Vancouver by Trolley – Stop 4 Vancouver Art Gallery

This is the fourth of a series of blog posts, detailing some of the many things to do along the Vancouver Trolley line. This article is cross-posted on the Vancouver Trolley blog.

It was another beautiful day here in Vancouver as I hopped off the Trolley at stop #4, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. My first visit was to Robson Square, a host to various community events throughout the year. Currently the Square features a free ice rink that is open to the public daily until February 28th, 2011. This is a great area because it is in the hub of downtown, connecting Robson Street to Granville and beyond. This is also a great place to find street vendors selling jewelry, paintings, clothing and food.

Next I visited the Gallery Cafe for a cup of coffee and a snack before roaming through the Gallery Store. The Store has a wonderful selection of exhibit related goodies, but also sells everything from books, glasses, t-shirts and stationary. Admittedly, if I’d known about the Store’s eclectic collection before Christmas, I could probably have done most of my shopping there, while picking a few things up for myself as well.

The Art Gallery is a wonderful community hub. With vast stairs stretching onto Georgia Street and a large fountain in the middle of Georgia Plaza, it’s no wonder why the Art Gallery is a meeting place for wide ranges of events. The current featured exhibits are Ken Lum and WE: Vancouver.

WE: Vancouver was unique because it takes guests through what is perceived to be the 12 Manifestos of the City. These manifestos are: Demonstrate, See, Listen, Detour, Move, Remember, Occupy, Activate, Use, Consume, and Speak. This exhibit was extraordinary in its use of space – there are written descriptions drifting from the floor to the wall, bookshelves hollowed out into archways, and a combination of mediums for display ranging from audio-visual to models and everyday articles. The theme here was the constant of change and the fundamental makeup of a city.

Upstairs in the Ken Lum exhibit, I was greeted by a myriad of colors and modern artistic statements about the norms and structures that shape our day-to-day lives. A lot of the works focused on language and consumer culture, and Mr. Lum is probably most recognized in Vancouver for his Monument for East Van that was erected on Clark and 6th Ave last January. My personal favorites in this exhibit were the House of Realization that features text that must be read by looking into a mirror on the opposing wall (with a surprise at the end of the hall) and the Mirror Maze with 12 Signs of Depression. I admittedly had a curator walk me through the maze, as I was a little afraid of getting lost in there alone.

After my visit to the Art Gallery I walked across the street to visit Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Canine Ambassadors and enjoy some afternoon tea in the 900 West Lounge (daily from 2-4:30pm.) This building is unique in its architecture and signature blue roof with traveler gargoyles on the exterior, but also is a destination in itself for its boutique shops. The hotel is home to Omega watches, Gucci and Louis Vuitton (to name a few) and has an award-winning spa on its premises.

Across the street is another unique building in Vancouver, the city’s largest mall, Pacific Centre. On the corner of Howe and Georgia, what makes this mall unique is not the 100+ stores in the middle of downtown, but that many of them are in fact underground.

Pacific Centre is connected to the Four Seasons Hotel, which is home to one of my favorite lounges in YEW Restaurant & Bar. YEW offers over 300 wines, many of which are available for purchase by the glass, a central floor to ceiling marble fireplace and various seating arrangements from an informal communal table to a sky-lit private dining room.

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