Jim Breukelman is not entirely sure where the small, postwar bungalows he photographed are – if they even still exist.
The veteran photographer shot the meticulously maintained Vancouver homes in the 1980s for a series called Hot Properties – but then in true Vancouver fashion, his car was broken into and his notebook with the addresses of the houses was stolen. Now those images are hitting huge Pattison billboards across the city as part of this year's Capture Photography Festival.
"The title Hot Properties was originally meant to be ironic, because they're beautifully manicured little houses," says festival executive director Kim Spencer-Nairn, who adds that a Facebook campaign is planned to identify the homes. "Of course now, with the current real estate market, Hot Properties clearly refers to the land value. But they're beautiful photographs, and everybody will relate to them on various levels."
Other public art installations at this year's Capture include a site-specific commission by renowned photographer Stephen Waddell on the Dal Grauer Substation on Burrard Street; a container project at Lonsdale Quay that features a camera obscura by Erin Siddall and Sean Arden, as well as a video work by First Nations artist Ryan McKenna; and a curated series of stills at Canada Line stations from Waterfront to YVR.
Now in its third year, the fest – which shines a spotlight on lens-based art from B.C. and beyond – features more than 100 exhibitions and events, including opening receptions, artist talks, film screenings and workshops about everything from how to make your own camera to direct animation.
Among the exhibitions are Eadweard Muybridge's studies in locomotion at the Equinox Gallery; the 2015 National Pictures of the Year nominees at the Pendulum Gallery; a selection of Edward Burtynsky photographs in dialogue with Emily Carr artworks in Abbotsford; a survey by Brian Howell at the Winsor Gallery; a Ballet BC 30th anniversary photo exhibition, and dozens more.
The Friday night launch at the Roundhouse features works by emerging local artists, one of whom will be awarded the Lind Prize – a commission to create a work for the new Polygon Gallery in 2017.
Of course, Vancouver has always been a hotbed of art photography, and Ms. Spencer-Nairn says that, combined with the skyrocketing popularity of photography thanks to smart phones and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, means the interest has never been greater.
"The number of images being clicked on a daily basis worldwide is mind-boggling. And in many ways, I think it makes fine-art photos stand out even more, " she says. "…So it's more important than ever to highlight it as an art form."
The Capture Photography Festival runs through April 28.