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Jill Von Sprecken

Ariana Grande at Rogers Arena

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Pop superstar Ariana Grande. (Photo: ©2014 Getty Images/MTV 2014)

Pop superstar Ariana Grande. (Photo: ©2014 Getty Images/MTV 2014)

Make no mistake about it: diminutive pop diva Ariana Grande has a voice that is larger than life. Her smash single “Problem” topped the charts in 65 countries and catapulted Grande to superstardom. The singer-songwriter is taking hits like “Bang Bang” and “Love Me Harder” on the road to promote her latest album, My Everything. Catch the pint-sized powerhouse at Rogers Arena, Apr. 16.

Pop-Up Exhibition at the Capture Photography Festival

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Tokyu Plaza, Tokyo" by Matthew Pillsbury

“Tokyu Plaza, Tokyo” by Matthew Pillsbury

Matthew Pillsbury knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. The celebrated New York–based photographer travelled to Tokyo and explored the bustling metropolis through his camera lens. His long-exposure snaps capture the blur of a city in constant motion and highlight a surreal contrast between technology and traditional culture. See works such as “Tokyu Plaza, Tokyo” (pictured) in Matthew Pillsbury: Tokyo at the Douglas Udell Gallery Pop-Up, Apr. 4 to 25.

Spa Days

Three luxurious local spots offer the max in relax

By SHERI RADFORD + JILL VON SPRECKEN

Relaxation goes beyond the treatment rooms at Willow Stream Spa. (Photo: KK Law)

Relaxation goes beyond the treatment rooms at Willow Stream Spa. (Photo: KK Law)

Willow Stream Spa
Serenity can be found at Willow Stream Spa’s lofty locale, five floors above the hustle and bustle of the city’s downtown core. Decked out in plenty of marble and warm wood—a nod to the coastal rainforest setting—this spa offers a dose of Zen with postcard-worthy water views. The airy and bright space offers three lounges (men, women and couples) for sipping pineapple-infused water, snacking on fruit and nuts, and relaxing fireside in fluffy robes before, between or after treatments. Choosing from the array of massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps is simplified through treatment categories: relieve, restore or results. Simply select the type based on the desired result. A signature “restorative” pick, the Energy Deep Cleanse facial combines K-Lift light therapy technology with the know-how of the therapist to combat aging and to plump up skin. Sightseers with tired gams opt for the Van Active Feet, which targets lower legs and feet with a soak, warm exfoliation and cooling massage. Ingredients such as maple butter and Bio-Maple compound give treatments such as the Coastal Mountain Body Wrap and Pacific Rim Body Buffer a Canadian twist. Afterwards, bask in the post-treatment glow on the terrace, where jacuzzis, an infrared sauna and meditation pods complete the experience. Back inside the change room, don’t pass up the luxurious Hydrotherapy Experience Shower and its 20 showerheads. Trust us: the real world is still out there. But there’s no better way to ignore it for awhile.—JVS (more…)

Mark Richards Gallery: Picture Perfect

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Fall in Whistler Village"

“Fall in Whistler Village” by Mark Richards

The only match for the stunning scenery here? Artworks by local talent, including luminous landscapes by Mark Richards. Pieces such as “Fall in Whistler Village” (pictured) feature snaps that explore the beautiful West Coast, and are fine-tuned with paint for eye-catching pieces that blur the line between realism and impressionism. For more of the artist’s creations, visit Mark Richards Gallery.

Chic Boutique: much&little

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Delphine's designs exude a casual, West Coast vibe

Delphine’s designs exude a casual, West Coast vibe

Main Street’s much&little is a treasure trove, boasting shelves studded with gems that range from housewares to handicrafts. The bounty of beautiful goods favours unique items, and includes a selection of ladies’ apparel by independent and emerging designers such as LA-based Black Crane and Delphine (pictured). The light fabrics and elegant-yet-casual silhouettes will whip wardrobes into springtime shape, all with an unmistakable West Coast vibe.

