Autumn Mash Up

I am a single woman, in the last decades of my life, and sometimes I lay my head down on my pillow at the end of a busy day and wonder about being solitary in the world.  My life plays through my mind like a thin thread of film, projected on the dark wall across from me.  I am both in awe and fearful.  My life, alone, is a peaceful one.  Perhaps this is what was always meant to be.  But that acceptance and peace does not necessarily keep me from looking at the connection that others have in their partnered lives.

Autumn often causes this rerun, the movie of over sixty autumns that I can remember.  In every other autumn I would not have written the previous paragraph down, especially not in this format, perhaps in a private journal.  But, now, how does it really matter?

I remember a moment in a single engine Cessna, somewhere over Wisconsin.  We were flying north into Duluth when we got into difficulty and with time, our cloud ceiling was at 200 and then 100 and our pilot was requesting permission to land on a highway, the only visual reference we had.  Knowing that there were towers in the area and knowing that our pilot only had visual rating was frightening.  I clung to my then-partner’s hands, both of them.  Averting the first option, the wings bowed deeply sideways into the white cloud as we banked to go south and out of the fog/cloud.  When we came around,  the tree tops were an arm’s length from the plane’s belly.  I remember them as though it was yesterday.  They were conifers.  I kept saying, “The trees.  The trees.”  Not yelling and not particularly panicked.  This was a nightmare.  I had time to think, “I wonder how Mom and Dad will find me.”  I let go of my partner’s hand.  Instinctively I knew, ‘in the end I face this all alone.’

And I do.

Winter is coming.  A family of bald eagles has taught me much these past months but for several weeks, the juveniles have been distant, sent out of this territory to hunt, fish and find their own way.  The female came to some demise and is now gone.  The male has sheltered and fed the young.  A new sub adult has made herself known and has done multiple demonstrations for the juveniles.  She is a beautiful strong huntress.  The male has been close to her, but it seems that they are always in some wild discussion, resistant and yet set on a path.  Who knows what spring will bring.  It was only in the first snowfall that the youngsters returned to their nesting territory, bleating to the cold wind, about their fears and their challenges.  It was the day before yesterday’s snow that both the male and female arrived and consoled me with their familiar roosts in their favourite tree branches.  These beautiful raptors act as a unit, but live deeply their singular lives…it is what they must do to survive and for the species to survive.

These photographs were taken over these few weeks of Autumn..in no particular order.  They capture the prayers and the beauty and the journey of a single woman in a very beautiful world.

 

mgbrobertson

I met Bruce during my years painting LIVE at Calgary’s Gorilla House.  Bruce was a fixture there because he settled into a studio where, every Wednesday night, I would go and have a short gab and look at his work in progress.  I never left his space without a belly laugh, although sometimes I had to sort out the kind of humour that was forever-floating around his space.  More than not, I was laughing at things that weren’t funny…it was the delivery that was stellar.  I think that Bruce is a bit of a wordsmith.  He plays with words and as a result you are left, most of the time, not knowing what the heck he is saying.  He is laughing all the while.

An example would be found on the banner of his own website.  The guy was born in Jamaica.  Who knew?  And his introduction reads like this…

Large Up, Mawga Bwoy!

 

What did I tell you? Right?

I wrote a short post about him in 2013 because he was celebrating a solo show at Gorilla House.  There was something so special about those years…painting together, sharing in long conversations and celebrating art, but especially art-making.

In 2015, I purchased a little piece by Bruce out of his studio.  I had seen Bruce’s funtastical art going out the door every Wednesday night at auction, for as long as I could remember, but the opportunity to bid and win hadn’t happened for me.  I loved this whimsical little piece, Think Outside the Fish.

IMG_6780

IMG_6783

Do you know what you discover when someone is super funny?  You discover that maybe they’re a little shy…just like you are.  I think that’s the way with Bruce Robertson.  Over time, I’ve learned that I’m an introvert who is functioning as an extrovert…does that make sense?  I think that Bruce is just that way…however, we haven’t ever spoken about it, mostly because we’re feeling the same way. lol  But…none of that matters.  Let’s get on with the story.

This guy was born.

DSC_0202

To this family.

IMG_9561

And…it had come time to think about my Grandson’s first Christmas.  I’ve always been a collector of art and I wanted to set this young man on the path of also being a collector.  I thought if I was to commission an artist, who would it be?  Well…in pondering that magical world of the womb and the discoveries to be had once leaving that nest, I very much thought about a song that I enjoyed as I considered my first-born, Little Seahorse by Bruce Cockburn.

