IS-ness

Through the kind invitation of a dear friend, I ended up at the Calgary Catholic Retired Teachers Spring Luncheon at the Calgary Elk’s Club the day following my birthday. Thank you to Ruth, Pat and Emelia for the gracious planning.  I felt so blessed by the renewed connections and the warm embrace of the educators in my circle.  It was an absolutely magical afternoon.

Sitting on my right, was Joan.  In 1979, weeks after the birth of my first child, I took a bus from Lethbridge to Calgary, to interview with this person.  Little did I know, at that time, what a powerful inspiration Joan would become, in my teaching, but also in my way of seeing life and the world…visually…but, in so many other ways.

Last Tuesday…she gave me something more to think about….IS-NESS…the experience of being completely present in this moment.  It’s common to talk about the optimal state of ‘being’, living for this moment only.  There are many ‘gurus’ among us. “There is no past.  There can be no future.  There is only ‘now’.” These run the risk of becoming mere platitudes.  I think we all know what’s really going on…and it’s what the world is telling us is important, not what we know to be important. (sorry to be speaking for all of us here…maybe I’m wrong)

During my life, I’ve driven forward more than anything.  In youth, I thought that I needed more.  I set huge goals for myself. The wheels were in spin and forward I drove!  (when I type the word, DROVE,  an image comes up for me…a huge wind pressing at my face and the full weight of my body pushing against it). I dedicated myself to the work of that…the industry of that.  I taught full days, but didn’t wind down, painting well into the night and rising early in the morning.  I tasted what the FUTURE might be, but never really grasped it.

At some point, I opened the door, and rolled out of the speeding vehicle that was the life I had created and landed safely beside the freeway traveled by all of those around me. For the first time, I noticed what ‘other people’ were doing while I was painting, teaching and raising three children. I looked at my life through the rear view mirror and came to a lurching halt. I saw, for the first time, what it meant to stop….not to slow down, but to stop.

I am not writing this post, in judgement of my choices in youth.  If one looks at the accomplishments of ‘the greats’, one knows that their achievements came to be through commitment, dedication and mostly, sacrifice.  It is no wonder that I spent most of my life seeking success, recognition, accomplishment, production, money. These are the false promises of the human construct.

I am listening to Chris Cornell’s album, Higher Truth, as I type.  I just listened with a new ear to the song, Dead Wishes. While it is not for me to question why, at the age of 52, he took his life, it is for me to explore what it is in this human heart…every heart…that aches, struggles and seeks to be MORE.

One blessing of my life was to sit down with my children and gather for Sunday dinner; another, to seek to communicate and connect. I was rich for the opportunity to see, write, learn and experience art, music and performance…for the opportunity to be still with nature, make observations through all of my senses.  Joy came with walking my dogs, Max-man and Laurie-dog before him.  It came with sitting in the church when it was quiet.  Gratitude came with writing a poem. Magic was to hold my mother’s hand when she slept, warm under her blankets, her Buddy-dog curled into the circle of her back.  Freedom was and continues to be to turn on my favourite music and to paint in my studio, in the same way that the other might dance, with no one watching…for me alone.  IS-NESS….articulated by a dear friend.

(of course, I came home and looked through my documentation of years gone by…the photographs, mere snapshots of times shared…so much wisdom and joy contained in the flashes of light)

I was hired on with Calgary Catholic School District #1 in 1979.  My experiences for the following nine years at Holy Cross Elementary/Junior High were life changing.  This is where I learned the value of the person, above program.  To nurture a love for reading, learning, creating and self ultimately leads to enthusiasm for content, practice and consistent attendance.  I was blessed when opportunities in my career, led to both St. John Fine Art’s School and the Fine Art’s Center (in two different locations).  There, I met some of the most amazing people…educators who fearlessly impacted the district with the truth of the matter…and that is that experiences of art, music, drama and dance teach the brain in new ways, enhance all learning and create well-rounded human beings, prepared for a world that requires problem solving and new ways of seeing!  I went on to take everything I had learned to that point and participated in the opening of Cardinal Newman, a school in the deep south.  There, I continued to work as an advocate for the fine arts and to dream that they would be honoured within the curriculum.

In the following photographs, I’ve captured just a very small sampling of those educators, my mentors and friends. As Alberta is deliberating about and writing new curricula, I’m pleased to recall that I participated in the implementation of the art and drama curricula all those years ago.  It was wonderful to meet up again, with friends, and to share some stories…to speak of life and art and books and Is-ness.  Thank you.

All That Jazz!

Words spill out.  I use the word beautiful a lot!  I mention, too often, how grateful I am or how blessed I feel.  Writing helps me to take pause, to slow down and to take real measure of how truly fortunate I am. I seem to be a more positive person when I write. However, in that part of life away from the keyboard, I can become anxious, worrying and temperamental. I thought about this last evening, after an experience of improvisational jazz music that was both rich and compelling.  I’ll make a connection between words and jazz in a moment.  Readers, bear with me.

I always think of Wendy as a connector, but more than that, a dear friend.  Out of the blue, she invited me to join her for an early evening of improvised jazz.  The musicians, percussionist Robin Tufts and trumpet player, Andre Wickenheiser, created such magic in musical dialogue, that tonight, even as I write, I get chills.

We entered through the front doorway of the ‘yellow house’ and stepped into the warm light of new friendship.  Everywhere, interesting objects told stories of inspiration and the arts. Wonderful aromas wafted from the kitchen.  Introductions were made and Pat steered us toward the two pots of stock heating on the stove top.  Hanna turned meatballs in the fry pan.  I began chopping up beets on a wooden cutting board and the conversations seamlessly wove over and under and through the lovely gathering.  The only time the words stopped, was at the invitation to gather for the music.

