The birth of my child was a joyous occasion and filled me with an overwhelming creative impulse that desperately needed an outlet. Being naturally predisposed to a distrust of artists and their lackeys (promoters, producers, gallery owners, etc.) and outright contempt for the paradigm of art as a commodity (combined with my fear of failure and rejection), I set out to create a work of art that would appear for a brief time in the public sphere, anonymous, unannounced, free of expectation, and open to the world.

I entered into this realm with no long term plan or vision, I just needed to create something and share it with strangers, friends or whoever happened to be passing by my little corner of the world. So I picked a random spot, a telephone pole on the corner of Salsbury and Parker in East Vancouver, (I lived in a house on this corner from 1997-1999). It has been 13 years now, I try to put up at least one work every year, sometimes I manage two. They only last for a few days at most, I put them up before dawn and take them down late at night when their store of goods has been exhausted. It took a few years before I settled on a theme; the works always contain gifts of some sort, an opportunity for exchange, or just a random trinket for someone to take away.

May 1998, the first one didn’t last long . I had worked at it for days prior to its presentation. Painstakingly drawing and painting, I even included some copper work in its final form. To describe it would be difficult; inside a small metal box, there was a Smurf with a chainsaw, against a background depicting a clearcut forest, stumps and logs scattered around the landscape. I believe I featured the words, “Coming Soon” as the banner to my creation. It was up for less than 4 hours. A person with no respect for public art?, or perhaps a zealous patron of the arts? Someone pilfered it, though I never discovered whom. I preferred to imagine that someone was so taken by it that they had to have it at any cost, even if it meant crossing the line into criminal activity. This thought made me very happy, and encouraged me to do more.

Please have a look at the works through the years, and if you or someone you know has had an experience with them, please comment. Tell me your story, what you found, what you left, how it affected your day or your life.

Friday, 21 October 2011

September 2002

This box was fun to make.  I used it as an opportunity to honour my friends whom I love so dearly.  As you can see from the images shown, the box consisted of sixteen shelves stacked 4x4, each compartment was 7cm x 7cm, with a depth of 15cm.  In front of each shelf I placed a black and white portrait of one of my friends (varying in age from 3-58).  The photos were mounted on kitchen counter laminate samples that I liberated from IKEA.

Inside each compartment I placed a gift, which was contained inside a bottle.  It had taken me a couple of months to gather enough bottles. I had 48 in total, they came from a brand of Italian pear and apricot juice that I fancied.  Drinking all 48 bottles was the easy part.  Within each bottle I placed a black and white photograph that I had taken and developed myself.  I also wrote a line of poetry, a phrase, song lyric, maxim etc. on the back of each photo for extra interest.  The words did not necessarily relate to the image, but some did (more on that soon).  Here are some examples:

i’ve lived a thousand times,
i’ve found out what it means to be believed         

sometimes you win
sometimes you lose
and some days it just rains

the devil comes as many
and you won’t know him from any,
not so different from yourself

Instructions for hash tea:
1)boil water
2)burn hash
3)crumble hash
4)put hash in water
5)add tea of your choice
yet each one kills the things they love
by each let this be heard
some do it with a bitter look,
some with a flattering word,
the coward does it with a kiss,
the brave ones with a sword!    

Into the bottles I also tossed in some polished stones, or dried berries, leaves, twigs, what have you, just to make it more intriguing.  Finally, I purchased some sealing wax and corks, and sealed all the bottles up.  The final touch was my seal on the top of the bottle, the Hindu Swastika.  My partner at the time, J, knew how I identified with and loved the Swastika symbol, she had managed to find a swastika stamp, complete with a monkey figure on top (I was born in the year of the Monkey) at a shop in Chinatown.  I cherish it still.

I hung this box with particular pride, I was very happy with the “message in a bottle” theme.  The bottles went swiftly, my notes say that they were all gone in two days, some folks even took the laminate photos that hung on the box.  Others replaced the bottles full of gifts they had made, a circle of giving was achieved.

Box Installed

Box showing sealed bottles inside

All that was left when I took it down

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