As well, Erin and Doug had made a playlist for Erin’s birthing day and in the collection was the Beatle’s tune, An Octopus’s Garden.  Second to that, in my Grandson’s first eight months, he has wound down for sleep time, reading the story, Raffi’s Baby Beluga, illustrated beautifully by Ashley Wolff.

Insert Music Here.

 

Putting all of this together, I wanted an artwork that reflected an undersea world that would include a portrait of my Grandson…something that would grow with him through every age…something that would be of modest size and might travel with him as his world becomes larger.

The artist for the job…Bruce Robertson!  I contacted Bruce, realizing full-well, that I knew very little about him, apart from the magical characters that he created in his work, his fearlessness and his inclusion of text.  I messaged him via his Instagram account, mgbrobertson.

HE SAID HE’D DO IT!  YEAH!!

We met in a grocery store parking lot…we exchanged hugs and I realized how perfect this man was.  I’m so excited that he helped make the magic for our sweetheart’s first Christmas.  I’m hoping that one day Bruce will take my grandson mountain biking (Who better to teach him about the trails?)…it would be such a fantastic manifestation of magic!  We’ll see how it all plays out.

DSC_0571

I’ve ripped off a screen shot of Bruce’s website’s ABOUT section.  I hope that if my readers need something amazing done…website? painting? collage? or if you want to discuss some other creative project, you will be in touch with him!  Bruce’s late interests are in 3D modelling and animation. A combination of software is used: After Effects, Photoshop, Blender 3D, Maxon Cinema 4D Lite, etc. Self-taught in Blender 3D and Cinema 4D Lite by taking online courses at uDemy.com.

Bruce has a child-like disposition and is trapped in a man’s body. Bruce can do awesome skids on his mountain bike. https://www.instagram.com/mgbrobertson/

Another good friend of ours, Red Dot’s photographer, Aaron McCullough, did the photograph.

Bruce home page website

Thank you, Bruce for being such a wonderful part of Christmas 2017!

IMG_6577

IMG_6580IMG_6579IMG_6576

Joane Cardinal-Schubert: The Writing on the Wall

I came into the house, after visiting the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary, yesterday, and looked deeply at the painting by Joane Cardinal-Schubert that my then-partner and I bought on December 7, 1995 from the Master’s Art Gallery. It wasn’t as though we could ever afford to collect art, but, we were determined to collect art…we were always buying something and we did it in a disciplined way because each month we made an allocation of a specific amount of money toward our art budget.  A lot of people at the time, and still today, don’t realize that they can invest in art over time.  Ordinary people don’t have access to a budget that covers the entire value of many of the pieces that they grow to love.  This is how I was able to be a collector.

But…about yesterday…

After seeing the amazing retrospective, The Writing on the Wall,  I couldn’t help but see Joane’s work differently.  Appropriate that on December 1st of 2017, I should enjoy all of this and more.

I’ve written about Joane over the years…

Here and

Here and 

Here

I just went upstairs and snapped a couple of photographs…the first, the painting that greets me each day as I enter my home, Protectors of Dreams.

And next, the book that I purchased as it relates to Joane’s narratives about the various works…and her practice.  I’m so looking forward to reading this.

The exhibit was so powerful that it hit me in the gut.  I sat down at every opportunity to process the messages of the work and to take it into my spirit.  I read every wall plaque and words, as best as I could, on every painting.  I’m just going to post the images and spare a great commentary.

Joane fought tirelessly against the building of the Old Man Dam and we reconnected once again in Maycroft, as well as at the Masters Art Gallery, for another exhibit.  At that show, she took the time to chat and to sign my poster, collected back in the fundraising days of the Friends of the Old Man meetings.

Joane came to visit with my students in 1980, right before I took them down for their tour of the Glenbow Museum.  During those years, I worked very hard developing curriculum for urban Metis and Indigenous students in my care. Our School District was aware that there were huge gaps in content for these students and that generally, many were struggling with attendance and performance on standardized tests.  Visits from Elders and people like Joane created a sense of role modeling that my students could not get from me. She showed them slides on a slide projector of her sweat lodge images.  All these years later, I will never forget her generous heart and her painful remembrances.  Yesterday, I felt my hand in hers. I am forever-grateful for our connection.

Tomorrow, I attend a friend’s funeral service.  One piece that really touched my heart was this one, Remembering My Dreambed…I stood before it and thought of my friend’s battle with cancer.

Remembering My Dreambed Joane Cardinal-Schubert 1985 recollections of invasive medical procedures related to cancer treatment.

Below…Homage to Small Boy: Where Were You In July, Hercules? 1985, Joane Cardinal-Schubert.  The colour is not near true…the blue is the most amazing ultramarine blue, in this piece.