Words stopped.

Taken from page 107

The Power of Silence: Silent Communication in Daily Life By Colum Kenny

What was about to take place was the ‘touching of a mystery’…a silencing of words.

Andre and Robin took their seats before us and Robin invoked a minute of silence.  It was heart breaking, the silence was so beautiful.  And…out of that silence was born the most remarkable improvised jazz sound.  I was transported or emptied or released…I haven’t decided which.  I relaxed.  Words left me.  I didn’t ‘think’.  It was a wonderful experience to focus on a weeping trumpet, a laughing trumpet…a percussive response; a light bell, wood, metal, skin….a cry, a gasp, a retort.  So complex, and yet so immediate and natural.

I was a little disappointed when the music came to a peaceful close.  Words, again, flowed throughout the room.  Conversations. Reactions. Circular sifting through spaces, hot bowls of soup…bread…desserts.  A glass of wine.  It was a genuinely ‘magical’ experience.

Thank you to Pat,  Robin and Andre.  It was good to meet you; Hanna and Roberta, Jaqueline, Rayne, Claudia…

Wendy, as always, thank you.

 

 

Calgary Folk Festival 2015

I’ve just purchased my four day pass for this year’s folk festival and so I thought I had better review my archives on last year’s events because the experience was a little different and very special in a number of ways.  I just didn’t take the opportunity to sit and reflect on any of it.  The program got shoveled into a pile with other papers and I just left the experience to marinate in my heart and my mind.  Folk Festival is a special event for me.

For 2015, initially, I had hoped to travel the Trans Canada Highway for a long visit with Dad in Ontario, but as it turned out, after teaching a long contract up until the end of June, Max-man injured his ACL in one back leg and days later, I broke my foot.  It was a calamity that sent me into a bit of an emotional tail spin because I was so looking forward to a big road trip. (I enjoy the experience of the Canadian landscape while cranking up CBC radio.)

Things weren’t going well.  After two weeks of being confined to one level of the house, Max began to heal and later that first month, with follow-up Orthopedic care, we received the news that he did not require the prescribed surgery.  That was awesome!  As his mobility increased, I met Steve of  Red Rover Pet Care and felt relieved that Steve was someone who would give Max the exercise he needed through my own convalescence and at the same time, be a happy and positive daily force in our lives.

The difficulties of Summer 2015, however, were not over!

Not much time had passed when my upstairs en suite plumbing led to more chaos and money that I had set aside for travel, ended up being poured into renovations.  Crazy! I DO try to find the positive side of events and as it turned out, through the water issues, I met a truly amazing young man, Trevor…such a professional and efficient plumber, on the recommendation of friend, Dino.  Trevor went well beyond the call of duty, given his fix-it knowledge and his kind heart.  Since then, I have learned so many good pointers from Trevor, where general renovations and handling fix-it problems are concerned.

In the midst of all of this, my daughter said, “Mom, if you can’t go on your trip, why don’t you buy Folk Festival tickets?”  I couldn’t imagine it!  Okay…well, I was blessed with a walking cast, but I still couldn’t picture getting around the grounds!  In the end, though, it all worked out.  Every night, I was a little more than tired!  I’m grateful to Erin who really did organize our food and snacks, very generously, so that I was basically just responsible to get myself together.

There were some real surprises at Folk Festival…and there always are!  Let me see if I can pull up some photographs of my favourites.

We have our folk festival rituals, one of them is to pour over our programs and mark our priorities/mapping out preferences.  I love this photograph of Cayley.  It has that Folk Fest feel about it!  Love the rubber boots!  And yes, this was a year that we had to run for it, a couple of times (cover up) and this involved me pulling a plastic bag over my cast.

DSC_1110

Musicians that I took in last year included (in no particular order because too much time has passed): The photographs are all mine…I did the best I could.  It would be nice if you asked to use them before you use them.

Aqua Alta out of Halifax, NS

Alright, so anything labeled as a Dreamscape, is likely not really for me.  A surreal sensibility in music, for me, is tolerable, but not a preferred experience.  I’m posting here, a sampling that is more literal than most pieces.  To be fair, one would have to say that the layers are very interesting.  I like the percussive layer.

Bombino from Niger  A huge ball of energy, life, light and carrying with him, a truly remarkable narrative, Bombino was one of the highlights for me.  I guess, classed as World music, one could not help but get up to this stuff and dance.  I remember feeling truly inspired by the guy.  Much evidence throughout his commentary and his music that he is in the world to create goodness! Highly recommend!  I remember feeling this same way the first time I heard K’Naan.

Sera Cahoone out of Seattle, Washington  Sera has a big voice for a little girl.  Her writing is good.  When I heard her, I was thinking that these twangy ballads will take people time to latch on to.  But, she’s a solid performer!  A lady with a pile of love songs in her heart. A nice voice to have sitting on a workshop stage.

Jennifer Castle; Toronto, Ontario  Jennifer spent a good while singing in a basement tavern in London, England and is said to have been influenced by British folk tradition in her songwriting.  I guess I don’t know enough about that to really get it.  I find her work a bit dissonant.  (she describes her music as being unsettling)

I heard her sing this number and liked it a lot.

