Public Art in Vancouver: Angels Among Lions

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TouchWood Editions, 2009 - Art - 175 pages

Featuring more than 500 public art installations, this is the essential guide for anyone interested in Vancouver, its people and its artists.

The character of a city is revealed by its public art--what it collectively places on its streets and walls and in its public spaces. As a city known internationally for its breathtaking cityscapes and mountain backdrop, Vancouver has much to offer visually including the diverse and thriving public art found in the city's neighbourhoods. Public Art in Vancouver: Angels Among Lionsis the first comprehensive guidebook that explores Vancouver through the eyes of public art.

Engaging colour photos and detailed descriptions that focus on the historical and cultural context of each art piece, its place in modern art and the artist who created it allow for a greater understanding of these urban treasures. Easy-to follow maps take readers to communities and destinations such as False Creek, Chinatown, the West End, Downtown North and South, East Vancouver, Van- Dusen Botanical Garden, Stanley Park and the University of British Columbia. Tour the better known and the hidden art installations that are made from every possible medium and include monuments, paintings, murals, tapestries, figures, First Nations art, relics, busts, fountains, gateways, mosaics, sculptures and reliefs.


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A pedestrian attempt to survey public art in Vancouver. This book is trite and lacks the depth that one would like to see.
The early chapters are plagued with a kind of Coles Notebook approach to the
subject that undermines it. The reductionistic approach to provide an Everyman's Guide falls flat on its face. It is a poor piece of social history of the subject as well. Very disappointed in this book. One cannot help but wonder what is going on in their minds (authors Steil & Stalker) when they say about George Norris' stainless steel "crab" at what used to be known as the Planetarium at 1100 Chestnut St., "The crab is also the fourth sign of the zodiac, with positive characteristics reputed to be loyalty, tenaciousness (tenacity?) protectiveness and sensitivity." Who knew one could get a bubble-head piece of astrological advice from a book on the subject of public art? This is especially offensive as it relates to Norris' great sculpture- a piece that really signalled the beginning of contemporary public art in Vancouver and then led to the fabulous Vancouver International Stone Sculpture Symposium at the Vandusen Botanical Gardens in the summer of 1975.
Cannot recommend in any way.

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About the author (2009)

John Steil was raised in Edmonton and moved to Vancouver in 1992. He is a community planning consultant for a major Canadian consulting firm and has had numerous articles published in Albertan and Canadian planning journals. John is also a Vancouver visual artist, and works from his studio where Chinatown, Gastown and the Port meet. Please visit

Aileen Stalker is the co-author of Paddling Through History: Sea Kayak Vancouver and Victoria (RMB 2005) and Understanding Regulation Disorders of Sensory Processing in Children (2007), and is the author of a children's book, The One and Only Sam: A Story Explaining Idioms for Children with Asperger Syndrome and Other Communication Difficulties (2009). Originally from Ontario, she has lived in British Columbia for over 30 years, and as an author she is on her fifth career, after working as an occupational therapist, elementary school teacher, tutor and mother. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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