Greatness

A blog format isn’t necessarily conducive to writing on the subjects I currently need to write about.  Over coffee this morning, I quickly finished up the last two remaining posts about my recent experience on the Love Art in Calgary art tour. At 11:00 I was walking a prayer around the pond with Max.  And, yes, you read that correctly.

Before the hike, I sought out my father on Skype because I was feeling fragile.  Dad is giving me everything I need to journey my grief, everything that is, apart from what I am giving myself…and what God is giving me.  In short, Dad wasn’t available.  I went to the kitchen and ate an apricot square (I should have greased my pan, or as Dad later suggested, used parchment paper on the bottom of the pan) before making an exit.

At 11:00 the funeral Mass was beginning for a dear friend in Lethbridge and I was at a loss as to why I wasn’t there.  I’ve sat with that feeling all day long.  And just now, sitting here, I’m no closer to the answer.  The wind was a cold one from the north and on the south side of the pond, I couldn’t forge through the drift that, over the last few days, had accumulated.  So, I did an about face and headed back the way I had come.  That put me into the wind…and the cold lashing made my nose run and my eyes tear and then I was able to cry.

I seem to be losing women of greatness…women of tremendous influence…women who have inspired me and made me who I am.  And this is a difficult thing.  Because women of greatness have passed, the bones of my own mortality are being shaken and I am feeling an urgency about almost everything and that urgency sometimes exhausts me.

Last night, with remembrance of having done this alongside Gunda, I made a huge batch of cabbage rolls.  I am here alone, but I made enough for ten.  She would smile at this, I’m sure.

Cabbage Rolls and Apricot Squares

Cabbage Rolls and Apricot Squares

I know.  Like everyone else, I also say, “You never really lose someone you love.”

But, for the sake of this writing, I need to say it. I considered titling this post, Losing Gunda.  It feels as though we’ve lost her.

The truth is, I haven’t seen Gunda for the longest time.  The last time I saw her, she smiled and her eyes smiled, but she said very little.  I sent her Christmas cards.  That was the sum total of it, in the physical sense…oh, but in the spiritual sense, it was something completely different.

I think one of the most surprising blessings of my life, apart from having my children, was the moment I decided to be confirmed in my church.  Gunda inspired my faith every step of the way.  I sometimes sat on a stool in front of her…she would grasp my hands in hers…and we would talk.  She had such devotion and her devotion wrapped itself around me and never left.  So many times along the way of my life, I referred back to the wisdom that she shared with me and treasured the impact that she had on my life.  Gunda has always remained with me.

GundaI am sad today that the world has lost her beauty and her light, but I am confident in the promises of Jesus.  I will not forget her laughter.  I will not forget her raised eye brows when she was in doubt or questioning.  I will not forget how much she loved her beautiful family and her husband.  Thank you, Gunda, for connecting some of life’s dots for me.  I will continue to carry you in my heart for always.

Eternal rest grant unto Gunda, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Reinhold (Les) Pinter

The digital footprint for Les Pinter is not a significant one, but having spent just thirty minutes with him on my recent Love Art in Calgary tour, I have to say that he has left a huge impression.  One excellent bit of biographical writing is found in FFWD magazine dated as far back as 2009 and written by Laurel Smith.  Because of this artist’s complete humility, this article is key to insights on his commitment to a craft that astounds.

I will begin by posting two images for consideration…these small stencils, pulled from a tiny box of “magic”.

P1140912P1140913In the box, are found a great number of tiny cut-outs, each a unique motif to be used again and again for larger works.  I like this description, taken directly from FFWD magazine.

“Some of the messages underlying Pinter’s work are inspired by television because he sees media as being responsible for shaping our personal realities. “Consciousness is affected by what is on the news,” he says. Then he places a grid of cutouts on the glass surface of his television to demonstrate how he screens the programs he watches. The cutouts exist as a kind of fusion between icon and symbol, text and texture, sensation and spectacle, politics and humanity.”

