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Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers
September 2013
Visual Artists as Entrepreneurs and Marketers

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June 2013
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November 2012
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September 2012
From glacial meltwater to contemporary art

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June 2012
Professional curators of contemporary art were once as scarce as hen's teeth

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April 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

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February 2012
Gallery owners have their eye on East Vancouver

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November 2011
Nothing is certain but death and taxes

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September 2011
Hope springs eternal


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The Hotel Waldorf
reimagined


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Education for the eye,
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Gallery Views

Rolling Stones

Michael Turner’s Rolling Stones video is screened at the Waldorf Hotel

The Hotel Waldorf Reimagined

By ANN ROSENBERG
annrosenberg@shaw.ca

The Waldorf on Hastings Street

Chris Stenberg, creative content producer, catches the Waldorf in a rainbow moment

“Reimagined as a creative compound” is the only way to describe the Waldorf Hotel’s current transformation. This phrase from the first line of the Waldorf’s internet promo for all parts of the endeavour does grab attention. Perhaps if readers are first learning about this “reimagined” East Vancouver landmark, they’ll begin to attend the events attractively advertised in the monthly online calendar or go for the exotic cuisine and drinks.

In October 2010, shortly before the Waldorf’s official opening on Hallowe’en, the Granville online’s Secret City blog featured some facts submitted by the Hotel's “brand manager” Daniel Fazio who stated that the establishment, built in 1947, became well-known after it launched “a premier North American tiki bar” in 1955. Marco and Vesna Puharich, who bought the Waldorf in 1971, are still in the picture and if the venture makes money, they will benefit.

Fazio stated that those involved in the enterprise are “too interested in contemporary culture and art to create a kitschy hotel. We're taking the spirit of the original hotel, updating it and making it resonate with people today.” A follow-up blog piece by Monica Miller was published in April and contains a wealth of information with images including Chris Stenberg’s great shot of the Waldorf façade with a first go at properly-sweet 1940 colours, the museum-worthy original sign, and the fortuitous touch of a rainbow arching towards this East Van cultural pot of gold.

Prior to my May visit, I discovered that the venue was hosting a film series organized by Elvy Del Bianco called Vancouver Sometimes Plays Itself. Other recent offerings included an exhibition of work and Grad Party for Emily Carr photography students; Libby Davies’s election night gathering in the downstairs cabaret and Andrea Pinheiro’s Loud Cloud exhibit (curated by Jessica Delorme) that was on view in the new Black and Yellow Gallery in Room 106.

Some things that happen here are akin to those in the best non-profit galleries and cultural centres. For example, a remount of Stephen Belber’s play Tape was accommodated in one of the hotel rooms and a month-long installation called Karen’s Room took place in another. In it, hundreds of white sheets donated by the Waldorf (that were given away to the needy here and abroad after the event was over) were piled, draped, stacked and written upon by the artist/activist Karen, who is the only human being visually present in this intallation that was executed and videotaped in collaboration with mutimedia artist Paul Wong.

Wong and many other major arts community figures like Stan Douglas, Michael Morris, Rodney Graham, Michael Turner, Douglas Coupland and Attila Richard Lukacs contribute to the Waldorf’s busy program and so do the Goethe-Institut and Presentation House. Many activities can occur in this complex space because 20 of the 30 original hotel rooms are already being used for purposes other than sleeping. From June 2-5, the second-storey rooms will be become galleries to house the Waldorf’s first-ever show of international contemporary art in Vancouver. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what’s in The Fair.

Will the Waldorf perpetuate and flourish? Unless a natural disaster or deep economic troubles strike, I believe it will. As Michael Turner told me in a phone interview, “the individuals who manage various concerns at the Waldorf bring relevant experience to their tasks.” 

http://www.waldorfhotel.com

Ann Rosenberg is a freelance curator, critic

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