This small residential hotel in downtown Vancouver was stubbornly saved from demolition by its amazing owner, the quietly determined George Riste. George resisted numerous attempts by BC Hydro to buy his building, continually asserting the rights of his tenants to remain exactly where they were. In the end, BC Hydro was forced to wrap its complex around George’s property and you can see the BC Hydro building above, towering over George’s Del Mar Inn. George died on Wednesday, November 24th. He was 89 years old.
The permanent text art piece above the front door is a collaboration between artist Kathryn Walter and George Riste, and it echoes the philosophy of George’s lifelong work. For more information on the piece, scroll down here.
By providing space in this building, George, his wife Marjory, family and son Mike have generously supported the arts in Vancouver in a quiet, humble way for years. I’m involved with the non-profit Or Gallery that now occupies the building’s main floor at a generously reduced rent. Before we occupied this space, the Contemporary Art Gallery and then the Belkin Satellite Gallery lived there, also under the generous protection of the Ristes. In the rooms above the main floor, the Riste family has kept its tenants comfortable for decades, often doing the janitorial work themselves. To read the Or Gallery director’s letter about George, click here. Read the Globe and Mail story on George here.
Rest In Peace, George.
The board and everyone who cares about the Or Gallery would like to send their gratitude and condolences to the Riste Family. The gallery is hosting George’s memorial service on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2-3 pm, 555 Hamilton Street. It will be packed, because as one of our board members said, George’s spirit is legendary.
Below, album in honour of George by the London Improvisers Orchestra: