Generations: 50 Years of Art at the University and Beyond

I strongly recommend your attendance at the Nickle Galleries for Generations; 50 Years of Art at the University and Beyond. Today, I decided to attend Nickle at Noon, a wander through the exhibit in the company of Mary-Beth Laviolette.  I made my way to the campus early enough to consume the most wonderful Reuben sandwich made by the peeps of the Red Wagon Diner food truck.  There was still a bite to the air, but now the sun is out and it is a magical autumn day.

Curated by  Mary-Beth Laviolette, the exhibit began with a variety of work from the Founders of the University Art Department, spanning every decade up to the present day.  An extensive body of work gives a very positive sense of the production and the mentoring within this powerhouse visual arts community of ours.  It all made me feel so proud.

Mary-Beth was funny and smart and shared with a few more than 20 attendees, the interesting narratives behind most of the work that included sculpture, paintings, drawings, fabric arts, mixed media and print making.  I’ve documented a few of the things that really amused or intrigued me.  The tour was beautifully paced, educational and thorough.

Our city is loaded with the most wonderful opportunities.  I hope my readers will get out to take advantage of this one.  DaveandJen’s A Natural History of Islands opens tonight, from 5 until 8, in the upstairs gallery.  I will be holding off on this one until the Artists’ tour on November 24.  There are a ton of events going on in the city right now and through Saturday.  Don’t spread yourself too thin, but it is definitely not a Netflix weekend.  (oh…do what you want!)

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Work by Nicholas Roukes, writer of Design and Art Synectics...two books that greatly influenced my teaching.

Work by Nicholas Roukes, writer of Design and Art Synectics…two books that greatly influenced my teaching.

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Peter Deacon and Marcia Perkins

Peter Deacon and Marcia Perkins


Amy Gogarty...this one just captivated me!

Amy Gogarty…this one just captivated me!

Joane Cardinal-Schubert

Joane Cardinal-Schubert

Mary Scott and Jed Irwin

Mary Scott and Jed Irwin

Mary Scott

Mary Scott

John Will

John Will

Beautiful portrait of John Will in Ballpoint Pen and Sharpie Marker by Aurora Landin

Beautiful portrait of John Will in Ballpoint Pen and Sharpie Marker by Aurora Landin


Rita McKeough Mitten Series

Rita McKeough Mitten Series


Bill Laing

Bill Laing


Dang...something is on my lens!

Dang…something is on my lens!

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Artist, Bev Tosh, speaks a little about her War Bride series.

Artist, Bev Tosh, speaks a little about her War Bride series.

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Marigold Santos

Marigold Santos

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Dulcie Foo Fat

Dulcie Foo Fat



Coming Home

Taking to Canada’s highways is just one of those things I love to do.  Nothing is better than a road trip!  While I didn’t snap a lot of photographs on my journey home, after eight weeks away, I did feel very emotional and in awe of Canada’s landscape and its people.  I thought as a wrap up to my blogging about my experience this past summer, I might dig into my night time notations and see if there are some moments worthy of mention.

Leaving Belleville, I took my ‘balcony shot’.  Let me go and see if I can find it.  There you go. I’ve taken one of these as a ritual when leaving Parkwood Estates every time I’ve made the drive.  (and there have been more than a few drives) Typically, five minutes away, I start crying my head off.


I had a small container on the passenger seat next to me, filled with Dad’s hermit cookies, a recipe that was given him by my sister-in-law, Ann Marie.  The highway 401, heading for Toronto, is a rush of a place to begin a morning, but with the early start, things seemed to really move to Whitby, where I pulled off, refreshed my coffee and gave Max his first break. (And, no!  I am not going to go into such detail as I continue.)

The point in all of this is that the first leg of the journey is the toughest part of driving home, because I feel like I’m leaving family behind and it is time to turn west.  I am also somewhat on edge through Orillia (because I take hwy 12 to hook up with the 400),  concerned that I make all of the correct huckle buckles when I arrive at the Midland sign.  Once I’m on the 400, I just motor it to bypass Sudbury (my birth place) and beyond.

Driving in September meant there were fewer vacationers on the road, a few red canoes on top of cars, but not what summer brings.  I was sad that driving cottage country meant witnessing a bear cub, struck by a vehicle.  The road kill scene always breaks my heart, as does traveling behind transport trucks moving pigs and cattle in what I feel are inhumane practices.  I pledged to myself that this trip was going to be the start of different eating practices and that I wanted to become a more evolved person in regards to what I ingest.  This is not something I take lightly anymore.