Letters to Emily Carr…birch bark letters.  I loved reading the words…

The Lesson Joane Cardinal-Schubert

Detail


Where the Truth is Written – Usually first installed 1991 Joane Cardinal-Schubert

I have not yet included all of my references, but again, Max needs his walk.  I need to pull the decorations from out of the basement.  The roast needs to get into the slow cooker.  I want to end with a bit of music.  Last night, a friend and I attended A Tribe Called Red.  I want to insert the images here.

Photo Credit: Michael Collett

Photo Credit: Michael Collett

Photo Credit: Michael Collett

It was such a powerful experience.  The visuals, the dance and the music combined to speak deeply to the heart.  I feel changed.

Often during the evening, I thought about Thomas King’s book, An Inconvenient Indian.  I think that the stereotypes and misunderstandings about our Indigenous peoples were captured in the form of these artistic creations performed by A Tribe Called Red.

Powerfully executed…authentically created…thank you.

2016 Visiting Al Gerritsen

Today marks the Feast Day of St. Nicholas and I was blessed to share an afternoon in Al Gerritsen’s studio with a friend.  Every time I visit Al, I feel calm and happiness and I take in everything I can; the visual aesthetic, the smell of wood, and the recollections of so many wonderful stories.

My nativity is set up in the front yard, the indoor nativity figures are set out on the table for Advent and it has become a bit of a custom for me to make an annual visit to the woodcarver’s shop, just to enjoy the friendship and the creative energy.

Today, I had the opportunity to hear about Al’s Christmas posters and selected four for my Gerritsen collection.  Each one, unique, and again, with a story all of its own.  I don’t think I’ve ever known such a prolific artist.  This second week of Advent is all about PEACE…and today was certainly that!

Following the visit, a hot cup of peppermint tea and some pretty special ocean vessel talk! Overall, a magical afternoon!

-18 and -30 with windchill, this day brought with it, sun dogs, two eagles circling above the Bow and frozen eyelashes at the pond.  Amazing day!

img_3035 img_3034 img_3033 img_3031 img_3029 img_3028 img_3027 img_3026 img_3025 img_3024 img_3023 img_3022 img_3021 img_3020 img_3018 img_3017 img_3015 img_3014 img_3013 img_3012 img_3011 img_3010 img_3009

 

 

Rumble House: August 19, 2015

CalamityRumble House has managed through a summer of floods, four of them…hail and hassle of every sort.  Rich and Jess have managed to negotiate their way through the number of revisions that had to be made to the space, based on damage of infrastructure.  They have done a great job and the space is beautifully changed, more spacious and organized.  It’s been a strange summer for me as well, having to react to a number of events, beginning with my Max’s injury and then my own broken foot on July 2nd.  Rich and I were talking a little about calamity last night and we agreed that sometimes calamity causes our greatest creativity and active engagement.  We go places.

Some years ago, my son and I traveled a journey that I loosely named our ‘Manifest Destiny’ journey.  I finished watching four seasons of Hell on Wheels recently and the trip that James and I took wove through several of the locations featured in this series.

The trek began when we dipped south to visit Sainte-Marie among the Hurons where eight Jesuit missionaries lived, worked and were eventually martyred.  To stand in this place is to recognize, with complete clarity, the collision of two cultures both operating from a sense of protection of their own ways and intentions.  It is an example of colonization and all that can be anticipated as a result.

We then crossed the border into the United States, drove through the land where Dances With Wolves was filmed, saw Mount Rushmore, traveled through the Black Hills, all while listening to Louis L’Amour stories on book tape.  We stood overlooking the hills of Little Big Horn.  We slept in a cheap hotel room in Deadwood and we drove through the Bad Lands.  It was an amazing trip, ending with the sharing of a jug bottle of beer in Billings, Montana.

Wonders 93 Little Big HornI’ve written about Deadwood before.

It was another place riddled with a history of the ‘wild’ west…and so much of it rooted in tragedy.  It was the first time that I really thought about a lot of things.   There were huge issues that I had already read about, feeling very sad about the choices of the past, but helpless to change any of them.  One of the personalities that came to mind once we hit Deadwood was a woman of the west, Calamity Jane.  Last night I painted from one of the photo references that is an early portrait.  Thank you to Teresa for purchasing Calamity at auction.

Last night I painted her.

Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 024 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 021I am grateful for the people I bump into at the Rumble.  They have become ‘characters’ of my own life…friends…hard workers…creatives.

Calamity Jane…what is fact and what is fiction?

What is the history that we are creating as individuals and collectively?

Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 001 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 004 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 005 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 007 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 009 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 014 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 016 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 018 Kath's Canon August 19, 2015 Calamity Jane Rumble 020

May 8, 2015

…my 60th birthday!

