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Meet the junk art artist behind the giant queen bee installation in South Vancouver – CBC.ca

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The artist behind a huge queen bee art installation in an industrial area of South Vancouver says they wanted to add “a little bit of magic” to daily commuters’ days.

“Queen BX1000” was created with recycled materials by a Montreal-based street artist known mononymously as Junko. They say it’s their biggest piece to date.

It is a nearly five-metre-tall statue on a vacant plot of land near the Fraser River, visible from both the Canada Line SkyTrain station —  between the Bridgeport and Marine Drive stations — as well as the nearby Canada Line bikeway.

Junko told CBC News the installation was made with recycled car parts and plastics on a giant wooden frame, all of which were salvaged from around Metro Vancouver.

A drone picture showing a large yellow statue sitting in an empty land, with a few skyscrapers and industrial buildings visible in the background.
The installation sits in a vast empty plot of land near the Fraser River, visible from both the SkyTrain and a nearby bike path. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

“I like the idea of someone, just on their daily commute, seeing it off in the distance and just catching a glimpse of it for a second.”  “Just being this little magical moment in the middle of this industrial area where, you know, you don’t really see a lot of art or anything like that.”

CBC News has agreed to keep Junko’s identity confidential at their request to maintain the anonymity of their art.

Junko’s work in Montreal also consists primarily of reclaimed, recycled material. It’s their first installation on the West Coast, but they said their process was the same as in Montreal — letting the city’s rubbish piles inform their work.

“I do have a little bit of a small background in sustainable construction. It’s economical as well as environmental. It’s sort of the process that I’ve developed over time.

“Walking around or biking around, just looking on the ground and seeing what I think, collecting things that I find, and then assembling them and trying to create something with them.”

‘Got a lot of funny looks’

The installation took over a month to produce, according to Junko. They said Vancouver’s recycling practices were slightly different than Montreal’s, so it took them a while to locate the materials required.

“This is a very clean city,” they said, laughing. “It deals with its waste in a certain way.”

In a video posted to their Instagram account, Junko showed themselves driving to a garage in Vancouver and picking up the bright yellow car parts that form the majority of the queen bee statue.

“On my search looking for materials and whatnot, I found a garage that worked on yellow taxi cars. They had a whole bunch of yellow car bumpers that they were throwing out.

“I was thinking about different animals, and obviously, it came to mind, a yellow creature … I always want to convey a certain type of form or a certain type of character. With this one, that’s obviously themed around a bee.”

The artist said they got “a lot of funny looks” as they carted materials to the South Vancouver site on their bicycle, but no one ever interfered with their process, nor did they have any problems designing the piece, apart from some curious pedestrians and bikers.

They said they had no specific message to share with the piece but hoped people would think about wildlife and recycling while forming their own interpretations.

Land owned by TransLink

TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transit authority, owns the land that Queen BX1000 sits on, according to land registry documents.

The City of Vancouver said in a statement that they had no calls from the landowner or residents about the piece.

A spokesperson for TransLink told CBC News the piece “looks very cool,” but it did not commission it.

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This project brought art and quirky commentary to Calgary's parking lots – CBC.ca

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If you noticed art displays popping up around Calgary this weekend, you weren’t the only one. 

On Saturday and Sunday, Calgary-based artists took over several parking lots with art projects built into and around a number of vehicles that traveled throughout the city. 

The exhibition, dubbed Idle Worship, is a mobile showcase of art and performance in trunks, back seats, box trucks, minivans, and automobiles, designed specifically for the context of parking lots across the greater Calgary area. 

“We dedicate a lot of our cities to roads and parking lots and these spaces, I think, could be more absurd,” said Caitlind Brown, an organizer and part of the artist-driven project.

“[The spaces] could be weirder and come with more conversations.”

The movement brought art to unsuspecting crowds near malls, big-box stores and grocery shops.

Keith Murray’s piece about “neutrality and nothing” was among those that were set up over the weekend. (Helen Pike/CBC)

People were climbing into a U-Haul, peeking in car windows — and jumping into the mouth of an unidentified species. 

Abebe Kebede was just out to grab a coffee with a friend when he noticed something next to him.