However (all that eating-consciously discussion aside)…I DID stop to have fries and gravy, just because I knew it would be my last chip truck, a regular thing in this part of Ontario.  Outside Parry Sound, I noticed a remarkable memorial.  There are so many marks of humankind along the highways of Canada; many heaps of rock along the shield, in the spirit of the Inukshuk, and many memorials.  I scratched a note in my notebook…

Once home, I looked up the circumstance connected to the beautiful drum kit sculpture.  It was placed as a memorial to Cole Howard, a young man, along with three other teens, who lost his life in 2012 in a head on collision.

A Family Photo that appeared in The Star By ZOE MCKNIGHT Staff Reporter Tues., June 17, 2014

A Family Photo that appeared in The Star By ZOE MCKNIGHT Staff Reporter
Tues., June 17, 2014

A road trip as extensive as the one I take on a fairly regular basis reveals so much about the heart of Canada.  I have thought about Cole’s family as a result of their memorializing this event in this way.  The sculpture was built by retired welder and artist, Laval Bouchard.

It was only a very short while after passing a sign for Algoma Territory that the weather changed.  Dark clouds surrounded me, but I pushed on, thinking that I’d still like to make it to Iron Bridge for the night.  I was pushing nine hours driving, but it would make the drive in to Thunder Bay do-able the next day.  Max was agitated in the back.  I told him everything was going to be okay.  I remembered Dad’s words.  Weather is moving east.  When you’re traveling west, drive like the wind and you’ll go through it.  When you’re going east, hold off for a few hours and the weather will speed ahead of you.  The lightening was straight ahead of me and over my right shoulder.  Everything boomed.  Water poured in sheets across the windshield.  On the highway, some pulled over.  Transports pounded me with flying ground water.  I was being pummeled, but persisted.  Sure enough, the weather thinned and like the great monster, it hurled its way east.  Ahead, I saw the sun behind the clouds and the rain became dancing sparkles as my wipers continued to thud.

We made the Red Top Motor Inn in Iron Bridge...and happily, I chatted with the owner…more about art, this time.  He is a collector of Norval Morriseau and is a local enthusiast for the visual arts. His partner, in the back kitchen, prepared me a dinner of Huron White Fish, tiny carrots, green beans, braised roasted potatoes.  I went back to my comfie room, after throwing the whizzo for Max countless times in the beautiful yard, and poured myself a nice tall glass of red.


The next day was a day of magic on the road…something about the rain of the day before and the sunshine the next morning.  I set off early toward Bruce Mines, tickled by the romance of the Mennonite horse drawn buggies, straw hats, little girls in black bonnets.  There was a 3/4 moon and a single vapour trail straight ahead, on a perfectly blue sky.  The soft light hit the side of a red barn in just a particular way and a soft haze danced on the fields, now ripe and full.  Red maples were set into dappled forests of olive green and yellow.  Autumn was evident around the lakes, although this would be my only encounter with the season on this drive, while I thought that I had left it late enough that I would enjoy that particular Ontario colour.

I delighted in the drama of Lake Superior on Day II  At 10 in the morning, I pulled over to spend time at the water’s edge.  Something about Lake Superior gives me confidence and causes me to bask in a sense of celebration.

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Beyond Superior, both east and west, the roads reveal the economic times to the driver…small towns are lined with abandoned buildings; eateries, motels and gas stations; and there is evidence of graffiti everywhere.  Broken windows are like giant dark eyes, that lead to past narratives and histories of the people who have now moved on.  Nailed boards cover over a former life.  I drove past Orphan Lake, Dad Lake, Mom Lake, Katherine Lake.  I sighted two eagles.

I stopped at Old Woman Bay, where a man with a very thick accent, wanted me to take his photograph, not in front of the wild and dramatic water, but in front of his sports car in the parking lot.  I fixed a lunch of Italian meats and cheeses.  A honey-mooning couple offered to take my photograph.  A wonderful offer as I am rarely a part of my archives.

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More exploring at Rossport, knowing that the beautiful and abundant experience of being at the water’s edge would be over at Thunder Bay.  The third day is always the most difficult for me, given the drive in land through the most isolated and creepy landscape I know.

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People were all off the highway.  I had very little traffic sharing the road with me.  I let the truckers chug past me on big hills.  I just wanted to take in the scenery.  Awe-inspiring. Miles later, we hit Thunder Bay and not a single room was available in a ‘cheap’ hotel!  More than once, I’ve thought how much I’d like to be driving my own little customized pull over ‘bus’/camper.  So many picturesque places along the way. But, I didn’t have a customized camper.  And, I needed to get off the road.  It had been another epic day by the time I rolled in and so I took a room in the only posh hotel in close proximity to the Trans Canada highway and I headed for the shower.