Whoot!  It was a wonderful day!  And, yes, I taught the full day.  But then I had the pleasure of sharing a late afternoon walk with my daughter, Erin and pooch, Max. We did our bird, coyote and muskrat watching and enjoyed the warmth.  The afternoon with my students, was spent needle felting with Leah C. Donald, visionary for Art Felt Studio.  With our previous experience painting spring flowers, this was an amazing extension and a great opportunity to create a more-than-special Mother’s Day gift.  I enjoyed connecting with Leah and learning that one of her favourite spots is the Custom Woolen Mill near Carstairs, Alberta.  I told her that I had grown up with the smell of raw wool and we gave each other a big hug.  Thanks to my gang of grade three friends who made the arrangement for this magical activity!

Some people might be fearful of age, aging and the changes that passing years bring.  For me, being 60 means a freedom to be and I stand firm in my gratitude for that.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cell May 8, 2015 Franks, Needle Felting, Birthday 009

Final Stop: The Studio of Mark Vazquez-Mackay

Margy and I got caught up chatting with Phillip and bid Anna and him good-bye with hugs before heading over to Weeds Cafe for a Montreal spiced meat sandwich and Italian soda.  It was a pretty nice feeling.  When you go out on a Love Art in Calgary tour, your brain goes “ZING” and you find yourself processing so much great insight…sometimes it’s a good decision to punctuate!  On we raced to the studio of Mark Vazquez-Mackay.

P1150856Mark’s studio was magical, but how can it not be when he has such a beautiful way of seeing life and his world.  I think that he is extremely generous and very community centered.  His hands and mind are engaged a lot in terms of visual arts in Calgary and we need to be grateful for people like him.  He generates a lot of chatter.  I really do treasure the fact that we got a window into just a small part of what he does and accomplishes.

P1150816I liked learning about his use of ivory black to mix colour.  I liked that he had a Lucien Freud book perched against a wall. (I am nuts over Lucien Freud’s figurative works.)  I was excited to have him demonstrate his exploration of camera obscura, his connection with Vermeer, his insights after reading David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters.  I felt so excited about his vision around public art and his open concept of public art everywhere.  I had a warm heart as he spoke of his son, the innovative and driven musician who worked alongside his Dad to paint his mother’s eyes on his front yard fence. Generally speaking, his time spent with us was jam-packed and invaluable!

P1150832Mark, impacted personally by the spring flood of last year in Calgary, appears to have not missed a heartbeat, but, with determination and resilience, rebuilt and then some.  He is a hero to our arts community.  A good person.

I’ve written sometimes about the objects of our affection…about how our objects hold memory and such.  In Mark’s studio, I felt that I was surrounded in a blanket of so much love, perception and imagination.  Truly remarkable!  Thank you.

P1150818 P1150821 P1150822 P1150823 P1150824 P1150826 P1150828 P1150830 P1150833 P1150840 P1150841 P1150842 P1150844 P1150846 P1150847 P1150848 P1150849 P1150850 P1150851 P1150852 P1150853 P1150854 P1150855

A Wander Into Desere Pressey’s Studio

I met Desere Pressey when she had a space underneath the stairs at the Gorilla House.

Desere Gorilla House

I was instantly drawn to her; her youth, her wisdom, her willingness to enter the gyre!  I think she reminds me of a younger version of myself.  It’s interesting how, in life, we meet up with mirrors of our own souls.  Desere is one of those mirrors.

Kath with FidoDesere

As serendipity would have it, we ended up at the same starting-event last evening, Enriquito’s Selfismo and from there, along with her lovely friend, Heather, ended up tumbling through the evening, ending up in her creative space at Slate Studios.  There was a chill in the air, but the warmth of the objects surrounding us and the paintings on the walls chased the cold away.  I think that art that is born from a person’s soul is miraculous; something comes of nothing at all, a spark, a memory, a narrative, colour…It is absolutely thrilling to create and it is as beautiful to watch others create.  Such a journey of celebration!

I was blessed to have met Desere and it will be exciting to watch her through this process of immersion, emerging and growth.  Her work contains powerful elements of humanity and the mystical.  It is provocative and painterly.  I treasured the time spent in her sacred space and wish her many blessings on her journey as artist, friend, wife, daughter and mother of three beautiful children.  You can explore Desere’s portfolio here.

P1150067 P1150068 P1150069 P1150070 P1150072 P1150075 P1150076 P1150077 P1150078 P1150079

In Desere’s Words…

About

Canadian artist, Desere Pressey. Harnessing and distributing our collective energy through art.
 

