Hillhurst/Sunnyside: Street Art Fun!

Hillhurst/Sunnyside (H/S) community is Calgary’s equivalent to San Francisco’s Haight–Ashbury - a haven for artists, hippies and hipsters.

While every other community surrounding downtown Calgary has been overtaken by new condos and infill homes (i.e. gentrified), much of H/S still is early 20th century cottage homes and small apartment blocks. Especially Sunnyside (east of 10th Street NW and west of Centre Street bridge).  A walk through H/S is a walk back in time. 

Calgary Street Art

One thing I love about flaneuring H/S is the funky street art you find there - in a back alleys, on abandoned buildings, community centre, schools, the side of a retail building and especially in their container park (Yes, they have a park with sea containers used for various performances and events). 

Every time I wander the community I seem to discover another piece of street art.

Link: Calgary graffiti: The good, the bad and reason it’s not all bad. 

Street Art Calgary

Not Public Art

Street art gained popularity during the graffiti art boom in New York City in the ‘70s.  It was then that graffiti evolved from small scribbles or tags to large murals, mostly with cartoon and fantasy-like characters, some with incredible skill and detail.

Originally, street art was often on blank concrete walls in rundown communities, on train and subway cars in derelict spaces.  Today, street art has become trendy.  It is often done with the approval of the landlord and is sometimes done as an anti-graffiti initative (given graffiti taggers often respect the work of street artists and don’t paint over them). 

Street art is to the late 20th early 21st century what murals by artists like Mexico City’s Diego Rivera were to the early 20th century. However, they will never last as long - often disappearing in less than a year. 

Today’s street art is also not considered to be public art as that artist has not received public funds and it is not sanctioned by a public authority. 

Despite/or in spite of this, street art can become a tourist attraction - if there is a critical mass of quality art for visitors to check out. 

Link: History of Train Graffiti

Link: 10 New York Graffiti Legends Still Kicking (Ass) 

  Yes this is the infamous "Trudeau Finger" on the side of the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Centre building.  

Yes this is the infamous "Trudeau Finger" on the side of the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Centre building.  

I LUV Street Art why?

Street Art is usually colourful and playful, two key ingredients that appeal to my eye. As well, I love the sense of surprise, as they are often off-the-beaten path, which is synergistic to my love of flaneuring. I also love the immediacy of street art. While the technique can sometimes be refined, most often they are loose, gestural, drawings.

Street Art Calgary

Flashback

I went to NYC in 1982 to experience street art first hand. It was a time when I was an aspiring artist and felt a strong kinship with the work I was seeing in publications like ARTnews (my bible at the time). 

I came back inspired and created a series of graffiti-inspired paintings over the following two years and also organized the Street Art for Gleichen project, which eventually lead to my becoming the Director/Curator of the Muttart Art Gallery (now Contemporary Calgary) for a 10-year stint. 

It was a fun time. Thinking back, exploring those back alleys and vacant spaces of NYC was my first introduction to flaneuring!   

Last Word

Perhaps it is time for someone in to organize an outdoor art (street art, murals and public art) festival that would encourage Calgarians to get out and see, contemplate and question our outdoor art. I'd love to hear what children and teens think of the art. It is not all about just the grown ups!

If you like this blog, you will like:

Frankfurt's Found Street Art

Austin's Amazing Outdoor Graffiti Ruins

Public Art vs Street Art: Calgary, Rome & Florence

Simply Priceless: Travel, Treasure Hunting & Kijiji

One of the fun things we do as “everyday tourists” is to visit second-hand stores (both when we are away and at home) hunting for buried treasures (yes, they are often buried under or behind the other junk). It might be an artwork, vintage home décor item or even clothes. Sometimes we keep them, but most times we display and enjoy them for awhile and then sell them on kijiji.   

Brenda loves to find hidden gems, sometimes things look interesting but she is clueless as to what they are.  She then can spend hours looking for them and then hours researching them - half the fun is in the research!  Often it leads to fun travel back in time.  There is an “eureka moment” when she finds out what they are and their history.

But the fun doesn’t end there.  We both love the people we meet (even if for a just a few minutes at the door) and the stories they share with us about why they are purchasing the piece which often involves some more time travel. 

 Everyday Tourist's world headquarters Kijiji Division 

Everyday Tourist's world headquarters Kijiji Division 

FOR EXAMPLE 

Just this week I wandered into Brenda’s kijiji headquarters and on the floor was a vintage-looking licence plate.  Turns out that same day she was in a Calgary Salvation Army store and spotted an unusual looking license plate in the cart full of things a staff member was just putting out. 

Side story: Brenda is like a sniper when it comes to spotting treasures in the rough.  She loves second-hand stores that are full of junk where you really have to hunt. Who doesn’t like a challenge? 

In this case, she found a clean, mint condition, authentic, aluminum license plate from the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. A little research uncovered the fact that Red Lake rejects state jurisdiction, so they issue their own license plates to tribal members without (like the several other Minnesota tribes that have special plates) having to go through the state licensing. Who knew?

She also learned that the numbering (0000) on her plate reflects the fact it was a sample license plate. The two, large blue “blobs” in the design represent the reservation’s two, large, linked lakes. 

If we ever get to Minnesota, we will be sure to check out Red Lake!

TRIP TO LAPLAND?

A few weeks back I get an email with a photo saying “Look what I found, with the sticker still on it!” It was a nice enough looking glass pitcher but I didn’t give it much thought. When I got home, Brenda was quick to “fill me in.”

Turns out is was a“Iittala Ultima Thule Ice Lip Pitcher.”  Inspired by the melting ice in Lapland and with its uncompromising and timeless design, this distinctive, mid-century modern piece is claimed to be responsible for company Iittala’s international breakthrough. Again, who knew! 

Designed in Finland in the late 1960s, to this day it continues to be made in Finland and be the company’s signature piece. Note: “Ultima Thule” makes reference to the furthest possible place in the world – and a product line name of Iittala’s. She bought it for $4, it retails for $200 and she listed it for $125. 

The profit won’t get us to Lapland, but it will buy us a nice dinner on our next trip.  

Note: This piece sold quickly for $100 to a young woman who bought it because it reminded her of her grandmother who had one and when she passed away her aunt got the grandmother's pitcher. She had been looking on kijiji for one for awhile.  More often than not, the treasures go to a good home.

BACK TO FLORENCE

I have gotten into the habit of wandering into her room on almost daily to see what she has found or taken out of “inventory”.  Last week I noticed a decorative gold tray and had to ask, “Where did you get that?” 

Turns out it is a vintage Italian Florentine Gilt Gold Wood Tray she picked up in Winnipeg two weeks back.  It was ironic as we were in Florence exactly two years ago, it brought back fond memories.

Back story: During the Renaissance, Florence was renowned throughout Europe as a centre of fine art, particularly in painting, gold gilding, bronze work, and furnishings inlaid with intricate designs in marble or rare wood. The fine craft traditions associated with some of these arts never entirely died out. A museum of decorative arts, opened in 1865, was pivotal in helping boost Florence's economy by promoting its crafts to tourists.  That tradition continues today with many such items as trays being a collector’s item today.  Too bad today’s souvenir tourist economy involves tacky throwaway items and not meaningful local craftwork.

This gem was posted on Kijiji as a 1940 slightly raised scalloped-edged tray (12”by 18”) that “would look beautiful for a touch of shabby chic to any space - on a coffee table, on a sideboard, on a vanity.”

She bought it for $3 and hopes to get $20.  It will be interesting to see who buys it and why?

VINTAGE SUITCASE

Speaking of Winnipeg, I knew she had lucked out in the Salvation Army on Sherbrook Street when she came up to me with a big smile and carrying a vintage cardboard suitcase.  Again, she had picked it up just as it was being taken out of the back room (timing is everything).  

She couldn’t wait to get some history on it - turns out it is probably from the 1930s or 1940s.  Now listed on kijiji, it is described as a two-tone brown cardboard suitcase with its silver-coloured metal accents (i.e. rivets, clasps and corners - with "Cheney" (of England) engraved on clasps), brown vinyl reinforced outer corners and brown plastic/metal handle, and lined with paper – in a fun, brown checked plaid pattern. A nice piece of shabby vintage chic for display purposes – and/or storage. Dimensions are: 22” x 11” x 7”. Clean (no smells), closes/opens well – in very good vintage condition (just some minor wear and scratches on the outer corners and interior paper lining). No key.”

She hopes to turn her $3 find into a $40 sale, which should pay for lunch on our next trip.

