A Beakerhead Spectacle! 2019

I’m going backwards in my life again!  I just realized that I didn’t celebrate properly, on my blog, the amazing fantabulous spectacle of Beakerhead 2019!    On the evening of September 21, there was such a razz-a-ma-tazzzz filled with inspiring displays, and a big smooosh of art and science in Calgary’s core!  I would like to express gratitude to my friend, Steven, who made this experience possible and for Pat for attending this fun evening with me.

There was a public parking fiasco to begin with…but with a second trip back to my car, that was rectified.  The fiasco led to a serendipitous visit to an art gallery where Pat and I ended up bidding on art in a silent auction (where, it seems, clients had no idea how to bid in a silent auction) and we left with some art work.

By the  time we made it on to Prince’s Island Park, it was pitch black.  There was a huge line up, larger than any I have ever seen at Calgary Folk Festival.  Personally, I was happy to discover in a timely fashion the portable toilets and then we were off to realize the magic that surrounded us.  I always really enjoy attending events with Pat because inevitably she ends up in an interesting conversation, whether that be with someone in a line up for a food truck or with a University of Calgary student working on a solar powered car design.

I’ve got to say that while the fire and the lights and the throbbing music were sensational, my favourite display of the evening was a giant pop up book based on biological studies.  I absolutely loved it.  Second to that, of course, the giant polar bear demanding everyone’s attention.  And finally, I was in awe of the beautiful resting area where above our heads, classical music and an experience of the cosmos unfolded in spinning concentric designs.

The remainder of this post will be visual in nature.  Beakerhead was a SPECTACLE this year.  I’m glad for the opportunity to attend.  Only suggestions would be to deal with whatever the issue was around accessibility to food and beverages…and mayhaps lighting strips along the pathways?? Apart from those minor edits, keep Beakerhead in Calgary.  It is pure magic!

Learning about propane.

Learning about solar and electric cars.

Open Doors YYC: The Alberta Ballet

It’s been a busy weekend, so this year I was only able to attend one event for Open Doors YYC.  I highly recommend these opportunities and have always learned a great deal about different places in our city.  I was excited, today, to be able to see the magic that is the Alberta Ballet.

I’ve often admired the outside facade and structure of the building that houses the Alberta Ballet, but have never stepped inside.  So today, along with my friend, Pat, I had my first opportunity to explore Studio 1 and Studio 2, as well as the Mezzanine.

There was no need to arrive early.  The organizers just weren’t ready for us.  With the weather being as it was, the 10:00 tour began at 10:15.

Once Tanya Chumak joined us, we were given the history of the building itself, the history of the Alberta Ballet and then introduced to the Master’s lesson we would be observing, conducted by Kelly McKinlay.

The building housed both the St. Mary’s Parish Hall / CNR Station, Calgary, Alberta. The foundation of this neighbourhood is deeply rooted in the Roman Catholic life of Southern Alberta when Our Lady of Peace was established in this area.  Upon the announcement that the transcontinental railway would be thundering through the neighbourhood, missionary Albert Lacombe travelled to Ottawa in 1884 with hopes of securing land to help sustain the French Catholic culture that was beginning to envelope the surrounding area.  Incorporated in 1889, this small parcel of land was known as Rouleauville, where streets were named after missionaries and the St. Mary’s Cathedral stood guard.

To help unify their culture and beliefs, the community decided to build the St. Mary’s Parish Hall in 1905, which is located at 141 18 Avenue SW.  The building was large enough to hold approximately 500 individuals during concerts and theatre productions, in addition to housing the St. Mary’s Boy’s School in the basement.  Unfortunately, performances were short lived in this sandstone building; upon the annexation of Rouleauville to Calgary in 1907, the building was soon sold to Canadian Northern Railway in 1911 and adapted into a railway station in 1913.  Due to the financial restraints during the war, the company decided to modify the existing structure versus constructing a new station.  With the modification came the new addition to the rear of the building and the creation of a wooden canopy in 1916.  Passenger service continued with the Canadian Northern Railway until 1971 when it was terminated.  Calgary acquired the land and buildings in 1978 and although a fire destroyed most of the interior in 1984, the building was lovingly restored in 1985 and the Alberta Ballet became the proud new occupants.

