Tour of Notable B.C. Artists
A Self-Guided Tour of Some of B.C.’s Most Notable Artists
Vancouver’s arts and culture scene is rich and diverse — just take a walk around the city to see for yourself. From free, public artwork to permanent gallery exhibitions, follow our one-day itinerary to experience iconic pieces by notable British Columbia artists.
Start the day with a brisk walk along the scenic Stanley Park Seawall, an 8.8-kilometre (5.5 mile) route that loops from downtown Vancouver around Stanley Park. This waterfront path provides easy access to Brockton Point, where you’ll find an assemblage of towering totem poles and First Nations artwork, such as People Amongst the People, created by Vancouver artist Susan Point. Her colourful trio of red cedar gateways features Coast Salish carvings and legend-inspired motifs.
Head back downtown to continue exploring Vancouver’s aboriginal artwork at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, a space showcasing carvings, jewellery and sculptures by Vancouver Island-born artist Bill Reid. Reid created more than 1,500 works throughout his career, and spent much of his life devoted to preserving his Haida heritage. Make sure to see his famed 8.5-metre (28 foot) bronze frieze titled Mythic Messengers.
Just steps away from the Bill Reid Gallery, you’ll find the Vancouver Art Gallery, a cultural destination with more than 10,000 works of art, including the largest collection of Emily Carr’s pieces. Carr, who was born in Victoria, B.C. in 1871, was a modernist landscape painter whose works depict First Nations culture and lush, Pacific Northwest rainforests. Peruse the collection of her works before enjoying a casual lunch at the Gallery Café.
After lunch, explore Vancouver’s public art scene, which includes landmarks, sculpture, installations and architecture. Many of these pieces are along Vancouver’s seawall, so pick up a coffee and make the stroll from downtown and out towards Olympic Village. Make sure you stop at Myfanwy MacLeod’s The Birds. A fine arts graduate of University of British Columbia, MacLeod created these oversized bird sculptures as a statement on the environmental implications of introducing a non-native species to an ecosystem. These beautiful yet ominous pieces can be found at the plaza just off the seawall.
Finish your self-guided tour at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, a sleek, modern building designed by Vancouver native Arthur Erickson. Erickson, who was the architect and planner for more than 450 projects across the globe, brought his dramatic — yet simple — aesthetic to numerous buildings in the Vancouver area. You can see other examples of his angular glass and concrete structures at the law courts at Robson Square (by the Vancouver Art Gallery), The Waterfall Building near Granville Island and out at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.