It is now March and I am preparing for an exhibition of lino prints at Vancouver’s Havana gallery opening June 1st. This is my first show in Vancouver, city of my birth.
Memory begins for me around 47th and Fraser where I was trying to learn German and English at the same time. Another language I discovered was drawing and my favorite toy was an “umba” (early word for pencil).
By the time I was four years old I would frequently go a.w.o.l. to explore Fraser Street. Familiar landmarks were Honest Nat’s department store (they had a radio jingle then) and the enormously tall sign with gigantic letters in front of the Fraser movie house. Because I could not read yet I called it simply “the Big February”.
A bus ride downtown always meant excitement like department store shopping or the P.N.E. Parade! One time on Hastings Street, I inquired about some unusually dressed people and was told they were beatniks.
Sometimes I would visit the shipyard in Coal Harbour where my dad worked. It was a cold industrial place but there was a heater in the oakum shed where I could hang out and get warm.
A move to Burnaby presented a more pastoral scene. We lived on Myrtle street which, at that time, was a gravel road. Across from our house was a run down fence, and beyond that pasture land with Still Creek running through the bottom. On the other side were railroad tracks and the Dominion Bridge steel works. Trains would frequently pass by and in the mornings I would watch for one in particular that was pulled by a steam locomotive.
Now all this was long ago. Other images in the exhibition will speak to more recent times and events. If you are in Vancouver May 29-June 11 please drop by and see. Havana gallery is located at 1212 Commercial Drive.
All Images Are © Gordon Friesen
Gordon Friesen Artist Bio
Gordon Friesen was born in Vancouver, BC and raised in rural Surrey before there were freeways or strip malls. As a child he was always drawing and as a teenager was designing posters. Inspired by album cover art of the 1960’s, he attended the Kootenay School of Art in Nelson to study graphic design.
From there he roamed and rambled, worked on the railroad and in sawmills, built trails in the wilderness, painted houses, hauled laundry, harvested goose neck barnacles, and worked as a deck hand. He learned to print textiles in the Northwest Territories.
Along the way he studied applied design at Douglas College and printmaking at the Alberta College of Art. Returning to Nelson, he co-founded a graphic design and screen printing shop and his line drawings began to get published in literary magazines.
In 1982 he relocated to the coast where he continued to work in graphic design and exhibit his assemblages. In 1990 he was offered and opportunity to create a series of illustrations pertaining to the human and natural history of Beacon Hill Park. This project had a profound influence on his career as an illustrator. His work continues to focus on line drawing, a discipline he will never perfect. He currently works at a major public gallery and exhibits new work on a regular basis.
Blog / Website: Home of Studio 1240 – Gordon Friesen