By Serena Brown
The birds were waking up on a drizzly Friday morning when the staff at Feldman Architecture gathered coffee-in-hand at one of our local project sites. Conveniently located just a twelve-minute walk from our new office, the recently renovated condo sits tucked away in the rear of a shared lot on Russian Hill. The original home, built in 1895 was of a single story with a small storage attic. In the 1930’s the home was lifted and an additional story was added below. As part of the remodel, the attic space was lifted to create habitable space, a complete 3rd story with a cozy loft and roof deck that offers views of the entire Golden Gate Bridge.
Chris and Jess led the tour through the house, starting with the bottom story bedroom and snaking our way up the twisted staircase. Almost all rooms in the house have gorgeous floor to ceiling steel windows, crafted by Architectural Iron Works in San Luis Obispo. During our short visit, the clouds opened up to drop a quick downpour which I personally found beautiful to watch through the glass panes. The entire condo feels homey and comfortable, exactly what you’d want on a dreary day in the city. Two large dog beds sit in the corner of the master bedroom, offering a clearer picture of the cozy comfort the homeowners must experience.
Once we’d all gathered on the top floor, a group photo was taken before the rain started up once more. From our vantage point, we were able to watch the clouds get closer, and listen to the drops hitting the skylight above. Of all the things to grab the staff’s interest, the thermostat became a topic of discussion for a solid five minutes, before the group moved downstairs to discuss the merits of a glass door refrigerator. Soon after, Jeff, our in-office weatherman, notified us exactly when there was to be a break in the storm, which is when we gracefully made our exit.
Having joined the firm just three short weeks ago, this was my first experience on-site for any of our projects, completed or otherwise. I’m looking forward to visiting many more in the future, hopefully on sunnier days!
By Katie Paolano
Licensed architect and gifted fabricator, Matt Hutchinson of PATH, brought his technical expertise and skilled hands to the Feldman studio in February 2017. A one-man-show, PATH is a design and fabrication studio in which Matt focuses on the synthesis of both hand-crafted and machine-made works. In his presentation, Matt noted that materials come together all around us, all the time—in furniture, in everyday products, in the spaces surrounding us—and we commonly experience the hybrid of two different materials fused as one.
Matt demonstrates this solidarity along with the overlap of digital and hand craft in his VICE Table (shown below) in which the wood surface smoothly transitions into the cast aluminum tray. We were particularly fascinated by his careful attention to the idiosyncrasies and limitations of different materials—how certain woods tend to split and break, whereas aluminum shrinks during the cooling process.
On the other hand, we at Feldman were all riveted on Matt’s experiments involving two parts of a single material connected by a joint. He created different versions of node connections—able to accommodate round tube, round solid, square tube, and wood dowels. The stool below exemplifies such junction with 3D printed stainless nodes fusing stainless tube struts.
Matt closed discussion, stressing the paramount importance of experience followed closely by failure, advising Feldman designers not to expect any project to go exactly as planned the first (or even third) try. He claims to still fail all the time, but by the looks of his work however, it appears as though Matt has acquired more than skill, seamlessly creating custom furniture pieces, lamps, chandeliers and other installations to near perfection.
If we’re lucky enough, maybe we’ll score a Matt Hutchinson custom piece to showcase in one of our future projects!
Thanks for stopping by, Matt!
Check out Matt’s work at http://patharc.com/info
When architect Steven Stept first saw the site of Los Altos Hills II with client Simon Yiu in September 2012, it was empty, gently sloping alongside a quiet cul-de-sac. Now, two stacking, intersecting bars perch on the hillside, opening onto an infinity pool nestled between the two elegant forms. Finished and photographed, polished and populated with furniture, Los Altos Hills II is the product of years of hard work and extensive collaboration but remains true to the original nature of the site; the home finds strength in simplicity and calm on the cutting edge.
“What I like most about the project,” says Feldman’s Humbeen Geo, who assisted with the project’s construction drawings, detailing, construction administration, and interiors, “Is that the main design concept translated into and through construction. Nothing was compromised.” As a custom-for-sale home, the home’s programming lacked the idiosyncrasies of a project designed as a client’s ‘forever home,’ but its design received the same level of focus and attention to detail. Conceived as bold composition of simple forms in the office of Axelrod + Stept Architects, prior to Stept joining the Feldman team where he fine-tuned the design and now serves as Managing Partner, it stayed that way, thanks both to the client’s trust in his architects’ vision and ability to execute and in Steven’s faith, in turn, in the team he assembled.
“Steven gave me the license to both learn and contribute in a meaningful way,” says Humbeen, for whom Los Altos Hills II will always stand out in his mind as his first residential project. Indeed, it is clear that the final home reflects the collective strength of all who worked on the project, from Huettl Landscape Architecture’s thoughtful design for the site, where the dark mulch relates to the dark wood of the house, to Tali Ariely’s lighting design, whose strong concept of a linear lighting system supplemented by down lights mimics the crisp lines of the house. So, too, the wide sliding glass panels that scale back to blur indoor and outdoor living spaces, turning the home’s main living areas into pavilions open to the breeze, represent Murray Windows and Doors’ integral contribution to the project. “Carol, your doors look great – I can’t see them!” Steven joked to the Murray representative after seeing the home completely open to the site and its pool at its center. He adds, “The indoor/outdoor living element is stronger in this house than in any other house I’ve designed.”
One of the collaborations that proved the most rewarding, Steven says, was with Hector Rivera, who crafted the home’s steel staircase. The staircase now casts a striking shadow on the white kitchen counter, and it has become one of the strongest elements of the home.
The project’s finishing touch was the furniture provided by Flexform San Francisco for an intimate open house gathering held at the home in mid-July. Flexform is a luxury furniture brand, handmade in Italy, for whom details are everything, and their furniture adds a softness to the sleek, modern design. “It makes it casual,” says Flexform’s Gregory Herman, “and therefore useable. It invites people to dive in, fire up a movie, enjoy the breeze, the view, the pool.” When, in a happy coincidence, it came to light that the large sofa Steven and Simon had selected for the living room was designed by the same Italian designer, Antonio Chitterio, who designed the Arclinea line featured in the home’s nearby kitchen, it felt as if the final piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. “Before, it was just a building,” says Gregory. “Now, it’s a home.” Feldman’s Aaron Lim, who also worked extensively on the project, added, “The building really came alive that evening; with all of the exterior doors open, especially the corner doors, guests were able to walk in and out the house easily. It felt very open, and well-proportion – not extravagant or ostentatious.” When guests walked through the large entry pivot door into the living room at the open house, immediately accessing views of patio, pool, and site beyond, Steven received his long sought-after response: a jaw drop.
I recently had the chance to walk the home’s dark wood floors, climb its steel staircases, and watch the sun pour into light wells, stairwells, and, well, everywhere from basement to crowning master suite. The sun beat down on the infinity pool, casting reflections of the ripples in the water onto the shaded underside stucco overhang two floors up, and it filtered through the slots in the steel stairs to become slits of light splayed across a concrete wall. All of the home’s doors were open, and all of its closets were empty, just waiting for coats to be hung.
From the Iron Chef competition to the rejuvenating Third Thursdays, every part of my experience at Feldman Architecture this summer has been a thrilling challenge from start to finish, especially the occasional morning maneuvers through all of the office dogs.
Diving into a proposal for a project during my second week was an effective way to be put under the spotlight and face the real world. An unmatched opportunity to witness the progression of a collaborative design process, the many projects I helped out with were a true test to my ability to overcome challenges.
I would like to thank everyone, and especially Humbeen, for helping me learn through my stumbles and falls, and for making my experience so fun. I accrued a multitude of skills and a plethora of knowledge during the two and a half months of working at Feldman Architecture. For instance, I can now confidently say that I know how to disable the office alarm without frantically pressing all of the buttons. It has been a real pleasure to be a part of such a vibrant work environment.