Max liked this place.  He knows class when he sees it.  I poured myself a glass of wine.

Day III, my least favourite day, but I aimed to enjoy it…to relax into it…to really look.  The encounter in Upsala with this roadside attraction pretty much says it all…


Google Maps

Google Maps

A train thump thump thumped along a track, for it seems like, miles.  I listened to country music.  At first, the trees were dense…then ferns, gold and sepia, lined the edges of the road as the marshlands encroached closer and closer to the highway.  More Moose Crossing signs.  Cars disappeared.  I felt alone out there, so I hit cruise.  (my father would be proud) I remembered, as I do every time I drive through English River, the movie, Deliverance.  Think of the Squeal Like a Pig scene…or the Red Neck Scene…the disturbing sense of these envelop me every time i drive this road.  At Ignace, I pulled into the Scenic Viewpoint.  I had never done this before.  I drove for quite some time and came to a circle of dirt road, a bobcat, a port-a-potty and if I were to hike into the dark woods, I might be able to see a bit of the valley that the highway sign professes, is an awesome view.  I returned to the car and headed back to the highway.  Max was unnerved by the silence of the viewpoint.

I entered Ignace and pulled in for a coffee and maybe a tart.  I learned quickly that the home made tarts were back in Upsala.  I was disappointed.  A burly man in a plaid jacket moved a fridge.  The grapefruit juice I pulled from the other one, duct taped handle, was room temperature.  At the counter, paying, the middle aged woman entered into the dance of conversation.  Lonely, likely, she pulled out her phone and we proceeded to goo goo over the photos of her chocolate lab…this went on for quite some time.  The man, red faced, continued to struggle with the fridge.  The conversation ended as another customer drove over the bell hose stretched across the wet dirt at the pump.  I was relieved to get back into the car.

There were miles of straight road.  There, finally, Savanne Portage and a huge sign for the Time Zone Change.

Early fur traders used a portage at Savanne Portage to connect east to Lac du Mielieu (near Raith) to the Kaministkwia River to complete a fur trading route between Lake of the Woods and Lake Superior, at Thunder Bay. Raith marks another Continental Divide, with points to the north and west flowing into Hudson’s Bay, and points to the southeast flowing to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic.

A painted bear and moose sign dominated the side of the road, at a point, Hand crafted, it was more evidence of the remote feeling that echoes through my day.  All water, from there, flows to the Arctic Ocean.

A bloated moose in the ditch was being  pecked at by crows and buzzards.  I turned to CBC radio after miles of listening to Spotify selections.  Static, but I was absorbed by interviews and such.  Jane Jacobs spoke about gentrification.  Emily and Ogden played.

Kenora meant a picnic and a walk about.  I always take the drive through the city.  I think about Jim and Sue when I make Kenora.  I feel closer to home.  It happens suddenly.  More up and down, the landscape edges water and feels more open, in a less mysterious way than the landscape I have left behind me.  We walked under the bridge to the big muskie.  The tourists were gone.

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On the outskirts of Kenora, I felt about trees, the way I’ve felt about cattle…their heads stretching to see out the back door of transport trucks,  eyes wide, seeming to be asking…asking me.  The trees, fallen, seem to be asking…asking me.  It goes on for a couple of miles.

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Making Winnipeg, the ring road seemed forever.  I thought to call up Angie and Rylan, but I was drained.  I flopped in the Motor Inn and felt comfortable, having stayed here on route to the east.

I knew already that I would not go north to Neepawa again, as much as I wanted to visit Margaret Laurence’s home town.  Two extra hours of driving north and then back down seemed excessive, given my state at the time.

Max seemed accepting all the way along…he also flopped every time we stopped.  Happy to receive his walks every hour and a half, he didn’t look for a lot of exercise in the evening.  He took a pose…and this was it!

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We would make Moose Jaw the next day.  The weather was shifting again, becoming grey as we made our way west.  Many hawks, a truly unreasonable number of hawks, were seen in a field just west of Regina.  I wondered if they were mousing, given that the crops had come in and just stubble remained.  I’ve never seen such a spectacle.  In golden fields, horses stood neck to neck, all facing west.  I think that we can take our cues from animals.  Weather was coming.

By Moose Jaw, it was raining.  Max waited patiently while I stepped into the CHAB radio station to see if there were any archives kept.  My father used to sing live on radio with his sisters.  That would have been the early 1940s.  The receptionist explained that it would be a nightmare to keep historical archives.  This was a disappointment to me, a chronic archivist.  Who are the keepers of our histories?  I guess I thought that radio stations, newspapers and such would be a safe bet, in terms of our contemporary narratives.

