Gore and Cordova

Karin Konoval

Sep 27-Oct 28 | 2016

Gore and Cordova by Karin Konoval is in the Frirehall Gallery from: Sep 27-Oct 28 | 2016

GORE AND CORDOVAfullsizerender

I arrived in Vancouver in September 1981, just turned twenty and about to live away from home for the first time. I remember the ride from the airport, feeling scared and hopeful, the smell of wet green, the sight of fruit and flowers on the sidewalk in front of corner markets. The cab dropped me at 10th and Commercial, a basement suite I’d share with a roommate I’d never met. The next morning I caught the 21 Victoria bus to my new life. I got off at Main and Hastings where I’d been told to walk north towards the mountains; but it was pouring rain and foggy, not a mountain in sight. I set down my belongings, got out my map and studied it. Suddenly a man stood over me.


“You need a job?”


“No.  I’m looking for the acting school in the Firehall. Do you know where that is?”


“Nope.” He was looking at me in a strange all over way. “But I can give you a job.”


I repeated that I was looking for the Firehall, not a job. This went back and forth for a few minutes until finally he waved in a direction and huffed off.


I found my way to Gore and Cordova where I’d spend most of my waking hours for the next two years. Gone was everything secure and familiar, any sense of home, even the delight I’d always found in the larger world around me. My world became two rehearsal rooms at the top of an old firehall where I was called to inner exploration in uncomfortable ways. Bus rides in the dark and rain. The basement suite where my friendly but depressed roommate lay with curtains drawn, watching one of two channels on our black and white tv, chugging coke and potato chips. Lunch hours at school I’d escape into Chinatown, buy a thirty-five cent cocktail bun. I got a job making popcorn and lattes at an art cinema, occasionally dashing upstairs to wake the projectionist when a reel ran out. Four months into my new life I’d gained ten pounds and still hadn’t seen the ocean.


Sometimes I’d step to the window overlooking Gore and Cordova and stare into the street. Mostly the rain poured down and everything looked grey but there’d be flashes of color, a surprise event, an interaction, a rush of life. I began to write down what I’d seen when I got back to the basement suite….a woman urging an invisible dog along on a bouncing leash, a man selling paintings on torn cardboard, a huddle of identically dressed women bent over with bags of vegetables racing the light, a brightly and scantily clad prostitute standing firm in the rain. And for some reason, in taking note of these things, my experience began to shift.


I found the career as an actor I’d set out to get and each time I’ve returned to work at the Firehall there’s been a moment of measure: how much have I learned since I was last here? Perhaps we all have these places — mine is the rehearsal hall window overlooking Gore and Cordova. In 2008 during rehearsals of a play about torrential rain at the end of the world, I brought a camera and took pictures of goings-on in the street. It was twenty seven years since I first stepped to that window and began taking snapshots in my mind — a moment I’ve realized was no less than my spirit finding anchor in a new life. I came back with my camera in 2016 when I began this series. The paintings in “Gore and Cordova” derive from these two sets of photographs, a circular celebration of the intersection.



Karin’s artwork has appeared on solo exhibit in Vancouver, B.C.: My Friend Sally Has 56 Swim Suits, a story in 32 paintings, at the WECC Showcase (2012); auditions 2day!, a series of paintings celebrating life in show business, at the Waterfront Theatre (2011) and Biz Books (2010); tiny clown long wait, a story in 21 paintings, at Unity Gallery (2009) and at the WECC Showcase (2008). Paintings from her Sky Dance series were exhibited at the Silk Purse Gallery (2011) and the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens (2009). Other individual paintings been exhibited at the Stanley Theatre, Bears Toy Store and the Harmony Arts Festival. She has created custom greeting card artwork for PAL Vancouver among many other private commissions. She contributes to art auctions in support of theatre and great ape conservation, including “Apes In The Arts” in Atlanta, Georgia – a collaboration between human and ape artists. Since 2011 Karin visits regularly with a group of orangutans in Seattle, Washington, with whom she has an ongoing conversation in painting.


Karin’s short stories have been published in the anthologies Exact Fare Only II and Live To Imagine and in literary magazines, and broadcast on CBC Radio’s Sounds Like Canada and Alberta Anthology. Her first illustrated children’s book, Jeffrey Takes a Walk in December,was published in 2015 and is available for purchase online through Friesen Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo. The artwork will appear on solo exhibit at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island, October 25 2016 – January 4 2017.


As an actor, Karin has appeared in guest star and recurring roles in numerous TV series and supporting lead roles in many feature films. Her extensive screen credits include “Maurice the orangutan” in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes, “Mrs. Peacock” in the infamous X-Files episode Home, and the lead role of “Mary Leonard” in the feature Cable Beach, for which she received a Philip Borsos award. She has received numerous awards for her work in theatre, performing lead roles in contemporary classics and a wide range of musicals.


for more information please see karinkonoval.com