|SMILIN' BUDDHA CABARET - Vancouver | 24" x 48" | Oil on canvas | 2019|
🔴 SOLD by the Kurbatoff Gallery, Vancouver ‘
SMILIN BUDDHA CABARET (Night Version)
Oil on canvas
24” X 48”
Private Collection - Vancouver
Rockers give famed club sign to museum
Smilin' Buddha prime example of neon heyday
John Mackie , Vancouver SunOctober 19, 2007
Vancouver rockers 54-40 drew their name from a historical slogan, "54-40 or fight." Now they're making a bit of history themselves by donating one of Vancouver's landmark neon signs to the Vancouver Museum.
The sign is for the Smilin' Buddha Cabaret, a legendary dive on East Hastings where Jimi Hendrix played in the 1960s and 54-40 played their first gig on Dec. 31, 1980.
The sign was a civic icon for several decades, featuring a big, fat neon Buddha with a rippling belly reclining atop Smilin' Buddha (in script) and Cabaret (in oriental lettering). In a city that was once full of playful, imaginative commercial neon signs, it was one of the best.
The Buddha closed in 1987, and 54-40 purchased the sign a few years later from a guy who had bought it and stored it in a warehouse. They then used it as the title for an album, and took it on tour.
The band lent it to the Vancouver Museum for a neon show a couple of years ago, but the sign has mostly been in storage. So the band decided to donate it.
"We essentially consider ourselves stewards of the sign, never really owners," says bassist Brad Merritt, who will appear with 54-40 tonight and Saturday at the Commodore Ballroom.
"We happened to buy it and fix it up and get a case for it and all that stuff, but we were struck by the fact that it's a historical landmark. It meant a lot to me, personally. I heard my parents talk about the place, taking their little brown bags of booze [when it was a speakeasy bottle club] and sticking them in a little spot in the table as the cops go by . . . it was just an amazing place, part of Vancouver's lore."
The sign is now at the Vancouver Museum..