May 29, 2008

The future face(s) of East Vancouver?

Three faces
Originally uploaded by stodmyk
The Mexican government is notorious for its corruption; centuries of caste-based governance and racial pressures will do that to you. (Case in point: not many people know that nearly five million Mexicans DON'T speak Spanish at all, but still speak Mayan and other native languages. You think QUEBEC has a "distinct society"?Imagine speaking frickin' MAYAN.)

In the past 15 years or so, however, they've done a marvelous job of turning some of those inequalities around. Sure, it's still a country full of desperation, poverty and injustice. But for all of those hard-working, smile-through-it-all, give-it-their-best folk who don't fit the unfair stereotypes, there's good news: it's also started to regain a lot of its glory, culture and, perhaps most important of all, hope.

At the corner of Calle Moneda and Calle Academia, this outstanding sculpture by José Luis Cuevas is a representation of the inspiring reclamation of the downtown area of Mexico City. There are dozens of these sculptures scattered throughout the region, lending public pride and touristic interest to previously downtrodden areas. A vigilant police presence and the creation of several museums in the area have helped to keep these artpieces free of vandalism and graffiti, as well.

East Van could use some projects like this, don't you think? (I'm sorry, pre-fab fibreglass bears painted up like Lydia the Tattooed Lady just don't cut it as culture.) When our museum-bound pieces are stolen for scrap metal (don't get me started on the whole Bill Reid thing), maybe street art weighing several tonnes is the answer.

Oh, that gorgeous third face in the middle is courtesy of my wife, the lovely and talented Nadia Ruiz, who remains a wonderful representation of the reclamation of my adult life. Perhaps she will also be a part of the better parts of East Van, if we ever manage to raise joint venture capital to put a down payment on a house there. (I wonder if there are any other solid gold boxes with lax security out there.)

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