Driving home the next day, was a celebration-drive.  I felt to be floating as the sky opened up so beautifully.  I love Saskatchewan and Alberta skies.  I had left home for home.  My father and sister and brother are HOME, my children here in Calgary are HOME.  Canada is HOME.  I know her well and want to know her better.  I dream to drive north…to stop…and really take in what makes the north HOME.img_1805 img_1841 img_1850

My Hunter’s Moon

Listening to my new CD Out in the Storm, as I type…

I cranked up CBC radio on my drive north on Highway 2.  Fen, of the Custom Woolen Mills, had asked us to bring our own bowl, plate and cutlery, (I forgot) so I stopped off at the WIN store on the way.  For five dollars, I left with a finely crafted porcelain plate, a hippie bowl, a crystal wine goblet and three pieces of silver, a fork, knife and spoon.  Then I was on my way.

Artist, Megan Samms, was celebrating the conclusion of this past summer’s artist-in-residency program with an exhibition of her hand crafted textiles.


These next two photographs, shared by Wendy Lees.  Megan explained that her patterns here, were patterns almost contemporary with the equipment found in the mill.


In the front of the mill, Shibori dying was undergo,

(The following Shibori Photographs taken by the world’s greatest connector, Wendy Lees)


…potluck feast was being munched upon

(Dancing Goat Cheese promoted by both Wendy and myself…photos to her credit)

Craig Sanok & Paul Anthony Chambers, you rock!


…and fantastic music provided by Ruth Purves Smith and Dave Holloway and Brian Sovereign was pumping up the large group that was happily in attendance.



I guess when I step into that world…and I wish that I did it more often, I am overcome with a sense of history, industry and family.  Some of the equipment is stuff that I grew up with in the Magrath Wool Card and Spinning Mill, but I realized only last night, that I really didn’t ever take a good look.  Last night I did.  With dates of manufacture going back to the late 1800s and the places as far away as Massachusetts and Philadelphia, a person can only feel in awe.


Click any of the images below in order to see them larger.

That feeling of amazement transferred into my conversation with Megan, as well.  I thanked her for learning and keeping alive, the hand made craft and industry of textile creation.  In a world of manufacturing, it is good to remember what the hands can do, along with some very primitive, but dependable pieces of equipment.

Thank you to Fen, for the invitation.  Thanks to the mill staff who made the mill look so absolutely beautiful for last night’s event.  Everything in the place showed a special touch. As per usual, when I write of such things, at the keyboard, the morning after such magic, I weep, warm tears of gratitude.  Thanks, for the music, Ruth.  The very first song, for the children.  There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea!  As an military family, traversing this great country so many times, my mother and father’s voices lifted together and made the miles around Lake Superior go quicker, singing our road songs.  And this one…one of the entertaining ones.  Who wouldn’t want to learn all those words?

I hope that my readers will connect with Megan’s work.  I hope that you will listen to Ruth’s Music.  And most of all, before winter passes, I hope you will head up to the Custom Woolen Mills and stock up on warm goods and supplies for your own hand making.

Thanks, Wendy, for sharing the drive through the light of a full moon, fog, and conversation.

I have so many photographs this morning, that I really don’t know how to present them.  My children have told me no one reads this blog (wrong), so, it’s irrelevant, I guess.  This, more a journal of the magic of my life, than anything else.

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Bleasdell Boulder

This past summer, I learned just how genuinely accommodating my father can be.  I tend to have many over-riding passions; reading, writing, history, art and family history.  Once I connect with a story, some one else’s story, I tend to want to explore it for its details and for its nuances.  This is what happened when I read Francis Itani’s Deafening.  Because the book was so regional and because summer brought me smack dab in the middle of her setting, I had to explore that.

Similarly, after Dad and I attended the County Festival Player’s rendition of  A Splinter in the Heart, an adapted screenplay based on Al Purdy’s novel…I just had to look deeper.  The following summary, borrowed from and linked to Goodreads.

 Al Purdy’s only novel, A Splinter in the Heart, is an unforgettable coming-of-age story that unfolds against the real-life tragedy of what came to be known as the Trenton Disaster. Set in 1918, it tells the story of sixteen-year-old Patrick Cameron and the events that will change him – and the Ontario town in which he lives – forever. Over the course of one summer and fall, Patrick finds love with a girl whose betrayal he cannot foresee, confronts the death of his beloved grandfather, and comes to terms with a neighbourhood rival. All the while, his hometown of Trenton lives precariously in the shadow of a dynamite factory, a sinister reminder of the Great War, which brought such prosperity to the town. Vivid with character and event, and evocative of time and place, A Splinter in the Heart is a moving portrait of a young man’s journey into adulthood in an era of change.

