It was wet, it was raining hard, I worried about my leather boots as I unavoidably stepped in and out of puddles. I was trying hard to see clearly through my rain beaten glasses. I didn't want to get lost. I didn't want be late for my interview. Scanning this way and that way, a flash of colour in the otherwise grey and dreary street caught my eye. Graffiti. The prettiest graffiti I've seen in Vancouver so far. Click click. How could I resist stopping and taking photos. And besides, I still made my interview on time.
Here's a selection from the back alley on Cambie Street near Hastings.
After I left my interview, I decided to have a gander and see if I could find more graffiti treasure since this seemed to be the place to find it. And I was right. I found the bonanza in the back alley between Richards & Homer off Hastings. The writing on the wall called it an art installation by Cold World. Here's a sample from the north wall.
Across the alley on the south wall, there was a collection of murals that were of a distinctively different flavour so I'm not sure if the artists are from the same crew as Cold World.
There's a retro Asian thing happening in these ones.
And some west coast aboriginal graffiti happening here:
You know, before I saw these alleys, I was really beginning to wonder about the Vancouver graffiti scene. I lived in barrio Lavapiés in Madrid for 4 years and saw really exceptional graffiti come and go and come again, and then later I lived near London's Shoreditch graffiti scene, where I saw eye candy everywhere I looked. So needless to say, I had higher expectations from Vancouver than the polite murals I've seen decorating store fronts. I was later schooled as to why there's this muzzle on Vancity's graffiti scene. Turns out that there's a city bylaw that requires property owners to have graffiti removed within 10 days after being served a notice from the City or pay the city's removal cost. Ouch. These days it's the City of Vancouver that sanctions and funds some of the better murals seen around town through its graffiti-management program. I guess that explains the general lack of beautiful and/or politically edgy street art on the walls around here. Who knew yoga loving, granola munching, organic crunching, vegan noshing Vancouver was so conservative at heart.
All photography by Shehani Kay