I was in awe of the craftsmanship and the skill in producing these monumental pieces.  But probably most intriguing to me were the many insights and the intellectual processes that occur during the process of creation.  The conceptual qualities of the work boggle me.

P1140916 P1140913 P1140910 P1140908 P1140906 P1140904 P1140903 P1140902 P1140901From this work, Les led us into another intimate space in the SQ Commons and showed us current explosions of another kind!  Very atmospheric, and generally involving cyclonic rotation of great tornado forms, the restrained energy that provides for such systematic creation as the stencil cut outs, expresses itself in bursts of motion, light, darkness and colour.

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Les Pinter Cycone Series: 2014 (sic)  Photo Credit: Bart Habermiller

Les Pinter Cycone Series: 2014 (sic) Photo Credit: Bart Habermiller

Thank you for your artist talk, Les.  It was an honour to hear about your process first-hand.

Journeyman: A Ten Year Survey by Bill Rodgers

Bart Habermiller generously led the Love Art in Calgary tour group through the exhibit, Journeyman: A Ten Year Survey by Bill Rodgers, a beautiful complement/continuation of the exhibit that opened last night at the Nickle Arts Museum out at the University of Calgary.

Bill was a huge influence while I studied at ACAD during my year of sabbatical from CCSD #1.  We shared many conversations about my practice and my ideas.  He was a very generous person when it came to authentic communications about my progress.  He saw me through the process of creating these works…

Three Men: Sabbatical at Alberta College of Art

Three Men: Sabbatical at Alberta College of Art

Three Men

Three Men

One of three Library Helpers

One of three Library Helpers

That year I established a new direction for my work and never really looked at the practice of painting for commercial art galleries the same afterwards.  Of course, there were other influences during my study…influences like visiting lecturer, Rene Derouin and the exploration of his work during his Glenbow and CAG exhibits, but Bill Rodgers and artist, William MacDonell were key.  That year of study was a blessing-year.

Because I came from this relationship with Bill Rodgers, the works on display at SQ Commons seemed to reach out and grab me.  It was a truly emotional experience.  I used a pinhole setting on my camera and so my readers will enjoy truer colour if they view the works at this particular link.  I DO, however, enjoy the nostalgic sensibility of this particular lens as it speaks to me personally about the residual experience of Bill’s grander influence on my life.  There is the art and then there is the art of living.

P1140917 P1140918 P1140919 P1140921 P1140923 P1140924 P1140925 P1140926 P1140928Thanks to Bart Habermiller for the generosity and for the interesting vision for gallery spaces as living breathing entities that move beyond ‘place’ and are accessible to everyone.

Love Art in Calgary: Eighth Avenue Place

From the Danish Canadian Club, our group managed its way around/through a bit of a crane obstacle course and headed in to the most opulent of towers,  Eighth Avenue Place (EAP).  I have to say that the maneuvering and laughter just made the entire experience more fun!  Look at the size of these cranes!

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Our fearless leader gives her apologies...

Our fearless leader gives her apologies…

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Belay on!

P1140863 P1140867Gordon Menzies, General Property Manager, was inside to greet us and fully prepared with an excellent presentation about Calgary’s premier office tower where wonderful art collides with world-class design!  My writing about this experience will cover three separate posts because there were three distinct art happenings within this same venue.

To begin, my readers may wish to follow this link and read about the first-class collection of Canadian modern art that is exquisitely displayed on the first floor.

One of my favourite Canadian artists is Jack Shadbolt.  In fact, one of my most important art history papers was written about Shadbolt. It was a dream to turn a first corner in EAP and be visually confronted by these panels titled Wild Grass Suite – Quintet!

P1140868 P1140872Next, Jack Bush‘s work!  His piece, New York 55 (1955) is outstanding!  I am rarely featured in any tour photographs because generally, I am the monkey behind the camera, but in this case, I insisted that Wendy snap a couple.