BACK TO MINNESOTA

Something tells me we are meant to go to Minnesota as another of her October finds is a signed handmade pottery vase 7” high x 4¼” diameter. Its maker is experienced and long time, American potter Chad Briggs of Minnesota. 

I don’t understand why anyone would settle for mass produced when you can have one-of-a-kind piece?  Bought for $2 in Okotoks and sold for $15 – that’s coffee and dessert somewhere in the future. 

PINK PYREX IS HOT, HOT, HOT....

Brenda didn’t realize what a great find she had when she brought home (again from Winnipeg) a Pink Daisy Casserole Dish w/Cover Lid a few weeks back. In the late 50s, this oblong“Space Saver” baking dish was promoted as being great for “storing leftovers in space-challenged kitchens and fridges” – not unlike how a marketer might promote it today to those living in small condos or apartments!

Her Kijiji ad read, “It comes complete with matching clear glass cover/lid. The white stylized daisies on the pretty pink background are oh-so-charming.” And bonus... not only is this a rather rare piece, but it is clean and in excellent condition (no chips, cracks, faded colour/pattern)... ready to display in your kitchen or be put to good use!”

This sold in 20 minutes (by a repeat customer) with a profit of $35, which should buy a nice bottle of wine on our next trip (probably to Minnesota).  She had dozens of inquires a few hours of listing. Lesson learned: pink P Pyrex is hot.   

LAST WORD

We are hardly going to get rich buying and selling these artifacts, but it is a revenue neutral hobby that fits nicely into our love of travel, research and people.  And the stories, laughs, tears (of joy) and even gifts (yes, was even given a gift from a particularly grateful customer) are well, simple priceless.  

If you like this blog, you will like:

Victoria: Thrifting for art

Florence: Best Flaneur Finds

Treasure Hunting in Portland

ADAC Calgary: Gallery Hop!

What is ADAC you ask? NOT to be confused with AADAC (Alberta Alcohol & Drug Abuse Commission) it stands for Art Dealers Association of Canada.

This national self-governing, not-for-profit organization founded in 1966 gives accreditation to private art gallery owners who meet set standards for experience, knowledge, scholarship and professionalism in the same manner as other professionals have their respective accreditation associations.  

   Masters Gallery's  feature exhibition for Gallery Hop is "Algonquin" by Amy Dryer. 

Masters Gallery's feature exhibition for Gallery Hop is "Algonquin" by Amy Dryer. 

   Jarvis Hall Gallery's  feature exhibition for Gallery Hop is "FROM THE PAGE," artworks from the sketchbooks and notebooks of Bill Rodgers. 

Jarvis Hall Gallery's feature exhibition for Gallery Hop is "FROM THE PAGE," artworks from the sketchbooks and notebooks of Bill Rodgers. 

Lets all go to the Hop!

On May 28th from 11 am to 5 pm Calgary's eight ADAC-accredited galleries invite Calgarians to visit. Local artists and gallery owners will answer questions and share information on the artists that exhibit at the gallery, history of the gallery, what kind of art it specializes in and talk about the importance of supporting local professional artists.   In addition, each gallery is offering artist-led tours of the current exhibitions.  

Did you know?

Most ADAC galleries offer a “no-interest payment over time” option to help make your art purchase fit with your budget.  Some galleries will also offer to buy back your artwork years later, or you can trade in your piece for a credit on a different work, recognizing tastes often evolve or you might want a piece that better fits that special place in your new home. 

Owners will also be on hand to share information about the various services the gallery offers. Many people don’t realize many galleries offer trial periods where you can take the art home with you, live with it for a period of time and then return it if it doesn’t quite work for you or make arrangements to try something else. 

In a nutshell, ADAC galleries want to work with collectors –whether new or seasoned - to help them develop their appreciation for art and build an art collection unique for their tastes. 

Herringer Kiss Gallery offers two solo exhibitions for Gallery Hop. 

   
  
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     In the context of collecting significant historical Canadian artwork, Ian Loch will discuss some special historical works including pieces from the Loch family private collection - from Krieghoff to Kurelek at  Loch Gallery . 

In the context of collecting significant historical Canadian artwork, Ian Loch will discuss some special historical works including pieces from the Loch family private collection - from Krieghoff to Kurelek at Loch Gallery

   Trepanier Baer Gallery's  feature exhibition is Marcel Barbeau: Amour champagne et autre choses. 

