Nick Lepard : Isabella
June 5 – 28, 2008
Artist Reception: Thursday, June 5, 6 – 8 pm
Nick Lepard is the product of some pretty mixed-up DNA: his parents are both doctors, his sister is a nurse, and his brother is an engineer. By the time Nick was in the womb, the science gene in the Lepard bloodline may have all but exhausted itself. Just a few weeks after graduating from Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, Lepard seemed to become the ‘it’ boy of Vancouver’s contemporary art scene. He shrugs the compliment off: “I’ll take it, I guess, but [popularity] isn’t the engine that keeps me working,” says the 25-year-old. Veteran gallery owner and curator Diane Farris “discovered” his talent two years ago, after a friend sent her a photo of his work. Most recently, the buzz over Isabella, his upcoming exhibition of portraits at the Diane Farris Gallery (June 5-28), is disproportionate to that which is expected of a show from an artist with his experience. A look at Isabella’s huge, romantic portraits of young men might explain why.
Youth Outreach Team/Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement
City of Vancouver
Most people are surprised to learn that Columbian-born Lanny Jimenez has, at 25, already been involved in politics for more than five years. At the City of Vancouver, she designs and implements strategies involving young people in civic matters. Last year, she coordinated an event to help youth understand the roles and decision-making of elected officials — based on the model of speed-dating (without the romance). Jiminez also ensures youth have the support to influence research initiatives and policy development at the federal level. Besides working full-time, she is also completing her joint major in Criminology and Sociology at Simon Fraser University, yet she doesn’t complain about her lack of down-time. “There are 24 hours in a day, and I only need seven hours to sleep — there’s still a lot of time to fill,” she says. To add further excitement to her life, Jiminez is also a leading seaman with the Canadian Forces Navy Reserves, and trained as a boatswain at the HMCS Discovery.
Ten-million dollars in revenue in a year for approximately 10 hours of work a week? Impossible, some would say. Markus Frind, CEO and founder of online dating site PlentyOfFish.com, begs to differ. In 2003, Frind built the site as a way to have a job and teach himself a new program. “I started Plenty of Fish in 2003, at the tail end of the dot-com boom, and I was jumping from job to job, so I basically started the site to employ myself,” he explains. “So, I wrote a new program and launched the site within two weeks.” The new programming language, ASP.NET, has allowed the site to pretty much run on auto-pilot; hence, the 10-hour work week. The 100-per-cent free site has revenue coming in from banner ads, Google-supplied ads, and marketing links. “There was no way of making money at first,” says Frind, “but around the four-to-five-month mark, things just went ballistic, and it continues to grow.”
Shay Kuebler likes to mix it up, fuse it, and put it out there. Whether it’s wowing audiences with his smooth blend of tap, hip-hop and contemporary dance styles, or choreographing for various companies — including 605 Collective, a Vancouver-based group inspired by urban and contemporary dance — Kuebler always pushes the envelope of creativity. Working as both a dancer and the principal choreographer for 605 Collective, Kuebler’s work has been integral in finding a new vocabulary for movement and new possibilities of expression: For this season’s Dancing on the Edge Festival, Kuebler and 605 have collaborated with Amber Funk Barton on a piece titled “Status Quo,” which features short dance vignettes fused together. “It’s kind of like channel-surfing,” explains Kuebler. “It’ll be a fusion of all dances. It’s kind of a reaction to society’s need for constant stimulation. I like to push myself and take risks.”
At 19 years old, Mira Leung has already competed at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, placing 12th, and she now has her eyes set on being on the podium at the 2010 games in Vancouver, her home turf. Since entering the senior level in women’s figure skating, Leung’s status has evolved from that of young ingénue to one of the world’s elite skaters, ranking as high as fifth in her international assignments. In the upcoming season, Leung will continue to represent Canada in the ISU Grand Prix circuit — a series of international invitational competitions organized by the International Skating Union — and build momentum for 2010. Training under the tutelage of renowned coach Joanne McLeod, Leung is definitely one to watch.
While many political-science students focus their studies on international conflict, Richmond-raised Mike Powar, 27, looked in his own backyard — and was shocked by what he found. “Everybody knows East Hastings Street,” he says. “If you’ve lived in Vancouver, you know this area — or you think you know.” When he went on an eye-opening walking tour of the Downtown Eastside with his UBC classmates, he was inspired to learn more. He has since set to work drafting a human-rights complaint with the UN about the Downtown Eastside’s deplorable housing situation, which has been taken up by the Pivot Legal Society, the Impact on Communities Coalition, and the Carnegie Community Action Project. Powar is now one course away from graduating while he actively volunteers at Carnegie, researching DTES housing. “If you’ve got a good heart, if you’ve got a good perspective, be persistent and don’t let one or two hiccups stop you,” he says. “You can learn by doing.”