Food for Thought

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

A selection of Thai dishes, at Maenam

A selection of Thai dishes, at Maenam

There are plenty of reasons to dine out: first-class cuisine, stimulating company and, best of all, no clean-up required. Dining Out For Life gives us another reason to make a reservation. On Mar. 26, restaurants across North America raise money to support people living with HIV/AIDS by donating 25 percent of their sales to not-for-profits Friends For Life and A Loving Spoonful. Eateries range from mainstays such as Maenam (pictured) to newcomers like Nicli’s Next Door. Eating well and doing good—we’ll order that for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

TransMigration’s Cool Choreography

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

TransMigration pays homage to First Nations artist and shaman, Norval Morrisseau

TransMigration pays homage to First Nations artist and shaman, Norval Morrisseau

The late, great Norval Morrisseau’s bold, whimsical works take centre stage in TransMigration. The dance-theatre piece is inspired by the First Nations artist and shaman, and draws on both his life and paintings. The choreography, music and design capture Morrisseau’s brilliance as an artist, while also touching on his struggles and triumphs. Catch this feast for the eyes, and spirit, at The Historic Theatre, Mar. 17 to 21.

Tasteful Treats at ChocolaTas

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

At ChocolaTas, the decadent treats come in pretty souvenir tins

At ChocolaTas, the decadent treats come in pretty souvenir tins

If life is like a box of chocolates, we’d like it to be as sweet as ChocolaTas’ tinned confections. Landmarks such as the Gastown Steam Clock (pictured) adorn the outsides of the souvenir-worthy boxes, while an assortment of truffles and ganache in flavours such as whisky and pear, lavender, and champagne decorate the insides. So even if the treats disappear quickly, the tins will preserve memories of Vancouver long after the chocolates are gone.

Cultural Evolution: Contemporary Chinese Art

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Bang" by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. (Photo: Ai Weiwei)

“Bang” by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. (Photo: Ai Weiwei)

Age-old Asian art meets modern master at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Chinese Contemporary Art (to Apr. 6). Works in a wide range of media—from large-scale installations to paintings and porcelain—turn tradition on its head. See pieces such as “Bang” (pictured) by celebrated artist and activist Ai Weiwei. The explosive collection of 866 antique wooden stools captures the country’s shift to mass-produced plastic furniture. Proof that everything old can be new again.

A Night at the Opera: Die Fledermaus

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Scene from Johann Strauss, Jr.'s Die Fledermaus

Scene from Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Die Fledermaus

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but in Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Die Fledermaus, it’s also served with champagne. At a lavish soirée attended by Vienna’s high society, the dapper Dr. Falke repays his friend Eisenstein for abandoning him one night, drunk and dressed as a bat, or fledermaus. Staged by the Vancouver Opera, this effervescent comedy is punctuated by laughter, love, music, waltzing and plenty of bubbly. Don’t miss it, Mar. 5 to 8 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Public Art in Vancouver

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Jonathan Borofsky's "Human Structures Vancouver"

Jonathan Borofsky’s “Human Structures Vancouver.” (Photo: KK Law)

The great outdoors just got a little greater. Thanks to the Vancouver Biennale, alfresco art installations are popping up around the city, transforming ordinary outdoor spaces into cool cultural attractions. A tour along the Granville Island and False Creek waterfront takes art aficionados past three recent works: Jonathan Borofsky’s interconnected “Human Structures Vancouver” (pictured above), Cosimo Cavallaro’s playful “Love Your Beans,” and Gustavo and Otávio Pandolfo’s massive “Giants” (pictured below)—perhaps the most buzzed-about addition.

"Giants" by OSGEMEOS. (Photo: KK Law)

“Giants” by OSGEMEOS. (Photo: KK Law)

Spanning six cylindrical cement silos, the larger-than-life graffiti mural may be the most ambitious project yet by the Brazilian twin brothers known as OSGEMEOS. At the very least, Vancouver has some colourful new residents.

East Meets West

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Beautiful Bambudda

Bambudda’s contemporary space. (Photo: KK Law)

A trendy Gastown gem, Bambudda boasts artfully conceived Cantonese cuisine in a smart space. Modern banana-leaf wallpaper and a hopping street-side bar perfectly match the contemporary Asian tapas. Former Top Chef Canada contender Curtis Luk serves up dishes such as pork belly with taro and salt-and-pepper Humboldt squid. Or, from Feb. 19 to 22, ring in the Year of the Sheep with a special dumplings menu. This traditional dish symbolizes togetherness and prosperity, making it a perfectly delicious way to celebrate Chinese New Year. Gung hay fat choy!