Art exhibit on CBC building highlights Vancouver television history

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A large-scale public art exhibit on the side of the CBC’s downtown Vancouver headquarters is giving passersby a glimpse into the history of local television production.

The A Room at the Roxy exhibit features a production still from the set of a 1957 CBC television drama about a mother struggling to help her drug-addicted son.

An enlarged version of the image, originally taken by CBC staff photographer Alvin Armstrong, now fills a wall at CBC Plaza in the 700 block of Hamilton Street.

Armstrong, who worked as a photographer for the national broadcaster for nearly two decades, passed away in the late 1980s.

The production still he captured highlights a key scene from a television drama called “Room at the Roxy”.

It shows the widowed mother about to enter a dreary downtown Vancouver hotel as she searches for her troubled son.

“It’s a human, family struggle, so, though that’s maybe not apparent in the photograph when you look at it on the wall, I think it sort of helps to give it strength as an image too,” said Christine Hagemoen, a CBC Vancouver media librarian who curated the exhibit.

Hagemoen described Armstrong’s image as visually striking with a Vancouver feel.

“Being a photographer myself, it’s fun to have the opportunity to be a part of something like this. I’m glad I’m able to do that for Alvin Armstrong,” she told the Straight by phone today (June 22).

The exhibit, which officially opened on June 12, is part of a public art series called The Wall, a joint project of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, the CBC, and JJ Bean Coffee Roasters.

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