 

I was swept up with the Master Class.  I really truly loved it.  What a relaxing way to spend the morning.  I grabbed a few photos from above because the strength and form were so absolutely beautiful to witness.

Thanks to Pat for coming out to this one with me and for driving.  I feel really fortunate that Calgary offers such wonderful programs and opportunities!  Thank you Alberta Ballet!

Once home, I have to admit that Max and I really truly relaxed for the first time in a long time.  It was nice to put on three layers of flannel and to just hang out.

 

Climate Strike

My feet are still cold.  But, now I’m dry and in a minute, I’m going to pour a glass of wine.

I started my day by posting a whole number of paintings I’ve done over the last years, some of them exhibited in a beautiful little gallery in Lethbridge by my cousin, Jo, and her then-partner.  I threw images out to Bookface Land (coined by my friend, Doug M) in order to cause people to think…not about the art, but about our planet and I sort of hoped they would think about the planet in terms of the subjects being vulnerable pieces of that planet.

I called this work, A Covenant Series, and for those of you who are not ‘into’ religion, I think it is obvious by that title, that I am.  At the very least, I’d have to say that my life is rooted in scripture.  The painting, above, is titled Genesis and at the base of all of the pieces in this body of work, I have submerged actual passages from scripture.  You see, I’m not afraid to admit that I am religious.  In today’s world, religious people can even be a little refreshing. It’s way more acceptable, however, today, to say that you are spiritual.  In that way, a lot of hard stuff can be avoided, like the horrific actions of people on other people, often in the name of religion.  Let’s start with residential schools!

Back to the subject of this post…

Human beings, as a species, have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth, water and air, as well as every living creature on/in them, and that includes caring for one another.  If you’re NOT religious, I think that this makes sense as well.  Don’t you think?

Long story/short, I have, along the way, painted some of my own fears down onto panels…fears of losing beautiful parts of our world.  Sometimes these paintings expressed themselves as landscapes. Sometimes, particular species were investigated.  Most recently, I’ve been focused on a single bush through a year.

And as several readers know, I have been very caught up in the life of a family of Bald Eagles at the edge of the Bow River.  We are so very blessed.

In the novel, The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, Morag, the protagonist is sitting and conversing with her young daughter, Piquette.  Piquette, a Metis, turns to her writer-mother and asks what a buffalo is.  The conversation between the two of them has always impacted me, as has the connection that Morag has with her river.  The fact that this child had lost connection with such an iconic animal and that she looked to her mother to describe it, caused me to think that I must begin documenting…the landscape…the river…animals.  I became a crazy lady, visiting places like Maycroft Crossing in order to see the Old Man River before the dam.  It seemed I needed to be able to collect and document life as it was for the sake of my children.

Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand delivered a powerful Land Acknowledgement and then offered a very few words.  His words created the one point in the afternoon of speeches that made me cry.  No, there was one other young female University student who also caused me to cry, speaking of the things that make her afraid.  Curtis talked about us being Treaty people.  In the context of this entire day, for me, it was exceptional.

Treaty and Covenant.  The one thing I know for sure anymore is that I am hell bent on protecting my grandson.   And, as I explore what this means, I feel like I can’t make very many promises.  I can’t promise him that he will have a beautiful world full of the magic of so many species of animals and birds and insects once he is a man, the age of his father.  I can’t make promises because the world isn’t sustainable.  Destructive fires are burning. Children, the world over, are starving. Traumatic climate events are more frequent. Consumption is unreasonable. And human beings are in a denial stew (something that I believe rises up out of fear).

