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Jill Von Sprecken

Abstract Artworks by Julia Dault

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Drama Queen" by abstract artist Julia Dault. (Photo: Jason Wyche courtesy the Artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York)

“Drama Queen” by abstract artist Julia Dault. (Photo: Jason Wyche courtesy the Artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York)

Playful and psychedelic, Julia Dault’s avant-garde abstracts may seem to break rules, but the New York–based artist is actually making them—for herself. Her elegant sculptural works are single-handedly wrestled into place on-site, sans nails or glue. And her paintings’ pop-art palette? It’s a combination of unmixed paint applied with unconventional materials such as squeegees and sea sponges, no paintbrushes allowed (“Drama Queen,” pictured in detail). See her dizzying designs at Contemporary Art Gallery’s Blame It on the Rain until Jun. 28.

Craft Beer Circuit

Easy drinking, hoppy or just plain experimental—a bevy of brews can be found around Vancouver. Explore the options at these breweries, all just a hop, sip and jump away

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

The beautiful interior at Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall. (Photo: KK Law)

The beautiful interior at Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall. (Photo: KK Law)

1. BIG ROCK URBAN This Alberta outpost’s proximity to the SkyTrain makes it an ideal starting point. On tap: the brand’s stalwart brews alongside sips such as Hollow Tree Pacific Northwest Red Ale, inspired by the Lower Mainland and developed to please West Coast palates.

2. 33 ACRES The pristine aesthetic at this brewery and tasting room is a design buff’s dream, and the perfect locale for sipping 33 Acres of Sunshine, an unfiltered white ale, or 33 Acres of Life, a smooth California Common–style beer. Refuel with food truck fare or an espresso-based bevvy.

3. MAIN STREET BREWING Tucked away just east of Main Street, this industrial heritage space serves a rotating menu of cask-conditioned beer alongside a solid selection of regular draft options such as the Westminster Brown and the Saison No. 7, with its subtle splash of pepper and citrus.

4. BRASSNECK Reclaimed wood and zany artwork line the walls, while the frequently rotating taps attempt to keep pace with even the most enthusiastic beer lover’s thirst for new and inventive brews. Nano batches keep the pours fresh and eclectic, reflected in the eight or more offerings on tap.

5. STEEL TOAD This refurbished industrial space boasts an airy mix of glass and wood, and brews that range from the authentic Yorkshire Best Bitter to the more adventurous East Coast “Nineties” IPA with spicy rye undertones. Stay for inventive bites from the menu, then hop the SkyTrain for a quick—and perhaps wobbly—exit.

Getting Cheeky: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

These two musical powerhouses collaborated on a jazzy album, Cheek to Cheek

These two musical powerhouses collaborated on a jazzy album, Cheek to Cheek

A musical match-up between Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga may seem unlikely, but as the Grammy Award–winning Cheek to Cheek album proves, they’re making beautiful music together. Both famed in their own right, the iconic vocalists each add their own distinctive spin to the Great American Songbook. Hear songs like “Sophisticated Lady,” “Lush Life” and—perhaps most appropriately—“Anything Goes” as the pair promotes their jazzy album at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, May 25 and 26.

Kids in the Hall

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

The Kids in the Hall. (Photo: David Hawe)

The Kids in the Hall. (Photo: David Hawe)

The Head Crusher. Cabbage Head. Chicken Lady. In the ’80s and ’90s, The Kids in the Hall earned a cult following for bizarre skits featuring TV’s quirkiest characters. Now, the Canadian comedy troupe is on tour, and they’re bringing old and new material along for the ride. Join the five original cast members—and a host of alter egos—for an evening of wacky and irreverent comedy at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 20.

Ready to Roar: Prohibition

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Sleek digs at Prohibition

The sleek digs at Prohibition

Newly opened Prohibition, a posh lair hidden below the city streets, evokes the 1920s in a sumptuous, speakeasy-inspired setting. Live entertainment, ebony ceilings and curving blue vinyl banquettes create the perfect atmosphere for bespoke-cocktail sipping—whether a vintage tipple or a custom creation featuring house-made bitters. The adventurous seek out the absinthe fountain, while others favour coupes of champagne. It’s a slice of Jazz Age style, minus the bathtub gin.

2015 Where to Dine Awards: Whistler

Where’s globetrotting readers weigh in on the tastes that left an impression long after the last bite

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Scallops with corn, spicy sausage and mustard vinaigrette at Araxi

Scallops with corn, spicy sausage and mustard vinaigrette at Araxi

FINE DINING
Araxi Restaurant + Bar
Pacific Northwest fare may be no better represented than by chef James Walt’s uncompromising plates. For more than three decades, locals and visiting foodies alike have praised the fresh, regional cuisine and winning wine list.
FINALISTS Bearfoot Bistro; Il Caminetto di Umberto. (more…)

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.