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.

 

 

Mosaic 101

Wendy Lees is a vital leader in our visual arts community here in Calgary.  She has spearheaded so many wonderful projects and visual arts tours, either through making, leading or inspiring.  I’ve treasured her friendship for years now and I’m so grateful for our meeting.  I was blessed, yesterday, to have the opportunity to learn the first basic baby steps to mosaic art, in the comfort and organized studio that is her own home.  What a fun experience and what great people!

Wendy took on the magical practice of  create! in the East Village some time ago…and through that program, I met some of the most authentic and beautiful people of a lifetime.  Gladly, a few of them were able to attend the Mosaic 101 workshop, so renewing those relationships was an additional blessing!

If you have opportunity to participate in or attend any of the programs that Wendy advertises, DO!  Such fun!  It’s not just about techniques and skill development…it’s about community and connection!

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Love the focus and concentration that surfaced during the program!

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Laurel Crescent Little Free Library and Little Gallery OPENING DAY!

I always feel proud of Wendy Lees and the magical events/experiences she creates. Today was no exception as the Laurel Crescent Little Free Library and Little Gallery enjoyed its opening with a large draw of neighbours, family and friends.  The festivities were marked with warm buttered popcorn, lemonade, heart shaped cookies, painting, bubbles and chalk drawing.  What an amazing community feel!

It was great to see the MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, Ms. Anam Kazim (ND) and to see her engaged and genuine support, as well as Lakeview Community Association’s President, Geoffrey Vanderburg out and about, meeting the neighbours on Laurel Crescent.

I brought my contribution to the Little Library since this was a bit of an historical event for the neighbourhood.

Glad to celebrate this event with you, dear friend, and congratulations.  We honour what you do for community building throughout Calgary, Wendy.

Rumble House: May 11, 2016

The car got a detailing.  I purchased a new soft-walled kennel for Max.  I made a nice grilled cheese sandwich and then I headed down for a two hour Rumble.  It was good to take out the paint box and hang with these beautiful people.

Painting dissolves the forms at its command, or tends to; it melts them into color. Drawing, on the other hand, goes about resolving forms, giving edge and essence to things. To see shapes clearly, one outlines them–whether on paper or in the mind. Therefore, Michelangelo, a profoundly cultivated man, called drawing the basis of all knowledge whatsoever.

Just some photos…and grateful to Ralph and Edgar for purchasing my piece at auction.
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This moment, this being, is the thing. My life is all life in little. The moon, the planets, pass around my heart. The sun, now hidden by the round bulk of this earth, shines into me, and in me as well. The gods and the angels both good and bad are like the hairs of my own head, seemingly numberless, and growing from within. I people the cosmos from myself, it seems, yet what am I? A puff of dust, or a brief coughing spell, with emptiness and silence to follow.  Alexander Eliot

The Tinier Gallery

This afternoon, in the sunshine and under a blue sky, I attended EMBEDDED MEMORIES by Solveig Agecoutay at the Tinier Gallery in Bridgeland.  Hosted by Carmen and Mark, this was a beautiful celebration of art and community.  What a relaxing and lovely time!  The piece itself was very nostalgic for me…bringing to memory back yard swing sets and macrame owls.  I had not met Solveig before and I think that this particular gallery allows us opportunity to meet with and mingle with new people and friend-artists.  As one gentleman stepped ‘into’ the gallery space, he professed, “I’m not saying that I’ll understand this…but…”  This and cat stories made me smile.  Congratulations on a dreamy event.  The crunch of carrots and perfect ice tea were refreshing!  The connection, a blessing.

Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 031 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 028 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 026 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 023 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 022 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 021 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 019 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 015 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 011 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 009 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 008 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 006 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 004 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 002 Kath's Canon, September 11, 2015 Tinier Gallery Mark and Carmen 001

Rumble House: September 2, 2015

Having a home and being connected with people is very important to ‘who we are’.  With recent news of 71 migrants dying on an Austrian motorway, 200 refugees drowning off of the coast of Libya and the horrific situation off of the coast of Greece, it is again, time to think about global responsibility and inclusion.  Interestingly at this time there is even a renewed conversation about building a wall between Canada and the United States.  So much of our global context is based on fear, judgement and exclusion.  All human beings require the basic needs that come with belonging.  It is time for belonging to be a focus.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  Even in our Rumble House community, we are thinking about what it means to belong.  We gather in this tiny venue, and share a powerful sense of being a part of something. We accept one another, laugh with one another and talk about extraordinary things.  When one of our community is in pain, we support and uplift.  It is interesting that art is our connective tissue.

Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 061 Last night, I didn’t participate in the auction…my piece was largely incomplete.  One of the themes of the night was ‘Take Down the Walls’.

Take down the walls.
That is, after all, the whole point.
You do not know what will happen if you take down the walls; you cannot see through to the other side, don’t know whether it will bring freedom or ruin, resolution or chaos. It might be paradise or destruction.
Take down the walls.
Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness.
Otherwise you may never know hell; but you will not find heaven, either. You will not know fresh air and flying.
All of you, wherever you are: in your spiny cities, or your one bump towns. Find it, the hard stuff, the links of metal and chink, the fragments of stone filling you stomach.
And pull, and pull, and pull.
I will make a pact with you: I will do it if you will do it, always and forever.
Take down the walls.”

Lauren Oliver, Requiem

I painted from a little reference.

British Home Children Rough Crossings 2010

Kath's Canon, September 2, 2015 Rumble House 005Sketch in progress…

Kath's Canon, September 2, 2015 Rumble House 003I’m very-much interested in research and the production of a body of work based on the historical plight of British Home Children.  My readers may or may not think that this is a part of history to reflect upon…it doesn’t matter.  It is relevant because it is a part of MY story.  I am a descendant and find this story on my family line, along with so many other diverse stories, an important one.  From the Library and Archives of Canada….this.

“Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from Great Britain during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help.

After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing homes, such as Fairknowe in Brockville, and then sent on to farmers in the area. Although many of the children were poorly treated and abused, others experienced a better life here than if they had remained in the urban slums of England. Many served with the Canadian and British Forces during both World Wars.”

As we enjoy our sense of community and security, we need to remember that we are blessed.  We must remember that colonization impacted the homes of others and be respectful of that impact always.  We must remember that our security has been built upon the backs of hard workers and indentured workers, as well as slaves and upon the opportunities that were and are afforded us as a part of democracy.  These gifts must never be taken for granted.

Here are some photographs of an awesome community of artists who are doing a great job supporting one another through various life journeys.

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Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 068 Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 062

Bird Tails From the Hood #2

Originally, Mr. was widowed.  I had seen the female and male sparrows very early in the spring, but after one of two brutal snow storms, the female disappeared. He remained at the nest, lamenting and frustrated, crying out for days and then weeks, trying to attract a new lady friend.  Finally, the courting began and I started to see the new little Mrs. coming and going.

Well, it now appears as though she is managing the nest on her own.  This, I think, leaves her vulnerable as she races in the heat, back and forth from the feeder, tending her little ones who now make their presence known redundantly through the day and into the evening.  Mother sometimes appears to be panting at the nest opening.  I haven’t seen Mr. around for over a week.

But, I HAVE seen the aunties…a whole string of females on my eves trough, that every time Mrs. leaves the nest untended, take turns flying in to look at the youngsters.  I’m wondering if this, in nature, is a malicious thing or if they are curious on-lookers.  I just feel very sad for how busy Mrs. is and wonder how she will manage to see her way through this time.

Just this morning, my daughter and I had our first siting of one of the young birds.  I would love to place a trampoline under the vent location because in the past, we’ve always lost one or two to their fall onto the hard ground below.

Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 103 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 100 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 095 Kath's Canon July 2 2015 Rumble Hood Birds 081

Zach Lowe Takes Rumble on a Joy Ride: April 29, 2015

I huge wind stirred itself up in Calgary last evening.  Max and I blew around Frank’s Flats.  The great birds hung on the air.  The airplanes, landing at YYC, pushed north into dark grey clouds.  I imagined the turbulence.  The female osprey, the past two days, has been sitting consistently on the nest.  The male gripped a large black garbage bag in his powerful talons…landed next to her with finesse…I kept on going.  No dilly dallying!  Zach Lowe was hosting at the Rumble House and it was apt to be a celebration!

And it was!  A big crowd collected and the artists vroom vroomed from the starting block.  A great night of painting.  Jen and I had a piece of turf over by the musicians.  Last night, The Hillties.  Fabulous and inspiring music!

I painted a little glamour lady piece and it was picked up at auction by one of the band…very nice.  I also purchased a piece by Nick Rooney at auction.  It was a great night.  Lately, the painting at Rumble has been more about the automatic experience of laying paint down and less about huge reflective considerations.  I liked hearing Rich share the story at the end of the night about Alexander Eliot.  I liked that Andy brought me some cold water to drink.  I liked meeting Zach’s Mom. It was a beautiful ride, driving Enriquito home.  I was blessed at Rumble again.  And a cold blustery night turned warm.

