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Jill Von Sprecken

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!

Inuit Imagery: Ningeokuluk Teevee

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Ningeokuluk Teevee's "A Lot of Bull"

Ningeokuluk Teevee’s “A Lot of Bull”

In Beyond the Surface: Drawings by Ningeokuluk Teevee (Feb. 14 to Mar. 6), the Cape Dorset artist creates vibrant coloured-pencil and graphite drawings that bring Inuit mythology and stories to life. See works such as “A Lot of Bull” (pictured) in the 25 drawings on display at Inuit Gallery.

Romantic Vancouver

With its backdrop of misty mountains and stunning shorelines, this city was made for sweethearts

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Enjoying the sunset at English Bay (Photo: KK Law)

Enjoying the sunset at English Bay. (Photo: KK Law)

9 Things to do for Sweethearts

1 Show off your triple Lutz while gliding around the outdoor rinks at Robson Square and Grouse Mountain.

2 Whip up a delectable meal in a couples cooking class at The Dirty Apron Cooking School.

3 Soak up a spectacular sunset at English Bay.

4 Tour Stanley Park and the seawall on a tandem bike from Spokes Bicycle Rentals.

5 Snuggle up on a sleigh ride through Grouse Mountain’s winter wonderland. Afterwards, warm up next to the fireplace with a steaming mug of hot cocoa.

6 Escape to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, an enchanting oasis in the heart of Chinatown.

7 Snowshoe through Cypress Mountain’s snow-covered terrain, then warm up with cheese and chocolate fondue in historic Hollyburn Lodge.

8 Admire art, preferably hand in hand, at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

9 Share a canvas and hand-crafted cocktail at Raw Canvas while creating a masterpiece in the “painting pit.”

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Balanchine‘s Bold Ballet

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Beautiful and bold ballet by George Balanchine

Beautiful and bold ballet by George Balanchine

Graceful and groundbreaking, George Balanchine’s choreography revolutionized dance. Now, Miami City Ballet salutes the famed 20th-century choreographer in Balanchine, a sweeping triple bill that showcases his acclaimed career through Serenade, Symphony in Three Movements and Ballo della Regina. Known for his ability to express music through movement, he created ballets that feature works by celebrated composers such as Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Verdi. See this showcase of virtuosity at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Feb. 19 to 21.

The Addams Family Musical

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Get to know The Addams Family all over again

Get to know The Addams Family all over again

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky. In fact, the oddball family is just as you remember, only now they’ve taken their antics onstage in The Addams Family: A New Musical. Anyone who feels their family is a bit, well… bizarre, will relate to Wednesday Addams when she brings her “normal” boyfriend and his parents home to dinner. Catch all the quirkiness at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, Feb. 6 to 21.