Kim Churchill; Australia  Truth: this guy was just plain handsome…my daughters would roll their eyes at that initial remark, especially since today I turn 61.  If I were you and you had a chance to see this guy perform, I would encourage it!  I liked it a lot…and I’d never heard of Kim Churchill before in my life!  If you don’t take a look at any of the videos I post here, look at this one.  He shares some musicality, especially with the strong percussive underlying beat with Xavier Rudd.  Kim Churchill probably hates that comparison being made…but, I felt it so I’m writing it.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 033

EMBASSYLIGHTS; Calgary, AB/Iceland  I love love loved these guys!  I liked that they were such family-people! Demonstrating a versatile knowledge of instrumentation, I really thought EMBASSYLIGHTS was wonderful.  Indie or magic-light music, this couldn’t keep you going all folk fest long, but a restful respite on an otherwise-busy workshop stage.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 162Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 161Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 157Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 155

Father John Misty; New Orleans, LA  Supposed BIG NAME and a must-see, I saw, but in the end, felt that Father John Misty was such a darned PERFORMER, that it was all SHOW and not enough about the authenticity of the music.  Do you know what I mean?  Contrary to the content of his biography and despite the interesting things he has done, I didn’t feel it in the gut!

Frazey Ford; Vancouver, BC  I had been listening to Frazey Ford’s radio voice for some months before the Folk Festival.  She was a must-see on my list.  In the end, I don’t know if the sound techs had that stage worked out by the time she performed.  I just felt that her big voice with amazing and surprising nuance was not coming through.  She has such a quality of voice.  I chalk my disappointment up to the venue (main stage) and not to her performance.  I just really like her.

Frazey 2015

Jenn Grant; Halifax, NS  Yes!  Lots of mellow…chill…music.  We noticed that also.  That’s why, in the end, there are some people who really stand out!  Strong writing and truly beautiful, warm music. Not to be poo pooed.

Robyn Hitchcock; England  Here was a stand out for me!  I really enjoyed Robyn…saw him on a workshop stage with Buffy Ste. Marie and then again on Main Stage.  Really liked him. He had stories and a powerful connection with place. Labeled as a surrealist…his work is innovative and a little unexpected for its character.  Confidence, not arrogance, came through in his performances.  He felt seasoned.  That’s important sometimes.  This wasn’t for everyone.  lol

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 224

Kids Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville; Montreal, QC Pure entertainment!  Kid Koala just had us all in stitches, while also entertaining us with his amazing abilities!  This was surprising and very very entertaining!  Layers of sound, music and effects. Set way in the back of the early morning workshop group, his creativity and innovation came through! Smiles spread over the crowd!

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 103

Lake Street Dive; Boston, MA  Such good music!  These guys are professional!  Listen to this woman’s pipes!  Great stand up base!

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 070Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 076Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 079

Leftover Cuties; Los Angeles, CA  This was the best workshop stage I attended…a great bunch of people who didn’t mind really jamming.  Sometimes people don’t get that approach and don’t cross into other performer’s genres…this was a wonderful stage and the Leftover Cuties were great sports.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 115

 

John Mann; Vancouver, BC  I’m so grateful that I had opportunity to listen to John Mann perform even a few songs on a workshop stage.  It was a privilege.  All these months later, John has performed his farewell concert and of course, it saddens all of his fans.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 203

Milk Carton Kids; Los Angeles, CA Pure musicality and entertainment.  Wow!  I really am glad that I had the chance to enjoy these two.  They create fantastic harmonies with songs that are well-written!  Their transitions and monologues were uber-entertaining!

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 253Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 250

Oh Susanna; Toronto, Ontario  More the twang of a country singer here.  Strong voice.  Again, a very subdued feel to her performance.

Lynn Olagundoye; Calgary, AB  Wow…jazzy…rich…warm.  A very beautiful voice.  It was surprising to me that this was a voice coming out of Calgary!  This workshop stage was so diverse in its styles, there were some struggles where good jamming could happen.  I enjoyed the individuals that came through, however.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 011

Petunia and The Vipers; Vancouver, BC  These guys also shared my favourite workshop stage.  Much fun! Daughter, Cayley, appears in a music video produced by this group.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 107Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 083

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 135

Buffy Sainte-Marie; Hawaii  My sister-in-law, Karen, had joined us on the tarp for some music at the main stage on our final evening.  It just happened to be that a friend of mine was leaving early and had been sitting the whole folk festival, on the golden tarp at the front of the main stage.  She came to talk to me as I waited my turn for the biffy and offered us the tarp.  So…off I went to see one of the most iconic female performers I know of, front stage!  I had also caught her sharing a workshop stage, so this was extra special!  What can I say?  Grateful!

A footnote here, Buffy has the most amazing percussionist ever!  I love the guy!  If you ever have the chance to truly observe Michel Bruyere, take the opportunity!  So beautiful!

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 213

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 277Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 275Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 264

Shakey Graves; Austin, TX  One of my favourite performers was Shakey Graves!  He was passionate about his music, an excellent guitar player and was full of energy throughout his performance!  He was a great surprise.

 

 

Sarah Jane Scouten; Montreal, QC Very folky sounding.  I’ve got to say, this year, the selection was built for a folk festival.  I love well-written ballads performed sweetly.  I would have enjoyed hearing more of Sarah.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 209Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 208

JJ Shiplett; Calgary, AB  JJ shows up on Calgary bills, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see him performing.  I’m going to have to track him down.  Honestly, I love the rich warm sound of his guitar!

Esperanza Spalding presents Emily’s Dplus Evolution; Portland, OR

I’m not even going to post a comment about Esperanza Spalding.  I really didn’t understand her performance piece and regretted not moving from the stage.  It was evening and about supper time, so I just stayed plunked!

