Public Art
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Public Art

There's possibly no better way to take in some Vancouver culture and get to know the city in the process than by scouting out its public art.  Ranging from surprising to poetic to, occasionally, baffling, around 350 outdoor art works can be found in parks, transit shelters and even on random street corners. Follow these tips, and keep your eyes peeled.

First, the can't-miss pieces:  The vibrant First Nations totem poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park were carved as early as the 1880s. Interpretive panels in the park explain each totem's significance and history.  Another icon, the inukshuk at English Bay, became British Columbia's emblem during the 2010 Winter Olympics. An ancient Inuit symbol of friendship, this giant stone cairn, which resembles a person with outstretched arms, is simple yet striking.

Now, let's dig a little deeper.  Among the most talked about contemporary pieces is Myfanway McLeod's The Birds in the brand-new Olympic Village neighbourhood.  This pair of 18-foot sparrows symbolises the threat even beautiful animals have on biodiversity.  Meanwhile, just outside the Vancouver Library is the enigmatic The Words Don't Fit the Picture, a piece of billboard art by Vancouver's own Ron Terada.  

Finally, there's the granddaddy of all public art events, the Vancouver Biennale.  Every two years, a massive public exhibition is installed at locations across the city, turning Vancouver quite literally into an open-air museum.  The 2009-2011 Biennale brought Vancouver perhaps its most popular piece of public art ever:  A-maze-ing Laughter by Chinese artist Yue Minjun.  Consisting of more than a dozen, 10-foot tall bronze sculptures of the artist himself - all in a different pose of hysterical laughter - the piece is both eerie, hilarious and an irresistible photo-op.
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Firehall Arts Centre Presents: Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

  • December 15 - January 09
  • Firehall Arts Centre
  • 280 Cordova St East
    Vancouver, BC V6A 1L3
  • Admission: Various Prices
  • Phone: 604-689-0926
  • Venue: Firehall Arts Centre
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