April 13, 2008

Today was beautiful in Vancouver, as it was yesterday. We’ve looked forward to a break like this for the last few dreary weeks of a wet and wintery Spring.

On the Drive it was if we were practising for summer, wearing shorts, filling every bistro patio (and we have a lot of them) and spilling people onto the sidewalks, smiling faces, plenty of bikes. There was a sense of happy relief — we’ve gotten through the worst of it — and expectation: when is the first No Car day this year? Musicians played at a couple of corners and, even though there were none today, it was easy to imagine dancers in the Park.

What was also notable to me today was the revival of our end of the Drive, between, say, Venables and Napier. For a long time we were the poor cousin to the fun and games to be found around 1st or Grandview Park. Now, almost suddenly, we have our own centres of attraction, and we were attracting good crowds this afternoon. The morphing of Zesty’s into Zawa seems to have attracted its own crowds and, although Bump ‘n Grind coffee may have bitten the dust (it was closed this weekend), Pan e Vero is a highly successful new bakery with an excellent coffee/sitting area at the front. It has gallery-like walls that could compete with Havana for local shows, and an owner/baker willing to listen to bread recipe ideas.

In the next block south, we have the finest chocolatier for miles around (treat yourself to a dozen or so of her handmade delights) right next door to the classic Skylight diner. Next door down is the immensely popular Britannia Sushi where, frankly, the sashimi pieces are too big for good taste and decorum. Finally, to complete a four-door special, next door we find The Reef, a fabulous Caribbean joint I’ve written about before. We went there again last night and it was even better than before. I had their jerk pork tenderloin which was extraordinarily interesting, tasty and good! As I walked by today, clients were hanging out the doors and windows it was so packed.

Now, all we need is a decent grocer down this end. And there is plenty of space for one. All of the places mentioned above are on the east side of the Drive; the west side still needs a lot of work. But, we’re just practising right now. Things can only get better.

Update here.

Squall Coming In

April 13, 2008

Acrylic and oils on canvas, 20\

“Squall Coming In’ (2008), acrylics and oil on canvas, 16″x20″

This is the first painting I have completed since 1998. It has been fun to get back to the mechanics of painting again, spurred by the Christmas gift of easel and paints from my wife. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been picking up brushes, mediums, thinner, linseed oil, and building a collection of jars for cleaning and mixing. This weekend was warm enough for me to be comfortable outside with the paints. It feels good.

Freud To Break Record Next Month

April 13, 2008

A 1995 work by Lucian Freud called “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” is expected to sell for $35m at auction in New York next month. That will make it the most expensive painting ever sold by a living artist.

The subject matter is typically Freudian: a large naked woman lounges on a couch. More interesting to me than the money is the model’s story and what she can tell us of the artist and his methods (wouldn’t we love to speak to the models for the Mona Lisa, David, and the Venus de Milo?).

Sue Tilly — “Big Sue” — was paid twenty pounds a day but “she did not do it for the money and had ‘lovely lunches’ with the artist … Ms Tilley – who is now a job centre manager – joked she had now become a broadsheet pin-up.”

“The painting took nine months, but that was about two or three days a week. “When I started I got £20 a day. I don’t mind though. The best thing was I got lovely lunches. I got taken to the River Cafe most weekends. It was worth it for that. It was the experience, it wasn’t the money at all. It was just fantastic. You know, so many people would love to have that experience, to work with such a great artist, and chat to them, find out about them and see what they were doing … Because you see the painting every day, you know moving along and what he’s doing and how he works on it. And also what I used to love was there were other paintings there as well, of other people. He has about four on the go at the same time, so each time you went you’d see how far he’s moved along on the other paintings as well.”

The painting is on show for the first time in London this month before it is shipped to New York for the auction.

Update: The painting sold for $33 million.