HELLO Vancouver!!!! Muwah.

A open-armed ‘HELLO’ I said to Vancouver at the end of April during my first visit. Three thousand plus miles and an easy 13 hour travel from Fort Lauderdale to Houston to San Francisco to (finally!) Vancouver. The time difference helped, but still arrived in the late afternoon. A combination of mountains, ocean, and influences from native peoples, British and French make Vancouver unique and nearly downright cozy. The drive from the airport was largely on one single road traversing everything reaching downtown. Too vain and afraid to look like the first time Vancouver visitor that I truly was the occult video is all I could manage. Observe the bridge the approaching tallness of the city. HELLO Vancouver.

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Very nice. Complaints were made by a few people in the group I joined. I witnessed the complaints and luckily couldn’t join; my room was fantastic. Loved every minute of being the room. The details were everywhere. More than once out loud I’d say “I could live here.” and many more times I silently thought the same. Sure, the room had old world charm what with the wood flooring, the large windows, the heavy wooden doors with brass doorknobs, the very high ceilings, top and bottom moldings – everything just fit nicely and cleaning – a symphony of decor. Room 1209 with a view of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Perfect.

Room 1209 The Fairmont Vancouver
Room 1209 The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Art Gallery View Room 1209 The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Art Gallery view from room 1209 at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

Sadly, the visit to Vancouver was work related, but desperately snuck off like a night bandit for a bit of exploring. Yes, I politely ditched some co-workers. The nearest museum is a must explore. Read somewhere, I don’t remember where or when, that the museum is a barometer of the city. This law of travel has never proven wrong. And a wonderful and grand museum the Vancouver Art Gallery is. Just look at the building’s architecture! What a crowd outside on the steps and in the outdoor cafe and in the admission line. On a Tuesday!? A promising sign even if admission was by donations only. A $15 donation can make anyone feel like a real benefactor of the arts especially compared to the $1 donation of other chaps. On exhibition: Myfanwy Macleod Or There and Back Again.

Main Entrance of Vancouver Art Gallery
Main Entrance of Vancouver Art Gallery.
Rotunda Stairs Vancouver Art Gallery
Rotunda stairs leading to second floor in Vancouver Art Gallery.

Yes, the inside just as impressive. A  pleasurable layout and environment. You just want to be there. All. Day. Four floors. From the first floor enter and up the stone stairs of the rotunda. Take the escalator up to floors three and four. But aaahhh, no photography except for in the rotunda. They don’t seem confident. Let’s ask someone else. “Excuse me. Is photography allowed?” “No, sir.” A blank look. Turn and walk away. But I like taking pictures in museums. It was for the best that I not. Old habits triumphed with a cinematography-esque clip.

With a dinner promise to co-workers weighing on me, I left after a much too brief 90 minutes of therapy. Approximately mid-50s and clear skies made the walk to a restaurant called simply “C” on the water’s edge bliss. And boy did arrive quickly as the video can attest to my quick step walking pace.

And some de rigueur pictures of the flight. In San Francisco en route to Vancouver.

Right Wing of Plan on San Francisco Tarmac
Right Wing of Plan on San Francisco Tarmac
Window Seat Floor After Landing in San Francisco
Window Seat Floor After Landing in San Francisco

MOCA Jacksonville and That’s All

Five hours north of South Florida is a mud puddle called Jacksonville. An decent one. I’m being harsh. Deep appreciation of well maintained highways sets between the very edges of Indian River county upwards to Jacksonville. Makes you kinda proud. Tall trees along both sides north and south bound lanes. Roads free of junk and clear lane demarcations. Simple functional rest stations. And this being Florida the drive is largely a straight line with the occasional curve and mole hill.

I suck for posting this two months late. It’ll happen again. It’s habitual.

Getting around Jacksonville was super convenient. Slightly exaggerating there is one traffic light every two miles. At least this was the experience shuttling from Southside to Orange Park. Here’s an overly generalized observation: Orange Park is working class perhaps a little slummy while Southside is new construction, shoppes, manicured.

Taking in the northern coast beach and MOCA where my only humble goals of this trip.

Soft white powered sand characterizes the beach. The sand is as hard as a flat surface; hard enough that many early birds ride their bicycles on the beach. So don’t expect to sand castles and getting buried in sand. That is clearly out of the question. Plus there is nearly a football field sized distance between the edge of civilization and the ocean. This open space is the beach. The sunrise was nice and plenty of tourists and locals woke early to be rejuvenated and inspired by it.

 

Beach sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksonville beach on an August Saturday.
Beach sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksonville beach on an August Saturday.
Beach sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksonville beach on an August Saturday.
Beach sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksonville beach on an August Saturday.

