Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bergmann's Lost Art

I had the day off today, and spent a portion of it reading Gabor Mate's book "In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction". It's a good book. Well written and with great compassion and understanding for the addicts who breathe life into what otherwise could have been another academic book on addiction. Dr. Mate's ability to convey the feeling of community and connection that exists between the addicts and denizens of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is dead on.

I worked many years on and off in that community, starting in the late 80's when I was fresh out of university, and departing most recently in 2006. And truth be told, I miss it.

After a couple of hours on the couch with the book, I jumped in my car and headed out to run a few errands. I put Art Bergmann's "Lost Art" cd into the stereo and cranked up the first track: "The Junkie Don't Care".

As the disc played itself out I came to realize that there wasn't much that Dr. Mate was saying about the the lives of addicts that Mr Bergmann hadn't already said. Although a new release, these songs were written in the mid 80's. The disc speaks of a world full of abuse, violence, death, neglect, addiction, disillusionment, betrayal, deceit, corruption, pain, self destruction, resignation, failure, and political culpability.

Pretty heavy stuff. But catchy as hell.

Gabor Mate is a medical doctor and author who works as an addiction specialist in the Downtown Eastside.

Art Bergmann is an artist, pure and simple. He has chronicled the lives of this city's lost souls since the late 1970's, long before our troubled subculture was fodder for international attention. He has always written with the intelligence and understanding of an academic, and the voice of a poet.

A true gift. And well worth finding.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Outsider Art

I took a quick pass through the Affordable Art Show at Victory Square in the Downtown Eastside today. They weren't finished setting up when I got there, and I didn't have time to stick around, so I only got to see a few tables. But I still managed to find some things I liked. And affordable they were. I picked up these two small ink and pen drawings for $3.00 each. No bartering involved.

The artist had about 50 of these small works for sale, displayed on the grass.

She was an older woman who likely looked much older than she actually was and seemed very much at home in the DTES. The kind of person you see when you drive through the neighbourhood and wonder, if you think of her at all, what her life must be like, while at the same time being grateful that your life isn't anything like whatever that might be.

I don't know what her life is like, or what stories she has to tell. But what I have at the moment are two snapshots from whatever those experiences have come to mean to her; and they are exquisite.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Garage Sale Art

Today I brought home my latest garage sale score.

A cement table.

I bought it off a friend, who is moving from a house to a downtown condo. He bought it from the Emily Carr School of Art and Design several years ago and I have always admired it. The cool part are the 3 pools in the top that one can fill with whatever suits your fancy, before putting the glass top over it. My friend use to fill the pools with water and float flowers in them. I was considering putting in Siamese Fighting Fish (their natural habitat are puddles after all) but instead have gone the conservative route, for the time being, with rocks, coral, and my collection of rusty things.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Best RV Show in Town

I took a trip out to Mission today to spend a couple of hours at the Tin Can Tourist (TCT) vintage travel trailer meet. WOW! An incredible array of vintage trailers were on display:
  • Airstream- Bambi, Safari, International, Ambassador, Argosy
  • Spartan
  • Airfloat
  • Chinook
  • Sport Ranger
  • Shasta
  • Comet
  • Serro Scotty
  • and of course....boler
I had so many favorites, all for different reasons.

The Argosy, which is a painted Airstream. Seems Airstream wanted to use some of their blemished aluminum and came up with this painted model.

This Airfloat, pure class inside ....

....and out!

The Spartan was just huge inside.

The Airstream Ambassador which was a house on wheels. I can just picture Dick Van Dyke walking in and tripping over the ottoman.

Well worth the drive out. It wasn't actually an RV show, but a camping weekend for people with vintage trailers. Having been to a similar meet for fiberglass trailer owners earlier this year I figure the odds were good that they would have an open trailer day on Saturday, as they did at the meet I was at. Fortunately for me, there were people there that I met at the last meet so I had some credibility when I started walking into peoples trailers.

Oh, and have a look at some of the tow vehicles...