Here Today

Here Today was exhibited at Britannia Art Gallery, in Vancouver, Canada. Work is mounted on 1.5″ deep wood cradle boards and measures from 6 x 6 inches to 11 x 14 inches.

Here Today is a mixed-media photographic project shown through souvenir pocket mirrors and focusing on landmarks and establishments connected to the Italian community in the Commercial Drive area and a little beyond. The idea for this project emerged from one of my walks where I often saw and wondered about an abandoned and denuded monument. In my research, I discovered an Italian connection which renewed my interest in the history of the Italian community in Vancouver, and a need to record my surroundings before further changes to the neighbourhood.

My history with Vancouver began in 1981 when I arrived as a teenager from Italy (although I was born in Toronto). Back then I was never much interested in local history but was still drawn to neighbourhoods that conveyed history. One location that has always peeked my interest is the abandoned monument on Clark Drive at North Grandview Highway. The only identifying element is the date on a plaque attached to the denuded pedestal that reads October 11, 1986. What used to be there? Did it have something to do with Expo 86? This became one of my first research projects on local history and gave me a reason to express myself again through photography—my last photography-based show having been in 1999.

Much to my surprise, I discovered that there was an Italian connection to the Clark Drive monument which originally sported a statue of Christopher Columbus. The monument was erected by a local Italian organization in honour of Vancouver-born Angelo Branca (1903-1984), who lived in Stratchona and attended Britannia Secondary School. Branca became a defense lawyer and later Crown prosecutor. He rose up through the ranks to become judge with the B.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Branca was known beyond the Italian community and as “a dear friend of the little guy.”

In this show I’ve combined photography, mixed-media, and a personal accessory as a way to increase the appeal of local history to a broader audience and to create art that can easily be shared with friends.

Research into this abandoned monument led me to learn not only about the formidable Angelo Branca but also the history of the Italian community. This brought back memories of establishments now gone from Commercial Drive. Here Today, is a reflection into the past, and the imminent danger of establishments and landmarks that could vanish and in the process leave holes in our memory and collective history. The pocket mirrors, a personal object that you carry with you, serve as contemporary souvenirs to help you remember what was here.

Sold: La Rocca, La Grotta, Continental, Benny’s, Here Today, Tutto Cambia, Non so cosa ci possa fare tu, Tosi, La mia storia, Dopo tutti questi anni, Arriva, Renzo’s, Different Every time.

Work is no longer available for sale.