Guelph Park has always been the centerpiece of community life in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia. As one of Vancouver’s most vibrant artistic neighborhoods since the 1950s, it was only logical that the park became the recipient of some slightly subversive stealth art.
It all started in 1991, when a piece by sculptor Michael Dennis titled Reclining Figure was installed in the park. Reclining Figure struck some in the neighborhood as an impressionistic vision of just some guy kicking back. A “dude chilling,” you might say. For years the name gained traction, to the point where most locals referred to the small patch of green space as “Dude Chilling Park.”
Without permission, in 2012 local artist Viktor Briestensky erected a lighthearted sign renaming the park. Briestensky’s sign was identical to the official Vancouver Parks Department signs, but instead featured the park’s beloved nickname. Unsurprisingly, the city took the sign down. After all, the park had an official name, one derived from the old family name of Queen Victoria no less.
But while the city may have taken it down, the name lived on, and the removal of the joke sign did not go without public outcry. The people of Mount Pleasant had come to love the name, and a petition was signed by over 1,500 people in support of the sign’s return. It took a couple of years, but in 2014, the sign was re-erected in the park as an official public art piece.
That reclining dude over there? He looked pretty chill about it.
The Atlas Obscura Podcast is a short, daily celebration of all the world’s strange and wondrous places. Check out this episode about Dude Chilling Park.
Know Before You Go
3 blocks east of Main Street, in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of downtown Vancouver