Desere Pressey is an entrepreneur and co-founder of three successful businesses over the last decade. Throughout her career she has always felt a strong pull towards her true passion for the arts, and made the decision to cease resisting her true calling. In the embrace of art, Desere now dedicates a large portion of her time to painting, which she feels aids in sustaining a connection with the creative intelligence that unites us all.

“I love the experience of being around other artists, and all the various art forms. Just being in proximity to creative flow, charges and enlivens me. Shaping energy into form comes from a place beyond what we can fully understand…intuitive artwork .. unbound..can teach us a little more of this place. I think”

“During the experience of painting, self-judgment ebbs away for creation to flow over a landscape where right doing and wrongdoing cease to exist” -Desere

Desere’s response…written here because I need to hold on to it in my archive…

We all have needs that reach far beyond our worldly desires.. and these needs are rooted from deep within our creative nature. We get our hands dirty, stir and mix, collaborate, put down words and we get up and dance! Our soul self is like a joyful child:) Perhaps you see your soul self in me.. and I you. For you still glow with the youthfulness of a child my sweet friend. You made me do a little happy dance in my studio when I read this entry of yours. I am deeply touched:) I treasure you.

 

Love Art in Calgary: Aaron Sidorenko’s Studio

Always a few steps behind the rest of the tour group, I was grateful to be met by a very special door man, young York, as I made my way to his Dad’s studio space.  “Really?  We’re not taking the elevator, York?”  Exhilarating! I climbed several flights of stairs and followed the sounds of voices…the artist already in enthusiastic conversation with the tour group. “Thank you, York.”

Magic!  Pure magic!  I really really really enjoyed getting to visit Aaron Sidorenko’s studio.  Artists’ studios are fascinating places because they hold so many personal objects…they capture the mysteries of technique that has been developing over long periods of time…they contain book collections…they remove some of the mystery.  I felt as though I was stepping into a treasure chest.

I enjoyed bumping into photographer, Jeremy Fokken’s blog…it features some brilliant photographs of Aaron within his space.  Nice to see some professional photographs!  The quality is stunning.  Also, a great resource, Aaron’s website.  Thank you, Aaron, for opening up your studio to us.  I am so happy that when I left, we could all get a ride on the elevator!

P1130871 P1130873 P1130874 P1130876 P1130878 P1130881 P1130884 P1130885 P1130890 P1130892 P1130893 P1130896 P1130898 P1130899 P1130900P1130902 P1130903 P1130906 P1130909 P1130910 P1130911 P1130912 P1130913 P1130915 P1130920

Meeting Mikhail Miller-Lajeunesse

Presently, Mikhail has taken up residence in the 809 Space in Kensington, to exhibit new work on March 7.  I met Mikhail at the Gorilla House this past Wednesday and chatted with him for a very few minutes.  He is both a gentleman and an inspired artist.  I was fortunate enough to purchase his piece at auction for an unreasonable and other-worldly price…and this leaves me…annoyed for him, but genuinely thrilled for myself!

As soon as I saw his work, I was blown away…given the sha-BANG about Valentines the very next day.  The piece spoke to me of love, of the other-worldly realm of love, of love gone wrong…of love gone right.  The two figures meld…but, the viewer is left with a question at that connection. The old idea, “he completes me”, comes to mind. My next post will actually deal with the fundamental realities of what Valentines ‘is’ for a person like me…but this does not negate the powerful tug that we all feel when the world tells us we should be eating chocolates and handing out roses.  All this aside, Mikhail’s piece is an important addition to the works displayed in my bedroom.

Ain’t No Shelter

Photo Credit: Mikhail Miller

Photo Credit: Mikhail Miller

Photo Credit: Mikhail Miller through 809 Space

Photo Credit: Mikhail Miller through 809 Space

Just a few tidbits ripped off from Mikhail’s blog and the 809 Space, in the case that you don’t click…but I hope you will.

Artist Biography:

“Mikhail Miller is a visual artist, community organizer and social activist born in Calgary, AB, Canada. Mikhail graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 2006, with a Bachelors of Fine Art from the Print Media faculty. From 2008/09 Mikhail served as a work/study intern at the Banff Centre for the Arts. In 2010/11 he was curator of the Ministry of Casual Living artist-run project space. Mikhail’s prints, paintings, sculptures and community murals have been enjoyed throughout much of western Canada and internationally. Recently Mikhail spent a four-month period making new work in Oaxaca, Mexico, which resulted in two solo exhibitions at Espacio Zapata in Oaxaca and Galeria Anomalia in Mexico City. Mikhail Miller currently lives and works in Victoria, BC.”

P1090543