Reflecting on the here and gone in an ever-changing Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Someone once told Michael Kluckner, “If you live long enough, you may find that you don’t belong anywhere.” That concept of belonging — or not belonging — informs Here and Gone: Artwork of Vancouver and Beyond, the first collection of paintings and essays from the artist, writer, and heritage advocate in nine years.

LISTEN: Here and Gone

The title refers both to landmarks that are “here and gone” and to his wanderings and observations both at home and abroad — and how they all tend to connect.

“People are not terribly happy about Vancouver, about all of the inequality in it, about all of the issues I’ve addressed over the years in books and in some of the artwork that I’ve done,” he admits. “So, this ended up being a little package.”

“We included in it some travel stuff from around the world that reflects on how much change do other places experience and what does it do to their quality of life and their sense of themselves.”

Here and Gone was initially conceived as a quick collection of watercolours and essays meant to coincide with a gallery show Kluckner had planned for this spring.

Then the pandemic hit and, like many people, he found he had much more time on his hands. As a result, he ended up turning in his manuscript months ahead of schedule.

The pandemic also gave him a new appreciation of his surroundings and the people around him.

“I’m intrigued by how many people I have met who turn out to be my neighbours but I’ve never seen them. And I’ve met them because they’re out walking,” he explains.

By his own admission, he is like a moth drawn to a flame when something is about to disappear. In Here and Gone, he laments the passing of things like neighbourhood corner stores and character homes for more generic urban fare.

“Gradually, these little buildings, these back-lane landscapes, the sort of thing that, when you walk by, it reminds you that you’ve been here and it triggers stories and that, that they are being erased and then they’re being replaced, generally, by a much more homogenized landscape,” he says.

“It’s an architecture that’s coming in that turns people inward. We have become increasingly a courtyard culture rather than the front porch culture that we were generations ago.”

Kluckner not only mourns what was once a vibrant street life in Vancouver but also warns of the more boring, inward-looking city we may become in the future.

Look for Here and Gone: Artwork of Vancouver and Beyond from Midtown Press


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