Best of Richmond 2014: Arts & Entertainment

Robin Eder-Warren and Jacqueline Ko look at Evan Lee’s Elders and Roots exhibition at Richmond Art Gallery. - Richard Lam
Robin Eder-Warren and Jacqueline Ko look at Evan Lee’s Elders and Roots exhibition at Richmond Art Gallery.
— image credit: Richard Lam

Best reason to buy a traditional paper book 

There’s something good ol’ paper books have that e-books do not: the ability to hold a bookmark. Oh we’ve tried to stuff our favourite inspirational page-tracker in a Kindle, but the result wasn’t good. This year, 2,443 elementary school students in Richmond made their own bookmarks. Students submitted their creative works—designed around the “I’m a friend, be a friend” theme—to a community contest. Its theme was tied with the Richmond Children’s Charter, which tells us that children have the right to choose friends, and also have the responsibility to be a friend. It’s a message even adults should be reminded of. A winner from each grade netted a $75 Chapters gift certificate, which is equivalent to $150 at the closing-today-and-everything-is-discounted Richmond store. Winning entries: Soleil, kindergarten, William Cook; Chloe, Grade 1, William Cook; Raina, Grade 2, Tomsett; Lindsay, Grade 3, Richmond Christian; Arthur, Grade 4, Tomsett; Samuel, Grade 5, Talmey; Rachel, Grade 6, W.D. Ferris; and Grace, Grade 7, Anderson.

Best small venue

The Richmond Cultural Centre’s Performance Hall used to be an all-purpose room that seemed like an afterthought—a fairly large space tucked between a corridor and cafe, with an entrance obscured by a staircase. However, in recent years the city has renovated the space into a smart-looking hall, which is home to screenings at the Your Kontinent film festival and various other events throughout the year. Your Kontinent returns July 17 - 26.

Best way to brighten up a pedestrian’s day

So city council hiked your property taxes another three per cent this year. And last year, and the year before, etcetera etcetera. But there’s bright spots amidst all that super spending. One such example is only costing taxpayers a measly $16,000. It’s a public art project that will swap out 150 manhole covers with new artistic designs. Planners of the modest plan will select two designs from artists—one for storm water covers, one for sewer covers. Entries from children will also be welcomed and two winners will be recognized, although only the adult artists’ designs will be cast. Once installed, pedestrians will find art in unexpected places—crosswalks, sidewalks and streets. Keep in mind there are an estimated 50,000 of these storm and sewer seals in Richmond, meaning just 0.3 per cent will feature something more interesting than a peg-solitaire-style grid. But as motivational gurus tell us: think big, start small.

Best dance photo

Some photos speak for themselves. Others need a little explaining. Others still might be best left to the imagination. The social media camera offers us a peak inside local dance academies, where we might see balancing ballerinas or hip hop artists doing their thang. (Oh yes we did.) Secciya Yingying shared a photo from her No. 3 Road school, Flying Dance Studio. The studio offers classes in new and old school hip hop, street jazz and popping. (Completely unrelated to Fizz Wiz and Pop Rocks.) One recent dance performance was set to the song “Catallena,” a hit from Korean pop group Orange Caramel, whose music video features the singers dressed as mermaids trying to escape over-sized plastic wrapped meat trays. The local dance studio also employed costumes, which weren’t harmed during the making of the routine.

Best monster to eat Lulu Island

Plenty of hype led up to the opening of Godzilla in movie theatres a couple weeks ago. In the latest edition of the film, the world-famous monster does a little terrorizing of Steveston. But no fishing village was actually harmed in the making of this modern-day film. C’mon. You think you’re so big and scary and tough, and you can’t even take a chunk out of Garry Point? Maybe steal a salmon or lick someone’s ice-cream cone? Nothing. But we’re cutting this evil beast a bit of slack. He had to answer to Warner Bros. executives dictating what he can and can’t destroy. For some reason they were more interested in honing in on a story of “human courage and reconciliation in the face of titanic forces of nature.” So big guy, if a sequel is planned, consider stomping around Richmond again. Just let us know you’re coming.

Best what I did on my summer vacation

When Palmer grad Scott Riesterer went to Cuba on a vacation in 2010, he brought along a Zoom H4N portable recorder. He recorded birds, tour guides, old elevators—whatever sounded interesting.  Riesterer is a musician who also studied sound design at the Vancouver Film School, where he became interested in recording ambient sound. When he returned, he found that the various field recordings were so interesting that he integrated them into songs which became his first CD, Sonidos De Cuba, which was released last year. And what a debut it was, a toe-tapping mix of “altjazz, electronica, triphop, downtempo, house, breaks, and progressive genres with some altpop influences.” And it also happens to be awesome. For more info on Sonidos De Cuba, or Riesterer’s work, see his website at  www.sublimesound.com.

Best TV show to put Oxford in a pickle

A TV show that uses Moncton Street as Storybrooke’s main street in ABC’s drama Once Upon a Time continues to draw tourists to Steveston. Fans of the show want to see all the popular local locations, including Storybrooke Coffee Co. (Steveston Coffee Company), Granny’s Diner (The Cannery Cafe) and Storybrooke Country Bread (formerly known as Romania Country Bread). The most committed fans are known as “Oncers.” The Oxford dictionary defines oncer as a historical British slang for a one-pound note, or informally, as a thing that occurs only once. No mention of Emma Swan admirers on these thin scripture-like pages, nor is there an acknowledgement of Prince Charming devotees. Season 4 starts in September. No word on when Oxford’s new edition will be out.

