Wednesday, February 10, 2010


First: some of today's coverage in the press:

The Province: Beautiful, bold Ice Gate takes life

Photo by Les Bazo.

The Vancouver Sun: Big Colourful wall of ice rises in Richmond

Photo by Ward Perrin.

The day began with an interview on Global TV; who'd been on the site since 4 AM, filming all the preparations for the opening of the OZone & the Torch Relay. In the plaza behind ICE GATE, a huge screen, under construction since yesterday, began flashing its colours and a whimsical art installation was placed above the steps. Everyone was in on this day.

Deliveries came and went with a frenzy to the Inniskillin tent across the laneway; we completed all the unfinished jobs: black skirting around the base; unwanted ice back in the reefer truck; squeeging, sweeping up, tucking under.

Ari, who drives the reefer truck, nearly hit a pole and then nearly knocked over two speakers with that huge truck. To say there was an air of excitement and a sense of exhaustion is an understatement.

By three o'clock Sunshine Coast dancers arrived en masse. About an hour later, the press began to set up.

Discovery Network, French-language CBC-TV; Coast Cable, Coast Reporter, photographers from The Vancouver Sun and Province, a contingent from the network that feeds footage to the international press.

Crowds gathered. The painting began to glow against the dusk. You could hear exclamations from people as they first had a glance at the colors.

As darkenss fell, Ted Townsend gave the signal that everything was ready.

Gerardo turned the music on, and the dancers began their flash mob creation to a joyful audience. In a spontaneous moment of pure joy, the dancers picked Gord up on their shoulders and carried him aloft the crowd.

When things settled down, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie made the introductions.

Gord was clearly moved by the outburst, and thanked his friends on the Sunshine Coast, the dancers especially. Then he thanked the crew, forgetting to mention Ari.

After the ribbon cutting, the crowd mingled - we saw lots of familiar faces; friends & family who had come to celebrate.

Inniskillin hosted wine tasting across the laneway.

Thousands of people streamed through past the artwork, pushing strollers, snapping photos.

The painting held up.

We turned right out of the parking lot and found ourselves in the Torch Relay parade! Here's one of the torch bearers, who posed in front of ICE GATE after her moment of handing on the flame.

At the crew dinner, Gord made endless toasts, hitting the glass with his spoon, as if he were at a wedding. The first was a double toast for Ari.

Thank you to the photographers who contributed photos to this day's blog: Al Burns, Kristy Stefanucci, Darcy Lawrence, Conor Halloran, Caitlin Hicks.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Last minutes

We started the day with an NBC film camera crew at the cold storage. I rode my bike to the City Hall, arriving as Coast Cable TV’s Susan Brinton was setting up to interview Gord in front of ICE GATE. Finally the sun was out, a dry afternoon.

The crew loaded and unloaded ice from the reefer truck for the final touch up. I squeegied windows;

NBC and Daily Planet interviewed.

Met Mary Murray from NBC, and Debi Pratt, an old friend from Inniskillin here for the opening. A reporter from the Vancouver Sun phoned an interview as spring flowers were budding.

"If the glass is below dewpoint, you’ll get condensation, “ Art said at an afternoon break, “44 degrees is dewpoint today. Either you warm up the glass, or warm up the temperature inside the glass.” Then he taped off half the holes on the duct system that Allan May had put together with Mark Stitt over the past couple of days, to increase the force of the heat blowing onto the glass. The crew tidied up.

Emmanuelle brought in yards and yards of black cloth to cover the bottom of the wall and she and Becky and I cut the cloth and stapled it to the base. By that time, it was dark.

Scheduled for six o’clock were four photographers: Kent Kallberg for Inniskillin’s poster, Al Burns, Jim Hollander from The European Press Agency and Kristy Stefanucci, photographer-at-large. A crew of sound engineers began to back up their equipment truck -- they were scheduled for 6 o’clock and wanted to set up in front of the wall. The plaza was full, the artwork brilliant as the cameras clicked. Al Burns took this one.

Below, a photo by Jim Hollander, he says news outlets around the world will have his images this evening - for Tuesday's paper - New York Times, Los Angeles Times . . . have a look.

Shelley Harrison Rae emailed a You Tube url for the dance:

1 more day - we open!

Winter came this weekend, just like in Turin, just in time for the games. Still feeling weak and sick, I drove home at dawn Saturday to sort out the home-front sort-ables. The day shot past - one phone call led to another to the next - the international press has arrived and ICE GATE has been discovered. Rotating at high speeds with the excitement of it, I stole one point five hours on Sunday morning for a yoga class, so I wouldn't just blow up.

Not enough time for everything and I was back on a return ferry to meet Gord in Vancouver, where he had spent the morning, mixing with the people crowding the streets who have arrived for the Olympics, and planning the final artistic and technical decisions on his oeuvre. We haven't solved everything yet.

We met Diode Rick at ICE GATE, who had focused lights on site last week, but had to do so again, as they had been removed from their perch on the Inniskillin tent across the laneway.

It was magical, the night at City Hall.

I saw the painting - almost complete - for the first time.

Citizens of Richmond, out for a night stroll or walking their dog, were curious, astonished - and began to take photographs. Rick chatted excitedly about the deep shadows his lights made on the wall of the painting. We investigated the air ducts; the efficiency of the window solutions; I squeegied; we made a plan for tomorrow's challenges. NBC begins the day with their arrival at the cold storage at 9:45 AM, and there is much to do. This evening at 6 PM, a number of photographers descend to take the first shots of ICE GATE.

It was a moment - Rick's generosity of time, Gord holding the lights while their casual conversation rose and fell; a palpable quiet in the night, the beating of our enthusiastic, excited hearts in anticipation of tomorrow.