Thank you for being such a wonderful team, I hope that I can cross paths with all of you in the near future. It has been a pleasure to get to know all of you !
When you hear the name Oxgut, images of beautifully crafted, resourceful designs might not immediately come to mind. However, that is exactly what the Oakland-based startup is known for, as we learned during their visit to the Feldman office in July 2016.
The unusual name, a nod to the first fire hose made in Ancient Greece, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the materials from which LauraLe Wunsch produces her enterprising creations. Wunsch salvages “retired” California fire hoses deemed unsafe and re-purposes them into products as practical as they are aesthetically compelling: floor mats, industrial loungers, hammocks, tote bags, and most recently a firewood carrier.
LauraLe realized the problematic reality of sending the non-biodegradable material to landfills at the end of their careers and believed in their potential to live up to high end design. The hoses, not only striking in hue and texture, each have distinctive markings and history the designer knew deserved to be honored. As if the Oxgut offerings weren’t an enticing enough concept, a portion of the Kickstarter-funded brand’s profits go directly to The Children’s Burn Foundation. Suffice to say; Wunsch left the FA team feeling both inspired, and eager to find their own ways to re-purpose unconventional materials into beautiful, useful creations.
Shop the products and find out more about the one-of-a-kind designs at https://www.oxgut.com/
Just around the corner from our office, on a quiet stretch of Montgomery Street lined by brick facades and a procession of leafy trees, William Stout Architectural Books has offered a quiet refuge and resources to the neighborhood for twenty years. With over 20,000 American and international titles in the fields of architecture, art, urban planning, graphic and industrial design, furniture design, interior design, and landscape architecture, the discreet bookstore has become both a neighborhood staple and tourist destination.
Bill Stout, the store’s eponymous founder, began as an architect and still “lives, eats, breaths design and architecture,” according to Carolina, an expert in design publications and a store employee. Over thirty years ago, Bill began bringing architectural books back from Europe for friends, and eventually turned the hobby into the business that it is today, which includes a publishing company for talented architects with little exposure. Bill’s passion for design has attracted equally passionate employees; Carolina comes from a family of designers and printers, and she studied Graphic Design in college.
Her colleague, Ian, used to practice design fulltime, and before becoming an employee at William Stout, he was a customer. Indeed, many of the store’s customers are professionals in the industry who come to William Stout in search of inspiration or insight. Ian describes them as “people who use the books for function rather than leisure,” and says that the comment he hears the most often is “I wish I had more time!” Not only do customers wish for more time to pour over the many volumes on the crowded shelves lining the stores walls and creating aisles in the center of the crowded space, but they are also often required to make a return visit to tap the considerable knowledge of the store’s employees like Ian and Carolina. William Stout has become a networking tool, or “directory,” the pair says, and they are often asked to recommend professionals as resources or consultants for their customers. As it grew to become a cultural hub, the store’s clientele expanded to include tourists, as well. “It’s a destination,” Carolina explains. “You come here just like you would go to the MOMA.”
While the clientele has changed over the decades, the passion behind the business and the bones of the operation have remained true to their original forms. Even the rise in digital publishing has done little to curb the store’s success. Carolina believes that they experience of thumbing through a book, its “tactility” and “intimacy,” is too different from browsing a publication online for the two media to be in competition.
With a treasure trove of monographs on talented architects, complete with stunning images and well-honed text, it is challenging for a publication to stand out on the shelf and in the mind of the reader. According to the pros at William Stout, though, there are a few qualities that make a publication compelling. “Type is essential,” says Ian, whose own favorite book in the collection, Manuals 1: Design and Identity Guidelines, explores examples of graphic design from companies and institutions who capitalized on the science behind what makes a certain font, layout, or color scheme more compelling. Monographs published in an architect’s prime, or even as promotional material for newer firms, can be just as successful as books published at the end of an architect’s career. “Both have great energy” explains Carolina, “It’s the enthusiasm and confidence of the younger architects versus the experience and wisdom of the more accomplished ones.” She finds herself drawn to collections that exhibit a “formidable character,” identifying Louis Kahn as engaging individual who maintained the same level as artistry in words as he did in his designs; if the architect’s a compelling person, his or her book will be, too.