My father generously agreed to take me to see the location of the old munitions factory and also to visit Bleasdell Boulder in one of the region’s conservation areas.  The erratic is mentioned as a place for romantic meetings between young people in the early 1900s and likely, even today.  Well researched, Al Purdy’s writing, especially his poetry, is linked to specific places right across Canada.  I had a very enjoyable time, visiting many of these places, structures and houses most times demolished or changed, but natural geography, remaining as he might have experienced in his own lifetime.

So, on a beautiful late summer day, Dad and I headed out for a short hike to the erratic, Bleasdell Boulder.  I discovered that my Dad takes strides, much like my paternal grandfather…long and fast.  I had quite a time staying up to him.  Thanks, Dad, for going exploring with me!


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Deafening by Frances Itani

On the recommendation of a friend back here in Calgary, one of the books I read while visiting my father in Belleville, Ontario was Deafening by Frances Itani.  With a regional setting of Deseronto, Belleville, the railway and the surrounding area, upon completing the book, of course, I had to go and visit the places.  Itani’s novel, placed during World War I, is exquisite.  A Winner of a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, I was captivated and motored through this one at warp speed.

Grania, the protagonist, emerges from a bout of scarlet fever as a child, deaf.  The novel evokes a real sense of what language means.  As stated in the Goodread’s summary,

“A magnificent tale of love and war, Deafening is finally an ode to language-how it can console, imprison, and liberate, and how it alone can bridge vast chasms of geography and experience.”

In published reviews, it appears that a lot of readers lost interest as Grania becomes involved with Jim. I think the author is successful in steering clear of sentimentality and introduces Jim as a device to talk to the reader about war, its impact on the small community and how the concepts of lost communication express a similarity with loss of hearing.

At the conclusion of this book, I thought this was my favourite book of all time…but, you know and I know, this is just until the next one!

My father humoured me and visited the grounds of Belleville’s Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf with me and I went, on another day, to Deseronto in order to document some of the places mentioned in the book. Why?  Just because I could.

The school for the deaf has a beautiful campus including several stately brick buildings and wonderfully groomed grounds.

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The places of Canada…driving driving driving…remind me of the blessings of our common narratives.  Everywhere, windows are boarded up, mostly in small towns and names are written, as are profanities on the baked painted surfaces of what used to be animated corner stores and bakeries and churches…places where people gathered, all working to get through hard winters and humid summers.

Deseronto captures all of it.  The tea rooms and antiques, the post office, the docks…

I am grateful to have seemed to step into a book.

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Post Office Deseronto

Post Office Deseronto

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St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church Deseronto

St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church Deseronto

I strongly recommend Deafening by Frances Itani.


Art to Adore

I was fortunate to attend the National Gallery of Canada while the recipients of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2016, were on exhibit.  When I attend such a large collection as is available at our national gallery, it is typical that I feel particularly drawn to some work.  Sometimes, it is because I have followed particular artists over my years…sometimes, it is because the work is new to me, but visually, very exciting.

One woman’s work that has been of great interest to me all of these years is that of Jane Kidd.  She is original and a technical-sensory genius when it comes to tapestry.  I’ve picked up brochures about the artist, read what I could and viewed a few excellent short films about her process.  Her work, for me, is always organic and, typically, elements of nature are embedded.  I relate with this work.  I was so excited to see that she was acknowledged so beautifully in the gallery this past summer.




Edward Burtynsky’s photographs have been represented very well in Calgary.  I’ve had the opportunity to connect with them in the Glenbow Art Gallery and in several exhibits that feature the best of Canada.  My own interest in environment and the exposure of the human mark on the landscape has always drawn me to Burtynsky’s work.  While I am involved in the rather sad practice of picking other people’s litter from the ground of a single pond ecosystem, Edward Burtynsky uses his images to speak to the collective about the impact of their choices.  His works have a lot to do with consumption and my favourite documentary has to be Manufactured Landscapes.


Wanda Koop’s work, in its minimalist sense, always feels fresh and eloquent.  I’ve been blessed to have great space on her canvases in several instances.  I’ve always left feeling very blessed by  time spent standing in front of her work. This opportunity was no different. Her painting speaks about the collective conscience.  Many paintings, for me, talk about the consumption of land.  They are atmospheric in their nature.


Bill Vazan was new to me.  This piece was a very potent image and I simply had to engage it and feel awed by it.  By connecting with it, I became fully aware that there was, inherent to the piece, depth of thought and energy and travel. The culminating piece is complex and intriguing.




