Head Outdoors and Look at the Art!

Monday November 14th, 2016

Guest blog post by Kenneth Cappie, member of the Vancouver Biennale Board of Directors.

Increasingly, hot-button topics such as urbanization, affordability, and densification are occupying more and more real estate (pardon the pun!) in Vancouverites’ minds. Thankfully, our city has been blessed by Mother Nature.  We can escape the busyness of our lives and the sometimes limited square footage of our urban dwellings to take advantage of the magnificent outdoor public spaces that offer refuge and solace.

To be in nature is one thing; however, to be in nature and have an opportunity to contemplate art – something man-made – gives us something to reflect upon in the midst of a frenetic day.

Children at the 217.5 Arc X 13 by Bernar Venet

Bernar Venet. 217.5 Arc x 13. Corten steel. Sunset Beach in Vancouver.

The Vancouver Biennale’s public artworks can pull us out of our overly active brains and provide a focal point that heightens awareness of ourselves, space, time, and the outdoor setting in which the artworks are sited.  In some cases, Mother Nature is enhanced, and made more mesmerizing, by art.


Dennis Oppenheim. Engagement. Glass, aluminum, and steel. Sunset Beach Park in Vancouver.

Every angle of an artwork causes us to look at the background setting from a fresh perspective which we have not previously seen. In that process our mind is refreshed, and the pride we feel for our city grows considerably. I particularly like this montage of Ai Weiwei’s artwork. Look at all the perspectives!

Ai Weiwei.F GRASS.HarbourGreenPark in Vancouver.montage.2014 - 2016 project.FullSizeRender (4)

Ai Weiwei. F Grass. Cast iron. Harbour Green Park (West Cordova Street and Bute Street) in Vancouver.

I think that public artwork gives us a reason to explore a precise physical location in nature. Together, the art and Mother Nature invite us to dialogue with one another. “What’s this?”  “What’s happening here?” “What does it mean?”

Marcus Bowcott.TRANS AM TOTEM.Vancouver.Quebec Street.diptych.April 2015.Photos by Murray Nichol

Marcus Bowcott. Trans Am Totem. Scrap metal cars and a cedar tree. Quebec Street and Milross Avenue in Vancouver.

As I become more acquainted with the Vancouver Biennale’s public-art offerings, I am grateful for what these artists have created.  This non-profit charitable organization’s artworks raise our curiosity and, within minutes of our homes and offices, we are transported out of our busy routines.  Accessing these installations via a short walk or bicycle ride, we can leave our zany schedules behind and partake in some childlike fun.

LoveYourBeans17                LoveYourBeans12

Cosimo Cavallaro. Love Your Bean. Fibreglass resin. Charleson Park in Vancouver.

And I mustn’t forget this one! I continue to marvel at how these figures connect us to the city, to ourselves, and to one other.  This installation is undeniably one of the most touched, photographed, and imitated pieces of art in our city.  Visitors from around the world have told me that they simply had to visit the “laughing men”!

YueMinjun.A-MAZE-ING LAUGHTER.VancouverMortonPark.AmyFaulkner from Seattle.27Feb.2016.PhotoBarrieMowatt   Yue Minjun. A-MAZE-ING LAUGHTER. Mike Baldwin, Murray Nichol, Robert Dexter, Barrie Mowatt. Morton Park in Vancouver. Oct.2016

Yue Minjun. A-maze-ing Laughter. Patinated cast bronze. Morton Park (Denman Street and Davie Street) in Vancouver’s West End.

Hope to see you out and about exploring the #VanBiennale art!

Like what you see?