While they were chatting in the car, one of the art pieces was set up right beside them. 

“When I saw that [being set up], I thought, ‘what, I have to go see it,'” he said. “It looked like a weird animal’s mouth opening, it’s so amazing, I really like it.”

The exhibit popped up in every one of Calgary’s quadrants.

Idle Worship has a performance art component, too. One artist sat in his vehicle with dirt and flowers, giving the viewers a choice: water the plant or water the boy. 

And there was some tongue and cheek commentary.

Khalid Omokanye said his piece is about ‘greenwashing’, a popular marketing tactic that brands use to give the impression that their business practices are sustainable and fight climate change, without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Khalid Omokanye said his piece is about greenwashing— a popular marketing tactic that brands use to give the impression that their business practices are sustainable and fight climate change, without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

His project is housed in the back of a pick-up truck.

“I made a little sculpture there, that drops seeds as I am driving, potentially planting a forest in my wake,” he said. “So this vehicle becomes no longer an issue because it plants enough trees to fix its problems.” 

Given the circumstances of the art show, Brown was surprised that there were no issues at all. 

“This has been a remarkably problem-free exhibition, considering we are literally just touching down in parking lots without asking for permission from the property owners, and then getting up and driving away,” she said. 

“The great thing about this exhibition is that if there had been any problems, we could’ve just packed up and left.”

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Vancouver Art Gallery protest condemns Iran regime | CTV News – CTV News Vancouver

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An afternoon rally was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery Sunday following the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman while in police custody.

Mahsa Amini died earlier this month in police custody, after being detained by the morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. Her family says she was beaten by police. Officials say she died of a heart attack.

Since her death on Sept. 16, protests and rallies have erupted in Iran and around the world.

“People are frustrated,” said Farad Soofi, an Iranian-Canadian who also attended the UN General Assembly in New York last week to protest the Iranian regime.

“They’re coming to say, ‘We don’t want that regime.’”

Chants of “women, life, freedom” could be heard coming from the crowd.

“It has always been like this in Iran,” said Lena Kruk, who moved to Vancouver from Iran four years ago.

“It is an anti-women kind of regime.”

Clashes between Iranian protesters and security forces have turned deadly, and the government has restricted the population’s internet access to help prevent more demonstrations. https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/at-least-9-killed-as-iran-protests-spread-over-woman-s-death-1.6079121

Iranian-Canadian Amir Takbash says he’s been unable to speak with his family.

“It’s really hard. I haven’t heard from my mom for more than a week and it’s really, really hard for us here,” said Takbash.

“You just feel so bad,” said Kruk. “I feel like, you know, I couldn’t stop crying.”

“It’s heartbreaking to not be there with them, to not fight with them,” said Iranian-Canadian Parisa Moshfegh.

“So we’re going to do whatever we can from here.”

Despite living thousands of kilometres away, some in the crowd said they’re still fearful of protesting against the current regime.

“Even in the protest in Vancouver, a lot of people are wearing masks because they are afraid of being recognized. This is how much we are scared of speaking out,” said Moshfegh.

The rally spilled out onto Georgia Street, with thousands of people chanting and holding signs while marching for several blocks.

Vancouver police tweeted that the public should avoid the area as officers work to keep traffic flowing.

Several people at Saturday’s protest told CTV News that more rallies are being planned for next weekend.  

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Montreal percussive dancers step in to tell stories of Black art and history – Montreal Gazette

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Children are always in motion. Yet when they experience it in rhythm, they are linked with their peers in an intangible way, Kayin Queeley says.

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Kayin Queeley expresses himself with his entire body. One can feel his enthusiasm in every sweep of his hand, in the set of his shoulders and the widening of his eyes.

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He uses language that echoes his passion in phrases like “tapping into” and “taking the step” and “resonance.”

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Queeley is the director of the Montreal Steppers, a team that uses their bodies to create rhythms and beats. The non-profit percussive dance group performs for themselves, for the community and visits schools for workshops and discussions that Queeley says quickly become “next-level.”

Percussive dance has origins in West Africa. It was a form of celebration and communication among slaves in North America and became popular among Black fraternities in the 1940s and ’50s, making its way to Canada by the ’90s.

