Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Now that I have time for more than one word...
My previous post was abbreivated because of a busier-than-anticipated weekend. Nonetheless, I wanted to post additional thoughts about Bryan Scott's
fantastic blog - Winnipeg Love and Hate
, a venue for Scott's haunting photographic images of what he calls "the most beautiful, most repulsive city in the world." The images posted by Scott are predominantly of core area buildings - some of extreme architectural significance and others of less artistic value. The blog site is, for anyone who has lived here for an extended period of time, a sweet and sour experience to be sure.Images of the city's greatest architectural accomplishments from decades past have more than a blush of melancholy when you realize many of them are empty or underutilized. Still, even in those instances where Scott has chosen a building in some state of crisis or disrepair, the stoic nobility of the buildings comes through loud and clear.What is remarkable about Scott's portfolio is that it captures - for me at least - the underappreciated beauty of Winnipeg's downtown. While it has become fashionable for many Winnipeggers to dismiss downtown as an empty shell of its former glory, those of us who live large portions of our life in the heart of the city continue to quietly celebrate the persistent energy of the core. Suburban Winnipeggers who consider a trip to the big box complex a celebration of community have long lost interest in downtown, despite the fact that it remains a remarkable, vibrant place in its own right. Scott's images bring that concept home in spades.Scott is not the first Winnipeg artist to lovingly nurture a love-hate realationship with the city. In One Great City
, Weakerthan's frontman John Sampson
penned a song celebrating most of the lamentable characteristics of his hometown. The now iconic chorus of the song proclaims "I Hate Winnipeg" but upon closer consideration, it's apparent Sampson does not, in fact, hate the city. But he has some fun lampooning the naysayers who have nothing good to say about the place. The question left at the end of his beautiful ballad is simple: Does Sampson really hate Winnipeg, or does he have an issue with people who spend their lives tearing the place down? For me, it is a love song for the city, albeit an unusual one.I have had many arguments with anti-downtown forces in this town, with me arguing that the downtown is a wonderful place to visit and my opponents arguing that a combination of urban grit, panhandlers and economic dysfunction is not worth visiting. These people have given up on downtown a long time ago. Thankfully, people like Bryan Scott have not.Many cities, especially big cities, are beautiful and repulsive at the same time. It is part of the appeal, and the absurdity of large urban centres that combine new and old, function and dysfunction, extreme wealth and extreme poverty. This is just as true in Vancouver as it is in Toronto and Montreal. If Winnipeggers ever learn to appreciate those contrasting elements, the heart of the city will once again be great.-30-