P1140885 P1140886Kath and Jack Bush 2Another one of the Painter’s Eleven, Ray Mead’s Totem (1986) is a beautiful painting to see in such a well lit and welcoming location at the front desk.  Given my father’s service in the RCAF, I am particularly interested in the fact that Ray Mead served in the RAF and that he was born into a Watford family, where my own daughter met, fell in love with and married her husband.

P1140878 P1140874Next, I was aghast to see a Jean-Paul Riopelle piece titled Oliviers (1966).  Who would have thought?  This brought up recollections of gallery-viewing in both Quebec City and Montreal when I did a cross Canada gallery trip some years back.  How surprising that Riopelle should be found in Eighth Avenue Place in Calgary, Alberta!

P1140881 P1140883Next, Le Climat Rouge (1957) by Jean McEwen RCA.  Wendy was captured, seated before this one and looking like she is a part of the painting.  At each stop, the conversations continued about the art, the framing and about all other related topics.

P1140887Wendy and Jean McEwenFinally, Marcelle Ferron’s Chile (1973) exploded with colour.  I was glad to see that a female painter of the automatiste style was represented here.

P1140892To conclude this portion of our EAP tour, Gordon Mensies pointed out several settings of furniture designed by Arnee Jacobsen, Earo Saarinen and Florence Knoll.  A concern for a beautiful aesthetic was evident throughout the space.

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Arne Jacobsen 3300 Chair (1956)

Arne Jacobsen 3300 Chair (1956)

Oval Coffee Table (1956) Eero Saarinen

Oval Coffee Table (1956) Eero Saarinen

Much gratitude to Gordon Menzies who came in on a Saturday to expand our knowledge and to enjoy the aesthetic of such an amazing tower.

A fabulous article, accompanied by beautiful photographs is written by Richard White on his blog titled Everyday Tourist.  Visit this write up, from the perspective of a clearly educated gentleman, here.

Love Art in Calgary: Lunch Shared at the Danish Canadian Club

I think one of the great times shared during the Love Art in Calgary tours comes at lunch time when we combine food, drink and warm conversation. We have a chance to react to the morning happenings and learn about one another’s interests apart from the tours.

Tour #7 allowed for the convenient lunch stop at the Danish Canadian Club, the Mermaid Inn. 

P1140840 Off of the lunch menu, I selected Roast Pork and Red Cabbage (Flæskesteg med Rødkål) and enjoyed it immensely.

P1140841 P1140843 P1140849There is always a sense of camaraderie as these groups gather around a shared table to discover common ground.  One thing’s for certain…there is much laughter and fun!  Some of our group members departed after lunch and five of us continued on to the final stop of the day.

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Blue Cheese Platter…we discovered that all participants in Tour #7 like blue cheese! Unusual?

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Mermaid Platter…a selection of prepared herring, shrimp and salad items.

Love Art in Calgary: Herringer Kiss Gallery

At the Herringer Kiss Gallery, I enjoyed reminiscences of curling up in warm blankets.  Lauren Walker, in her collection titled Where We Sleep, melds the cultural context of her home province, Nova Scotia, with contemporary techniques, creating conceptual and patterned work under the polished sheen of epoxy.

I open to the contents of my own linen closet this morning and find the familiar patterns of my Grandmother’s quilts…my friend, Glo’s work…and think about the sense of nostalgia and memory that these conjure up for me.

P1140933 P1140935 P1140936 Lauren’s art brings to mind similar memories…for me, the white drips on subtle white background, brought to mind the nubby chenille bedspreads of the 50s.  As an adult, this becomes a reference to many childhood recollections, especially memories of recuperating from illness…being wrapped up in blankets…observing the surrounding pattern…being nurtured by my mother.

ChenilleArtist, Lauren Walker and Owner/Director, Deborah Herringer Kiss were both generously available to us and enlightened us about intent, process and history of Lauren’s work.  It was a tremendous pleasure to enjoy such insights.  A blog is available for perusal by my readers and future projects and events can be viewed on their current website.

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Lauren Walker sheds light on her process.