Trepanier Baer Gallery's feature exhibition is Marcel Barbeau: Amour champagne et autre choses. 

Wallace Gallery will feature "Spring Group Show II, 2016" including: David Alexander, William Duma, Peter Krausz, Gregory Hardy, Linda Nardelli, Harold Barling Town, David Newkirk, Erika Olson, and more.  Gregory Hardy's "Slew by the house" is just one of the paintings that will be featured in the exhibition.  

Facing Reality!

In the late 80s, I used to give a talk to Alberta College of Art and Design students titled “Facing Reality!” I spoke of the need for them to produce and sell 100 artworks (two per week) at $1,000 each per year to make about $30,000 per annum salary.

How could that be? Simple. If an artist sells $100,000 worth of art a year, they will share 50% of that with the gallery in commissions, so they are down to $50,000. And out of that $50,000 they have to pay cost of materials and studio rental, making them lucky if they clear $30,000.  I then asked them, “how many of your parents, family or friends of their parents had ever spent $1,000 on a work of art?”  The silence was deafening. It was a rude awakening.

From a gallery perspective, they to have to sell a lot of art every month of the year at $1,000/artwork to pay for salaries, rent, operating, framing and marketing costs. So when you see a price tag of $1,000+ in an ADAC gallery, don’t be shocked. This is real art by professionals - not some mass-produced artworks from a factory

The art has been produced by a professional artists, who have spent years developing their techniques and imagery, who have probably thrown away more artworks than they have exhibited and who get only one or two exhibitions a year if they lucky.  It is a struggle to make a living as a visual artist given limited selling opportunities and the need to sell your work for thousands not hundreds of dollars.

Joshua Jensen-Nagle and Newzones Gallery present "Endless Summer" a culmination of 12 years of working with the beach as a subject, inspiration by his childhood summers for Gallery Hop visitors.  Image: Joshua Jensen-Nagle: “An Expression”, 2015 ed./7, Photo Face Mounted to Plexi, 43”x88”

If you like it buy it!

I also use to say, “Too often people who wouldn’t think twice about spending $30,000 on a car that depreciates by $15,000 in 5 years, wouldn’t even consider investing $3,000 on an artwork. Or, many Calgarians who willingly spend $1,000+ on a new bike every few years or a weekend getaway every year, wouldn’t dream of spending $1,000 on an artwork they might have for the rest of their lives.” People don’t think twice about spending $2,000+ on a sofa or a new computer that they will keep for maybe 5 years or less.

Back in the ‘80s, when I was the Director/Curator at the Muttart Art Gallery (now Contemporary Calgary), I often advised people to set aside $1,000+ per year to buy one major artwork a year.  In so doing, after ten years, one would have a very nice art collection that reflects personal tastes, and can be enjoyed every day for the rest of your life.  

Too often people say, “I need to save up before I can buy art.” To which I would respond, if you see something you like, ask the gallery if they will talk instalment payments so you can enjoy the art while you pay it off (we do that with cars all the time).

   
  
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   The  Paul Kuhn Gallery  is pleased to present “crank that”, a group show of gallery artists, notably, Ashleigh Bartlett, Robin Deyo, John Eisler, Geoffrey Hunter and Mark Mullin.     The title of the exhibition borrows its’ name from a hip hop dance move primarily performed to hip hop music as part of hip culture. This exhibition is loosely associated with hip hop in its capacity to shock and inspire. The so called “free style’ of this art is a misnomer as both the dance and the paintings often are carefully developed in the studio by classically trained artists.     While both seem to work intuitively, there is a level of sophistication and refinement in their art.  Like hip hop, the paintings are part of a post modern genre defined by real time practice rather than any sense of a unified theory or movement. It is an art made in a time when there is no acknowledged period identity for contemporary art and no consensus on the role of the avant garde.

The Paul Kuhn Gallery is pleased to present “crank that”, a group show of gallery artists, notably, Ashleigh Bartlett, Robin Deyo, John Eisler, Geoffrey Hunter and Mark Mullin.

 The title of the exhibition borrows its’ name from a hip hop dance move primarily performed to hip hop music as part of hip culture. This exhibition is loosely associated with hip hop in its capacity to shock and inspire. The so called “free style’ of this art is a misnomer as both the dance and the paintings often are carefully developed in the studio by classically trained artists.