At Feldman Architecture, we feel lucky to have such a rich resource just around the corner, available for insight or inspiration on any day of the week. It is clear that Bill Stout’s passion for the intersection of design and books both casts a legacy that will remain meaningful for decades to come and extends to his employees. As I step back across the shop’s threshold and into the sunshine of Montgomery Street, I catch Carolina pulling a definitive guide to graphic design off of the shelf for a customer at the front of the store. Flipping through its pages, slowing to show its glossy images to the woman at her side, she smiles. “This is kind of like the Bible,” she says.
This past weekend, Steven and I visited a few signature Feldman projects not far from the massive forest fires that hit Big Sur recently. As helicopters circled overhead, we became increasingly alarmed by the staggering severity of the crisis, which affected nearby areas but not any Feldman projects themselves. The affected area has grown to approximately 15,000 acres and while there are 1,500 firefighters working to mitigate the situation, containment currently stands at only at 5%. So far, no Feldman projects are at risk, but there’s been a call for voluntary evacuation of homes in the area. Two of our clients are full-time residents and are hanging in there, though their bags are packed for a quick exit should things get worse. It’s a sobering reminder about the power of nature, and the need to respect it. To stay up to date on developments, head over to http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents .
View from House Ocho driveway
View from House Ocho driveway
View from the Hacienda
View South from Hacienda lawn
View from Hacienda
View from Chemisal
View from Penon Peak Trail
View From Long Ridge Trail
Evan Shively takes the day at a jog. The handful of employees at Aborica, his mill and showroom in the rolling hills of Marshall, California, try to keep pace, running from the compound’s wood mill to its showroom and through the stacks of wood piled by the side of its uneven dirt driveway, hardhats clutched to their heads. They gesticulate wildly to each other – higher, lower, stop, and start – inaudible over the noise of the machines creating slabs from reclaimed wood Evan has gathered from throughout the area. Their heavy machinery careens around corners, kicking up dust in its wake and coating the yellow wildflowers along the barn in a fine powder. If there’s a sense of urgency to this June afternoon, it’s because Evan’s wood salvage business is high demand.
Today, Evan and his team are sawing second growth Redwood for a new supermarket south of the City. Seven Redwood trees were taken from the site of the supermarket and, after months of drawings and revisions from the client, Evan is sawing them into slabs according to the provided specs before sending them on to the fabricator, enabling them to inhabit their old home in a new way.
One employee, Chris, carefully positions the wooden slabs on the machine used to saw and trim their edges. Chris is new to the Pettibone machine required to move the slabs, and Evan pushes and shoves a piece of the redwood to position it correctly, wiggling the wood and his hips to place it in precisely the right spot. At times, the wood, too, appears to be dancing, animated by the machine that props it up on one edge and then the other. Maneuvering the long slabs and setting them down at just the right angle requires a certain dexterity from the heavy machinery and its driver, and Evan eventually hops up in the driver seat, a measuring tape marked with a Hello-Kitty sticker hanging out of his pocket, to help Chris steer the slabs into place. “It’s a careful choreography,” he calls over his shoulder. “It’s like ballet.”
The business of sawing wood, while often branded as based more on strength than on grace, is a careful craft requiring extreme precision and a willingness to linger in the creative process. And, like any artist, Evan draws inspiration from his materials in their original form and encourages his clients to do the same. “Being in the presence of the wood is going to give him clarity,” he says of one client lacking design direction. “He’ll think of the boundless ways he could accomplish his goal, rather than what would be necessary to get him there.”