Queeley, who is now a crisis case manager for students at McGill University, joined and went on to lead a stepping team while doing his undergrad in Upstate New York in 2007.

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“What I didn’t realize then,” Queeley says, “was that stepping was going to introduce me to part of my history, a rich art form rooted in blackness, rooted in Black expression, Black healing. These are ways we are communicating with each other. For me, it was very superficial at first. It was cool, it looked good. Yet it has meant so much more for us.”

Although he had fallen away from stepping by the time he moved to Montreal with his wife in 2014, the need to “keep the art form alive and keep the passion of using my body to make music” was never far from his thoughts. Montreal Steppers was formed in 2019 and has 18 members, 13 of whom are active steppers, while the others take charge of such things as stage management, music direction, media, photography and spoken word.

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When Queeley goes into a school for a workshop, the children will learn how to step. Yet the first thing he tells teachers is that he will allow the students to ask anything they want. A statement like that makes teachers nervous, he says, but he is blown away every time by the depth of conversation children set in motion.

He introduces himself and, with mid-elementary and older children, will begin, “About a hundred or so years ago (I’m just being generous), I would not be allowed to be in your classroom. The kids stop and say, ‘Mr. K., why?’ I say, because of my skin colour. At that time, although slavery had ended, there was segregation. Some ask, ‘What do you mean, what is that?’ It starts questions right away. As a Black man, I would not have been allowed into a white school. I would only have been allowed to teach at a Black school.”

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In this way, the Steppers are bold about centring Black history and acknowledging what some children might not have had to think about. Kids, with their finely tuned sense of justice, “call out what is wrong,” he says. The workshops are wrapped up by talking about people’s differences and the importance of appreciating them.

Children stomp and clap, they walk and clap, they are almost always in motion. Yet when they experience it in rhythm, they are linked with their peers in an intangible way, Queeley says.

“We use our bodies to tell the story of stepping and history. We use the art form as a starting point to have dialogues and conversations around blackness, Black art, Black history, Black importance, around creating a safe space and taking up space for ourselves.”

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It has been healing for the Montreal Steppers, Queeley says.

“As we dissect deeper into stepping, we connect the history. We recognize that this is not new. This has always been part of our ancestors’ expression. Going back to 14th century, back to West Africa before these folks were displaced against their will and brought to this North American context, these were elements of expression they were tapping into.”

The only time Queeley grasps for words is when attempting to define the connection his team experiences while stepping.

“Some folks say, ‘As you step on the ground, as you hit your body, you’re activating your land and you’re waking up your ancestors. It’s something we can’t really describe. … We’re tapping into something our ancestors laid down.”

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The team has done more than 300 workshops and has met close to 10,000 students, Queeley says. It is one way they want to sow into Montreal communities.

“We want people to see us and know who we are: ‘This is in response to everything you have said about Black people and believe about us.’ We are incredible. We are gifted. We are intelligent. We are impressive.”

***

AT A GLANCE

The Montreal Steppers are part of the English Language Arts Network’s education program, wherein schools are granted an amount to invite artists to hold workshops.

The Steppers have made an intentional decision to not do any workshops during Black History Month, to avoid being tokenized or made a checklist item. They use that time to focus on their own healing.

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The group has set a fundraising goal of $4,000 for the month of September. The money will go directly to four community groups that have identified specific needs. The Steppers want their performances to be accessible and therefore not tied to fundraising, so donations are accepted online only. The groups benefiting are: The West Island Black Community Association’s robotics program; Côte-des-Neiges Black Association’s teen program; South Shore Youth Organization’s tutoring program; and Tinsdale Community Association’s high-school perseverance program.

“We want to continue to find ways to serve, teach, heal ourselves,” Queeley says. “Wherever this goes, if they feel a need to connect with us, we are happy to. We have seen the impact. We are very optimistic about what lies ahead.”

To donate, visit gofundme.com/f/q3pusj-back-to-school-fundraiser. More information can be found at montrealsteppers.com.

Sign up for our parenting and advice newsletter at montrealgazette.com/newsletters.

hjuhl@postmedia.com

twitter.com/hjuhl

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