 While both seem to work intuitively, there is a level of sophistication and refinement in their art.  Like hip hop, the paintings are part of a post modern genre defined by real time practice rather than any sense of a unified theory or movement. It is an art made in a time when there is no acknowledged period identity for contemporary art and no consensus on the role of the avant garde.

True Confession

As an undergraduate at McMaster University in Hamilton, I used my one and only student loan to buy five limited edition prints from ADAC Galleries in Toronto and Hamilton (Toni Only, Gordon Smith, David Blackwood, Karl Appel and Pierre Alechinsky) all of which I still have today. Not only has each appreciated in value, but I have appreciated looking at them for over 40 years.

Last Word

And while talking art at Gallery Hop, enjoy a wine and art pairing by Metrovino at the galleries.  You can even stop by Metrovino (right on the hop behind NewZones and Paul Kuhn galleries) and pick up a bottle or two of your favourite grape art.

It doesn’t get much better than that! 

John Hall: The Everyday Experience Bond!

I have always loved John Hall's hyper realism paintings of everyday objects in electric colours.  

John Hall painting

I showed Hall's work often when I was the Director/Curator of the Muttart Public Art Gallery in the late '80s and early '90s.  After I left the Muttart I was fortunate enough to add one of Hall's artworks to our collection - ironically it is titled "Tourist IV."

Who knew two decade later I would be blogging as the Everyday Tourist? Who had even heard of blogging the late '90s.  It is hung in our breakfast nook and is a part of our meals everyday. 

A recent trip to Kelowna allowed me to see Hall's retrospective at the Kelowna Art Gallery and not have to wait until it comes to Calgary in January 2017.  It was enlightening to see the how Hall's work has evolved, how he as incorporated everyday objects and events into his work, yet maintained a consistent vision of the everyday world we share, be that in Calgary, Kelowna or San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  

Having been in Mexico City, last Fall really helped me appreciate Hall's ability to capture sense of the everyday experience of urban living in a different culture. I have always felt a kinship with Hall's work, but never really understood why as I am not a big fan of realism.  

I now realize that we share the same fascination with collage of the everyday objects in everyday living. 

I hope you will enjoy this photo essay of Hall's retrospective which includes some of the artworks and all of the didactic panels. I have decided to not include the titles of the artworks as I think they can speak for themselves. 

John Hall
john hall painting
john hall painting
John Hall paintings
John Hall Painting
John Hall painting

Last Word

John Hall: Travelling Light A forty-five-year survey of paintings is on view at the Kelowna Art Gallery until July 10, 2016.  It will be at the Nickle Galleries as the University of Calgary from January  26th to April 29th, 2017. 

If you like this blog, you will like:

Iconic Canadian Art Hidden In Office Lobby

Denver's Tallest Office Tower Turned Into An Art Gallery

DREAM: Calgary's Best Kept Public Art Secret

 

 

 

2015: Everyday Tourist's Best Public Art / Street Art photos

My 2014 Christmas gift to myself was a Sony RX100 camera which, along with two iPhones, were put to good use (some might not agree, particularly my Redwood golfing buddies who were always asking “what are you taking a picture of now?”) last year taking 12,682 photos.

I love surfing through my photos on an almost daily basis. It is like a visual diary of both being both a tourist in other cities and an everyday flaneur in and around Calgary. It is fun reliving and rethinking where you have been.

Tony Oursler's "Braincast" sculpture is installed inside the wall along the escalator of Seattle's Central Library. It consists of a series of three videos cast on to eye-ball like forms. I had to ride the escalator several times to watch the videos. 

Bad Editor...

As 2015 came to a close I started to reflect on the highlights of 2015.  After spending hours reviewing my photos and wondering if I could reduce 2015 to just 10 photos.  (I love top ten lists) I came to the conclusion that was impossible for me. I have never been a good editor. 

I then thought maybe I could do a couple of top ten lists based on certain subjects and activities with some common denominators.  After identifying about 250 favourite images (about 2% of the 2015 portfolio) seven subjects surfaced.

So rather than one large blog with dozen of images, I created seven subject specific blogs that reflect the fun and surprises of being an everyday tourist and flaneur in 2015.  

Art in unexpected places...

Expect the unexpected as my street art and public art photos are not just about sculptures and statues, rather how art can be found in strange places. 

