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Originally published Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 7:02 PM

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Vancouver B.C.'s galleries offer rich tapestry of works

A look at Vancouver, B.C., art galleries.

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Downtown

Buschlen Mowatt Gallery: This upscale gallery on Georgia Street offers museum-quality work in a spacious setting. On Feb. 1, new exhibits by Canadian painter Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and American sculptor-painter Charles Arnoldi go on display. Yuxweluptun, of Coast Salish background, blends a bright pop-art sensibility with sharp and sometimes surreal satire. On his Web site, (www.lawrencepaulyuxweluptun.com) he explains that he uses "Coast Salish cosmology, Northwest Coast formal design elements, and the Western landscape tradition [to] explore political, environmental, and cultural issues." His acrylic on canvas, "New Chiefs on the Land" (2006), is a perfect example of his vibrant, tension-filled work. California artist Arnoldi's work is more abstract, leaning lately toward "free-flowing organic shapes like twists and loops with a sense of motion."

The entry court to Buschlen Mowatt is an exhibit unto itself: a sculpture garden where Jaume Plensa's "Overflow" (2007) and Robert Indiana's "Love Blue Green" (1996) hold pride of place.

Buschlen Mowatt also has a satellite gallery off the lobby of the Listel Hotel, where Vancouver photographer Dina Goldstein's spooky-funny sendup of fairy-tale figures, "Fallen Princesses," is up until the end of January, and new paintings by Vancouver artist Cori Creed go up Feb. 1. Both venues are well worth a visit. Buschlen Mowatt Gallery, 1445 Georgia S., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays and holidays / Buschlen Mowatt at The Listel Hotel, 1300 Robson St., open 24 hours daily (604-682-1234 or www.buschlenmowatt.com).

Contemporary Art Gallery: Vancouver's venue for experimental art, taking its cue from the Olympic Games, examines "the competitive nature of group exhibitions" in its new show, "An Invitation to an Infiltration." The exhibit is curated by Seattle's Eric Fredericksen and consists of "publications, discussions, and other public programs" along with the exhibit. The most curious-sounding event: "Game — Set — Match," a conversation, organized by Swedish artist Fia Backström, between a game theorist and a hockey strategist, moderated by Fredericksen. Noon-6 p.m., Wednesdays-Sundays, 555 Nelson St., free but donations welcomed (604-681-2700 or www.contemporarygallery.ca).

South Granville Street

Many of Vancouver's high-prestige galleries can be found on or near the bustling 10-block commercial strip of Granville Street between Sixth Avenue West and 16th Avenue West, just south of the Granville Bridge. And several of them have exhibits loosely inspired by the Olympics lined up for February.

At Elissa Cristall Gallery, painter Anda Kubis has a show, "Split Second" (opening Feb. 4), that echoes Olympic athletes' race against the clock. "I am attempting to capture, as painting, the intangible experience of time," Kubis says. Her oil-on-board abstracts, with their tremendous sense of velocity in their bright, horizontal streaks, do just that. 2245 Granville St., 10:30 a.m.-5:30 a.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays (604-730-9611 or www.CristallGallery.com).

The precipitous curves of the old Sea to Sky Highway are the subject of "Road to Whistler," new oils on canvas by Glenn Payan, opening Saturday at Ian Tan Gallery. "The highway was a narrow thing back then," Payan recalls, "and I remember hoping my dad wouldn't miss the next bend in the road sending us plummeting into ocean!" The gallery's news release makes clear that the highway has been upgraded to a wider, safer roadway since Payan's boyhood. Through Feb. 18, 2202 Granville St., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays (604-738-1077 or www.iantangallery.com).

Vancouver artist Lisa Birke takes on the Olympics, climate change and other issues in vivid and sometimes hilarious ways in her show, "20/10 Vision," opening at Bau-Xi Gallery on Feb. 6. While her "Breaking the Line" delights in ice-hockey action, "Global Warming Ice Rink" presents a sports-rink meltdown and the three-panel, 15-foot-high "How many players does it take to screw in an energy efficient light bulb?" is a droll take on team effort. 10-5:30 Mondays-Saturdays, noon-4 p.m. Sundays, 3045 Granville St. (604-733-7011 or www.bau-xi.com).

Monte Clark Gallery's "Restricted" (up through Feb. 13) is a group show addressing "voyeurism, the body, and sexuality." It includes artwork by Vancouver locals Douglas Coupland (yes, the author of "Microserfs" and "Generation X") and Evan Lee, whose painting/photo hybrids, "Flashers," manipulate "self-shot" Internet erotica in curious ways. On Feb. 18, Vancouver-born artist Greg Girard's "Half the Surface of the World" opens. These digital photographs, taken at more than 20 U.S. military bases throughout the world, focus on oddly bland, suburban American worlds that are often thousands of miles removed from the North American continent. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 2339 Granville St. (604-730-5000 or www.monteclarkgallery.com).

Douglas Udell Gallery, Jacana Contemporary Art and Diane Farris Gallery are all offering group shows of Canadian artists that have no overt Olympics connection but are intended to represent Canada as a contender in the international arts scene.

Udell's "Heavy Medal," featuring winners of the Order of Canada, opens Feb. 11 and runs through Feb. 27. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 1558 W. Sixth Ave. (604-736-8900 or www.douglasudellgallery.com). Jacana is taking a more irreverent approach with "ADANAC," opening Feb. 10. The show offers "a front to back depiction of the Canadian sentiment," with an emphasis on farce, history, politics and the absurd. "ADANAC" — "Canada" spelled backward — is a byword for Canadian kitsch, Jacana curator Pennylane Shen says. It's also the name of "an iconic font representing aspects of Canadian culture." 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays, 2435 Granville St. (604-879-9306 or www.jacanagallery.com).

Farris' show, "Gold" (opening Feb. 4), juxtaposes internationally successful Canadian artists — Gu Xiong, Angela Grossman — with emerging talents. Nick Lepard's brooding portraits and self-portraits are especially striking. Coals-to-Newcastle factor: Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly is also part of this show. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, 1590 W. Seventh Ave., (604-737-2629 or www.dianefarrisgallery.com).

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

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