Some years ago, I read Verna Reid’s book, Women Between: Contruction of Self in The Work of Sharon Butala, Aganetha Dyck, Mary Meigs and Mary Pratt.

In Women Between, Verna Reid explores the evolving perceptions of “self” in the work of four Canadian women – visual artists Aganetha Dyck and Mary Pratt, and writers Sharon Butala and Mary Meigs. All four came into prominence in middle age, doing their most significant work in their mature years. They, along with the author, are members of a transitional generation of women, occupying the space between the traditional world of their mothers and the postmodern world of their daughters. The multiple roles they have played are reflected in the strong autobiographical content present in their work. Applying feminist and autobiographical theory, Reid considers the work of Butala, Dyck, Meigs, and Pratt in light of the influences that have shaped their senses of identity. As a contemporary of her subjects, Reid infuses her interviews with the four women with sensitivity and immediacy, lending a unique perspective to the exploration of their lives and work.

Sharon Butala’s writing is some of my favourite writing.  And, I’ve enjoyed reading about Mary Pratt and her practice as I tried to find my own way, making art and raising a family at the same time.  But, what really intrigued me was, discovering through this book and a single lecture at ACAD, the interesting practice of Aganetha Dyck.  To encounter her work at the National Gallery of Canada, gave me chills.  A wonderful moment for me!  What a joy to share this viewing with two of my nieces.


Beyond Canada…other pieces were in the gallery, to adore.  A progression of work in the exhibit, A Solitary Mexican Modernist: artist, Rufino Tamayo‘s (1899-1981) exotic use of colour mirrors, I think, the climate and texture of Mexico.  I really enjoyed this work and liked the experience of seeing how, over years, the work progressed.  This exhibit marks 25 years since the artist’s death.  It was an honour to see this and in some ways, a visual relief at that point.



I enjoyed interacting with the dynamics of the Ai Weiwei’s tree.


There are so many fabulous documentaries and things written about Ai Weiwei’s practice and the intolerance he has endured as an artist, a person, and a mind.  I was blown away that I had the opportunity to celebrate a piece of his work in our national gallery.  I recommend my reader’s further investigation.

Perhaps one of the most potent sculptures that I encountered was this one, by Brian Jungen.  Strong social commentary, Brian Jungen’s found object sculpture do not fail to impact.  Lots to read about Brian on line.  Enjoy.



If you have the chance to get out to the ‘big’ galleries…you will never be disappointed.  Canada…a prosperous and blessed Nation!  We need to celebrate our opportunities as artists and as citizens.  Never take the arts for granted!



The Art Openings I Miss

There are many!  My family teases me about how often I go out to openings and then, how often I write about them?  WHY?  I’ve been pondering that.  I chronically document.  I know it is a problem.  I could be so constructive otherwise, right?  Who knows?  I think that writing is just something that gives me pleasure.  Seeing beautiful and interesting art, likewise.  And I think that life needs to be fully lived.  I consider it a gift to attend art spaces and find interesting visual experiences.

I’ve not written for quite some time, but, really DO want to play catch-up on some things I’ve been thinking about and experiences I have been having.  I’m not saying that I will be sitting down to the computer for hours on end.  I really don’t like the keyboard as much as I enjoy writing things out on paper.  Of late, I’ve been writing letters and very much enjoying that process, looking out on the back yard, the warm colours of autumn and sipping from my favourite coffee cup.

On the subject of art OPENINGS, they cause me a lot of stress.  I find that the introvert that lies under my loud public self, comes to a head.  I don’t like to get caught speaking with just one person.  I lose confidence and imagine that I have nothing interesting to say.  I head for a glass of wine.  I imagine that wine puts me at ease…but, it doesn’t, not really.

So, my favourite thing to do is to attend art events after the party is over and the artist is back in his/her studio, painting.  I miss congratulating the artist, face-to-face, but, I carry the impact of their images with me and that’s what I am so grateful for.  Last Saturday, I had three gallery spaces to myself.  Quiet…and expansive…I was able to stand back and relish every moment, and I didn’t have to say much at all.

First, CKG!

Every time I see Carl White‘s work, something in me shakes to the core.  How is it possible that images that seem to either surface out of paint, or, disappear into it, leave me feeling so soul-filled or emotional or transformed?  Like the paint, the marks and the collective mythologies, Carl’s paintings leave me feeling understood.  It takes two pugs and two nice ladies, to pull me back into the physical world.  When I see Carl White’s work, it is as though my nose is in a book filled with words and mystery and divine essence, and I can not close it…I can not put it down.  Not meaning to sound like a hero-worshiper, I am just trying to clearly state what it is that I experience when I am NOT at an opening of Carl’s work.  I strongly suggest that my readers see these paintings, Digging For Fire.

