I don't suppose there can be many McDonald's restaurants housed in buildings that are architecturally significant. This one on Blanshard Street was designed by John di Castri in 1962. I'll go in, buy a cup of Mac's coffee and get a copy of the Times Colonist.Up the street, then, coffee in hand, past Earl's, past the Seoul Restaurant, crossing Caledonia, and noticing the sculpture on the arena plaza. I wonder what that's about. I think I'll come back and check it out when I've bought my tickets for tonight's Salsa game. The line at the ticket booth is short, and in a few minutes I have mine safe in my pocket and I'm ready to go. I look at my watch. Good. I still have time to examine the sculpture on the plaza.From the ticket booth, I can see a boulder that has been sawn through horizontally, its cut surface honed to a matte finish, and a large aluminum shell hovering over it. Beside the shell, an open-frame wall of stainless steel supports an aluminum canopy. When I get closer, I can make out a doorway in the frame. Some kids are slipping through it easily, but when I try to copy them, I find I have to turn sideways to get through.Once I'm through the wall, I can see how the aluminum shell works; if I stand beneath it, I can look up into its interior. Its ribbed insides give back light in a space that, though it only covers the top of my head, feels as private as a phone booth. When I whistle to test its resonance, it gives back a ringing sound.The boulder is beside me, and I can lean against it, one arm thrown up and resting on it smooth, level top. I'll stand here for a minute, check out tonight's starting line up in the Time's Colonist's sports section, and finish what's left of my cold cup of coffee. Mowry Baden June 19, 2003
1936 in Los Angeles, CA
Mowry Baden has lived and worked in Canada since 1971. He has practiced sculpture for over 40 years and has taught sculpture at Raymond College, Pomona Clollege, UBC, and the University of Victoria, from which he retired in 1997. Over the past 40 years, he has developed various methods of decentering vision and interfering with habitual human gestures. He has built harnesses, furniture, rooms, pathways and catwalks, all with the goal of impinging upon the viewer's movements and awakening a physical self-awareness that was previously unconscious. Baden tries to provoke a perceptual crisis that assaults the viewer's confidence in the information that comes through the senses. His practice has always involved materials, just like any artist who makes objects. Ideally, however, he is less interested in the object than in the experience. He wants the viewer to enter the object (or the space) and have an experience that is visceral, internal, and sensorially cross-circuited.
1958, BA: Pomona College1965, MA: Stanford University1996: Victor Martin Lynch Staunton Award (Canada Council)2006: Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts