Public Salon, May 4 (Global Civic Policy Society)

Sam Sullivan and his partner Lynn Zanatta continue to hold these public salons quarterly, and every time, they manage to find a new set of interesting British Columbians to feature.

The program for the May 4, 2016 one is listed here.

As I entered the auditorium, I was immediately drawn to the fusion music of Zimbabwean musician Kurai Blessing Mubaiwan and an Indian musician from the Bhangra Performers. The salons are always preceded by local musicians before the formal evening begins. It was an amazing combination of African and Indian music that worked terrifically well together.

Sam Sullivan introduced the program as always, pointing out that he does not ever set out to project a theme. But often themes emerge. He also mentioned his ongoing cause, revitalizing the trade language Chinook Jargon (also known as Chinook Wawa). British Columbia is a place with incredible linguistic diversity, but many Aboriginal languages face extinction. This is not just a BC problem, of course, as globalization is aimed straight at indigenous cultures. Write to to find out more. It’s always a pleasure to hear Sam talk about this linguistic passion–he truly cares about BC heritage and culture.



Among the talks I particularly enjoyed was one by Jocelyn Morlock, an increasingly well-known composer. In Western music, we are taught to think in terms of octaves and the chromatic scale. But with the lumiphone, there are 32 tones to an octave. This is a concept well-known in Indian music (here’s the serendipitous theme emerging). The lumiphone is a beautiful instrument, and I enjoyed the performance by Brian Nesselroad and Colin Van de Reep, playing a composition by Benton Roark.

Mo Dhaliwal combines an accomplished career as a tech entrepreneur with a sideline in performing bhangra. He promotes culture and opposes homogeneity. The striking colors, rhythm, and music of bhangra are inspiring.



Former nun Chris Morrissey left her religious vocation when she felt she could no longer deny her sexual orientation. But she has not given up her desire to serve others, as she has formed the Rainbow Refugee Committee to assist people who are living in oppressive environments who want the freedom to build a life with their same-gender partners, or who are simply suffering oppression due to their sexual orientation, their HIV status, or their gender identity.

As always at a Global Policy Civic Society salon, topics veered from humanitarian to cultural to scientific. Let’s hope Sam Sullivan and Lynn Zanatta continue this dinner party tradition writ large for a long time to come.

Event: “The secret in inve$ting in art” at the Chali-Rosso Gallery

Vancouver has the Vancouver Art Gallery, Bill Reid Gallery, Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery, and numerous art studios and galleries all around town. Periodically we have events like the Vancouver East Cultural Crawl, where artists open their studios to the public and we can meet the artists and enjoy their work. So far as art goes, even if Vancouver is not quite London or New York, we are quite lucky.

Everyone dreams of stumbling across an immensely valuable artist’s work in their attic or at a rummage sale, and it might be more probable than winning the 6/49, or at least more so than PowerBall. But what if you want to buy some art of your own? If you are thoughtful and do good research, art can be as good, or better, an investment as standard blue chip stocks. And, while stocks are not exactly gorgeous to look at, the right art can really enhance your home or office.

In order to aid potential art investors, Chali-Rosso Gallery offered an evening soiree, with the theme “The secret in inve$ting in art”. First, attendees were invited to peruse the lovely collection of limited edition works of European masters such as Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Chagall, Miro, Renoir, and others (the gallery has over 500 pieces of art). I can’t think of any other gallery in Vancouver which focuses so much on these established Masters.

Besides the framed works, there were some lovely sculptures. We had some nibbles and wine while perusing the art, and then settled down to hear the speakers.

Peter Szeto, of the Peter Szeto Investment Group, is a financial advisor. He focused on the performance of fine art in the market over the past few decades. In short, based on several fine art indices (like the Mei Moses Fine Art Index), art has outperformed stocks, and is somewhat less volatile. Of course, art is not without risk, and it is illiquid, meaning not instantly salable (unlike, say, Apple stock). Szeto clearly stated he is not himself an artist, nor does he feel himself qualified to speak on the artistic side of things, but he did provide the numbers to demonstrate art is a reasonable choice to include in your investment portfolio. Significantly, considering supply and demand, when there is great demand for an artist who is dead with no more discoverable works, the price will surely go up.

peter.jpg(Peter Szeto in front of some great art. Photo credit John Gurcharan Nijjar)

Andrew Fisher, founder of Fisher Fine Art and International Fine Art Acquisitions, has been in the art business since the 1970s, and has a specialty in the work of 19th-century and 20th-century masters. His expert advice is highly sought by art dealers, and he finds himself unable to actually retire. Fisher pointed out that although he comes to art with a different perspective than Szeto, they essentially arrive at the same conclusions: art can be a good investment, and it has many positives that go beyond the strictly financial.

andrew.jpg(Andrew Fisher explaining Warhol’s genius. Photo credit John Gurcharan Nijjar)

If you are interested in current contemporary artists who are not well-known, and possibly on an upswing of popularity, your purchases are more risky, but also potentially more rewarding. Fisher emphasized the importance of learning the market thoroughly if you want to buy cutting-edge art. I am sure there are many Warhol contemporaries who wish they had been a bit more prescient.

Given the importance of Chinese investors in the local economy, the speakers had Mandarin translators. I definitely feel like I am missing out by not knowing Mandarin, so maybe now is the time to start learning! Westerners know about Sotheby’s and Christie’s as well-known art auction houses, but what about Poly Culture, which is China’s largest auction house? I enjoyed this Financial Post article about Poly Culture (but note it’s almost 2 years old).

Still unconvinced about the importance of art as an investment? Consider this statement by Larry Fink, chief executive at BlackRock, the world’s biggest investor with $4.6 trillion. “The two greatest stores of wealth internationally today is contemporary art….. and I don’t mean that as a joke, I mean that as a serious asset class,” said Fink. “And two, the other store of wealth today is apartments in Manhattan, apartments in Vancouver, in London.” (Quoted by Bloomberg.)

Once the lectures had concluded, we were treated to some door prizes. My friend won a ticket to Miss Asian Vancouver beauty pageant. Here’s event hostess Alice Zhou with a prize bag:

az.jpg.jpg(Photo credit John Gurcharan Nijjar)

And here’s a photo of many of the people who made the evening possible:

group.jpg.jpg(A good-looking group, I must say. Photo credit John Gurcharan Nijjar)

The Chali-Rosso Gallery is open to visitors and potential purchasers, and I have no doubt they will work with you to help you make an art investment choice that works for you. Despite the value of the art on the display, it is a friendly and approachable gallery. Visitors are welcome, and group tours are offered (art students and seniors are among those who have taken these tours).

C H A L I – R O S S O
549 Howe Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 2C2

620 Main Street

I frequently walk by Tosi’s. Go and see him if you haven’t. Reblogging from Changing Vancouver.

Changing Vancouver

620 Main St

Our 1978 image and today’s view of the building are almost identical. Anyone who has looked into the window of Tosi’s Italian food store might conclude that the window display hasn’t changed over the decades either. According to the Assessment Authority the build dates from 1930, which is the year the street directory tells us Tosi and Co moved here. If you look on the company website you’ll see that the building was once part of Woodward’s – that’s not actually true. Woodward’s first store was indeed built on this block, and numbered as 622 Westminster Avenue (which became Main Street in 1910). However, around 1903 there was a renumbering of this block, and the original 622 was several building to the south, on the corner of East Georgia (which was then called Harris).

There were buildings here before 1930, and we’re not sure how much the remodeling in 1930 incorporated those structures…

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