(Marty) #1

From left: A guest room at the Douglas hotel, part of the Parq Vancouver
complex; the French-influenced restaurant L’Abattoir, in Gastown.


Siegfried and Roy theatricality and one part craft-
cocktail perfectionism.
There’s also the Parq Vancouver complex,
where I’d stayed on my previous visit, which
houses two very chic hotels and a casino. The
Douglas hotel fuses a Pacific Northwest aesthetic
with a Midcentury feel, as if the Ocean’s Eleven
guys took up lumberjacking. At the JW Marriott
Parq Vancouver, an airier, more feminine
sensibility prevails. And yet even within the
confines of this elegant biodome, the real
Vancouver could be found. The complex sends a
van to a Chinatown senior center to pick up mah-
jongg-crazed retirees, who descend upon the café
to click away the morning with their tiles.
The bubbling up of the local, the unexpected,
the real—it keeps happening to me during my
forays to Vancouver. During my visit with Victoria
and Jeanne, we bicycled through Stanley Park,
the tree-choked peninsula that extends into the

frigid Burrard Inlet at the northern edge of
Vancouver’s downtown, with Barrie Mowatt,
the founder and artistic director of the Vancouver
Biennale. Freighters loomed on the horizon,
their oceangoing bulk reminding me we were
connected to the Pacific. It was a brilliantly sunny
day, and Vancouver’s entire population seemed
to be gathering at the water, where the city’s
hard edges give way to the softer contours of
beach and forest.
Mowatt signaled to turn left. We swooped
against the traffic, holding up a line of Teslas,
BMWs, and Porsches—a parade of rolling egos.
Leaving behind the park, we swerved through a
maze of humble side streets and parking lots.
Mowatt was showing us the sites of past works
by artists like Ai Weiwei and Jonathan Borofsky
as well as current ones, like a beloved collection
of cast-bronze figures by Yue Minjun. “For a long
time, public art to the average Vancouverite
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