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Deborah Herringer Kiss describes evolution of style and approach in the young artist, Lauren Walker.

P1140791 P1140797 P1140802 P1140830Departing…after our third stop along the Love Art in Calgary tour…time for lunch and sharing of stories and ideas.

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Love Art in Calgary: Trepanier Baer

From the Lux Laundromat, our tour group headed a few blocks east, to the Trepanier Baer art gallery.  I’ve had a few beautiful experiences there in the past viewing exhibits by Evan Penny and David Urban, so I was looking forward to revisiting the gallery and seeing the Ron Moppett exhibit, Vincent’s Last Studio.

The one really pleasant face to face conversation I shared with Ron Moppett was enjoyed at the Esker Foundation where we chatted about paint by number paintings at length and with interest.

I was really grateful for the generous tour given by Administrative Assistant, Judy Ciccaglione.  This was an informative and very entertaining review of some of the notions that were key to this exhibit.

P1140765 P1140767 P1140770 P1140772 P1140775 P1140777 P1140780 P1140781 P1140782 P1140783 P1140786 P1140788As an extension, Ron Moppett’s mosaic is a formidable piece of public art available for our perusal.

Love Art in Calgary: Clean Clothes Collide with Creativity

FFWD recently covered an interview with Gerrit Rysdyk, owner of Lux Laundromat, down on  14th Street.  Metro also covered a story, here.  I so enjoyed reading Gerrit’s story, one of transformation and creation! Gerrit is a man with a vision.

Above all, Gerrit Rysdyk has high regard for his business…the fact is, he has ‘cleaned up’ the laundromat so that as you enter, you feel a peacefulness, a huge respect and a sense of care.  He described the laundromat as providing the following services.

“Lux Laundromat is a full service coin laundry located in the downtown Calgary. There are 14 single load washers,6 double load washers 5 of which are super high effciency and one triple load for king size comforters and quilts. The hours are 8 AM to 10 PM 7 days a week. Last load is 9 PM. Attendant on hand at all times.”

P1140723 - Copy P1140737 - Copy P1140741 - Copy LuxYesterday’s Love Art in Calgary tour began with coffee cake and coffee at the laundromat, where a recent art opening was enjoyed, featuring Super dark & spooky: So bright and magical!, a mixed media collection by artists SPIVAK and Melinda Topilko of Girl Gang Dance Party.

While SPIVAK’s electronic footprint is sparse, I am including here, a bit of a biography found on the Phantom Wing website for Melinda Topilko.

My transdisciplinary practice includes drawings, mixed media work, photographs and curatorial collages – using techniques typically defined as “crafty.” Of particular interest to me is the examination of feminism, and the relationship between gender roles and interpretations of the “masculine” and “feminine” in visual culture. Much of my raw material is collected meticulously from thrift stores, specifically domestic objects and images from the 1940s to the 1970s, particularly those associated with women. The juxtaposition of images, objects and texts play with perception and expectation that is intended as humorous, but also has a deeper theoretical basis. A key element of my practice is a social one – interactions not only between the viewers and the work, but also the resulting dialogues.

Melinda graduated from the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2012, and is currently working on a second iteration of the exhibition F*** Yeah, I’m a Feminist, and developing Hop on the Magic Art Bus, a travelling (sic) art space.”

melindatopilko.com

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Gerrit also pulled out some works produced by Lisa Cuffley as well as Lady Cox The Factory.

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P1140743 - Copy P1140745 - CopyAlso, from the back office area, Gerrit shared with us a photograph taken of the laundromat in its early days…something found tucked behind machinery and discovered through the clean-up and renovation process.  Beau Lark, who studied at ACAD is presently a Berlin photographer.  Quite a unique glimpse into the history of the laundromat!

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P1140754 P1140757The space provides for a ‘zen-like’ experience…warm light baths the work space and art invigorates the walls.

P1140762 P1140759It gave me a warm feeling as I noticed a few Gorilla House hearts stuck onto a couple of counter tops.

