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Yes, the Canada Line makes it easy to get Richmond.  But where’s the there there? 

Obviously, at the Oval. 

So I took the train to Lansdowne Station on No. 3 Road, figuring I could walk the route that would take me to the Olympic speed-skating oval, and, along the way, see one of the most provocative pieces of public art in years.  Namely, this:

This is “Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head.”  It’s all the rage in Richmond – another piece of the Vancouver Biennale that’s pushing people’s buttons.  At least it does in Beijing, where the hometown artists – the Gao brothers – aren’t particularly welcome. 

Here, reactions are more quizzical than condeming.

A mini-Mao with breasts.  What are they trying to say?

For me, as interesting as the scuplture was the location.   Miss Mao is posed on a bust in a new park just under construction on the edge of an urbanizing Richmond still embedded in Motordom.

These few blocks at Elmbridge and Alderbridge are the first to reflect the future Richmond, where within walking distance of the Canada Line stations there could be a population surpassing Vancouver’s Downtown Peninsula.

But not yet.  Way not yet.   In the meantime, and certainly during the Olympics, visitors will experience in their treks to the Oval the Richmond of decades past – a triangle of industrial and commercial sprawl, designed when planners, engineers and developer simply assumed everyone would drive, transit would be non-existent, and nobody walked.

This is Richmond’s ALO Triangle – the land between the Aberdeen and Lansdowne Stations, and the Oval.  And that’s a problem.  (More tomorrow).

(Miss Mao and Lenin are within the green ring.)