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I’m very much intrigued by the other show at CKG, but I’m not familiar with the gent’s work or his artistic journey.  Mike Binzer’s exhibit, Between Ecstasy and Agony, needs to be viewed close up because of the subtle textures and imagery, not easily read in photographs.  I like Mike’s connection with dance and could observe elements of movement within the works.  I likely would have had an interesting discussion with Mike, had I attended the opening.


From the CKG, I went to Jarvis Hall Fine Art.  I had missed Herald Nix: I’ll Go Find It earlier in the summer and was so excited to see a number of his panels exhibited at the front of the gallery.  A big part of the Jarvis Hall ‘experience’ is the friendly welcome and apparent knowledge of the peeps.  Shannon Norberg is always so helpful and generous.  I appreciate the hospitality and the genuine warmth.  It means the world when someone remembers your name.

Herald…well, I just remember him showing me the mixing of pigments in his studio in Salmon Arm.  When I looked at this collection of landscape panels, I felt so impacted by the rich palette of colours.  A beautiful blend of both non-objective sensibility and the land/waterscapes, makes this group of paintings, stunning!  Love the published document that has its source in the August exhibit.

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Around the corner, I was blown away by the Gatherer by Marigold Santos.  See this!  Such technical expertise demonstrated in the handling of ink on this delicious warm paper.  The clay body of works, set out meticulously in the center of the room, mimicked that warmth perfectly and the drawing on the clay bodies, equally executed to perfection.  I was intrigued by the imagery, symbolism and the evident narration.  Again, I made my own meaning.  I love it when I can celebrate the feminine in art.  These had a powerful feminine sensibility to them.  Marigold Santos has created a fascinating exhibit in Gatherer and they may be perused until October 29.


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Finally, and running short on time, I booted it down to see Chris Flodberg’s Paintings at the Master’s art gallery.  A tad more formal in its atmosphere, I felt less able to document the works, but, was also at the point where I just wanted to take the exhibit in and give myself the time to spend with the works.  I ‘used to’ paint in oils and so my heart thumps wildly when I see this young man’s use of paint/colour.  I believe that Chris is an exceptional painter and have actually caught myself salivating in front of his paintings.  This is something that likely only other artists understand.  I had tears in front of one of his large landscapes that afternoon.  I dunno.  Maybe I was tired.  Maybe I just wonder sometimes why I’m not painting more.  Maybe it was just the simple beauty of some ultramarine that appeared in a pond reflection.  I enjoyed ending the day, purchasing a beautiful book and taking my mind into the green.  A bit of bad light reflecting off of some of the paint…so, I’ll just post a couple of photos here.  I’m really hoping my readers will attend to this show…works from the past…and some really innovative and lovely explorations of portraiture.  You will see what you love.  I promise.

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It was time to go home.  I didn’t have a chance to get to The Edge Gallery, down in Inglewood.  I would have enjoyed seeing Craig Richard’s photography.

If you have viewed art intensely, you will understand and recognize when your brain is on imagery overload.  I had reached saturation point.  Once I left the Masters, I went for a bit of an autumn walk down town and just took in the colour and nature, resetting my visual sensibilities.

Calgary is a rich and wonderful place for art viewing.  I am so grateful that at any given time there is so much to see.  I’m sorry to have missed you at your openings, but, I am seeing the art when all is quiet and I so treasure it!



Two Ontario Markets

Not forgetting that this part of Ontario suffered drought this past mid-July to end of August, there was still enough produce to take in the summer farmer’s market in Belleville.  I’m feeling bad for those who rely on sustained and plentiful crops and don’t know what the dairy farmers are going to do about corn for their cows this winter.  Beans were still plentiful, it seemed to me, but Dad said that everything has suffered.

Some lovely memories of beautiful sights, aromas and the connection with so many lovely people will stick with me.

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I bought a bouquet of sweet peas.  They are my absolute favourite and I remember my mother loving them as well.

img_0257 img_0256 img_0255 img_0254 img_0253 img_0451 img_0450The Ottawa market is always fun and was a mere walking distance from the National Gallery of Canada.  We picked up some food (the girls had noodle soup, bubble teas and I enjoyed an open face salmon bagel, with cream cheese and capers) and, afterwards, we wandered several blocks of city market, spoke with exhibitors,  and enjoyed the excitement that seemed to spill out from every corner.

img_1025 img_1029 img_1030 img_1031 img_1032 img_1033 img_1034 img_1035 img_1038 img_1039 img_1040 img_1041 While we ate our favourite flavours of gelato and frozen yogurt (I enjoyed mango and strawberry), we sat in the shade and listened to this beautiful soprano.  One of my fond memories will be of the lady to the right, who listened intently to the entire set, spell bound.

img_1045Chatted with this gent,  François Pelletier, about his gridded piece and his practice. He rolls out a large piece of canvas and works on that with chalk pastels and conte.  He travels the world doing this.

