My visit to Graham Winter’s show, »Edifice: Exploring Art, Architecture, and Archives« made such an impact on me that I’m still thinking about it.

As I fell asleep last night, I kept thinking about the archival aspect of Winter’s work and how he is preserving a slice of Vancouver’s history.

That thought got me thinking of an earlier documentarian, Emily Carr, and how she preserved a piece of pre-contact history by painting the totemic art of the people of Canada’s West Coast.

Totem poles and skyscrapers. The art of past and present.

As I was trying to fall asleep, I kept thinking of a particular piece of Emily’s (below), whose angles and teeth reminded me of Electra, one of my favourite paintings by Graham.

Emily Carr, A Skidegate Pole, oil on canvas, 87 x 76.5 cm, 1941-42  – Vancouver Art Gallery Emily Carr Trust

Graham Winter, Electra, oil on canvas, 30 x 60 cm, 2010 (detail) Photo > Michael Francis McCarthy – designKULTUR

The Electra is the new moniker for a true original and Vancouver’s first “modern” high-rise. Originally built for the B.C. Electric Company (later BC Hydro), it was sensitively converted to condominiums by Paul Merrick in 1995.

The teeth on the building are a form of architectural public art. Lit at night in B.C. Binning’s marine-hued green and blue, the connection to Carr seemed firm in my mind as I fell asleep thinking of pre-contact rainforest “Vancouver.”

1926 | Looking east over Stanley Park, Coal Harbour and Burrard Inlet- Royal Canadian Air Force, Van Sc P66

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