What I am empowered to do, however, is to have my grandson see me as a Treaty person.  I want him to know that I will do everything in my power to care for the planet and the people in it.  I will be an exemplar for him.  I will stand up to injustice.  I will speak the truth.

I’m proud of those Calgarians who showed up today.  I’m proud of those participants in our great nation, Canada, who are listening to young people as they demand action. I am grateful to people the world over who have a concern for the health of our world.

The weather today in Calgary was crappy.  And tonight we get snow.  But, my heart is warm and I am determined in my walk, more so tonight than any other time on my journey.

 

St. John Fine Arts School Late 1980s

School reunions make me feel a tad anxious.  I’ve attended my own ten year high school reunion, as well as my 20th, but because I was a student who viewed herself always on ‘the fringe’ and not one who fell into the ‘popular’ category, I felt hesitant and unsure.

The best part of my ten year class reunion was sitting in the hotel hot tub with former ‘speechie’ and friend, Jeff Marshall, and talking and laughing an entire evening away.

Meeting up with people I’ve not seen for a number of years and people I never knew to begin with, can make me squirm.

Yesterday’s event was a little different.  This one had nothing to do with my life as a student and more to do with a group of students gathering to celebrate their friendship of almost 30 years.

It was lovely that former students of St. John Fine Arts School put their heads together and arranged for a reunion.  While the group that decided to attend did not represent all of my students over those years, it was a fun mix.

Before I headed out to the event, I dug through my memorabilia, but came up short as, somewhere along the line, I finally let go of some student art work and writing that had traveled with me for so many years.  I DID find some bits here and there and headed out to Gwen’s place in Chestermere, the only teacher from those years, to attend.

Most wonderful was being greeted at the door by Amanda.  Amanda, it turns out, was also one of my students, daughter to Camille, who I taught at St. John’s.  What a beautiful experience.

Thanks to Gwen and her partner, Dave, for hosting!  And thank you to all who contributed such lovely items to the pot luck.  And finally, thank you for the generous welcome and inclusion.  It was a very fun event.  I DID miss a lot of the beautiful people who were a part of my life 30 years ago in the school…colleagues who really inspired me, students who taught me to have compassion and understanding and to value creativity and even parent volunteers who were so helpful and so much a part of every classroom.  From those years, I have lost friends, Dorothy MacInnis and Pat Campbell.

A blitz of images here…past and present.

Dear World: An End of Year Performance at the University Theater

Kite Flying home made kites every year for Pentecost…an event every year for almost 20 years of my teaching career.

In the day, when paper was allowed attached to walls…decorating.

The River: An Integration of Art, Music, Drama and Movement

Science Fair

An Integration: Do You Know What a Dragon Looks Like?

Belted Kingfisher

Autumn means chasing this guy around, trying to grab a focused photograph.  Some people play football.  This is my sport.  I could spend hours listening for him and then high-tailing it to his next location.  He plays catch-me-if-you-can and I can be heard in the woods, laughing out loud.  If anyone else was around they would wonder.  First, readers, take note of the Belted Kingfisher’s interesting sound.

Twice in the past two days, the Kingfisher has taken a place of importance, the high Y branch of the Bald Eagle family’s favourite tree.  First time, both Juveniles went at him.  I think that perhaps the Kingfisher was consuming a meal and the young eagles get pretty scrappy with the food of other river hunters.  Next time, the Sub Adult flew in, I suppose just to claim her dominance.

My visuals are all very unfocused, but I’m logging these here as a part of my birder journals.  This morning, in the fog, I also watched an Osprey dive, almost vertically, off of a tree and pounce upon a young Cormorant as he fished.  Life on the river is a bit of a dog-eat-dog world.  When I returned home, I saw that I got an unfocused capture of the Osprey leaving the tree.

The two juvenile Bald Eagles swooped into the scene, evicting the Kingfisher from prime territory.

He arrived at my side of the river, for only moments and I snapped this photograph, directly into the light.