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For Love of Louis


Yes!  I DID attend a football game.  I wouldn’t do it for just anyone.  Ask my father.  But, I would do it for Louis.


The thing about living in a family rooted in Canada’s military, is that we are intense about our Canadian identity.  We also find ourselves living from east coast to west.  It matters not the distance between us because over the years we have been able to remain connected by heart strings and when we are together, it is pure magic.

Dad and I recently drove to Ottawa and really enjoyed the time, food, love and dogs!  One fun afternoon was spent watching my awesome nephew play a game, his team, the Myers Riders!  GO RIDERS!!

Honestly, I know very little about what was going on, but I did see my nephew pushing through to gain yardage….MOVE THOSE STICKS!  MOVE THOSE STICKS!  He is an intense and smart player, (from what I can tell…you just have to trust my judgment here) and he made his auntie proud!  Yes!  They won the game!  And, YES!  He received the MVP football during the post conference.  YEAH!  I love you, Louis.  This is just a smattering of images from my experience.  I have absolutely no permission to share these, but, heH!  I’m a proud auntie.

Keep an eye on the pink gloves and # 75!  Love this boy for his beautiful heart.  Yes, he is a talented athlete, but foremost for me, is the respectful and kind hearted and caring man that he is becoming!  He’s a great team player.  Love you, Louis.

Here ends, likely, the ONLY sports post that you will ever find on my blog.  I love you, dear family.


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Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

How wonderful to share an exhibit of works created by notable female artist, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842), with my two young nieces, Eliane and Ainslie.  The National Gallery of Canada produces the most exquisite spaces that showcase exhibits, with perfection.  A contrast to the Chris Cran show, this exhibit immediately captured the sensibility of the period.  We were enveloped in a warm and ornate environment.  I felt hugged by the space.

img_1008The first images posted are the sculpted terra-cota bust of Vigée Le Brun – 1783 sculpted by Augustin Pajou (1730-1809).  The piece is visiting from the Musee du Louvre. The artist, Augustin Pajou, enjoyed a long and continuing success as a portraitist spanning the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the Empire. He was Louis XVI’s official portraitist and he completed many psychologically penetrating portrait busts of some of the greatest and most interesting figures of his age.

img_1007While I thought I would pass by the written captions that were placed within proximity of each piece, they were so absolutely interesting and well-written, that  I became pulled into the history of this brave and prolific woman’s journey.  I was in awe of the technical aspects of her work and so amazed by her determination within the context of historical events of the time.  I was proud of my young nieces for their shared admiration.  We shared in some very ‘smart’ conversations.

I won’t approach this post like an art history article, but I do encourage my readers to explore this artist’s story. A revolutionary figure, literally! I was reminded of the strength of women when I toured this exhibit.  I was also overcome by the detail and expertise evidenced in the works, themselves.  At a point, it was impossible to separate the paintings from the relationship of the artist with Marie Antoinette and to say to myself, “Wow, this artist was in intimate contact with and documented the life of this historical figure.”  The works transported me, the observer, into a different time.

Initially, I was a bit snap-happy, but then became absorbed and overcome by the shear numbers of paintings of royalty…I also had my ‘hand slapped’ by a security guard once he noticed I had taken a photo of a painting that had not been exhibited since 1982.  He was gentle with me, however, and explained that a no photos icon was posted at the base of the caption…subtle, but worthy of noticing.  There was one woman carefully documenting each painting multiple times and I was somehow irritated by that.  The gallery was well-attended, given that it was the long weekend and the exhibit will have its close tomorrow, on September 11.

As Ainslie, Eliane and I approached the final two rooms, we stood and stared at one another…I said…”Are we cooked?” and we all agreed we were on Art OVERLOAD at this point.  Some of you will understand what I’m saying.  I remember this feeling in the Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre, the Uffizi, the National Gallery of London, the Tate Modern and even in the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. I do want to note here, however, that of the great art museums of the world, I am very proud of our National Gallery.  This exhibit was stunning.  I feel grateful.

img_1009 img_1010 img_1011 img_1012 img_1013 img_1014 img_1015 img_1016 img_1017 img_1018 img_1019If you are reading this and living in Ottawa, sip your last bit of coffee, pack up your newspaper and off you go!  Thank you to those involved with sharing this exhibit.