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The condemned Santa Fe was an artful building

November 26, 2014


The vacated and eventually to-be-gutted  Santa Fe apartment building at 2975 Oak Street is no beehive of activity. But it may not quite be the abandoned wasp nest I’ve taken it for.

On Monday two original signed paintings on canvas turned up by the building’s recycling blue bins (the commercial garbage dumpster has been removed).

It’s possible that someone living in one of the neighbouring apartments left the canvases where I found them but I think not. The neighbours have their own dumpsters to fill. Any risk of the site becoming a dumping ground comes from visiting drive-bys more than residents of the block.

I take the appearance of the paintings as an indication that something is quietly going on behind those closed doors and boarded windows. And if the painting came out of the Santa Fe then that further suggests at least one of the tenants was an art collector or that two of them painted.

Jetsam from a soon-to-be wreck


I see a hint of mountains but I don’t see my city.

The largest painting was an energetic city skyline that didn’t bring Vancouver to mind (at least my mind). The white-lined tower on the viewer’s left of the painting, with its crisscross superstructure, looked like a number of American skyscrapers, particularly the John Hancock Tower in Chicago, Illinois.

The canvas was initialed in the bottom right-hand corner with a white longhand ligature: “SQ”. In several places the canvas was pierced — deliberately it seemed — with holes.


The way it’s signed suggests the proper orientation is 90° counterclockwise.

The other canvas was two-thirds the size of the first and as precisely abstract as the larger painting was wildly figurative. It too appeared to be purposely damaged, with a short slash across the centre. The position of a signature in a corner: “Arnot”, showed that the painting was intended to be portrait orientation. Click the images to enlarge them.

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