Summer Live brings art to Stanley Park

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      The performers who’ll be taking the three stages at this weekend’s celebratory bash for the city’s 125th anniversary, Summer Live (Friday to Sunday [July 8 to 10] at Brockton Point in Stanley Park), are most certainly a big draw. After all, free shows by Neko Case, Hannah Georgas, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Mother Mother, and Dan Mangan, among others, don’t happen every day.

      But there’s more to this festival than a musical feast. There’ll be plenty of visual and performing arts to enjoy, from the contemporary butoh of Kokoro Dance and the storytelling of the Taiyuan Puppet Theatre Company to the kinetic and robotic sculptures of eatART and the plethora of new-media art showing on the LED screens of the Time-Based video program.

      One site-specific installation the crowd isn’t likely to miss is the work of local origami master Joseph Wu, who will hang 11 giant heron sculptures in the row of trees overlooking the path beside Brockton Oval. “They will be herons in flight,” Wu says by phone. “The legs will be stretched out behind them, the necks will be forward, and the wings will be spread out.”

      The birds, which Wu says take about an hour and a half each to fold from a nine-foot square of latex-impregnated paper, will be enhanced by his collaborator, Naomi Singer, artistic director of the Secret Lantern Society. “She’s working on multicoloured cloth streamers that will be sort of swirling around the herons to give the sense of motion and the flow of air around them, so that the whole thing, the final image will be of movement,” Wu explains. “I’m hoping that people get a sense of wonder as they walk under these herons.”

      For the truly inspired, Wu will also take part in afternoon workshops hosted by the Paper Folders Around the Lower Mainland—one of the many opportunities festivalgoers will have to get creative. Another will be the Coiled River project, led by environmental artist Sharon Kallis. With the help of community volunteers, Kallis is weaving circular forms out of the invasive English ivy that is a constant threat to Stanley Park’s ecology.

      “What we’re doing is a very basic coiled basketry technique that I’m teaching to communities,” explains Kallis by phone. “We’re going to be situated beside the main stage. People can come and sit and do some splitting of ivy; they can spend 10 minutes and just sort of learn the technique and make a few stitches, or they can sit there for as long as they wish and participate in the coiling.”

      The finished pieces will be mounted in a temporary installation on the nearby fence and will later join a larger, semipermanent installation on the False Creek Seawall, as a part of Science World’s renewal project. “It’s kind of like the old barn raising, where a community would work together to make something happen,” Kallis reflects. “It sort of gives a common ground as a format for people to begin to engage with one another.”

      Also encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to interact will be Public Dreams, which is organizing an eight-foot Jenga tower game and an enormous, 20-by-20-foot game of Twister, as well as hosting circus workshops on hula-hooping and juggling.

      “We’ve decided that we want to be the alternative to the bouncy-castle version of children’s programming,” explains Public Dreams creative director SamanthaJo Simmonds, with a laugh. “The idea is that families, kids of all ages, can get involved in this stuff. It’s really not a ”˜parents stand back and watch’ kind of activity. It’s ”˜everyone take their shoes off and roll around on the grass together’ kind of family programming.”

      Vancouver, get ready to party.