The Stray Birds; Lancaster, PA  It’s nice to hear from International musicians…to check out what’s happening beyond our borders.  I enjoyed the clarity of their music and the versatility of their instrumentation.  A very positive feeling to The Stray Birds.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 190

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 188

The Strumbellas; Toronto, Ontario A terrific six member band coming out of Toronto, with strong connections in Northern Ontario.  Their beats get people up dancing.  A very nice energy.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 146Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 148Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 150Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 151Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 152

Richard Thompson; England  As I said before, it’s a great thing when these festivals integrate some seasoned song writers.  Very upbeat and sensational in betweener stories. Lots of humour and great music.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 216

Loudon Wainwright III; Westchester County, NY  Another pleasure to watch, for his humour and his experience, Loudon Wainwright III!  If you enter his name into Youtube, a hundred titles show up!  Quite a song writer and it was really a treat to listen!

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 220

The Wooden Sky; Toronto, ON

Hawksley Workman; Toronto, ON  Hawksley was a power house.  Lots of energy…he danced and sang across two stages.  I really liked this guy. He put on a great show!

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 063Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 170

Adam Cohen Son of Leonard Cohen, I liked Adam’s work.  If you’re thinking that you’re going to hear similarities in his vocals…you’re wrong.  Quite a different experience.  A fun time at Main Stage on this one.

Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 237Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 240Kath's Canon Folk Festival July 2015 244

Oh my, there were others…but, I’m leaving this now.

Yes, indeed!  Dawning my air cast, I took in all of this fabulous music and while we were just saying over breakfast this morning, that it was a very chill line up last year, I’m looking at this list and remembering some phenomenal experiences!  The thing about Folk Festival is that you are exposed to artists you might not have ever connected with who produce stuff that is MORE than appealing.  It was a great folk festival…now that I’ve created this list, I’m going to go back and add some meat to the bones, so to speak.

(Okay….so that was quite an experience of music! 2231 words later!)  I hope that my readers have enjoyed the odd bit.  I’m not going to be waiting until a year later to document 2016 Folk Festival…so looking forward to it!

 

 

 

 

A Reality Tour

It was January 21, 2004 and I found myself sitting next to my daughter, Cayley, at the Dome, somewhere up in the nosebleeds awaiting  the entrance of Macy Gray.  Her set leading up to David Bowie was short but so overwhelmingly energetic that the distance between us and her was not existent.  I’ll always remember the power of her vocals and her entertainment factor.  Gritty, joyful, her performance was spirited and authentic.

Tonight I had intended to drive to the core to attend an event at the National Music Center, but am I just becoming a home body, when on a Thursday evening, I don’t want to go back out onto the roads?  I just want to stay home.

I decided to pull out one of my journals labeled Winter 2004 2 and to skim through until I found my notes on David Bowie and his performance.  With today’s news of the passing of Alan Rickman and a key historical player of the Stratford Festival, Brian Bedford, both from cancer, it causes me to take pause.  I think that Bowie’s 2004 concert was well-named.  I think it’s important to check in with ourselves over the course of this New Year and decide what it is in life that truly feeds the soul. What is this state that we refer to as REALITY?

There was a break as the stage was shuffled about and prepared for David Bowie.  Cayley and I sipped on our traditional two DOME cold beers and chatted.   Some time during that intermission, a woman with a huge roll of tickets came up to us and gave us two new tickets.  She said only, “David does not want any one sitting this far away.  He’s moving you up.”  Well…was that ever a blessing!  We had ideal seats one section above the stage on the left.  And so the music began to fly.  That night was a healing-night for me…hard to explain here, but it’s true.

I’ve taken photographs of my archives and while I wrote a lot about the music, I’m just going to post the visuals and maybe a video of the song that really moved me that night.

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

Live rightly.  Live justly.  Give to those in need.  Respect your body. Cherish your loved ones.  And…dance.

Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 021Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 020Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 019Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 018Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 016Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 015

Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 017Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 013Kath's Canon, January 14, 2016 Bowie and Memorabilia 012

 

 

 

 

Always buy the t-shirt!

 

Entering the Dance: A Perspective on Elementary Arts Education

As a retired person, I see more and more the outrageously crazy and demanding life of educators out there.  Masters of all things, teachers are responsible for the constant changing world of demands placed down before them.  I have such admiration for them.

When I have opportunity to work with children, in my specialized world of visual arts, I am blown out of the water by their desire to learn how to see their visual world, learn to draw and master a variety of media.  Yesterday this was no more evident.  I was thinking about the fact that more and more reflection and drawing are being sacrificed in lieu of a more packaged and close ended result for the purpose of display, such as the results provided by a ‘Pinterest idea’.  In fact, I post my lessons on to the Pinterest site, in the hopes that the lessons will minimize fear about the process of teaching drawing.  I don’t know if I can impact any of this anymore, but I treasure the opportunities that teachers give me to further my research and practice.  I am still learning.

Each year, the child is immersed in a different set of schema and does not necessarily reflect our adult ideas of ‘what art should be’ or what is ‘pretty art’.  Children’s art needs to reflect where they are at their particular age and with their particular way of seeing, as well as their fine motor skill development.  Here, I provide a little bit of read on the topic.

If teachers pressure either themselves or their students to create a ‘pretty’ end result, the child is trained to ask that forever-question in the art room…”Is this good?” instead of entering the dance of creation.  I think that focusing on an open-ended result and curbing adult expectations of ‘what makes good art’ is warranted, although it may be a practice that is unfamiliar.

While the step-by-step process teaches a whole other skill set, it is not necessarily the way to go about nurturing the artist soul.  The very pieces of art strung up down those hallways that achieve the giggles from the viewer, are likely the pieces that represent the children who are filled with artistic magic.  Embrace that with everything that is in you.

Yesterday, I watched a grade three Hibernating Animals lesson unfold…absolutely a magical experience!  For now, I’m just going to post very few pieces that represent the process of evolution that takes place when art lessons are child-centered and not adult-centered.  The ‘before’ depictions gauged where the students were in their imaginations, with absolutely no instruction…just a brainstorm list of animals that hibernate.