Downtown Jacksonville was a let down. Maybe ’cause it was Saturday and downtowns in small mud cities usually empty on weekends. Regardless, downtown seemed a little blighted. Next to MOCA Jacksonville on the same block same attached building is the public library. Across a public center with circular fountain sans green space. Its relatively small. First impression driving on the street separating museum from the public center was the commotion at the library so much so that I initially thought the library was the museum. ‘An active art crowd. Great!’ I thought. It wasn’t the museum. Homeless locals hang out at the library and public center. Well, yeah.

Three of the five floors are exhibition space. The boutique cafe inside was closed. The front desk was very nice. She explained everything and genuinely welcomed me. Head down doing something as I entered she raised with a smile.

Admission sticker on chest and MOCA Jacksonville floor plan in hand she eagerly tells me of her favorite piece since I asked for suggestions. Climbing the stairs to second floor offers nice view of the a Heather Cox Winter 2013 Project in large open exhibition atrium.

 

Heather Cox MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox, Project Atrium at MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox, Project Atrium at MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox, Project Atrium at MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox MOCA Jackonville
Heather Cox, Project Atrium at MOCA Jacksonville

Quiet and lonely. Aside from security there was just one other museum patron. Eyes glance down, Mona Lisa frown. While I really enjoy art and museums I can’t say that I can intelligently critique art. My observations are of level of effort and thought the artist takes in creating their art. An appreciation and interest in their time and effort and skill. Hardly do I search for the concept or attempt to calculate their inspiration. In the permanent collection of MOCA Jacksonville are a series of Richard Anuszkiewicz paintings on second floor display. This was the highlight of the visit. That and the cute refreshing girl in the gift shop. Do Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube Richard Anuszkiewicz and then you too can name drop Op art.

Let’s talk about something important. The girl at the gift shop. I would. I didn’t. She gave me a tip of the Black Sheep restaurant in the Riverside neighborhood a few minutes from downtown. Its a trendy artsy areas. I’d live there. Did a drive by and it was packed. Didn’t eat there. With Black Sheep in the review view mirror the red narrow front door of a psycologist’s made me stop and take a picture. Look at my picture.

Modern building architecture in Riverside Jacksonville neighborhood
Building in Riverside neighborhood near downtown Jacksonville.

Sensor Overload Watch Assume Vivid Astro Focus (AVAF) VIII at MOCA

Ahhh. Returning to MOCA in North Miami after a year or so absence and nothing has changed. Free parking unchanged. The uninviting stagnant water pool at the building entrance unchanged. A very warm and bright summer Saturday afternoon.  Perhaps a garden with stout trees would have been a better choice. And the sure shot drive east on 125th Ave from I-95 through the neighborhood also unchanged.

Impressed and likely to return for an additional viewing of avaf’s Assume Vivid Astro Focus VIII. Red, white, blue, green light changes saturate the walls from above. From above! Loud music switching between possible three tracks. Observe the walls and find them transform with each light change. A dark room like effect. New images appear and images you’ve already noticed transform and change again and again. A living wall.

An intimate space of maybe eight feet by six feet, you feel everything mounted on top of you; the music, lights, images. Everything in the room is an extension of you. The light changes and you feel that your eyes see only the same color light. The music changes and you feel oversized headphones on your ears. The images change and you feel as though you blinked. Of course you don’t and a new scene appears before you.

Hundreds of images and drawings floor to ceiling in all sizes on the walls. A collage. There is a sense of being in a fun house. Surprises abound. The largest static image is of a gigantic woman whose head is visible above the entrance stretching across the ceiling. Her long legs extending down opposite the entrances. Walk in and first you see legs. Follow the legs up to her hips and torso on the ceiling until finally turning around to see her head right above the entrance way as though she is hugging the room. There’s something about seeing a cartoonishly large women exerting interest. Fully clothed and large. We should see more of them.

A narrow white child’s sized spiral staircase down the center of the room disappears. Enter the room and immediately you’re at the walls. Atop the staircase lights, audio, and project equipment hang. The alternating lights remake the room. The music makes you feel comfortable – Where’s the Whiskey? Can I bum a cigarette? Slow paced with haunting deep piano notes create a wonderfully synced combination courtesy of Los Super Elegantes’ Fla & Flu. Green and red lights carry along with the music’s lazy pace.

The images keep you there. Some are innocent. Listen to curated songs. Really listen and you’ll be there long enough to notice still images of bare breasts. Compromising positions. Genuine perversion. A randomness of imagery, people, cartoons, drawings in a massive collage. The images must feel strange together forced into the same room. If you could freeze frame an over the top party party in a Beetlejuice land sans monsters this is what it would be. The party continues even as you leave the room.

Attracted by the music and lights some walk enter and immediately turn around to exit. Perhaps embarrassed or simply afraid or unable to take in the overload. Definitely an experience. A sincere “Thank You” to asaf! Ahhh.

Fewer things make me happier than taking pictures in museums. Out of courtesy, always, I ask and was very happy to hear that pictures were permitted. Congratulations. You may enter.

And what’s with the no pictures in museums anyway. Next post: museum picture and video policy report and rating.