Town Talk: Indigenous feast kicks off Harmony Arts Festival (Dr. Julio Montaner)

Cantonese opera master Hoi Seng Leong appeared at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden recently with Yuk Fung Cheung, who is a student at his Richmond-based academy. They performed the Fragrant Sacrifice finale from The Flower Princess, which some call China’s Romeo and Juliet story. As in Shakespeare’s day, Cantonese opera long had men play female roles. That spurred the garden’s artist in residence, Paul Wong, to add contemporary Asian drag performers and make the sold-out evening part of the five-day, 14-event Alternative Pride schedule.

They were fronted by Shay Dior (real name Ban Dang) who co-ordinates Ricecake dance parties and heads the House of Rice group of Asian drag artists. Much-lauded multimedia artist-curator Wong received a 2005 Governor General’s Award in visual and media arts and, in 2016, the $30,000 Audain Prize for lifetime achievement in the visual arts.

NEW TWIST: Vancouver art adherents recall the many paintings in which Tiko Kerr depicted familiar landmarks in a rather psychedelic way. Burrard Street Bridge, downtown towers, City Hall, etc., writhed and contorted in super-saturated colours, but always instantly recognizable. But the drugs Kerr ingested weren’t LSD. They were anti-retroviral TMC 114 and TMC 125 that Health Canada banned until 2005. That’s when globally lauded HIV/AIDS physician Dr. Julio Montaner and sympathetic politicians broke the federal deadlock, thus permitting their import and literally saving Kerr’s life.

Malcom Parry reports

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