as murals.

Murals bring art to the people without them having to go to a museum or art gallery. They beautify the surroundings and evoke emotion from those that see them. But a mural is a costly undertaking and are usually funded by the government or a large company.

(This is a new mural on Powell Street. I look at the size of that bear compared to the fish and want to warn him not to mess with them!)

In the 1930s murals became an important tool for social and political change in Mexico and the United States. From 1932 to 1940 Mexican artist Diego Rivera painted murals in San Francisco, Detroit and New York City. Other notable artists of the Mexican Mural Movement were Jose Orozco and David Siqueiros.

Northern Ireland is a place to go if you want to see political murals. It has recorded more than 2,000 murals since 1970  and contains some of the most political murals in the world.

Whenever I see a mural I take a photo of it. They are just so beautiful.

Then there are murals like this that speak of a tribute to someone. Here it is the legendary Jimi Hendrix who's grandparents lived here. I wrote on their homes when I went on a history tour of the Strathcona district.

Someone did their research. The houses, if you can see them, do resemble those I see in the Strathcona area.

This one tells the histroy of Vancouver - the rail and the sea and the worker.

I feel priveliged to be able to enjoy artwork such as this without having to go to a gallery or pay a fortune.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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