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March 11, 2015: Rumble House

I wanted to ease into my evening at Rumble.  I didn’t want to neglect Max or my every-evening litter pick up at Frank’s Flats.  I also wanted to eat something.

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So, with all of those things attended to, I headed north on my epic drive to the intimate, warm and magical environment that is the Rumble House.

Bronwyn Schuster had brought to mind the idea that sometimes I might paint on a more intimate panel, instead of the large sized format that is so typical of me.  And so, I worked on a beautiful 8 x 8 inch cribbed panel, perfect for fitting inside someone’s purse.

Arriving late, at 7:30, I sat down next to Priscilla who was sitting in a comfy chair next to me, busily crocheting/knitting on a self-invented slipper.  I mentioned that I was going to paint a meditation.  She mentioned how much she enjoys sitting near her son, Rich, so that she can hear the things he says to others as they walk by.  Priscilla also said that she is in awe as she watches his paintings reveal themselves.

I was more focused on the community of people that surrounded me than anything else.  Michael is always so cheerful with his greetings and it sets the tone for a wonderful experience. Paula and Brittney were busy creating their first collaborative piece, a mix of collage elements and paint. It was good to talk to Mike and to share a bit about our sadness and the loss of our friend, Loretta. Leenie!  It was so good to see her smiling face and to be around her energy!  I had opportunity to speak with Asa…hadn’t had a chance to catch up with him in a long time.  Jo and Jeff were tucked away in a small safe place, collaborating on a beautiful piece that reminded me of a book I’m reading about a mother and her daughter, pomegranates and seeds and Persephone.  Louise was back…hadn’t seen her for awhile. What a special touch that she asked me as she left if I had a ride south.  (I’ll never forget the first time we met.) I chatted with James and Enriquito and finally reconnected with Jennifer.  She was painting an awesome bird of prey.  In fact, everyone painting in our section of the space, was painting in a warm/hot palette of colour.  That intrigued me.  I felt/feel nested in this place with like-minded and diverse people.  I like it.

I set about painting my meditation.  I incorporated text in graphite first, a piece from Jewel

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(sic)

As I go about each day, picking up the plastics, the discarded cups and bags from stores, the packaging and flyers that are strewn into natural environments where birds lay their nests; coyotes, their dens; ground squirrels, their complex webs of tunnels, I feel a sense of nurturing fill me up.  I wish to create a safe nest for all.  I wish, and optimistically so, that all human beings would open their eyes to our self-destruction.  We are very lackadaisical about the landscape as we rush by, getting to the next place.  And given that we can not see beneath the surface, the oceans, more than any place on earth, are crying out to be protected.

A nest meditation seemed the right thing to paint.  Because the time with my Rumble pieces is so immediate, I practice the rituals of writing on the back of each piece and then archiving the work by taking a photo or two.  The process of painting at the house is like a bright flame lighting up and then extinguishing, all in two hours.  Funny, on this particular night, I did not sign my piece and I did not photograph it.  I’m posting a photo or two here of other works that have explored this theme of nesting.  Thank you to Sam who purchased my Wednesday nest containing three blue eggs, at auction.

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Three Eggs and NestI treasure my place on this jewel of a planet.  I am only one…but, wish in this brief moment, to make an impact.  Here are some of artist-souls who impact me.

Jennifer

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DSC_2886Rich (I never get a good picture of him)

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DSC_2836What a place!  We’d love to see you next Wednesday night.

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The Nuisance Grounds

“WELCOME TO OUR NUISANCE GROUNDS”, as Margaret Laurence, writer of The Diviners, aptly named that hidden place where garbage is tossed, shoveled, moved around and buried.

Photo Credit: D'Arcy Norman 2009 Spy Hill Landfill

Photo Credit: D’Arcy Norman 2009 Spy Hill Landfill

 

There is no judgment in writing this piece because I contribute generously, as well, to the dump (now, politically-labeled the landfill), it’s just that every spring, I seem to churn the soil and dig our communal secrets up again. They present themselves on the surface in the form of litter.  The story of winter refuse surrounds us.  We drive by it, step over it, complain about it and then wait for someone else to pick it up.