Another visit to the river, and again, he chose prime branches.  Are you kidding?

In she swooped…and look, where the little guy ended up!

This morning, in the fog.

Life carries on, in all forms, at the river, but very different from only weeks ago.  The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are in greater numbers, as are the White Breasted Nuthatches.  The Northern Flickers swoosh down and up onto the Elms.  This afternoon, the subdued landscape was broken by a huge frenzy of vocalizations of coyotes on the island and the howls were returned in unison by the coyotes on this side of the river.  It was absolutely magical!

Osprey taking a dive, not for a fish, but for the Cormorant catching the fish! (Horrible photo alert!)

Juvenile Cormorant.  Doug Newman pointed out one time that some Cormorant species have bright blue eyes in this stage.  This is the best that I’ve been able to capture that.

And, what exactly is this?  Has this wee babe been abandoned by Mom?  What is it?

The elegance of the young American Robins, at this time, fills my heart, whenever I see them.

This past week might have been impacted by bad-weather days, but nature continues to amaze me, regardless.

The female Mallard keeps her kids in line.

I will continue to attempt a good capture of the Belted Kingfisher during the coming week.

BUMP!

The Beltline Urban Murals Project provided several offerings over the past few days.  My friend, Pat, and I participated in a tour that introduced us to the murals in east locations of the Beltline. We will have to see the murals to the west on our own. The weather was cooperative at the outset, but then we just got really hit with rain.  It’s interesting though, Pat and I never really get hung up about things when we are taking in an event of interest.  We just have fun.

Click on the blue links for artist biographies.  This is the third annual BUMP event to be held in Calgary.

Our meet-up was at the historic McHugh House.

First stop was Luke Ramsey’s work at Alpha House.  Luke is out of Powell River, B.C.

 Next stop was Lacey and Layla’s work.  They are out of Edmonton and Montreal.  I like the focus of their work.

Pat can be seen jay walking in the next photograph.  She is going to let me know (again) that she doesn’t like her photo taken.

This mural was a new addition to the line up and it was a really fun stop as two artists were working on this alley mural as we approached.  I believe the gentleman is RUNT. It can’t be easy painting that rough stucco surface with brushes.  I’m also guessing that this wall was in bad shape upon the outset!

As we left, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the old ad. art work on the adjacent building.

This piece is going to be amazing and will cover the expanse of this wall.  It is based on a study done of buffalo hides and is connected with research at Blackfoot Crossing.  Typically, Guido Van Helten produces works that include large monochrome portraits, so this is a little different.  I’m excited to see this one finished.  

At this point, the rain was coming down.  Kevin Ledo’s work will take your breath away.  It is truly amazing.

The work of FATS is about freedom.  I like the vertical format of this one.  By this time, I was getting wet.  My umbrella was sitting in the back seat of my car, quite some distance away by this time.

From this point forward, I lost track of the artist’s work and will have to spend some time researching a wee bit.  I’m thinking that this one was completed by an ol’ Gorilla House friend of mine, Adam Zhu.  In fact, I own one of his pieces as commissioned in the day.  I’ll go take a look at his website.  Yuppers!  Congratulations, Adam!  Beautiful work!!

Mateusz Naperialski created a mural in close proximity to several others.  This little section was absolutely beautiful and the art was like eye candy.  I was really feeling for the organizers and events folks, as well as the DJs who were closing out the event.  What a time to have so much rain!

Labrona’s work created a beautiful welcome into the celebration area, fixed with fire pits, strung lights and spray paint demonstrations and participation.  So fun!  Food trucks are down there and I’m sure that the music is still playing.

Reza Nik’s bright yellow created a brilliant conclusion to our BUMP experience.  This is an event that is now on my radar and I will be attending in future.  Congratulations to all participants.  I’m thrilled that our city is energizing the visual.  It’s so important to all of us.

Pat, that was a good one, right??

Now, to curl up with some Netflix.

