Urban Art and the Passage of Time.

Few pieces of urban art can withstand the passage of time. Often created with singular points of inception by solitary individuals, these cultural icons, again and again, are lost within the constantly evolving and renewing, large urban population centres they once enlightened.

Discarded without any thought or reverence for the toil and sweat of the common man or woman who created it.

Perhaps one of the most prolific examples of such loss is the forgotten mural painted upon the western side of “Lee’s Memorial Hall,” in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

Three stories high, buttressing the outer edge of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown district, a massive depiction of the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu riding upon a pleasant-looking bull succumbed to the passage of time, and the forces of change.

This singular artistic creation would have disappeared silently, without note, if not for the mysterious happenstance that preceded its entombment.

For those old enough to remember the mural, and for those who are not, the deliciously spooky tale enfolds something like this.

It is not commonly known exactly when, or even how, that odd little building in the heart of downtown Vancouver began to radiate with a strange pulse of energy.

Passerbys, if lucky enough, would often stop at the intersection of Gore and Pender and pause for a moment, uncertain as to what it was that they could sense. A brief hitch in a busy day, and with a simple shrug of their shoulders, they continued on without any more consideration.

But for those unique few who can sense the true force and power of the energy that surrounds us, and seek to understand its origin, each time they stopped at the mural’s footing, strange perceptions drew their attention.

An unexplained pulse of light rippling gently across the mortar and stone on a dark and sunless winter’s day. A gentle warmth of an unknown magnetic touch entrapped within the towering mural.

And so the legend begins.

Known by countless names throughout the history of mankind, Enlil, wandered the heavens alone within the ether of time and energy until one day he happened upon a small city by the sea and the large mural painted upon one of its buildings.

Having known and liked Lao, as he likes all those who seek, and thinking how lovely it would be to bask in the setting sun within its image, for the grand mural befit his stature, he transposed his life force and entered the mural.

Pleased with himself he peered out from within the brick, mortar and paint, and began to admire the scenic ocean vista at the edge of the beautiful city.

The bright yellow of the afternoon sun gently caressed his beautifully painted face. Knowing he must not stay within the brick and mortar past sunset, lest he be trapped within its confines, he whispered to himself just a few minutes.

He closed his eyes to enjoy its warmth, and a pleasant and peaceful calm began to engulf his being.

The placid rhythm of the faint voice of the Memorial Hall’s sole inhabitant, Lee himself, appeared almost immediately. Dark and enchanting, his steady incantation began to resonate throughout the old brick and mortar.

Slowly, softly, Enlil slipped deeper and deeper into an enchanted slumber as Lee whispered gently into his unsuspecting ear.

The dark and evil laughter awoke Enil with a horrible start. A terrible cackling echoed through his very being as he forced himself forward with a sudden jolt, and nothing happened.

Night had fallen, and now too late to escape, he was trapped within the old brick and mortar of the mausoleum of Lee’s Memorial Hall.

Annoyed with his error, he chuckled to himself, amused by the predicament he found himself now in. He peered out from within the painted brick and mortar and again was captivated by the beauty of the small city by the sea. Day broke over the horizon and the sun again caressed his tired eyes. The gentle breeze soothed his empty soul and a feeling of contentment filled his lonely heart.

Being an immortal life force, with no defined physical boundaries, time was of no importance, so naturally, he lost track of it.

Years passed unnoticed as the strange voice that kept him company grew stronger with each day he remained trapped within the mural until finally one spring he became aware that his strength had begun to ebb.

Finally, the possibility that he may become entrapped within the walls of the old building, buried alive for all of eternity frightened him like nothing before.

Weaken by the years of slumber, he began to gather his strength for one last attempt at escape. Slowly he plotted. Slowly he rebuilt his strength, waiting until the day he would set himself free.

On April 06, 2017, a high-density wind and rain storm converged upon the city of Vancouver. Unprecedented, this unusual, and never again seen weather phenomenon quickly traversed the city’s downtown core in the dark of night.

The force of the wind grew rapidly as the storm centred its strength atop the outer edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown district, 300 blocks of East Pender and Gore.

Faster and stronger the speed of the wind began to build, until finally, with a strange concentrated blow that had no lasting effect on any surrounding trees, or their branches, a single heavy gust knocked out a small section of brick wall atop Lee’s memorial Hall, freeing Enil from the clutches of the old spirit of Lee himself.

If true solace is to be found, perhaps it can be found within the singular points of inception created by solitary individuals. True art is created for the common man or woman by the common individual.

Perhaps for “Those Who Seek,” the last known pictures of the Lao Tsu mural, painted upon the brick and mortar of Lees Memorial Hall in the DTES of Vancouver City, represent something more?