For Evan, each piece of wood has a personality and a past, and deserves a project that will celebrate both. As we make our way through Aborica’s barn, removed from the din of the machines down the hill, and a cat scurries from one shaded corner to the next, Evan stops at specific slabs, pointing them out in their stacks as individuals. “This is one of the most outrageously beautiful things in the shop. It’s like a natural Noguchi,” he says in front of one Walnut slab. At a lovely Elm one that has yet to be put to good use, he expresses his genuine disappointment that it hasn’t found a good home.
Evan runs back to his office, a shaded and cool room, where the halves of a pitted slice of trunk lie flat on the floor in the form of two arched seats and sketches are strewn across the slab propped up as a desk. He picks up the phone and dials a friend.
“Happy birthday!” He says when the friend answers. “What you do want me to cook? And, remember we’re not beholden to finger food.”
In his former career, Evan was a successful chef and still throws dinner parties and cooks for friends in the professionally-equipped kitchen of his home. For his friend’s birthday dinner, he decides to consult the fish market of his choice and ends up settling on 3 lbs of shrimp and 5 lbs of squid, and, after asking if there is “anything else impossibly delicious” at the market that day, decides to “bust a little ceviche.” The ingredients at hand are driving the meal.
Like working with wood, cooking is predicated on natural materials, Evan explains, and the sweet spot sits at the intersection of resources and design. Both of the crafts he has turned into professions begin with and hinge on the materials that inspire them. “You don’t decide to make an arugula salad and then go about making the arugula,” he says. “You have the arugula and think, ‘This would make a really delicious salad.’” Evan, like us at Feldman, believes that materiality is never an afterthought.
Greetings from San Francisco, where summer is in full swing! Here at Feldman Architecture, the start of the season has ushered in fresh faces and new projects. The many exciting developments include the kickoff of our first construction project in Los Angeles, a remodel in the Hollywood Hills, and the opportunity to design our first restaurant: a “fast casual” establishment featuring South Indian cuisine in Oakland’s thriving Uptown district.
As we continue to expand our repertoire, looking forward to the projects on the horizon, we also take great pleasure in looking back at recently completed projects newly captured in photos and in print. We are delighted to share that Ranch O|H, a modern take on the traditional ranch home located in the scenic Santa Lucia mountains, was featured in the latest issue of Dwell Magazine (see above). The article, “A Meadow with Amenities,” showcases the design’s blend of indoor and outdoor living spaces, as well as its subtle integration of modern technology and materials into a classic typology.
We took advantage of the season’s sunny skies to photograph three recently completed projects and are excited to share some sneak peeks with you! Joe Fletcher expertly photographed Healdsburg 1, where the great room transforms into an outdoor pavilion with sweeping, continuous views of the village below (see above). Joe also photographed Noe Valley 2, an urban remodel that brought an abundance of natural light, a neat floor plan, and strong connection to the outdoors to a family home in San Francisco. Finally, Noe Valley 3’s efficient design and carefully selected materials enable the home to achieve LEED Platinum certification, and its innovative use of light, both natural and artificial, was captured by the talented Paul Dyer (see below). We are lucky to collaborate with Paul and Joe, who continue to showcase our projects’ “good sides” time and time again.
Earlier this spring, the office took a fieldtrip north of the city to visit one recently completed project and one in the midst of its finishing touches. The trip gave the staff a chance to see the product of our colleagues’ hard work up close and in person. We took a quick detour to visit Evan Shively’s showroom and wood mill in Marshall, where Evan transforms wood salvaged from landfills and demo sites into works of art, savoring the creative process and its collaborative nature along the way. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on Evan’s operation later this month!
The FA team also hopped over to the Presidio to blow off some steam at the House of Air. While some staff members enjoyed stringing together complex bouncing routines, others took to the dodgeball court, where they found themselves embroiled in a game of Kids vs. Adults. Those are hard games to win, right, Matt Lindsay?
