Ode to Hendrix

There is a bench in Rocky Point Park and every time I see it, I am grateful. It may be one of the few things in the urban environment that does not change because it is placed in a park. No matter the nature of my day, nor the activity that is distracting me, every time I see that bench, I think of sitting with my 96-year-old grandmother as we laugh while she tries to control the melting ice cream on her double-cone Rocky Point salted caramel.

I realize that there are memories that are only activated when they are triggered by specific anchors in the environment that holds them and that the inherent flaw of these anchors is that they are mostly impermanent. Cities are never static and good cities need to be elastic and pliable if they are to be havens for us.

In my practice as an urban oil painter, I am aware of the changing spaces and can hear the stories that are fading as much as I can sense the whispers of the tales yet to be told and far from imposing my own judgments, I am compelled to simply record so that we all have a space to stop and to reflect and to experience the confluence of time as the paths of a place diverge.

Rezoning is a powerful tool for change in the urban environment and a profound concept. It fundamentally changes the very character of a place, the way we use it, the way we relate to it, and the way that we remember when moving through it.

‘Ode to Hendrix’ is the second painting in the “Rezoned” body of works. These works use the Rezoning Application signage as a foil and a marker to record the presence of a space before it undergoes that fundamental change to its intrinsic character. The “Rezoned” body of works merges the past, present, and future into a single space.

‘Ode to Hendrix’ is the corner of Main and Union in Vancouver, a space right on the edge of the physically lost, Hogan’s Alley. The building was erected just after the Second World War and served as student housing and an SRO. Vie’s Chicken and Steak house was located at the rear of the building and the Hendrix shrine was located here after the restaurant closed. Hendrix’s grandmother, a community leader, worked in the restaurant and Hendrix spent a fair amount of time living with her. Vie’s, Hogans Allery, and the Hendrix shrine have gone but the memories echo through the building and still provoke stories of the people who recall the area.

Vincent Fodera opened the Hendrix shrine and when he sold the building to Bonnis Properties in 2015, it was with the condition that they would restore the shrine.

The lots from 728 – 796 Main Street underwent a rezoning application to change their designation from HA-1A (Historic Area) to CD-1 (Comprehensive Development) District and allow for an 11-story mixed-use building. The application was approved on the 9 February 2021 and the lots are currently up for sale again.