P1140756 P1140755 P1140736 - CopyThank you for your hospitality, Gerrit, and we wish you much good fortune with this venture.  I hope that my readers, when possible, will enjoy the services of the Lux Laundromat and take a wander in at your leisure to enjoy the art. Celebrating this tour, along with me and our fearless leader, Wendy Lees; Yves, Lauraine, Sally, Cindy, Steve, Geoff and Larry.

create! on Friday

We gathered at the Golden Age Club in the East Village this afternoon for a second painting activity.  It was a glorious thing to see Harold and the T-girl and to be able to get big hugs from them.  Needless to say, we all miss Gorilla House and I ache for the friends who I met there.  After setting out the basics on the tables, I relished sitting back and relaxing as a number of folk came in…we conversed and shared in treats donated generously by Brulee Patisserie.

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

The participants in create! were enthusiastic and patiently explored the notions of foreground, middle ground and background as well as how to create the illusion of form out of a flat shape.  Building upon the skills explored earlier this week, we began to speak about issues of composition; static versus dynamic and added shades into the mix.  The break out moment was the exploration once each artist had created three spheres, dynamically placed, into their compositions.

I was blessed by the sense of calm that filled the room…bathed in afternoon sunshine, create! was the place to be.  Thanks to Dan’l for the Mona Lisa joke…to Larry for his stories of Vimy…to Fran, for reading the Bricklayer’s Lunch Hour by Allen Ginsberg and for memories of her sister, Louise Marie Rose…to Jennifer, for painting in violet…to Noelle who wore pink and painted pink…for Georgia for asking about contrast…to d-rae for focusing so intently on the details and to two new painters, a daughter and her mother because they painted after years of watching Bob Ross on television (“We don’t make mistakes; we just have happy accidents.”), without ever having painted…for Wendy Lees who shared her dream with all of us when she opened up programs in EV.

It was an afternoon of light and joy and peace.

Create 1

Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

create 21

Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

Sheep-ISH Dog

Some of my friends on social media may have thought I was joking when I compared this fox to my dog, Max.

I just returned from my hike around the pond with Max…something we do at least once a day and when the weather co-operates, twice.  Lately, the wintry pond environment has offered new insights.  For one, during the huge spell of deep snow and icy temperatures, I found a kill site.  A predatory bird, likely some type of hawk, was evidently taken down by a large carnivore (I was initially thinking, a larger male coyote).  The feathers and parts of the bird were carried over a long trail.

I’ve purchased some casting plaster and will want to take a cast of the tracks that I’ve found circling the entire pond, simply because their profile is much larger than the other coyotes that have inhabited the area….more than four inches.  I want to do some comparison identification.  These matters always intrigue me.

CaninetrackscomparedLD

Add to that, the presence of deer sign (very unusual for this part of Fish Creek because it is fenced off) and several skat sites that included lots of animal hair as well as the typical berries, and it is evident that the wintery weather is offering all of the animals challenges for food sources and water.

So, today Max was, as is typical, exploring all of this.  As well, he was showing his mousing behaviours, every so often, acting very much like the fox featured in the previous Youtube video…only difference is that he doesn’t do the exuberant leap into the air.  He does, however, bury his snout completely into the snow, even snow that has developed a bit of a crust in this morning’s lowering temperatures.

Today…YES!  He brought out a mouse!  And…NO!  It mattered not how many times I commanded “Drop IT!”

“LEAVE IT!”

“COME!”

Max, consumed the mouse…yes indeedy!  Right in front of me…sheepishly relocating to a different spot every time I made a move toward him!  I know that my readers can imagine this.  I was so exasperated watching the horrors of a mouse being eaten bit by bit by my domestic pet, that I am still agitated.  Does Max know that I am angry?  You tell me.

Sheep-ISH Max January 22, 2014

Sheep-ISH Max January 22, 2014

Now, of course, my next concern….”Is this going to bite Max in the butt?  bite me in the butt?”  As I collected these photographs at our arrival home, he burped.  SHEESH!