Days and Art at Vancouver General Hospital

I dread flying. (The fears stem from multiple days on a cross-country flight in a single engine Cessna…but, that’s another story.)

When I heard that one of my best friends, spiritual guides and artist-buddies was moving at warp speed toward death (as we all are), I had to fly.  It is with gratitude for a few people and circumstances and timing that I write these words down.  Everything lined up so that I could be with Bobbie.  Bob and I shared over twenty years of friendship and he inspired such rich and wonderful magic in my life.  It was an unwritten pact of sorts that led me to his bedside and into the wonderful circle of his family.

When we landed, I took words of a highly-traveled friend, Hollee, to heart and pretended, to some degree, that I was Dora the Explorer.  I had some reservations about flying into Vancouver, not being familiar with the ‘big’ city at all.  I had flown into Vancouver with a friend many years ago in order to enjoy a Dave Matthew’s Band concert and the Art Gallery, but hadn’t ever found my way around on my own.  So, on the advice of Hollee, I took my time finding my way to the Canada Line, enjoying the beautiful art displayed throughout the airport.  Bob would have loved that I did this.

I successfully found my way to the Broadway/City Hall stop and then began my short walk to the hospital.

Peter met me at the elevator on the 16th floor of the Palliative Care Unit, after a convoluted wandering of the hospital, having thought I would find Bob on the eleventh floor. When I stepped around the corner and into Bob’s room, his arms extended and opened up to me.  The embrace of two old friends was delicious.  He uttered his delight and I parked my bag.  I knew that I would make this room my home for the coming days, although Bronwyn had graciously offered me a bed.

I write this post to celebrate the type of care and the environment where Bob spent his last days.  The Palliative Care unit was exceptional.  It was a comfortable space for both residents and families.  And there was art…everywhere!  Referred to as the VGH/ UBC Hospital Foundation Art Collection, the collection gave me the opportunity to disappear into various visual experiences throughout my stay.

“We are grateful to our donors for their contributions to this innovative program,” says Dr. Bev Spring, a physician with the Palliative Care Unit at VGH. “Art helps to create an atmosphere aesthetically and attitudinally where emotional and physical healing can happen. This is important for the heart and soul of the hospital – and the hearts and souls of those who find themselves on the giving or receiving end of care here: patients, their families and staff alike.”

I collected a series of photographs…none of them great, because I was so impressed.  I wasn’t in Vancouver for site seeing or for a vacation.  And yet, the space where my dear friend spent his last days was absolutely beautiful.  I’m so grateful for that.  This post is written in order to celebrate Bob’s life.  He held, in his imagination, such knowledge, practice and understanding of place, aesthetics and image-making.  This collection would have awed  him.

I sat through the wee hours of morning on August 20th and felt an overwhelming peace.  Of course, I was weary, but I was and am so grateful for the people who are in my circle.  I am so blessed.  Bob was a gentle and kind man.  His spirit lives.

 

Tribute to a Friend

“Later I will tell him: our courage comes out in different ways. We are brave in our bold dreams but also in our hesitations. We are brave in our willingness to carry on even as our pounding hearts say, “You will fail and land on your face.” Brave in our terrific tolerance for making a hundred mistakes. Day after day. We are brave in our persistence.”
― Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation

My dear friend, Bobbie, lived bravely, passionately and his spirit transcends everything that bound him to the earth…I love you and my life has been incredible because you have been here for me…for us.  No words for now, but I’ve sipped coffee this morning in the quiet of the house, Max at my feet, revisiting our friendship.  These are, in part, moments along the way.  But, we spent most of our friendship looking out at others and beauty.  So, I can not possibly share all of the immensity of that.  Know that you were loved, my beautiful Bob.

ACAD third year…and we gathered to celebrate spring.  I will forever be grateful for meeting you.

After meeting you, you were a part of every celebration.  My children love you.  My friends love you.  And we became family, all of us.

Bob is found written into so many journal pages…a few appear in this post.

