He's ba-a-a-ck: Party With the Dude celebrates sculpture's return to Dude Chilling Park

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      "The Dude" is getting ready to return to Dude Chilling Park, decked out in fancy new bronze.

       Party With the Dude, from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday (August 17), is bringing on the bratwurst and live music to celebrate the sculpture's comeback after two years--even as the Mount Pleasant Community Centre Association still tries to raise the remainder of funds for its refurbishment.

      It's been a long, sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad story. The greenspace at East 8th Avenue and Brunswick Street, officially known as Guelph Park, became home to local artist Michael Dennis's cedar sculpture, Reclining Figure, in 1991 as part of the Brewery Creek Art Exposition.

      But more than two years ago, the artwork was removed from what was by now better known as Dude Chilling Park because its wood body was decomposing and its rebar was exposed. The city was concerned about safety issues. 

      The sculpture was transported to Denman Island for the artist to repair, then was cast in hardier bronze to help put a halt to the deterioration. Along with shipping and installation, the costs are estimated to hit as high as $20,000. Kids have even been selling lemonade at stands in the park to raise money for the cause, the nonprofit Vancouver Art House Society launched a now-closed Indiegogo campaign, and the Rio Theatre held a fundraising movie screening.

      The artist will be on hand at the Party With the Dude event, with the Undercovers playing live. Donations are being accepted at 604-257-3080 (extension 1).

      Of course, the legacy of "The Dude" is just part of the local lore around the park. In 2012, artist Viktor Briestensky erected a replica of a City of Vancouver park sign bearing the words "Dude Chilling Park". After the city took that sign down, a community campaign led to the City of Vancouver installing a permanent "Dude Chilling Park" sign in 2014 (one that coexists with Guelph Park's official sign). That installation even made The Jimmy Kimmel Show.

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