Observe…the animals have smiles on their faces.  The eyes are dominant.  The little legs are outstretched, in this case, two legs consistently on each animal. The body form is coloured in. The nest or den is a circle.

Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 029

Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 016

I then had the students pretend to be a hibernating mice on the classroom floor.

Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 011

They automatically bundled up in a closed circle.  I asked them to notice where their legs were…their tucked in heads…where their arms were, wrapping around their legs.  I had them rest like that for a while, with the lights dimmed.  They automatically stretched when I asked them to stand and return to their desks.

When they returned to their seats, I showed them a National Geographic film on what animals do in the winter.

When the movie was finished, I went to the board and told the students that we would be focusing on hibernating FURRY animals just for today, so we wouldn’t be drawing bats or snakes or insects hibernating.  I told them we wouldn’t think about scorpions today, either, because we would be thinking about animals that hibernate near us, in Calgary.  We listed those on our white board.  Ground squirrels, chipmunks, mice, rabbits, beaver, skunks…

I drew an exemplar on the board of the kinds of things that an animal might add to their nest.  We looked at the kinds of lines that make a cozy home for the winter.

We then discussed if we could see the animals bundled up, what would we see?  Closed eyes…curled up tail…ears that were back on the head…maybe one leg or just a paw.  The animal would want a curled up little bundle and not a great big space.  I had the students join me in the reading corner and read them a picture book about hibernation where we saw some beautiful photographs of animals in their nests and dens.

Their After drawing…look at the leap in their understanding of the visual world….after a body gym exercise, a movie and a discussion about how to draw grass and straw, how to draw fur and what would we see.  This is where you will see more distinction between the individual student’s schema.  Don’t be alarmed if some still see their world in a more flat or symbolic way.  This is where you let the students be individuals.  You can guide with leading questions, but really aim to NOT frustrate the students.  They are NOT right or wrong.

Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 044Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 038

Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 046Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 041

For expressive relief, after such concentration and after a recess break, the students decorated a picture frame for their piece with snowflakes…absolutely any way they wished.  We used chalk.  Given time, I would do this entire project in paint, but I was exploring an idea and this media made for an opportunity for me to see how I would revise the lesson.  Classroom teachers could use this idea of the picture frame on any project or piece of writing.  Colour of frame and motif can vary.

Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 061Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 060

Then the students found their nest.

Using chalk as the media for drawing, the students worked from their visual journal After sketches, to create their hibernating animals.  Once again, scale was an issue.  I discovered that their animals became smaller and skinnier as they placed them in these large nests.  This makes me smile…a result I didn’t anticipate and would likely spend some time talking to them about body mass if I explored this again.

Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 088Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 087Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 086Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 085Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 084Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 083Kath's Canon, January 6, 2016 Salmon gift, Franks, Hibernate 3 082

The results in this particular activity could not possibly be anticipated.  However, the process was invaluable and I enjoyed every minute of interaction with the students.  It isn’t easy ‘letting go’, but it’s imperative.  After this experience, I will be able to revise my lesson and further develop its outcomes.

I still have reservations about adult paint nights and classes that hinge on having students create images after an exemplar.  I think it’s just important to enjoy those experiences for what they are, a way to master techniques, materials or to train motor skills.  They are not experiences that lean toward the development of creative thought.  Closed-ended formulas are never as valuable as open-ended formulas.  For the record, my thoughts only!

Thanks for your class, Jenn!  They were awesome!

Whirlwind

This is a beautiful day!  I got up early and Max and I headed over to the pond.  I made a decision to attend a later Mass again because light will be fading soon and our pond walks will be later in the day…it is time to soak up the beautiful morning light while it’s still possible.  It is another golden-blue day as tree branches become more exposed and the leaves move into a warmer shade of yellow.

Mass was inspiring.  With my church family, I was able to reconnect with a friend I hadn’t visited with for quite a long time and I felt as though I was able to be really present to her and to the blessed peace of the Mass.  I thought a lot about discipleship…and took pause to consider what direction these thoughts might take me in my community.

Once home, I ate a nice lunch and then visited with Dad on Skype.  Now, I am sitting in my pyjamas, ready to have an afternoon nap.  The sunshine is creating beautiful patterns on the floor near by.  This relaxed feeling that pours over me is quite a contrast to the whirlwind of activity that has been filling up my life since Enriquito’s departure and connecting with Dylan last week.  A few images as an archive…

Dragon Pearl Dumplings and Hot and Sour Soup…a family favourite and great for an art night.

Dragon PearlEsker Foundation autumn opening.  The snacks, as per usual, were amazing!  And it was such a nice thing to visit with Jim and Sue Hill again.  I bumped into people I knew, but it was especially good to share the experience with my daughter, Cayley.  I have to say that this exhibit is a challenge for me.  I’m looking forward to programs that will supplement the visual exhibit over the coming months.  I’m guessing I will learn more about art as communication and installation.  The programs began on Saturday, with an artist talk, but one needs to pace ones self.  Charlotte Moth: living images and Celia Perrin Sidarous: Interiors, Other Chambers will be on exhibit until December 20.

From this gallery setting, we headed over to Pith Gallery, meeting John Will in the center of 9th Ave, where funny enough, he stopped to talk.  Comic Con’t by Ryan Statz, had me in stitches.  Honestly, the work made me laugh out loud.  A great find!  Autobiographical in nature, this work was technically astute and in very good humour.

Lifted from the Pith Comic Con’t public share, I hope that Ryan will not mind me sharing this…sort of gives you the back story.

Ryan Statz – Biography

A native of Montréal Québec, Statz completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2000, and received his Masters of Fine Arts degree at Concordia University in 2008. Currently based in Calgary Alberta, Statz’s work has been exhibited across Canada, The United States, and Europe.

