Andrew Owen moving public art into gap between “plop art” and graffiti clean-up

Andrew Owen and politician at the new gallery wall between Woodwards' and the Cambie Hotel.

Vancouver artist Andrew Owen, who now has a show at the Marion Scott Gallery in Gastown, has taken over the walls of the old Slam Gallery, a two-story building attached to the side of the Cambie Hotel, for his very unique brand of public art.

Cambie regulars have enjoyed Owen’s work on the building’s Cordova St. frontage for years, but this month the public  gallery has been extended along the building’s long east wall, directly across from the new Woodwards’, where Owen and other artists, many from the Downtown Eastside, are displaying their work.

Much of Owen’s work is taken straight from the street, including the remarkable Brilliant Cut, a very large piece in the Marion Scott show that carves down through the multiple layers of street posters to excavate months of informal public art.

Too much of the city’s public art is stale, Owen believes, a conservative compromise that focuses either on steel, concrete and glass sculptures in safe takes on Modernism — what he calls “plop art” — or the low-rent anti-graffiti free-for-alls used to control tagging and the work of street artists.

But there’s nothing stale about Owen’s public art. It’s accessible, engaging and right off the street. It would look great in the Mayor’s Office — but that’s just me.