So I somehow have Olympic fatigue despite only watching some snowboarding. But the whole conversation around Sochi has reminded me of the games in Vancouver. It was the first year I had moved here, so I really only knew four months of a pre-games Vancouver.
The Olympics brought a lot of debt, and crowds, and some pretty awful municipal decisions. One of the biggest contentions was how the city's homeless populations were treated. There were rumours of people being pushed to the burbs, being packed up and forced off of streets. Or being forced into the few block radius of East Hastings that is infamous for rampant drug use, and prostitution. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/br…
We got infrastructure too. Like the Canada Line skytrain that I ride to work every day. But my all time favourite thing that we got? This:
And art exhibit from an artist named Martin Creed.
It's a neon light exhibit that was part of a restoration project on the Wing Sang building, one of the oldest structures in Vancouver's Chinatown. It's wording is not unique but is in stark contrast to the text you usually read when entering the downtown East Side: Welcome to Hell. Somehow no images exist online, but I know first hand that Welcome To Hell is everywhere and on everything.
We could debate about the function of this piece, and the right of this artist and the contractor who placed the art piece to choose one of the poorest postal codes in Canada for their message, but I will tell you one thing that makes me not care about any of that: It's placement right across from a viaduct.
So whatever it was intended to be or say, I don't really care. Because the first time I saw it, walking across the viaduct, peeking out of the tree tops and through buildings I fell in love with it.
I was more special in my mind before I knew of its origins, but even so it's something that makes me feel closer to my city.
And it's beautiful even when it's not shining.