We’d like to issue a warm welcome to Evan McCurdy, who has returned to FA full-time after his internship with us last summer, and Liza Karimova, a current architecture student at UC Berkeley who is joining us as a summer intern. We are also happy to announce that our Feldman families have grown. In early April, Daniel and Mollye Holbrook welcomed their daughter Ellis Anne Holbrook to the world! A big congratulations to the proud parents and their families, and best wishes to baby Ellis, who won our hearts during her first office visit and, more importantly, the affection of Chris’ dog Briar.
To stay up to date on all Feldman Architecture news, be sure to check out our staff blog, where the most recent entry details Anjali’s trip to Vancouver, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram!
Until next time,
After five years since our move to the US, we decided it was high time that we expand our travels beyond the borders of the country. The province of British Columbia has always held a strong allure to us for its stunning landscapes and fascinating culture. So I was thrilled when the better half planned a surprise getaway to Vancouver for my birthday. Four days felt awfully inadequate but we decided to roll with it. A short early morning flight transported us to a very warm sultry Vancouver. The airport with its wonderful First Nation sculptures and totem poles hinted at the rich history of British Columbia. A large ‘living wall’ affirmed Vancouver’s reputation for being one of the early adopters of environmental sustainability. The Skytrain took us through the suburbia to a very urban jungle that is Downtown Vancouver. We Airbnb’ed at a condo right in the heart of Gastown, one of the historic neighborhoods that is a surreal mix of high-rise buildings and cobbled maple tree-lined streets with vintage streetlights and a historic steam clock to boot!
We realized immediately that this was a city where public transportation was supreme. The ‘waterfront-town’ is densely populated with a small footprint of 44 sq. miles. Across the peninsula is North Vancouver, accessible by the sea-bus and by road. We got ourselves travel passes and set out to explore our hood, Gastown by foot. We were within walking distance to the famous 17mile SeaWall that forms the waterfront wrapping around the city. One could see the snow-capped tips of the Grouse Mountain in the distance. The SeaWall starts at Canada Place – known for its iconic Sails of Light. Right next to it is the impressive new convention center – a majestic waterfront development with a six-acre living roof, the largest in North America in a non-industrial context. We hopped on a bus that took us to the famous Stanley Park. Unlike the Golden Gate Park which is fairly introverted and embedded in the heart of San Francisco, Stanley Park fingers out from the city, thus allowing views of Vancouver that change as one walks the wall. We took trails into the park at different points alternating between dense wild shaded vegetation to emerge again at the perimeter wall delighting in a different view of the city. We exited the park and headed to our pad by bus, exhausted but excited about our dinner plans. We had reservations at the popular Forage known for it’s locally-sourced innovative menu. It did not disappoint my vegetarian palette. We strolled back home taking in the expanses of open urban spaces between the dense high rise condos. The lights had started coming on and the city glowed, draped by the ever-present shimmering water. This was a truly urban oasis where people lived outdoors than in their cramped condos. The city felt safe.
On day two, we walked to Medina Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant with a solid reputation for unique flavors and the best Belgian waffles in the city. We beat the long queues and got ourselves a table within the hour. Pleased with brunch, we set forth to take the sea bus to North Vancouver. We landed at Vancouver’s carnival style farmer’s market at the Lonsdale Quay – a visual treat with its fresh produce and local vibe.