  The glass canopy at the 6th Street LRT station on 7th Ave in downtown Calgary has been converted into a work of art by Stuart Keller.  Titled "SWARM" it consists of thousands of images of winged seeds (also called keys, helicopters, whirlers, twisters, whirligigs) produced by some trees.  The pattern of the seeds was inspired by the swarming of birds taking flight at dusk.  I liked the interplay with the art, sky, building and construction crane.   

The glass canopy at the 6th Street LRT station on 7th Ave in downtown Calgary has been converted into a work of art by Stuart Keller.  Titled "SWARM" it consists of thousands of images of winged seeds (also called keys, helicopters, whirlers, twisters, whirligigs) produced by some trees.  The pattern of the seeds was inspired by the swarming of birds taking flight at dusk.  I liked the interplay with the art, sky, building and construction crane.   

The juxtaposition of the colourful and temporary Day of the Dead skeleton figure with the permanent, dark winged-horse and figure statue captured my eye.  Located in the plaza in front of Mexico City's Bellas Artes concert hall. 

This colourful and complex collage of images is from a piece of playground equipment in the West Hillhurst in Calgary.  I love it when I find images like this in unexpected places. 

"By the Banks of the Bow" is one of the largest bronze sculptures in North America.  Create by Bob Spaith and Rich Roenisch, it consists of 15 horses and two cowboys crossing Calgary's Bow River.  I love public art that allows the public to interact with it. 

Strange Reflections

These three mirage images of female faces are reflections in the window of the +15 hallway next to Holt Renfrew looking out to the LRT station in downtown Calgary. 

This image  was taken looking into the window of the Out There store on Stephen Avenue in downtown Calgary.  There is a wonderful narrative in this artwork.

Ballard is a suburban of Seattle with a wonderful Main Street that hosts a vibrant Sunday street market.  This artwork is one of the many wonderful reflections of Ballard's street life in the store windows.    

Loved the surrealism of this jail-like image created in a pedicure shop window in Seattle's tony Belltown.

"Reflections," inside the Experience Music Project Museum, Seattle. 

This window reflection is a visually stunning collage of architecture and facades in a downtown Calgary window. 

Objects 

Found this still life image along Calgary's 7th Avenue transit corridor. 

Wake , Richard Serra, 125 feet long weathered steel, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle. 

"Wonderland", 39 foot sculpture by Jaume Plensa, (plaza in front of The Bow office tower, downtown Calgary) 

"Echo" 46 foot sculpture by Jaume Plensa  (Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle) 

Typewriter Eraser, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle. 

From the sidewalk

Street art in Calgary's Sunnyside community. 

Street art in Victoria, BC. 

Found this abandoned piano key board while walking to a Goodwill store on the outskirts of Seattle's City Centre.  It had a found art quality for us - wonderful colour, shape, pattern and rhythms.  If we could have brought it home we would have. We did bring home a single key as found artwork which we have added to our home collection. 

Thrifting Fun in Victoria B.C.

One of our favourite things to do when visiting a new city is to check out the thrift stores.  We are regularly rewarded with discovering new and upcoming neighbourhoods as thrift stores are often located in old grocery or larger retail stores in strip malls in communities on the edge of the city centre that are being repopulated by hippies, hipsters, yuppies and artists i.e. those who love thrifting.

Probably our most surprising location for a thrift store was in Hong Kong - don’t remember the name of the street, but we were barely out of our hotel and on the street to beginning flaneuring and there was a Salvation Army beaconing us in. 

However, the best city for thrifting in our experience has to be Victoria, B.C., Canada.  Brenda says it is because the city is a mecca for older people who are downsizing and university students who are always buying things and then moving away. We especially love the great artworks we find and think it is due to those who are downsizing, as well as art students at the University of Victoria who can keep everything that they create and retirees who take up art as a hobby in their later years.

 Abstraction by R. Sylvester was purchased at Super Chance, nicely framed and matted. (29" x 20" framed) $90.00  

Abstraction by R. Sylvester was purchased at Super Chance, nicely framed and matted. (29" x 20" framed) $90.00  

We love thrifting in Victoria because there are so many stores within walking or short bus ride of downtown.  We have also noted over the years the quality and presentation of goods is higher in Victoria than in other cities we have visited.  Many of the thrift stores are more like boutiques than a second hand store, especially the WIN store (no relation to WINS in Calgary) in Cook Village. 

