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Fundraiser wants to put 'the Dude' back in Dude Chilling Park
You can't spell Dude Chilling Park without the dude.
That's why the Vancouver Art House Society has launched a campaign to restore and bring back an art sculpture known as "the Dude" back to the park, after it was removed in 2017 for repairs.
The park was known as Guelph Park until 2012 when a fake sign was erected declaring the site "Dude Chilling Park, "spawning comparisons to the Big Lebowski character Jeffrey "the Dude" Lebowski.
"I've literally watched its transformation over the past 15 years. When it was Guelph Park, no one really hung out there. I didn’t feel safe walking through it," said Corinne Lea, a board member of the society and the owner of East Vancouver's Rio Theatre. "Once the sign changed to 'Dude Chilling' there was a lot of humour brought to the park."
She says you can now regularly see up to 100 people a day enjoying the park.
But Lea says the art, a cedar sculpture depicting a reclining figure, was the first inspiration for the name change.
"That name, 'Dude Chilling,' is related to the sculpture. That's where we feel the sculpture has got to come back."
The fundraiser is looking to raise $20,000 in order to cast the original wood sculpture in bronze and transport it from Denman Island – where it's been kept by the artist since it was removed.
"This seemed really important to the community and it seemed fun," said Lea.
Lea says the park board won't cover the repair costs as the artwork was a so-called "renegade" piece of art, with artist Michael Dennis just dropping it off in the park.
As part of the fundraising campaign, the Rio Theatre is screening the Big Lebowski on Thursday with proceeds going towards repairing the sculpture.
There's also several perks for donors, including gift cards to Grandview Lanes – a tribute to the Dude's ability at the bowling alley.
"Our most important reason to return the sculpture is that it really ties the park together," Lea said with a laugh and a nod towards the film.