East Van. No Rules.

Post by Mike Klassen in


The EAST VAN public artwork by Vancouver's Ken Lum is now installed at East 6th & Clark Drive

I flagged a story in the Vancouver Sun from late November about a new public artwork by Ken Lum being erected on Clark Drive. It's a giant cross emblazoned with EAST VAN, and it will be an illuminated LED sign that you will be able to easily see from many points across the city. I was curious about the status of this piece so I called up Vancouver's Public Art Program Manager Bryan Newson, and as fate would have it, the sign was being installed today.

So I jumped in my car and toting my camera I decided to get some shots before it got dark. I arrived just as the soaking wet crew were just getting ready to pack up for the day, and the fellow in the cherry picker was coming back to the ground. Here's the Flickr slideshow of the sign, and a short video clip.

The sign stands roughly 60 feet off the ground at its top, and rests on a thick concrete base about 10 feet high about seven feet in circumference. When the city connects it to the grid it will shine out in the direction of False Creek flats, sitting just above and east of the VCC Millennium Line station.

To say that this will probably become an iconic, and likely cherished symbol of East Vancouver is probably an understatement. The EAST VAN cross symbol derives from a gang insignia that goes back generations. Underneath the cross the word "RULES" would slash across. I grew up in East Vancouver, and while I remember the symbol, I never knew enough tough guys to associate it with any particular individuals or group.

Which is why Lum can probably get away with using the symbol. It's become the stuff of legend in this part of the city. Considering that US cities are often dotted with large crosses standing by all night churches that say "Jesus Saves", I'm sure that everyone will have their own interpretation of this sign and its meaning.

What's almost guaranteed is that it will seem sacrilegious to some, and it will stir its own controversy. A Vancouver Sun photographer I bumped there into thought that the sign was odd, and yes, he knew the symbol from his upbringing in the city.

For me, it's just a part of the city I grew up in. Let's hope that the city embraces it.

** Take our new CityCaucus.com Poll: "The East Van cross represents to me..."

- post by Mike


lol thats what the gress balls pput every where when i was 16 teen clark park and so on . it wrong to have that up it was a gang sign

Well done East Van

Nope,I wasn't there,I didn't see anything,no,didn't hear or see anything either...

It's use as a 'gang sign' is really just a historical footnote - I mean, There may be gangs with a bit more market share these days. I know lots of kids [including myself] with no gang affiliations adopted in the 80s and used it as we pleased. We were proud to own it and all it really meant was East Van was alright.

Cruiser: It's so right to have it up. The only thing that would better would be making it bigger and brighter.

I think you mean 'grease-balls'

"East Van" is preferable to the Lenin & Mao statue going up in Richmond ...

Representation does not automatically equal glorification, or even approval.

That will be very prominent for skytrain riders going east from Main Street Station as well. I like it, and can't wait to see it up.

It's fugly.

oh the irony!

The symbolism of what was one an jiffy-markered icon of working-class shit-kicker wearing tough guys and hooligans of yore; A literal representation of vandalism and intimidation – re-invented as a symbol of branding and gentrification. A glossy bourgeoise art project, antiseptic and well appointed, like so many of the tasteful renovations of the new urban professionals now 'revitalizing' East Vancouver.

Don't get me wrong. I love the icon as much as the irony.
It still represents East Van pride of course, though what that means is clearly up to interpretation..

I am glad to see that East Vancouver is proudly represented.

The East Van Cross was ripped from the Clark Parkers in a now infamous brawl between them and three guys who started Satan's Angels (they were patched over in the early 80s and became Hells Angels--of the original three, one is dead, one is retired and one is still active)

The cross was NEVER held by the bikers or any other group. In fact, anyone who was born and raised in East Van (like Mike) or lived in East Van (like me) will always support such a symbol as what it represents: The gritty, tough, no bullshit neighborhoods of the Eastside, where you learned to survive, sometimes with your fists, but always with some moxie.

The East Van cross is also a popular tattoo, usually on the forearm or upper arm.

No one would wear one who didn't earn one.

I think it is offensive. It really looks like a cross to me and I am not Christian. East Van is proud of its diversity. Putting up art that looks exactly like a cross is not reflective of our population. Hopefully tax payer money did not fund this poor idea.

Let me root around my closet for my jean jacket and my daytons, or maybe my confederate boots.
East Van born and bred.