Best comeback

Still seen as a superstar to many children, the three-decades-old career of Charlotte Diamond was put on the ropes by cancer. But Diamond, a multi-lingual singer-songwriter, wasn’t ready to give up. Known for songs like “I Am a Pizza,” “Octopus (Slippery Fish)” and “Four Hugs a Day,” Diamond also has a positive personality, and believed a breast cancer diagnosis wasn’t the end. She was the one who brought a lion puppet to the hospital and decorated the treatment room. She even wrote a story about a lion that lost its mane, but his buddies—giraffe, hyena and zebra—stay by his side. She regained her health and is now continuing in music and children’s literature, having recently released her first book based on one of her best known songs. Her music calendar is busy. She’s also encouraging women to get mammograms—and never stop roaring.

Best weekend art event

Short of the Louvre or Smithsonian setting up a temporary impromptu exhibition in Richmond, Steveston hosts the best weekend art event in the city. It’s like the little engine that could, without the engine part. The Steveston Grand Prix of Art is a show of what hard work and perseverance can do. Organized by Mark Glavina and the Phoenix Art Workshop, this annual event sees about 85 artists stationed throughout Steveston painting en plein air. Participants have three hours to complete a masterpiece. Finished works are judged and put on display at Britannia Shipyards. It’s an art race that challenges artists of all levels who put on quite a show for spectators around Steveston Village. Last year Stephen Chen was crowned the Grand Champion for his oil painting, while Jodie Blaney earned the People’s Choice prize for her acrylic work of the Steveston tram. Sept. 20 marks the 2014 edition. Registration, which includes lunch, is $25 for adults—about the same cost as admission to the Louvre.

Best way to experience Africa

Boarding a plane or watching the BBC documentary series Africa might be the best ways to experience the world’s second largest continent. Or head down to the Buck and Ear in Steveston. The band Pendomoja aka XKalibre is known to regulars of the 3rd Avenue bar for spreading their message of love and peace through an African influenced mix of reggae, rock and blues. They’ll be back at the Buck Saturday, May 31. The core of the band formed in Kenya and counts, who else, but Bob Marley among their influences.

Best place to get lost in the art of coffee

The battle for the best fish and chips in Steveston now seems more like a friendly tussle. The kind where proprietors are more likely to give each other noogies and pillow face-washes than attempt mixed martial arts moves on each other—the kind learned from reality TV. The real war is in the fine art of coffee. There’s Rocanini, BLENZ, Steveston Coffee Company, Waves, Cimona, Village Books & Coffee House, Bean and Beyond, Peaks and Timothy’s. And don’t consider that an all inclusive list. And there’s a few developments underway in the village that will likely bring us more. But let’s be clear. We’re all in favour of this competitive coffee carnival. So much so, we have a suggestion: coffee bar hopping. Order a beverage from every espresso enterprise, and, of course, drink them all. Thank Steveston for all those extra waking hours in your day.

Best show of versatility

Successful actors are usually the most versatile actors. OK, so there are some exceptions. Morgan Freeman? That guy always plays the part of the wise old man with a voice perfect for narrating credit card commercials. And yes, there’s Jason Statham, an actor whose publicity photos inevitably depict a gun-toting man in need of a shave. But, for contrast, we present Colin Foo. The Richmond actor/artist/comedian/musician/cook has a long list of acting roles since he retired from a real estate career, immersing himself in characters such as the Grand Master in Mortal Kombat, a security guard in a Muppets movie and scoring a small part in Scooby Doo 2. He also had two roles of different genders in a 2002 Sandra Oh film. That brings us to today. Foo is playing a convenience store owner whose alter ego is a cross-dressing Internet karaoke performer for a new comedy web series PARKED. It’s a show about modern men. Perfect for the versatile Foo.

Best make-over

William Bridge Elementary, near No. 3 Road and Steveston Highway, will soon be getting a massive make-over, splashes of vibrant colours and cheerful children’s art, courtesy of its students working under the direction of artist Ann Thorsteinsson. For weeks, Thorsteinsson has helped students transfer their original artwork onto four-by-eight-foot plywood panels, leaning like over-sized hockey cards against a classroom wall. Those imaginative panels, which look like they were plucked from a children’s book, will be stacked two high, and eventually end up adorning the exterior walls of the school’s gym. They will cover the bland blue cinder blocks in colours that Thorsteinsson hopes will bring a proud smile to students, teachers, parents and neighbours alike. Shades of energetic orange and yellow, down to the more subdued blues, will be arranged along the walls to act like a pointing stick, drawing the eye and thereby directing visitors unfamiliar with the school to the sometimes-difficult-to-spot front doors.

Best drive-in

The Delta Drive-In was an outdoor movie theatre on No. 5 Road near Cambie that operated from 1953 into the 1970s. While drive-in theatres have pretty much gone the way of the dodo, you can still catch an outdoor movie in Richmond. East Richmond Community Centre hosts an outdoor movie night in the summer in King George Park, which is close to the old Delta Drive-In site. Other community associations put on movie nights as well throughout the summer.  The movie nights tend to be kids movies, so younger folks can find out what it is like to watch movies outdoors.

—by Matthew Hoekstra and Bhreandáin Clugston

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