VANCOUVERISM | THE DÉBUT OF THE NEW WOODWARD’S :: 15 JANUARY 2010

THE WOODWARD'S W

"BODY HEAT: THE STORY OF THE WOODWARD'S REDEVELOPMENT" POSTCARD

Above: Christian Dahlberg’s stunning series of photographs of the “W” and a poster for the book, Body Heat.

That’s the term used by the development’s architect, Gregory Henriquez, to describe the critical mass required if the Downtown Eastside (yes, the DTES has it’s own Wikipedia entry) is to revive after a three-decade slide into nightsmareville.

But what a night Friday 15 January 2010 was: just in time for the world descending on Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, came this major launch of several projects aimed at reclaiming the historic core of Vancouver’s downtown.

First was the official opening of the “new” Woodward’s itself, a major achievement for Henriquez and developer Ian Gillespie.

The star of the evening, however, was Stan Douglas, local boy made good in the international arena of contemporary photography.

His “Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971” is simply astonishing. This huge, advertisement-sized mural is his first foray into public art. It plays a significant role in the reclaiming (“sharing?”) of the neighbourhood. By reclaiming a seminal event in Vancouver’s transformation, Douglas incites us to contemplate then and now and question whether things have really changed. Bravo!

File:Stan Douglas Abbott and Cordova.jpg

THE STAN DOUGLAS MURAL *STAN DOUGLAS: ABBOTT & CORDOVA, 7 AUGUST, 1971) @ WOODWARD'S

Third, was the launch of “Vancouverism,”curated by Trevor Boddy and until now, seen only in London and Paris; another part of the “cultural” Olympic action.

Oh, and the highlight for most of the revellers was the relighting of the giant “W” atop the only fragment left of what was once British Columbia’s finest retail empire.

We all had our cameras poised as the countdown for the “W” relighting began:

THE W ON WOODWARD'S RELIT

There was the obligatory cake, courtesy of Nester’s Market. It’s possible now to actually buy groceries in the Downtown Eastside once again. Amazing.

This redevelopment must be the toughest attempt at gentrification ever undertaken. We’ll see how it works. (All those warm bodies attending SFU’s new digs should conduct a fair amount of “body heat.”)

Oh, and a man brought his own “W.” It was built, he said, for a short film he made “years ago.” All in all, it was a night to remember

I have a whole slew of posts coming up about the simultaneous events of Friday, 15 January 2010. Stay tuned …

WOODWARD'S FOOD FLOOR CAKE

MAN WITH HIS W

THE BAND @ THE OPENING

STAIRCASE TO NOWHERE

SFU WOODWARD'S W

SFU WOODWARD'S PROJECTION

SFU WOODWARD'S PROJECTION 2

And, after all the hoopla, I left the atrium at the “new” Woodward’s and faced the “old” Hastings Street, boarded up and desperate as ever:

HASTINGS STREET WIDE SHOT

HASTINGS STREET 2

It was Stan Douglas redux; a slice of his other significant work about the DTES:

Stan Douglas

Every Building on 100 West Hastings

Edited by Reid Shier

THE WOODWARD'S W LIT AGAIN!

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