The mother lode of thrift stores in Canada and perhaps North America has to be the Value Village in Victoria’s Chinatown.  It is a huge store (not sure if it is the biggest Value Village in the chain but it is the biggest and busiest we have experienced) that is full of clothing, housewares, books, records and great art. It is always busy and thus the product moves fast so we often will visit a couple of times if we are in town for a week or so. 

Value Village, the motherlode of thrift stores, in Victoria, BC

Art Collecting Fun

One of our goals when visiting a new city is to find a new artwork for our collection of thrift store art that now numbers 23 pieces.  I am not sure but I think this may have started many years ago in Victoria - golf fish canvas from Value Village. On our last visit in the spring of 2015 the Value Village had a least a dozen abstract expressionism work both large and small for under $100.  I was tempted to buy a large 40” by 30” piece but Brenda talked me out of it and so I finally settled on a small 10” by 8”piece.  

Usually our first stop in Victoria is to Value Village to check out the art, followed by the Super Chance consignment store (with thrift store prices) in St. James Village, which is a must visit for thrifters as it always has a good selection of art.  We are rarely disappointed.  In one case I bought an artwork by Joe Plaskett, titled “Hakim Paris” in one thrift store and then commissioned Super Chance to sell it for me. My first quick flip!

Untitled, Kimball, 1962, purchased at Kilshaw's Auctioneers for $10, (29" x 25" framed canvas)

Thrill of the Hunt

The fun thing about thrifting is the thrill of the hunt - you don’t even know what you are hunting for until you see it.   Brenda’s tastes are much more eclectic than mine, she is could spend hours searching the back of every shelf and the bottom of every bin for that special treasure that some other picker has missed. 

Untitled, unknown artist, purchased at Super Chance $60 (framed, 20" x 14")

 

 

Brenda’s finds this last Victoria trip were:

 

  • A 1950s dime holder made by the B&R (no relation) Manufacturing Co. of New York bought at WIN Resale Shop for $1.95
  • A charming 1937 cardboard“learn to type” fingering diagram that you prop up in front of a typewriter keyboard, that is very fun.  $2
  • Children’s Metal Shoe Size Measurer for $4
  • Set of 3 vintage nesting teak snack bowls circa 1940s for $3
  • Framed unused Tuck’s Postcard (printed in England) for $.99 Vintage, women’s off-white, long Max Mayers gloves for $3
  • Small, brand new, yellow Moleskin notebook $.99
  • Some of the things she will keep for a while and add to her various vignettes in her office, others she will resell at her annual vintage garage sale.

List of Victoria Thrift stores:

Downtown

  • Beacon Community Thrift Shop, 715, Pandora Ave.
  • Salvation Army Thrift Store, 525, Johnson St.
  • Value Village, 1810 Store St.
  • Women In Need, 785 Pandora Ave.
  • St. Vincent de Paul, 833 Yates Ave

On the edge of Downtown

  • Bible 4 Missions, 2520 Government Street
  • Women In Need, 1803 Cook St.
  • Super Chance, 435, Simcoe Street,
  • Oak Bay United Church, 1355 Mitchell St

Bus Ride Away

  • Salvation Army, 3934 Quadra
  • Salvation Army, 1551 Cedar Hill Cross Road
  • Pickers 3948 Quadra
  • Beacon2723 Quadra

Auction Houses

  • Kilshaw's Auctioneers, 115 Fort Street
  • LUNDS Auctioneer, 926 Fort Street 
  Untitled, unknown artists, Value Village find spring 2015 $15 (10" x 8")

Untitled, unknown artists, Value Village find spring 2015 $15 (10" x 8")

Last Word

Thrifting is not only a fun way to find a unique souvenir of your visit to any city, but also a great way to find some hidden gem authentic communities to explore and not just the tarted up touristy places and spaces. 

We have even found an upscale thrifty hotel (yes, there is such a thing).  The Red Lion Hotel Victoria at 3366 Douglas St. is well located not only for thrifting, but for cycling as the Galloping Goose Trail is at the back door and shopping (Uptown and Mayfair shopping malls are just a few blocks away).

If you like this blog, you might like: 

Santa Fe: The early bird gets the thrift art

Five FAVS For Everyone in Victoria

Port Angeles: A 24hr Quickie