Ryan Statz – Artist Statement

I am an idiot.

Anyone who knows me would likely admit that this is neither a stretch of the truth or the imagination – in fact, if I were a gambling man I’d say it’d be a pretty safe bet. Based on a personal, and experiential reality, my work owns up to this; however, because I also do not lead a life that is altogether interesting or exciting, the subject matter of the work references the mundane.

In the production of my work, I employ strategies from performance, executed with a deadpan fervour that includes elements of humour, wit, and humility – with just a hint of self-deprecation. Any self-flagellation, however, should not be taken as an admission of a lowered self-image; it is used primarily as a comedic device that addresses the notion of hegemonic masculinity.

Art History ubiquitously portrays the male artist as an iconic figure, a genius, and a hero. As I often approach things with a great deal of humility, I present the male artist (myself) as an individual who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, whose social status amongst his peers isn’t the highest, and whose success within the local, Canadian and international art context is virtually non-existent. So for my own purposes, and in the context of the male artist-as-bumbling-idiot, failure is always a viable option.

DSC_1330

DSC_1331

DSC_1332

DSC_1333

Cell September 27, 2015 Ironwood, Esker, Pith, Frank's 026

DSC_1335

DSC_1338

From Pith Gallery, Cayley and I walked down to the Ironwood Stage and Grill where Steve Coffey and Sheri-D were performing a collaborative piece titled, Tales From the Moonshine Room.  Over a glass of wine, a snack of calamari and conversation shared with a writer out of LA, Cayley and I really enjoyed this performance piece.  On a few occasions, the spoken poetry brought me to tears.

Sheri-D and Steve CoffeeNice to see you again, Paul Forestell!

DSC_1343

Saturday morning began with an early morning pond walk.  Even when life is hectic, having a beautiful border collie (Max-Man) in my circle, causes a connection with nature and required exercise.

Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Heron 002 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 061From there, I headed up north for an Open Door YYC activity.  I had registered to see the warehouse where the City of Calgary stores and cares for the Public Art Collection.  It was fabulous!  Barb and Quinn did an superb job sharing such a ‘magical’ place with us. Articulate and genuinely passionate, their collaborative presentation was excellent. A staff of two, they manage a beautiful space and collection.  I was really glad to have seen this. (No pictures inside…and if you’ve ever attended to such an event, you would understand the logic.)

Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 001 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 002 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 003Had I prior knowledge about the density of population that would attend a Pop Up Etsy event, I would not have committed to the 50 minute line up to get to the 97 vendors inside the Golden Acres venue on Saturday.  While I did pick up three Christmas gifts, I find that Market Collective provides a more ‘chill’ experience and as many artisans and creatives.  I missed food trucks and live music.  The crowds were oppressive.  Hmmm…let me see…I’m sure I took a photo of the line up that wove in and out of shelving.  Yes, here it is…

DSC_1357Yes, Dad, I DID do this!  The best part of the line up was that I met up with one of my fans…just love this girl!  Hannah is in one of her dance poses for this photo. :0)

DSC_1356

I decided to opt out of the bus tour of the Shepard Land Fill site and headed home to chill out before sharing the evening with my girls, attending Alberta Ballet’s Balletlujah.

It was nice to sip (or would that be, down?) a gin and tonic at intermission with my daughters, reviewing the experience together and getting some Auld Triangle time (a little name we gave ourselves during a show put on Tom Phillips one night at the Ironwood).

Jean Grand-Maitre

Jean Grand-Maitre

From Avenue Magazine: Photo captured of a moment in Jean Grand-Maitre's choreography for Balletlujah!

From Avenue Magazine: Photo captured of a moment in Jean Grand-Maitre’s choreography for Balletlujah!

Now…it might be that my readers will think that Saturday was over…but, no.  What did we do?  We stopped at the Blackfoot Diner OF COURSE.  We thought we would share a piece of pie.  But instead….this.

Breakfast after Alberta Ballet Kath and ErinI have much to be grateful for…I’m offered up so much in the way of opportunity…good food and drink…friendship and family.  It was quite a weekend!  Late this afternoon, I will drive out to spend time with my dear Ya Yas. But…for now…a snooze!

Losing Elma Flaherty

Elma slipped away without my knowing.  Within our family circle, she had been a forever-friend and I can not remember life without her.  And then, after my knock at her door and my entry into her home, I discovered her chair was gone.  Her things were gone. Elma was gone. And no words were left behind.

Elma passed on April 8 of 2013.  I was sitting next to my beautiful Mom in Belleville General Hospital the day that Elma passed away.

At Thanksgiving, I remember Elma because for most of twenty-five Thanksgivings, maybe thirty, Elma was sitting at my feast table, with my children and our friends.  I will remember her again this year.  I love you, Elma, and may you rest in peace.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elma Repairing my toilet seat. IMG_5677 Thanksgiving Dinner 2008 035 Elma in Barons July 2 2010 IMG_5565 P1040853 P1050042 P1050049

 

Orange!

I met Loretta down at the East Village, once asked to do some painting at the Golden Age Club in a madly creative environment called create!  Loretta Young has some kind of story!  What’s most amazing is how she lights up a room!  Last Sunday saw the launch of a collection of her paintings, collage and mosaics at the Hear’s My Soul Cafe.  It was a brilliant blue day and Loretta was wearing orange.

