Happy Birthday AGA!

January 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm (Edmonton, Events, Food, Photography) (, , , , , , )

Art Gallery of Alberta anniversary party

On January 30, 2011 the Art Gallery of Alberta celebrated its first anniversary, and held a bit of a party. Hugh and I went down to check it out, and were treated to free coffee and cupcakes with icing in the AGA’s colours. The cupcakes, made by Big City Cupcakes were delicious, though almost unbearably sweet.

Free cupcakes!

We also took in the Matisse exhibit, the first time at our own pace, and a second time as part of a free guided tour. We also saw a very interesting exhibit by Canadian artist Brian Jungen, who created two ‘fossil reconstructions’ using nothing but plastic lawn chairs. Very cool. Also very cool was the fact that the artist allowed photography of his work, which means I was able to get a shot inside the actual exhibit:

Shapeshifter (2000) and Cetology (2002)

Despite the naysaying by all the ‘pothole people’ while the AGA was under construction, and those who decry the building as ‘ugly’ even today, the AGA has had a tremendous first year. More than 111,000 people have come through the doors, compared to 20,000 visitors per year to the old Edmonton Art Gallery which the AGA has replaced. Membership sales are at 5,300 as compared to 1,650 from the year before.

As for the building itself, it is 85,000 square feet, of which 30,000 is dedicated exhibition space. Designed by Randall Stout (former protege of Frank Gehry) and built to LEED standards, the building is a stunning showcase located right in the heart of downtown Edmonton.

AGA architect Randall Stout


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End of an Era

February 1, 2010 at 12:14 pm (Food, Penticton, Photography) (, , , , , )

Most people in the south Okanagan know Salty’s Beach House. Back in the 80s, veteran world traveler and notorious local Rob Wylie cruised the streets of Penticton with his brother and lamented there was nowhere ‘fun’ to go hang out on the beach. Resolved to change that, and armed with a $20,000 loan Rob purchased an ice-cream shack on Lakeshore Drive and Salty’s was born.

Through the years he crafted Salty’s into ‘the’ place to be, using a simple recipe of good food from around the world, good drink, good music, good people and good atmosphere. He curated easily the best patio in Penticton. Rob expanded the restaurant in size and scope, including building the Black Pearl Lounge and Oyster Bar by adding a second level to the existing structure.

By any account the restaurant was a huge success, in the summer the line up often stretched well down the sidewalk. And unlike most places in the service industry, Salty’s staff turnover rate was incredible small. Some employees have been there 10, 15, and even 20 years. That’s not a fluke. I had the privilege of working there for four years myself some years ago.

Rob Wylie passed away tragically in the spring of last year. He was a local fixture, both a humanitarian and a madman. He is sorely missed by a great many people in this community. He was a great man, a great friend, and a great boss.

Sadly all things must come to pass. Salty’s has been sold, and this was the last night Salty’s was in the Wylie family. In proper Salty’s fashion, the event was marked by a huge celebration. I saw a great many friends, old and new, all touched in some way by Salty’s and/or Rob.

Pictured here is Arla Wylie, Rob’s niece, leading us in a toast to Rob’s memory. I wasn’t the only one getting misty eyed.


She said:

I know when It’s my time, Rob will be on that pirate ship, and he’ll pass me a madrid with one hand, pull me up on the deck with the other, and ask what took me so long…

A few more pictures from the evening:



Boat Drink

My good friend Sean shows me what his drink of choice is

Wendel double fists a Madrid and beer while Joe D tried to get the bartender's attention

Fantastic painting by former Salty's cook (and current artist!) 'Calgary' Joe D

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Glowing Fruit

December 1, 2009 at 7:40 pm (Camera Gear, Food, Penticton)

I’ve been down in Penticton for almost a week now, so I am definitely settling in. The ‘vacation’ new home allure is starting to wear off however, and I am going to have to start accomplishing something soon. Time to go see about getting my license upgraded. Yes, for those who don’t know, that’s the plan … go get a class 1 license with air brakes, and start driving the big rigs. Maybe get a new laptop (my current laptop that I never use is quite old now), pack the camera gear, and start seeing the country. Turn this space into a ‘on the road from the cab of a truck’ photo blog. For a few years anyway.

Wandered down to Safeway last night for some grocery shopping and brought my camera with me. Despite some odd looks from fellow shoppers, the staff left me to do my thing, and I got some nice produce shots. Used the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8, a lens which I love more and more every time I use it. Sharp as a blade, and fast enough to use handheld at night on the streets. I want to get the 50mm f/1.4 just to see if it is that much better at handhelds, though that’s a $500 what if…

Weather is pretty beautiful right now. Nice bright sun. I think I am going to wander downtown this afternoon, and see what I can see. Go visit my old haunts. I’ve not really explored downtown since I’ve been back. I already know it’s just going to be the same old…

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