Living With Art

A local realestate agent dropped off a copy of ‘International Architecture and Design’ and inspired a new page in my State of the Art Column after I a hung a massive new painting (5 feet by 3 feet) I commissioned from Olivier Roy of the original  logo he designed when we opened the shop in 2007.  I’ve always dreamed of a home like Gertrude Stein in ‘The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas’ in Paris with walls covered in original art, like a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery or the Chicago Institute (my two favorites) only here when I wake up or come home to smiling faces at the end of the day.  However impractical that may sound…especially with a five-year old and a near 10 month old casing the joint daily…there is something about ‘living with art’ and bringing it into our homes that enriches our lives.  Here is the beginning, a collection of original images I have claimed my own and the short stories that brought them to my world.

Hung my second, no the third, original painting tonight.  The first was a tiny Chili Thom of a pair of snow-covered trees painted on canvas, like only Chili can, I found at his Christmas sale / open house in 2008 at the ever funky ‘Creation Station’ in Function Junction.  My little boy loved the 70’s style striped half-moon sofa in the entrance, maybe even more than fact that Chili drove an equally dated ex-ambulance.  I don’t know if I am qualified to say honestly, but his trees and mountains to me are reminiscent of the Group of Seven and Thom Thompson and Emily Carr…I wonder if he went to Emily Carr?  Lovely, bold, peaceful, snow, pine, alpenglow orange-yellow-purple-grey clouded sky….home.  His paintings say home to me.

Back to 2007….I drew a sketch of the logo in the summer of 2007 and the search for a graphic designer was on.  After hitting the websites of my favorite local artists and checking in with Chili Thom for ideas, I called Oliver (Olivier Roy) a Squamish local snowboarder (not that we’ll hold that against him) painter and graphic artist whose work I first saw on Prior skis and boards including my favorite, ‘the pillow line’.  We met at my home and within days he had a page of options and  visions of the Street To Peak image I imagined…the Vancouver skyline, the ocean, and the highway bridging the gap between the city and the peaks of the Coast Range in Whistler I call home and from a page of pencil doodles and rough sketches of funny tag lines and t-shirt print ideas, pages of e-mails, comments back and forth, samples and revisions, the logo was born.

Fast forward back to 2009….2 years later, approaching his first one man show in a Vancouver gallery Oliver calls and says, “You remember when we talked about a painting of your logo…”  Hmmmmmm…recession, pre-Olympic lull in business, credit calls…”Of course I want a painting.”  My first commission.

Check out his work at

Meanwhile…I never saw the painting on exhibit.  Christmas, retail, 2 kids, one vehicle, 600cm of snow…or was it 800?…never made it to Oliver’s show.  I’m sorry I missed it…but there’s something, some intangible, illegible, unexplainable…something about hanging a painting for the first time.  I placed it on the floor and removed the wrapping without looking, held it close to my chest so I wouldn’t see as I hung it on the big vacant wall behind the sofa (which was no small feat as it measures 5 feet wide by 3 feet tall).  It’s like getting a card or a letter…remember those?…or the notes my wife left on my windshield on her way to the gym before I woke up, before we were married…you take it home from the post box tucked close to your chest out of the cold, pour some orange juice into your favorite glass, curl up in your favorite old sweat shirt in your favorite sunny spot next to the window and do all the things before you open it up and see what she said…

Jack walked into the room in his PJ’s getting ready for bedtime and said, “Wow!”, followed soon after by my wife who had been reading him stories in his bedroom and we all stood and stared.  ‘Wow’, is right.  What else can you say?

Two weeks earlier…I found the second painting at “Island Long Boards”.  I’d driven past for years en route to Tofino and Long Beach and we finally took the time in a weekend away to stop in.  There is a long fence, a red barn and a ‘Surf Shop’ sign in the middle of the Vancouver Island just about as far from water as you can get on the road to Port Alberni….and there on the wooden staircase up to the board room was a tiny blue wave canvas with the familiar windswept white curl of the west island beach breaks.  I’d never heard of the artist…S. Kearns…and I said to the guy at the counter, “I hope you don’t mind, I took this off the wall.”

Here at home, in the shop, down at Chili’s new Gallery, or on an island surf shop staircase a weekend away, it is more than just an escape, more than infatuation, or the memory of the day I sat with my wife laughing drawing logo ideas with my pencil on that piece of paper I gave Oliver – I wonder if he still has it? – it is all a part of me that is alive, that reminds me that every day and every experience is more than just the every day.  It is ‘living’ with art.



  1. Awesome blog post. I love the whole idea of ‘living’ with art, and your description of holding the painting close to your chest so you won’t see it until after it is hung on the wall, like a precious note from your girlfriend – that is awesome. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. ”Wow!” back atcha Hi
    That was captivating. Interresting to hear of the experience with my art and the art of other through your eyes.
    I do have your sketches still. There is a few more ideas to explore in there!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s