DSC_0618The surroundings were exquisite.  I was able to connect with beautiful and dear friends, sharing in the music of Trio Velocity while munching on Janice Beaton Fine Cheeses and sipping complimentary wine.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Wandering slowly from one space to another, I really engaged Loretta’s work, seeing a vibrant statement about life and freedom.  Having also been a very active participant in Calgary’s MOMO Dance Theatre, Loretta’s visual work also appears to dance, no matter the medium.  A spattering of orange seems to be a consistent underpinning and a delightful complement to the cerulean and ultramarine dominance.

I enjoyed embracing new friends and Loretta’s family, all present and excited about sharing this really important moment in time, a celebration of Loretta, her spirit and her art. Thanks again to visionary, Wendy Lees, who works tirelessly to create experiences around art and life in the East Village!  Thanks also to Mike who contributed his time to some beautiful framing and display.  A magic touch!

DSC_0627 DSC_0626 DSC_0625 DSC_0624 DSC_0622 DSC_0620 DSC_0619 DSC_0617 DSC_0616 DSC_0615 DSC_0614 DSC_0613 DSC_0612 DSC_0611 DSC_0609 DSC_0607 DSC_0606 DSC_0604 DSC_0603 DSC_0602 DSC_0601 DSC_0600 DSC_0598 DSC_0596

Art and Connection

The day was a chilly and wet one, but filled to the brim with connecting, whether that was with people or art.

I got Max out in the early morning.  He was in his typically joyful place, leaping through the air in order to retrieve his Chuckit! Paraflight Fetch Toy Frisbee Disc.  He loves it!  It’s durable and I concur with all of the points made in the following review.  I try to alternate his types of work outs each day, taking him out onto trails on his own or doing work outs such as this toy provides.  I call this toy a whizzo…and I pick them up, two at a time, when they are on sale and keep them in stock in my front hall closet.  Max seems to go through about two a year.

While you play this sort of game with your energetic dog, you need to remember to temper the height of your throw in order that your dog does not experience long term wear on his hips and joints.  Border collies are so active, agile and obsessed that they have no limits on what they choose to endure, so you, as an owner, must set the limits.  It is a difficult thing to watch your very active dog succumb to arthritis at some point because you chose to be an ‘over achiever’ with him.  A side note here is that I have developed very beefy arms in my years of training and owning this breed. Certain dogs require hard work every day.  My boy would be one of those.  This work needs to be varied so to remain interesting and so sometimes making your dog sit and stay for 45 minutes is another alternative, particularly on bad weather days.

I dropped Max home and headed to meet with my retired teacher-friends for a coffee.  I treasure these friends so much and felt absolutely blessed as I left yesterday morning.  Our conversation was varied and enthusiastic.  We had opportunity to share both joy and pain and were there for one another to celebrate and support, both.  I continue to be surprised with the human resistance to retirement.  There is so much that happens in the world beyond ‘the job’.  Thanks to my friends for sharing your interesting lives with me.  I am truly blessed by your smarts and your wit.

From there, I jumped on the C Train and got off at the City Hall stop.  After a warm chicken salad sandwich, enjoyed in our central public library, I headed over to the John Clark exhibit at C2.  I found Jeffrey Spalding in an intense conversation with a couple of people and so enjoyed my encounter with the images on my own. I love the synchronicity of the entire event….CTrain City Hall Chicken Salad, Clark, C2…it was a C sort of a morning.

The exhibit is a beautiful collection of works by John Clark.  The collection, available until August 31, is another amazing tribute to a person with a unique statement about his surroundings and experience. I was most emotional in front of a huge canvas painted in 1989, the piece that appears at the complete right of the following photograph.

??????????The following image was acquired via the University of Lethbridge Lasting Images linkArtist-Photographer, Arnaud Maggs, passed in 2012.   May 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.

Arnaud Maggs, John Clark in his studio, 1988. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of the artist, 1989.

Arnaud Maggs, John Clark in his studio, 1988. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of the artist, 1989.

I continue to long for a greater connection with the University of Lethbridge since attending during the years 1973 to 1977, and so I really enjoyed this piece, I believe to be titled Bird and Bridge.

DSC_0256An excellent tribute to John Clark’s life and exploration…beautifully displayed and worth our admiration.  Gratitude to C2 and also the various contributors of the pieces featured in this exhibit.

DSC_0254 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????From C2, I headed over to the Glenbow Museum to enjoy the Bee Kingdom’s:The Iconoclasts in Glass.  AWESOME!  Get out to see this one.  I have written several times about the Bees over these last several years, but, please DO enjoy this elegant display of a very comprehensive collection of works.  Such a clear vision was evidenced in this body.  A pleasure!  Congratulations and shout out to Phillip, Tim and Ryan!

DSC_0277

Phillip Murray Bandura

DSC_0268

Timothy Belliveau

Timothy Belliveau

Ryan Fairweather

Ryan Fairweather

I hung out in the museum for a little while…thinking especially about Marion Nicholl’s work for some reason.  I thought she was such a phenomenal visionary.  I don’t wish to get into the generational and gender ‘thing’ here…but…come on!

DSC_0266It just wouldn’t be right to be so close to create! at the Golden Age Club, to not walk over and see what was cooking.  I enjoyed a coffee and rice crispy square with visionary and facilitator, Wendy Lees; artists Margaret, Lorna, Jo-Anne and Les and got filled in about all of the recent goings-on including the creation of a Little Library and another zine.

I met up with my daughter after jumping on the train and rockin’ my way to the ‘burbs’ from the core.  After yet another Max-event, Cayley and I met up with a beautiful friend of ours at the Blue’s Can and I spun some circles in the dance floor to the all-so-familiar tunes of Tom Phillips and the Men of Constant Sorrow.  The day could not have been more full, rich and beautiful.

After all of this, I remembered to take the garbage out for a Friday morning pick-up.  And, after reading a few fantastic pages of Carol Shield’s Small Ceremonies (Karen, get this book!), I was off to sleep.