I met a homeless gentleman named Frank, three years ago, when I started picking up litter at a location where I walked my dog, Max, daily (still do).  Frank was one of five people who thanked me during that period of time.  I had been picking up a full heaping bag of litter every day for three months and he would sit and drink a beer, roosting on one of the slopes, gazing over the whole of the pond at the center of the flats.  He would place his beer can in a a plastic grocery bag and tuck it under a tree and after the sixth day, his neatly tied package would be offered up for pennies, nickles and dimes.  He said good-bye to me on his last day, after months of watching me pick.  He was heading for Vancouver for the winter and he thanked me for ‘making the place look good’.  I told him that the place was going to be named after him, Frank’s Flats.  The name has stuck.

A jogger thanked me.  She put down her plastic water bottle while doing her laps around the pond and asked if I would please not throw it away.  She told me that she would be picking it up after her run.  She said that the place looked great, because of me.

A man, getting up in years, thanked me.  He was walking his old pooch on the trail.  He asked, “You’re not from the city, are you?”  I said…”I live here. I’m a teacher.”  He thanked me.

A high school student thanked me.  A couple had been sitting on a bench that over looks the pond.  It was after school and they were curled up and smooching.  As I approached, they reorganized themselves and while I picked up plastic slurpee cups and chip bags and straws and fast food packages, they observed.  As I stepped past their bench, the boy called out, “Heh, thank you.”

Debbie thanked me.  She even told me that when she walked her dog, Rosie, she was going to start bringing a little bag with her and do the same.  This was such a warm and wonderful offering, one of the best things that happened to me that first spring and summer.

And so it went…for three months; I was observed by many and because I was observed so closely, I became interested in reactions and fascinated by the isolation that became  my experience.  User group members of the facilities above the flats and my encounters with them became a social experiment.  I became fascinated in the huge chasm that came between me and ‘the others’, more than the distance between two complete strangers…bigger than that!

To this day,  when I pick garbage, it’s as though I become invisible.  I am, all of a sudden, from a different social status.  If I was a city worker, I would be given higher status.  But, I am not a city worker.  That’s why I began thinking that the ‘garbage man’ must fit into one of Carl Jung’s archetypes, most likely a part of ‘the Shadow’.

There are all kinds of volunteers operating in the City of Calgary, picking up that packaging and advertisement that we unleash on to the wind, not giving a care about where it all blows, as long as it’s out of our sight.  If my readers are familiar with Christie in Laurence’s The Diviners or Mr. Jonas, the junkman in Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, you will realize the greater archetype that lives with the ‘garbage man’ or even the ‘janitor’, now labeled a caretaker.  Below, a spark note excerpt about Mr. Jonas, Chapter 35, Dandelion Wine.

“Mr. Jonas, the junkman, comes into town with his horse Ned and his wagon. He sings as he rides, and people line the streets to look at his goods. No ordinary junkman, Mr. Jonas had lived as a businessman in Chicago but decided to spend the rest of his life making sure that one area of town got a chance to take what the other side considered junk. He traveled through the town and only asked that people took something that they truly wanted, something they would use. Then the adults of children would put something of their own that they no longer had any use for in the wagon, and Mr. Jonas would be on his way, singing.”

From Christie, in The Diviners,

“By their garbage shall ye know them,”…The ones who have to wrap the rye bottles in old newspapers to try to hide the fact that there are so goddamn many of them. The ones who have fourteen thousand pill bottles the week, now. The ones who will be chucking out the family albums the moment the grandmother goes to her ancestors. The ones who’re afraid to flush the safes down the john, them with flush johns, in case it plugs the plumbing and Melrose Maclaren has to come and get it unstuck and might see, as if Mel would give the hundredth part of a damn. I tell you, girl, they’re close as clams and twice as brainless. I see what they throw out, and I don’t care a shit, but they think I do, so that’s why they cannot look at me….”

Similarly, Father Kevin Tumback used to tell a story on Ash Wednesday about a Rag Man…a metaphor for Jesus who traded parts of himself for the wounded parts of others.

I was just thinking, as another season of litter-picking faces the volunteers in our Calgary communities, it would be an awesome thing if we all became a bit more conscious…aware of our communications with those who are picking up our communal waste.  It would be a wondrous thing if the ‘garbage men’ were valued and appreciated.  It would also be a spectacular thing if we elevated ourselves as a collective, more conscious consumers, more attentive stewards.

You are welcome to join me at Frank’s Flats.  You only need to bring gloves.  Be in touch.

May 10, 2014 Frank's Flats

May 10, 2014 Frank’s Flats

May 16, 2014

May 16, 2014

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Amazed about the orange bag filled with litter…someone else picked today!

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