If you are a native Vancouverite who spent any time traveling around the east side of the city during the years roughly encompassing the mid-fifties through the eighties, you will likely have come across the “East Van Cross” drawn or etched into all manner of things; walls, bus seats, trees, you name it. Its meaning has been the subject of much speculation. Most appear to agree it’s a kind of early gang or neighbourhood “tag” of sorts. I recall them appearing in black felt pen on the backs of the seats of North Vancouver-bound buses circa 1979-80.
Ken Lum resurrected that image in his now famous version of the “East Van Cross” that appears in beacon-like sculptural light form at Clark and Great Northern Way, effectively a border marking as you head towards the the city’s east side. It was a popular success and drew much mainstream attention to the often witty and bold work of this Vancouver conceptualist.
This portrait was done during a brief 10 minute lull in an otherwise dark, sodden, Vancouver afternoon. I’d taken all my lighting gear in anticipation of a laborious interior shoot but when Ken showed up in this parka and the light gave us a break, we went across the street from his mid-town condo and took advantage of a loading bay’s shelter and colour trim.
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