I will let Ed know…

Gatwick Airport, before the train.

Oh, the places we have seen!  Angel Glacier, beautiful hikes…so many hikes…walks…galleries…Paris, Giverny, London…Argenta…road trips…books, art, family, friends.

I am blessed for having Liz, Janet, Bronwyn, Peter, Artemis, Cedar…I am blessed for the circle of love.

Heist or Give Away?

Beginning mid-January, my mind was awash.  My brother, John, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer (dammit) in hospital and then faced an agonizing three months in hospital, at home and then in hospice until his death on April 21.  Those of you who know me…those of you who spent time with me….those of you who connected at all with me through that time, know, in part, what I was going through and how I was experiencing life.

Off of work for three months, things were tight and so I thought to sell some older art work on Kijiji.  (Artists, don’t do it…don’t ever do it! lol)  It wasn’t until John died, and I headed, with tremendous resolve, to the studio to paint that I discovered a missing painting and not just a wee little thing, but a giant colourful framed floral piece that was 5 1/2 foot by 3 1/2 foot…or so I remember it.

Now, they say that trauma and physical exhaustion will affect how a person processes things…remembers things…or even experiences them.  Immediately, my reaction was that one of the Kijiji clients (did I give out my address?) helped themselves to the painting???  Freaky!!!  Yes!  I assure you I am locking my studio when I leave. (NOW)

The other habit I have, however, is the habit of visiting out in the studio with friends and family.  It’s a comfortable spot.  Once chatting away, it isn’t an unusual thing to hear, “Oh, Kath, I like that painting.”  If I hear those words, I go into auto pilot and typically say, “If you like it, then it’s yours.  I want you to have it.”

What I need to ask my readers is…did this happen to you?  Did you come into my studio one day for a friendly visit…and leave with a huge floral painting?  May I refresh your memory?  I’m posting a photograph here.  If you have this hanging on your wall, please let me know.  It’s not that I would ask you to return it, I simply want to know what/who I’ve forgotten.  I want to know where this painting lives.

I want to know that there was NOT a heist (after all, nothing else was disappeared).  This is a weird story, I know.   It gets more weird…but, I’m not going there for now.

Dad, if you’re reading this…I know it will freak you out.  Sorry.

First Thursday @ the Glenbow Museum: August 1, 2019

My son, Pat and I attended the first Thursday event on August 1st.  Recently, this exhibit includes the work by the amazing Nick Cave.  I’m so happy that we had opportunity to enjoy this work.  Very provocative, unique and obviously born of tremendous industry.  There is also such depth of meaning and I’ve tried to include some of the background here.

Loved the piece, the Enchanted Forest!!

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In the second gallery space Ed Pien’s work, Our Beloved was a difficult piece for me to spend too much time with.  I actually spent some time thinking about Jordan Bearshirt in this space and my recent trip to Blackfoot Crossing to say prayers at his resting place…I snapped a few photographs while James and Pat chatted and then moved on.

Second Skin was most obviously about the artist’s embodiment of their art.  While the art was engaging, I felt unnerved or uncomfortable about it.  

First Thursday was a most wonderful evening.  I enjoyed the company of both Pat and James.  We wandered the gift shop for a while and I found some lovely books for my grandson, things that I’m certain he will enjoy.

I loved the conversation and the company.  Another great night in YYC!  I’ve heard many people complain that Calgary is a tough city for making connections or sharing in community.  My own experience is one where I simply don’t have enough time to take in all of the events that are absolutely accessible.  While the sprawl does create a physical distance between many of my friends and myself, it is always a good idea to meet in the middle.

I still enjoyed my time at the river, but at this time, already began to suspect that something was up with the female Bald Eagle.  Dad seemed to have assumed all of the duties and there was even the appearance of a sub Adult, maybe 3 or 4 years of age.  I took a close up shot of Dad’s talons to confirm that it was him, although I’ve become accustomed to his handsome face.