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Campaign aims to 'Save the Dude'

Michael Dennis’s reclining figure sculpture, which has been a fixture at Vancouver’s Guelph Park since the early 1990s, has been repaired and is currently waiting to be cast in bronze.
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 Michael Dennis’s reclining figure sculpture, which has been a fixture at Vancouver’s Guelph Park since the early 1990s, has been repaired and is currently waiting to be cast in bronze. A fundraising campaign is under way to raise the money needed to cover the cost of the project. Photo Michael DennisMichael Dennis’s reclining figure sculpture, which has been a fixture at Vancouver’s Guelph Park since the early 1990s, has been repaired and is currently waiting to be cast in bronze. A fundraising campaign is under way to raise the money needed to cover the cost of the project. Photo Michael Dennis

A fundraising effort is under way to save Dude Chilling Park’s resident dude.

The cedar sculpture of a reclining figure was left at the park in 1991 by B.C. artist Michael Dennis.

Dennis said he first brought the piece to Guelph Park as part of the Brewery Creek Art Exposition. He remembers the day of the exhibit as a sunny day with lots of families enjoying the outdoor exhibit. Dennis said he was approached by the then-chair of the Mount Pleasant Community Centre Association, who suggested that he leave the large sculpture in the park.

He agreed.

“For me, having my work end up in public places is the most desirable location,” Dennis said from his home on Denman Island.

Over the next quarter century the sculpture, officially named Reclining Figure, became a mainstay of Guelph Park. In recent years the park has more popularly become known by many as Dude Chilling Park after local artist Viktor Briestensky, inspired by Dennis’s sculpture, created and installed an exact replicate of an official Vancouver Park Board sign replacing Guelph Park with Dude Chilling Park.

A public petition ensued asking the city to officially change the name of the park — that didn’t fly, but the sign was returned.

In recent years, the wooden sculpture started to deteriorate. Dennis, working with the park board, removed the figure and took it back to his studio for repairs and to prepare it for a bit of an upgrade.

The artist has restored the pieces to its original form, and the next step is to take it to a foundry to make a mould and then cast it in bronze.

Dennis said using bronze keeps many of the details and texture of the wood.

A fundraising campaign, administered through the Mount Pleasant Community Centre Association, has been launched to raise the $60,000 needed to complete the project.

The Christopher Foundation, a private registered charity, has offered a matching donation of $30,000 once that much has been raised.

Donations can be made online at chimp.net (select giving group Dude Chilling) and in person at Mount Pleasant Community Centre (1 Kingsway). Donations can also be mailed to the community centre.

@JessicaEKerr

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