I agree, it is up to your interpretation.
To me it looks like a cross. The first thing you see is the shape, as you get closer the words take form.
The symbol of the cross far outweighs the words. Passing by this thing makes me feel like I am entering the church of East Van. Not being a christian I am offended by the shape. It should be torn down and put into recycling. They are closing down park facilities because of budget issues and putting up crap like this instead. What a waist of taxpayers money.

Yeah. Anyone who doesn't think just like you is wrong. And we should always judge things based on how they look from a distance.
Also I was very offended to open the newspaper this morning and find a puzzle called a "crossword". Don't the editors know I'm not a christian and that various shapes can only mean one thing?

I agree that it's fugly. Every 'hood should have one though.

I am commenting on someones comment regarding it being in the shape of a cross and that offending the diversity of the neighbourhood. "Tough sh*t!" That being the attitude of some groups having malls and signage dedicted to one ethnic group. In further, yes it's a cross, an X, a T, a shape. If it had Jesus strapped to it, you would have a point. We celebrate diversity by showing it, not hiding it.
I proudly grew up in East vancouver and so did my parents.

Sweet now just need a huge crack pipe at mainNhastings

East van rocks

It's a great work of art - such a good symbol for those of us who grew up in east van and saw the eastvan cross grafitti'd all over town! Well done!

It is now my personal mission in life to paint this gross bright pink, hang waterproof rainbow streamers from it and steal "one" of the letters.

Crap like this! You sir obviously didn't grow up in Eastvan nor have any idea what its like to have pride in where your from. My family goes way back in EV all over from Clark Park to Champlane Heights. Having PRIDE about our side of town is all most of us had coming from low income households. As for the whole its a cross thing,being a little oversensitive? Ya it's a cross because EASTVAN is a religion I could care less about who you pray to why should you care about me?

EASTVAN stands alone and thats how we like it!

AG , actually they were "Satans Choice"; neighbors .. Kingsway / Killarney .... they knew how to party and then some!!! Yup those were the days.

It's brutal, It brands the area with a sItgma that will never go away. One step forward two steps back.

Love the sign. Remember it being scrawled all over park benches, walls etc. There is no stigma attached to it. It does not offend me in anyway -- I live near Hastings and Nanaimo (Hastings Sunrise). As they say East Van rules!

I personally love this sign. Sure, historically, it has its stigmas attached to it. But, anyone truly born on the east side knows that we are rougher and tougher and that it was something to be proud of regardless how silly that sounds to everyone else. So, I'm proud to see this sign as a representation of art and culture.
I was born and raised on the east side and I am proud to live on this side of the city. East Van does rock and it does rule especially over those west side wannabes who think that by simply being from the west side, it makes them the better half. Please, go stuff your over trendy urbanite selves right back into the bay.

Whatever icon this symbol means to the few who recognize it as a gang symbol, the OLDER and more prevalent symbol is that of a cross and I for one don't live in ChristVan. If the artist wanted to reference something with a historical reference perhaps he should have referenced it in a way that the meaning wouldn't also have a very non-ambiguous religious reference.

It most definitely is a gang symbol. It belongs to one of the most violent gangs in history which killed more people than all other gangs combined until World War II. The gang's name "Christianity".

I was also raised in East Van and am proud of it. I'm not sure why we should be proud of the gang activity though?

I think that we can be proud of our achievements coming from lower income families, doing more with less, and working hard to be good people that make a difference to our community and the world (in a positive way).

That logo does nothing to represent what we are proud of on the east side.

I also don't see the logic in painting over the Beatty St. mural and then in the next breath we put this fugly thing up?

im not gonna start dropping names but get your facts straight,the few people that have that tattoo did turn it into a club.& if you were in it you represented east van.the club has changed into another,but those who are still alive from the first one are who east van is,that cross represents 2 things a geographical location,and the group of us guys who are east van!!!!!

the east van cross was a club at one point you dont know shit about shit!what infamous brawl r u talking about?you should find out what your talking about b4 you start dropping names,&stating facts that arent true excpt in your mind.you obviously were never at the east van clubhouse,& the tattoo is not popular its worn by a chosen few who were most of us members of that club.i dont need to drop names cuz if you dont know these simple facts you dont know shit ,your a legend in your own mind ,you shouldnt be a east van historian ,when you have no clue on the history or the people in it.


When I first saw it from a distance, I thought it said "Fast Van" and assumed is was a lame new car dealer. When I drove by, I realized it was a big, ugly eyesore. Why a cross? Fast Van is better.

It is an OFFENSIVE EYESORE! How can the city allow 2 symbols: A Cross, and a Gang sign! It's a very "low-class" symbol of the East Side. I am embarrassed!

This was the gang sign used by the East Van Saints, whose home turf hangout was Clark Park for a long time...I'm sure there was more activity with this "gang" in the 70's/80's etc...but over the years it has become an adopted symbol of East Van pride. I myself take pride in the fact that I grew up in East Van- very close to Clark Park and currently reside in mt. Pleasant about 5 mins walk away from the VCC Clark station...but I don't know how I feel about using this symbol and it's association as a 60' Welcome to East Van type of symbol. It sure looks cool though.

I grew up in East van, and worked my a** off so I can now live in Pt. Grey. The reality is, people don't HONESTLY take pride in living in a "poor" neighbourhood. People who claim they take pride in it, are simply masking the truth, that in reality they would prefer living in a nice neighbourhood, and living a comfortable life. No one DESIRES to struggle through life. Get off the "East Side Pride" kick, and get with reality.

'Gritty' East Van roots or not, this is a gang symbol and I don't like it representing my area. I love my community and the friendly, warm people here. I take no "pride" in being identified as an area characterized by organized crime and gang activity. It feels like the city is holding this area down and doesn't want us to mature past an adolescent rebellious 'wannaby' fascination.

Wow a cross! [snip] Those of us that grew up in East van have a familiarity with this symbol. It's safe to say we have taken ownership of it, this is probably a good thing. Why not adorn it even further? Add some personality to this bland city! If you do not understand it, try to learn about it before you complain. It's far better than another billboard.

If you were from East Van, you`d know.

Was this sign donated? Please tell me there was no cost attached for the City!

nice, bigger and brighter, that makes me want to move back there


It's fun hearing atheists bitch about it...but they're usually the types of people who bitch about everything.

I moved to Vancouver from Montreal in 1978. In those days, the graffiti in Montreal was all about deposing the Shah of Iran. The most commonly seen phrase was "Abas le shah!" which had a nice ring to it but it would never make it as a 3d installation. When I arrived in Vancouver, I noticed that the most common graffiti was the "East/Vam" cross. I knew nothing about the divides between East and West in Vancouver. A few weeks ago I drove down Clark Drive and I saw the cross for the first time. As with all symbols, it represents many things. To me, it represents brilliance, independence and perseverance.

The cross is different for everyone.
For me It was copied from a bunch of skater dudes in LA (ie. DOG TOWN skates)back in the late 70's. When I was growing up skateboarding out of HAPPY ROCK, in the heart of EAST VAN, we got some sweatshirts and copied the cross on the back of them in our own artistic way and were never harassed by gangs. We were a bunch of kids that gave ourselves an identity at skateboarding competitions ( a club (lol)).

yea, move to the westside and continue working your ass off, spending no time with your family so your husband/wife fucks your neighbours and your kids become coke fiends. We'll see who'se living a happier life then

I grew up in East Van All my life, The Guys in the gang wernt bad, unless you crossed them the wrong way, I showed them respect and they showed me alot of it back. It honors east Van and the guys, alot of them were killed and only a few remain. Gotta remember though the gang violence that escalated in the early 90's . Look the guys wernt bad, i was with them alot in my youth and they taught me alot. Im not disrespecting you, just replying. East Van Forever. And the guy that put up the cross without the gangs permission i dare him to say that to them.

this thing is hideous and i cant believe that it is being put up as "art" even though the symbol arose because of a bunch of drug dealing criminals that plague this city. maybe we should print up some main & hastings t-shirts and rep the rest of whats wrong with this city

East Van Saints aka Clark Park had their west side adversaries, with Dunbar, and the Alma gang. There was also Riley Park and others. All of them commonly wore mac jackets, Daytons, and Buck knives.

In earlier years they were all "greasers", wearing motorcycle jackets and fighting with chains and tire irons, going back to the 50's. In the 40's it was zoot suiters.

Clark Park was blamed for instigating the 1972 riot at a Rolling Stones concert in Vancouver, hurling molotov cocktails and debris at the Pacific Coliseum, the police (lots of injuries) and anyone in the way.

As I remember things had quieted down by the late 70's. I never knew why, but it did. Some of the guys I encountered back then graduated to jail or disappeared.

Hey, who let the ranting atheists in? I thought this post was about art, gang history, and East Van.

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