Ah Vancouver: the city known for its outdoorsy lifestyle and its rainy weather. Ever wonder what Vancouverites do when the weather stops them from going on their beloved hikes and bike rides? One solution is the classic art gallery visit, of course. So until this bad weather tides over and we can all head out to Wreck Beach again, here are VIVA's prescriptions for an awesome gallery-hopping time – food and booze included.
Rennie Collection + Juniper
The Rennie Collection (51 E Pender St) is the hidden gem in Vancouver when it comes to fine art. Stemming from the private collection of local real estate legend Bob Rennie who started collecting at the age of 19, the beautiful brick-clad gallery sits next door to his office in the historic Wing Sang Chinatown building. From Baldessari to Ai Wei Wei, each season's curation is outstanding. Don't visit without checking out the beautiful rooftop patio.
Complete your day with a visit to the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical gardens across the street, followed by an eye-popping dinner at Juniper (185 Keefer St). They create West Coast fare so beautiful you almost don't want to eat it; but you'll be so very glad when you do.
Hot Art Wet City + The Foundation
Hot Art Wet City (2206 Main St) is an insanely fun gallery (as the name might imply) without any of the stiff seriousness that can often accompany art exhibitors. Proof: they don't allow any long artist statements. They're also not afraid to mix low-brow illustration, pop culture, and street art with comedy shows and workshops, as long as they're all local. We recommend their monthly Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School sessions if you're looking to get your hands dirty with some cabaret-meets-live-drawing classes.
Follow up with a nacho feast and craft brews at The Foundation (2301 Main St), where the food is so good you won't even notice it's vegetarian.
Centre A + Fat Mao
Centre A, or the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (229 East Georgia St), is a relatively small building that takes on big projects; they've collaborated with the National Taiwan Museum, held residency programs with Seoul's RAT School of ART, and featured work from Yoko Ono. Considering Vancouver's close ties and confluence with Asia, their work provides eloquent and engaging insight into the cultural bridge between the two continents.
Head next door to Fat Mao (217 E Georgia St) for some insanely delicious noodle soups, and pair them with imported beer or a Vietnamese affogato. It's not easy to come across a place that grinds its own spices and more for a laksa broth, so don't miss out.
Equinox Gallery/Monte Clark Gallery + Nuba
Tucked away in a quiet spot of East Van called The Flats, Equinox Gallery and Monte Clark Gallery (525 Great Northern Way) sit side-by-side in converted warehouses that compare with the Vancouver Art Gallery in floor space. They house some of the best international work in contemporary art: past exhibitors have included heavyweights such as Fred Herzog and Jack Shadbolt. Did we also mention that Equinox serves wine, and that Monte Clark has a resident French poodle named Asher?
Take a stroll over to Nuba (146 E 3rd Ave) to try their authentically thick and fragrant Turkish coffee, and Najib's Special: crazy tasty deep-fried cauliflower. The hip Lebanese eatery is inspired by owner Victor Bouzide's grandmother's home cooking.
Contemporary Art Gallery + Hawksworth Restaurant
Although small, the Contemporary Art Gallery's (555 Nelson Street) temporary exhibits change up frequently, with many intriguing artists on rotation. We recommend going for a visit before heading over to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a full afternoon of art.
Follow up with a delicious trip to the stylish Hawksworth (801 W Georgia St) across the street from the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Pacific Northwest cuisine is unparalleled, and its location in the super swanky Hotel Georgia doesn't hurt either.
UNIT/PITT + Bao Bei
Formerly the Helen Pitt Gallery, UNIT/PITT (236 East Pender St) is dedicated to experimental contemporary art that asks critical social, political and cultural questions. A rotating roster of curators and a diverse range of mediums keep it interesting even after 41 years in show, with screenings of music videos, internet-based projects, and TV pieces projected onto their front window every night.
There's no question about where to go for dinner and drinks: a recipient of numerous foodie awards from both critics and diners, Bao Bei (163 Keefer St) is definitely not your grandma's Chinese restaurant. The perfect spot for Asian tapas, enjoy a smooth sake cocktail with a plate of 5-spice duck salad while seated on antique Chinese bar stools.