A campaign has been launched to help return a restored sculpture that inspired an East Vancouver park’s memorable nickname.
Artist Michael Dennis created a cedar-wood sculpture official titled “Reclining Figure”. After the artwork was installed at Mount Pleasant’s Guelph Park in 1991, it became known as “The Dude” and inspired the park’s nickname as “Dude Chilling Park”.
Then in 2012, the piece inspired artist Viktor Brientensky to install a replica of a City of Vancouver park sign with the park’s nickname.
Although the city took the sign down, the ensuing outcry from citizens and campaign to save the sign resulted in the city installing a permanent Dude Chilling Park sign in 2014 (the park was not officially renamed and sign co-exists with the official park sign).
Even talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel took notice of the park board's approval of the sign in a segment on his show in February 2014, and a Dyke Chilling Park sign was erected at Grandview Park during the 2018 Vancouver Dyke March and Festival.
Due to deterioration, however, the sculpture was taken to Denman Island in 2017 for repairs and to be cast in bronze.
The nonprofit Vancouver Art House Society has launched a campaign to raise $20,000 to cover the expenses of the restoration and to transport the sculpture back to Guelph Park. The funds will cover administrative campaign costs, installation, artist fees, and longterm maintenance, with payment to the Mount Pleasant Community Centre Association to manage the installation.
The Vancouver Art House Society was originally launched for the campaign to save the Rio Theatre but has since continued on to help other Vancouver arts and cultural organizations.
Rio Theatre CEO Corrine Lea stated in a news release that over the past 15 years of living across from Guelph Park, she has witnessed how the park has increased in usage by the community since the arrival of the Dude Chilling Park sign.
“Before the name change, no one used the park, except for a few regulars passed out on a bench, and I didn't feel safe walking through the park with my young daughter,” she stated. “When the Dude Chilling sign first appeared, people took notice of the park and our little patch of green space came alive….After the name change the community really embraced the park.”
As part of the efforts to help return the sculpture, the Rio Theatre will be holding a fundraising screening of the dude classic The Big Lebowski at 6:30 p.m. on April 18.
The fundraising campaign is scheduled to end on May 7.