Author Tags: Architecture

Born in 1947 in New Westminster, McKellar spent 19 years as an itinerant artist named ‘Laughing Hand’ prior to Neon Eulogy (Ekstasis 2001). Neon Eulogy contains 45 deeply hopeful links to the artistry of a bygone era when manners mattered more than money, and when neon still beckoned in full force. The revolving W atop the Woodward’s building gets in; the ridiculous Bow Mac/Toys R Us sign stays out. (If you check your dictionary you’ll see a eulogy is not necessarily limited to an ode to the deceased.)

Neon Eulogy is billed as ‘a poetic incantation by a bohemian sleuth’ with ‘jazz-riff improvizations.’ With concise histories and lovingly rendered line drawings, it’s an uplifting tribute to Vancouver’s vintage cafes, theatres and other funkier landmarks. These include Seymour Billiards, Smilin’ Buddha, the Naam, the Ovaltine and Benny’s Bagels. “Perhaps neon’s wizardry,” he writes, “will lift the mask of Vancouver’s tragic old-town melancholy and light the flame of her wild smouldering spirit once again.”

A former cabbie, McKellar often returns to Vancouver from his Victoria home to do his strictly street-level research. Dyslexia works in his favour. Instead of groping through books to regurgitate other people’s work, he mainly talks to people about the sites. $24.95 / 1-896860-92-3

CITY/TOWN: Victoria, B.C.

DATE OF BIRTH: June 2, 1947

PLACE OF BIRTH: New Westminster, B.C.



Neon Eulogy; Vancouver Cafe and Street (Ekstasis Editions, 2001)

line-poem drawings (Ekstasis Editions, 1983)

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS: Keith McKellar (Laughing Hand) has spent the past twenty years as an itinerant artist, drawing and showing his work on the street, from Vancouver and Victoria to California, Taiwan and Japan. His view is shaped by his years as a Vancouver night-time cabbie and sixty-five other assorted jobs prior to adopting the artist name Laughing Hand and embarking on this journey. Born in 1947 in New Westminster, B.C., McKellar grew up in Prince George, B.C. during the boom and bust fifties and sixties. He composes live off his telescopic easel and performs his string show of Vancouver vintage cafe and theatre drawings on Commercial Drive.

[BCBW 2002] "Architecture"