The Stuff of Life: Musical Moments

I have every intention of writing a post here, but, no guarantees. (Three days after writing this introduction, I return to the keyboard.) It’s another ‘hot one’ outside. (As I sit to put the punctuation on this blog post, an entire month and more has gone by.  It is raining outside, with a night time temperature of 13 degrees. I invite my readers to just sit back and enjoy the ride!)  We’ve had a long string of beautiful days and after such a rough winter, is it any wonder that writers step away from their keyboards and artists abandon their studios?  It’s time to make discoveries and later, pull back into the world of studios when  the snow flies and the world is once more, asleep.

I thought I might report on the folk festival daily, but that also failed after Thursday’s reviews, so here I will attempt a sketchy recollection of summer moments and the recent ‘stuff’ of life.

Dad arrived safe and sound, completing another Trans-Canada drive from Ontario and this has been a joy for me; to be able to cook together, eat beautiful foods together and to kiss one another good night before heading for bed.  Our conversations can be interesting and charged with new awareness and revelation OR frustrating and awkward.  We’ve never seen eye-to-eye on several topics and everyone knows it, but I respect no one more than I respect my Dad, for his knowledge, his generosity and his huge conviction. My Dad and I are both religious people and we treasure those discussions.  He knows his scripture and when I share my thoughts about nature, the land and my feelings (both positive and negative), he comes from the same framework and so he inspires me.  Dad loves me and it’s so nice to be on the same red sofa, in the same rooms…the same house…with THAT love.  We are sharing beautiful times.  I love my Dad.

July 27th marked Mom’s second birthday without us, and us without her.  I happened to be down at the folk festival.  Dad was visiting our relations in southern Alberta.  Daughter, Cayley and I melted into the day.  I told her that I didn’t want to be rushing and so I had my first coffee on my back yard deck while watching the birds at the feeder and doing a bit of gardening.  My Mom would have enjoyed all of that.

Sharing a tarp with my children, first we enjoyed Sam Carter.

P1180234

I think that one of the most blessed moments of that day was when Matt Patershuk  was emcee at a workshop and decided to end the set with a participatory event that involved the improvisation of You Are My Sunshine, a tune that my mother led our family in singing on so many wonderful road trips.  Mom so enjoyed road trips AND sing songs.  This was a true gift.  There were several really magical moments shared during Folk Festival.

The first concert that I ever attended came after I left Great Falls, Montana and attended University in Lethbridge, Alberta.  The Yates Theater hosted an intimate concert featuring an up-and-comer, Bruce Cockburn.  A young, gangly man, he walked out to center stage, carrying his own wooden stool and an acoustic guitar.  Above him, was hung a mirror ball that came to life during his tune, All the Diamonds in the World.  It was such an amazing concert.  I routinely listened to his early albums on Mark Mehrer’s turn table in my residence.

Yates LethbridgeI enjoyed Bruce Cockburn at both a workshop and an evening concert.  Both experiences were moving as I felt so plugged into the music.

P1180216Nigerian, Seun Kuti, truly rocked the Main Stage on Saturday night.  Cayley and I moved right up to the front row for this…energy…drums…rhythm…voices that were strong and full of conviction.  This was mesmerizing!  Walking to the C Train that night, we felt pulled into the crowd…music connecting all.

Amazing dancers/back up singers!

Amazing dancers/back up singers!

As I continue to jot these musical moments, I am realizing that in no way am I capturing my delight and engagement in these acts.  In fact, I feel that there is no way that I can even list all of the musicians that I discovered this year at folk festival.  I’ll attempt some highlights, beginning with Leonard Sumner of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, Manitoba.  He has evolved to a style that combines a folk/country rhythm with a rap lyric.  I was touched by this young man’s connection to a unique narrative and was impressed by his song writing, a tool to reach others and to encourage healing.  For similar reasons, I enjoyed Nick Sherman of Sioux Lookout, Ontario.

New to me, as well, was The Provincial Archive of our own Edmonton, Alberta.  I enjoyed them at an early workshop on the final day as well as their own stage in the heat of the afternoon.  Nice thing was, they led us in a final tune, a Pete Seeger tribute.  We all joined in singing If I Had a Hammer, a tune that wound up the final performances of every stage all over the grounds that afternoon. Very cool for lots of reasons.

I waited, excited, to hear Matt Andersen on the Main Stage on Sunday Night.  I have enjoyed his music for years.  His guitar playing was fantasmic and his last tune of the night blew us all out of the water…a great ending to a highly successful 2014 Folk Festival.  I guess I’d have to say that I prefer to see Matt take a stage on his own…no back-up, but the Mellotones showed up and really owned the stage along side ‘the man’.

Music…a huge net that captures the stuff of our lives!  Universal. Powerful. Magic.

The Waltz We Were Born For
Walt McDonald, 1934

I never knew them all, just hummed
and thrummed my fingers with the radio,
driving five hundred miles to Austin.
Her arms held all the songs I needed.
Our boots kept time with fiddles
and the charming sobs of blondes,

the whine of steel guitars
sliding us down in deer-hide chairs
when jukebox music was over.
Sad music’s on my mind tonight
in a jet high over Dallas, earphones
on channel five. A lonely singer,

dead, comes back to beg me,
swearing in my ears she’s mine,
rhymes set to music that make
her lies seem true. She’s gone
and others like her, leaving their songs
to haunt us. Letting down through clouds

I know who I’ll find waiting at the gate,
the same woman faithful to my arms
as she was those nights in Austin
when the world seemed like a jukebox,
our boots able to dance forever,
our pockets full of coins.