Word on the street among aspiring Vancouver journalists these days is that this city holds few opportunities for them — with media concentration at an all-time high, jobs are hard to find. But 26-year-old Woodward has gone where few people with a math degree have gone before: straight into the murky depths of Vancouver’s print and broadcast scene. He cut his teeth as news editor of UBC campus paper The Ubyssey while he was an undergraduate (it was “like an epiphany,” he says), during which time he landed a summer internship at a city daily. Since then, he’s been published by The Globe and Mail and Time magazine, and worked for CBC and CTV, among others. He’s now stationed at CTV, where he divides his time between the online desk and TV work. “I have the most interesting job because everything I do is something someone wants to hear about,” he says.
“When I lived in Montréal, life seemed to fly by so fast that I felt like writing calm music — a little more introspection, just to slow things down a little,” says Antoine Bédard, who makes music as Montag. “When I moved to Vancouver, it seemed like time was much slower, the city seemed more quiet. So, in reaction to that, I started writing more upbeat songs.” Bédard relocated to the West Coast in 2006, quite simply, “for love,” and the elation and sense of adventure that pervaded the experience can be heard throughout his third disc, Going Places, easily the best electronic-pop album to come out of this city last year. Bédard was absent from Vancouver most of last summer while he toured the U.S. and Japan. Following strong international press reaction to Places, he’s just finished remixing tracks for M83, Au Revoir Simone, and You Say Party! We Say Die! Hear this nomadic artist while we can still claim him as our own.
Vancouver’s clown prince of comedy, Graham Clark was just 14 years old when he first took to the stage. “I entered myself into the [Calgary] Stampede’s youth talent showdown,” he says. “The rest of the competition was country singers and some girls doing a dance to a TLC medley. I wonder if they’re still at it?” Fourteen years later, the Value Village-clad man who was once East Vancouver’s whispered hero of hilarity is no longer a secret, having just won a prestigious nationwide contest for $25,000 of comedy chain Yuk Yuk’s money. Clark’s live show, The Laugh Gallery (currently on hiatus as he finds a new location), has been a weekly favourite on Commercial Drive for years, with its surreal mix of stand-up, bad-movie giveaways, and flea-market-procured raffle prizes — plus the talent and charm that has landed Clark prestige gigs with legends new and old, from the Comedians of Comedy to the Smothers Brothers.
Environmental Youth Alliance
While politicians debate whether or not biofuels are responsible for soaring food prices around the world, 27-year-old Samantha Charlton is taking action. Her interest in urban agriculture was sparked while travelling around the world: six months in Cuba, teaching elementary and secondary school students about school ground greening; months working on farms through Spain in exchange for room and board; and yet more months studying non-profit organizations in India. Her goal in Vancouver is to encourage urbanites to grow their own food to reduce their ecological footprint. Since 2006, Charlton has coordinated an internship program for youth wanting to work in the environmental sector. The interns are connected to community partner organizations who request assistance from the Environmental Youth Alliance to start community gardens, community kitchens, and seed saving. Charlton also works with elementary children, educating them about where food comes from and its environmental costs. With their limited access to the natural environment, she explains, “Some [kids], surprisingly, really think food starts in the supermarket.”
Some people thought first-time restaurateurs Andre McGillivray, Neil Ingram and Mark Brand were off their collective rocker for hiring a 25-year-old with no executive experience to be the chef at their Gastown restaurant, Boneta. That was over a year ago, and the former Lumière sous chef has excelled in his role, leading the restaurant industry to applaud his work (including top notices from the Urban Diner Awards and the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards). “It was a good challenge,” says Bastien, now 26, acknowledging that he was “very young to be the leader of a team.” Before Lumière, the scruffily-bearded Bastien was more than just a prospect: The blood of one of Quebec’s most famous chefs, Richard Bastien (his dad), flows in his veins. “I feel a lot more confident now,” Bastien admits, no longer in the shadow of anyone. “I like being in charge and having the last word. There’s no more second guessing.”
For a while, life was lonely for Janice Cheam. As a new UBC commerce graduate, she watched as her friends fled for plum corporate jobs. Meanwhile, she was adrift. “All I could think of was Energy Aware,” says the 24-year-old. Her obsession has paid off. Three years later, Energy Aware, a venture run by Cheam and some former UBC peers whom she met through a program that pairs commerce and engineering students, created the PowerTab, a sleek doodad that communicates with a household’s hydro-electric system to provide a digital readout — in dollars and cents — of energy consumption. The Energy Aware folks are doing the happy dance with the news that BC Hydro is set to replace old hydro-electric meters with wireless smart meters — a perfect fit for the PowerTab. What’s more, Merrick Architects plans to fit PowerTabs into the Olympic Athletes’ Village in False Creek. In the end, the power lies with the consumer, says Cheam: “As an individual, you don’t always feel connected to [energy conservation]. It needs to be something people think about every day.”