We proceeded to our next destination- the Lynn Canyon public park with its suspension bridge and miles of hiking trails. Per our host’s recommendation, we chose Lynn Canyon over the more popular touristy Capillano Suspension Bridge park. We hiked for a few hours and then took a taxi to the foothills of the Grouse mountain. The Grouse mountain is accessible only by a gondola skyride that takes you over the forest to the a chalet on top. An alternative is the daunting but highly popular Grouse Grind hike aka ‘Mother Nature’s Stairmaster’ involving 2800 odd steps through dense forest. We took the gondola — let’s say only because we were out of time. Ahem. The chalet at the top houses a few restaurants and a theater. A short hike took us to our first sighting of two rescued grizzlies that live there. They seemed very indifferent to our presence. We walked around the chalet to capture the panoramic vistas of the city across. A bus, a sea-bus and a train took us back into the city within the hour. Soon we headed out for our Italian night — to Lupo, a Vancouver icon in the entertainment district of Yaletown. Located in a charming heritage house with interconnected rooms, the menu was limited but inspired. We concluded a fabulous birthday dinner with a creme brûlée that was to die for. We walked home. The streets and landmarks were beginning to feel familiar…
Day three – we walked a different section of the SeaWall to board an aquabus that took us to Granville Island- an old industrial hub that has been revived by local artists who set up their workshops in these factories. Weekends draw large crowds from the city. The tiny peninsula is animated with live music and fresh food at the large public market, accompanied by shopping unique finds at the artist workshops and boutiques. We picked up a few tchotkches and set forth to the piece-de-resistance of the day, the Museum of Anthropology by the Canadian modernist, Arthur Erickson. The museum is set in the large lush campus grounds of the University of British Columbia. The campus boasts of a good number of modern buildings but the museum was the jewel in the crown. The collection focuses on artefacts of the First Nation, the Canadian Aboriginals of the NorthWest Coast, though it has an extensive ethnographic collection of cultures from around the world. The strikingly modern building cleverly reinterprets the post-and-beam architecture of the First Nation people in concrete. Staggered concrete frames are spanned by vaulted skylights that filter natural light strategically into the museum spaces. The varying heights of the vaults along with a gentle slope in the floor, gradually expands the volume of the central exhibit area. The space culminates in a frameless glass wall that seamlessly merges into the outside. The outdoor landscape is marked by a reflecting pool and a few reconstructed Haida houses with signature totem poles acting as coordinates. We were unable to do justice to the vast collection housed in the museum but it was really the architecture that was our main focus. It inspired, and humbled, leaving us in a contemplative state of mind. Like all good museums, the MoA has a great gift shop. We picked up some wonderful prints of modern reinterpretation of First Nation art by local artists.
The mythology of the First Nation and their survival despite colonization and repeated pressures to assimilate, runs strong. At the MoA, we had discovered the works of Bill Reid, a true Renaissance man who drew from his Haida roots as a sculptor, carver, goldsmith and artist. Reid was one of the pivotal figures that championed the cause of the First Nation people and gave their art legitimacy in modern history. Born to a mother who was a Haida, Bill immersed himself in their culture and became one of the leading artists of his time. We knew we had to make time to visit the Bill Reid Gallery set right in Downtown Vancouver. The next day, we chose to skip the larger Vancouver Art Gallery and visit this tiny gem instead. Tucked away in the bustling downtown neighborhood, this building though surrounded by high-rises doesn’t get dwarfed. Well-proportioned and thoughtfully detailed, the gallery is carefully curated with permanent exhibits by Bill and a few by his protégés. The silver and gold jewelry display by Reid are spectacular. The gift shop offers a varied collection of original aboriginal art. We couldn’t be happier with our decision to visit here on our last day. It felt like an appropriate homage to conclude our first venture into British Columbia.
In a little over three days, we had gained some insights into the story of the First Nation people and into the cosmopolitan urban pulse of Vancouver, it’s most populous and popular city today. As someone born and raised in India, there was a comfortable familiarity with Vancouver’s British influences- be it describing temperature in degree Celsius, distances in kilometers or getting a ‘bill’ at the end of a meal 😉 We explored the nightlife on our last night. No vacation of ours is quite complete without a sampling of the local music scene. Gastown was perfect for our quest. We walked the streets exploring a few bars and clubs. We settled on one which had a live jazz session. It was evidently a neighborhood haunt as the regulars seemed to know each other. It wasn’t touristy. We had lucked out with warm sunny days for our entire vacation concluding with a smattering of rain as we made our exit. This was a fun trip- a teaser that had whetted our appetite for more. We knew we would be back…soon. – Anjali
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