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Coupland ‘distinguished’ with 2012 award
No stranger to international accolades, North Shore novelist, artist and chronicler of Canadiana, Douglas Coupland is in a reflective mood when feted here at home.
“I grew up in a place that wasn’t a place and then suddenly, boom, it’s the 21st century and we’re actually something that people can locate on the map,” the 50-year-old native of West Vancouver’s Glenmore neighbourhood and author of Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture told a roomful of supporters at North Vancouver’s Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art.
The Oct. 25 celebration saw Coupland handed the 2012 Distinguished Artist Award from the Fund for the Arts on the North Shore Society (FANS), joining past luminaries like actors Jay Brazeau and Nicola Cavendish, and musician Bryan Adams.
“This is right in my backyard, so it’s different than doing it in New York or Europe,” Coupland, dressed in white jeans and a navy blazer, told The Outlook. “The modern history of North Van… it’s only been here basically a hundred years. I grew up in a house that was built on what used to be a logging road. So given how young we are, how small we are, we actually have a very disproportionate creative output and that’s not an accident.”
Gordon Smith Gallery director Bill MacDonald credited that local creative tendency to “something in the water behind Cleveland Dam” in his introduction of Coupland, but privately, the artist-author put the onus on organizations like FANS, Artists For Kids and the Gordon Smith Gallery.
“Why should we fund arts education?” Coupland asked The Outlook, rhetorically. “Because if we don’t, we might as well live in a parking lot.”
In his brief acceptance speech, Coupland cited the United States as a place where funding for arts education has been “savaged” over the years and the cultural landscape left wanting as a result.
And so, returning from abroad to find his hometown still firmly ‘on the map,’ remains a comforting thrill for Coupland.
“It’s kind of weird that there’s actually a really, really good museum on Lonsdale [Avenue].”