There’s no word for “puck” in Mandarin, so Jason Wang substitutes it with “ball.” For Wang, the 24-year-old Mandarin-language play-by-play radio announcer for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, work is all about these intricacies of language. As a newly-minted graduate of BCIT, Wang applied for sports broadcasting jobs at the MotherCorp — with no luck — until an innovative producer looking to expand the CBC’s cultural outreach saw his resumé. Today, his broadcasts reach at least 1,500 listeners on CBCSports.ca and many more on digital TV and satellite channels. His folks immigrated here from Taiwan in 1992, when he was eight; after his studies he called varsity sports at UBC’s campus radio station, then moved on to Vancouver Whitecaps games in Mandarin, before scoring big with the CBC. Translating at hockey-speed is a tricky thing, but he’s up for it. Hockey-speak for sucker-punch? “Coming from behind and throwing a punch unexpectedly.” And icing — when a player shoots the puck across two red lines? “I just call it ‘icing.’”
As the daughter of immigrant parents from Punjab, Parminder Nizher, 26, never felt like she fit into the mainstream idea of what it means to be South Asian. For years, she felt trapped between two cultures with opposing values. Her personal experiences inspired her to spearhead a project that will help empower other South Asian women in their twenties to feel comfortable with their identity. “There aren’t a lot of services for people in their twenties, and that’s often when you’re finding yourself and may need support,” she says. Parminder also wants to help create awareness and change around domestic violence in her South Asian community. At the Battered Women’s Support Services, she’s coordinating a community project that focuses on immigrant women who have experienced domestic violence from the South Asian, Latin American and Persian communities, which will help them overcome the economic and language barriers in the legal system.
When, at age 17, Scott Walhovd locked himself out of his home, he opened a door to a completely different life. He made his way to Milestone’s on 4th Avenue to use the phone, and was approached by none other than Vancouver über-agent Liz Bell. “I was looking for a phone, and she passed me in the doorway and asked me if I’d ever thought of modelling,” Walhovd, now 22, recalls. Within weeks, he was in New York and Europe posing for D&G, Ralph Lauren, and Gianfranco Ferré. A model’s relatively short career-span means that Walhovd is already onto his second career, as a fashion designer and retailer. His Gastown boutique, enigmatically named (212), will soon celebrate its one-year anniversary and put out its fourth in-house collection. Although he still models locally, Walhovd has no plans to return to the catwalks of the world’s fashion capitals. “I devote so much of my time to my business that I had to cut that out,” he explains. “I don’t even have time for myself!”
Few actors have ridden the wave of Vancouver’s post-X-Files production boom more successfully than 28-year-old Kandyse McClure. Discovered at age 19 by none other than The X-Files’ iconic ‘Cigarette Smoking Man’ (local actor, coach and mentor William B. Davis), the South African-born McClure has appeared in such locally shot science-fiction series as Dark Angel, Jeremiah, Jake 2.0, Andromeda, and Smallville. While impressive, her credits nonetheless limited her audience to a handful of cable-watching die-hards. Ironically, her five-season turn as Anastasia Dualla on the Emmy Award-winning Battlestar Galactica has helped her break out of a small screen of supernatural space adventures in favour of independent film. Her latest project is playing the love interest in Cole, by Vancouver-based filmmaker Carl Bessai. While McClure hopes to parlay this latest role into a career in film, she still has one unrealized dream role from her sci-fi roots: “If I can play a superhero with a leather suit or a cape, I’m in!”
Last year, Alex Suvajac and partner Carl Fletcher’s Foureight table, a convertible coffee-cum-end table made of renewable bamboo veneer and non-toxic glues and finishes, wowed the crowds at Vancouver’s EPIC Expo, as well as at the HauteGREEN exhibition during New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair, the West Coast Green Conference Expo in San Francisco, and at the New Design Canada Exhibit in Jalisco, Mexico. At the same time, Suvajac’s flat-panelled wood and zipper Suvi lamp prototype (now in limited production) was showcased in the juried exhibition at Toronto’s International Design Show. Add to that a three-and-a-half-month internship working on sustainable low-cost housing for the Winaca Foundation Eco Cultural Village in the Philippines, and few would argue the now 27-year-old Suvajac is right to relax and “enjoy my Vancouver summer.” Meanwhile, his latest design, the amphibian-inspired concept track bike, called the a.frame fix, has caught the interest of investors and cycling aficionados in Europe. With such a prolific track record, he’ll doubtless find more design inspiration as he travels around Southeast Asia this fall.
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
While much of North America views classical music as an art form that is dying off as swiftly and surely as its audience, 28-year-old Evan Mitchell gives the lie to the notion that young people aren’t interested in the unique joys of a night at the symphony. “If you look at Europe, where this music is more ingrained in their culture, you see many young people in the audiences,” he points out. “It’s something you just do, like going to the movies or a hockey game.” Growing up in a music-loving household, Mitchell immersed himself in his love of the classics from an early age. Prior to joining the VSO as Assistant Conductor (through which he’ll also have a hand in programming and artistic development), Mitchell toured as an award-winning percussionist and freelance conductor, performing from Toronto to the Netherlands. His ultimate goal? “Given the training and experience I’ve received here with the VSO, I believe the next step is to win a music-directorship position and then figure out what it’s like to be the one in charge!”