Untitled [Hastings and Columbia Street, Vancouver] Fred Herzog, Untitled (Hastings and Columbia Street, Vancouver), 1958.

Fred Herzog

 

Chosen by: John Mendoza, Gallery Member

 

“I think this photograph is one of the highlights of the Gallery’s collection. There are many reasons this work deserves attention. First, the composition of the photo is admirable: the colourful and chaotic layers of neon signs, the sidewalks of Hastings Street teeming with pedestrians, the hint of blue sky peeking through the urban jumble. Even the small details are wonderful: the sartorial flair of the pedestrian wearing a red cardigan, the large type headline of the newspaper for sale in the foreground, the weathered store awnings. Herzog captured the vivid and busy urban scene that existed on Vancouver’s Hastings Street in 1958.

In addition, Hastings and Columbia Streets is a lovely touchstone to the city’s past. The photo reminds me of the old neon signs that used to exist in my neighbourhood of Renfrew Collingwood. Dragon Inn, Wally’s Burgers and the Apostolic Church of Christ on Kingsway were our neighbourhood neon landmarks. Now, only the 2400 Motel sign still stands. The memory lives again as a result of seeing this photo. Remarkably, the same phenomenon occurred as I walked through the 2007 Fred Herzog exhibition at the Gallery. I overheard fleeting memories of Vancouver among some of the patrons who… like me… saw something familiar in his photos. In those small, intimate moments, I was able to witness the potential and power of art that speaks of our community and connects to our community.

While New York City had Walker Evans to document everyday life in the city, Vancouver thankfully has Fred Herzog, and our colletive ability to recall Vancouver’s history is a little richer because of it. If it is ever on display again, go and look at this photo to gain an appreciation of our city’s past. Perhaps some of us may even see inspiration for where our city needs to go next.”

 

Fred Herzog, Untitled (Hastings and Columbia Street, Vancouver), 1958. Chromogenic print. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Purchased with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program and the Vancouver Art Gallery Acquisition Fund.

John Mendoza is a secondary school teacher and has been a member of the Vancouver Art Gallery since 1995, when he saw the exhibition Andy Warhol Images. He has been known to take his writing classes to the Vancouver Art Gallery for creative writing assignments.

In fall 2011, you can enjoy another one of Herzog’s photographs – Bogner’s Grocery, 1960 – which will be on display in the exhibition Shore, Forest and Beyond: Art from the Audain Collection.

 

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