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.

 

Bad Pictures – Big Heart

The sky is growing very dark.  It is a bit past noon on Friday.  The long weekend looms ahead of me.  I’ve got lists of arts events on my calendar, ones that I began skipping last night and will probably continue to skip through the weekend.  I have no idea why, apart from the fact that I feel so content…since the broken foot, the forced recovery period, the slower Max walks, the stopping and looking at birds, the filling of the bird feeder, the moving out of clutter.  The process has made me peaceful, but I’m not sleeping.

Today, Frank’s Flats looks like this.

Kath's Canon September 4, 2015 frank's 027Autumn is definitely moving in…my favourite season.  I even delight in the chill of the air, the kind that leaves your nose dripping.

I think the papa osprey is pushing his kids out of the nest. (I just learned recently that the female leaves the nest experience first, so it must be papa who has been teaching the kids to fish). This morning, one of the kids (female) was crying on this side of the highway, from atop a pole…no sibs at the nest as I passed by, on the other side of the highway….no sibs fishing the neighbour hood pond.  I think Dad’s saying, “Adios”.  Now what’s a kid to do?

It’s an unbelievable thing that this family will begin an epic migration and that the monogamous couple will reunite again, barring any tragic events.  This map illustrates known migration routes…so for those of you who grew weary of my amazement by these raptors this past season, know that these lives are miracles…one couple, three juveniles.  I can only wish them well.  It looks like they are heading for South America.

migration-paths Osprey I’ve learned the voice of the osprey amid the huge number of voices in this one landscape. This morning, I heard the sad vocalization by this little lady and grabbed a shot from a huge distance away just to record the moment.  I like that I turn my head at the sound of an osprey.   I like this little place in the world.  I was pleased to hear one of the youngster coyotes articulating this morning, although in the lush green of summer, they’ve managed to be very discreet and invisible.  While I have not been a professional archivist and photographer, I have intimately grown to love my time behind the lens.  If you wish to see some beautiful photos, likely of some of the same birds, look here.  I particularly love the captures of the Night Heron and the Great Blue Heron.

Kath's Canon September 4, 2015 frank's 024For the past two weeks I’ve been given many opportunities and moments to observe the Great Blue Herons and it seems that this would be every where I would go, even a siting while visiting my dear friend out in Chestermere.

I thought that I was in amaze-butts-ville because one lone heron was hanging out at Frank’s Flats, that is until two days ago.  I observed at least five in a marshland area that I could only catch from the highway.  I’d have to do a hike down into that space, probably next year.

The truly remarkable thing is that in a single day, I saw hawks soaring and learning to fly, ducks, mergansers and coots running on water for their experiments in flying (circling the pond at low level as though they were playing) and then seeing them take flight, fourteen pelicans, flashing white black white black in a triangle overhead…and then finally, observing the spectacle of two great blue herons, dodging one another in the wind, flying…weaving…playing…skimming water…reaching up…I’d never seen anything like it.  The camera just sat against my chest.  I love moments when, in today’s archive-focused-world, the camera is put on the shelf because the world ‘is your oyster’.

I’m going to post the crazy bad photo that I DID take…because I wanted to have an image that said, September 3, this happened. “Two great and fragile giants with huge wing spans were given to me to watch and enjoy.”

Kath's Canon September 2 Rumble and Franks September 3, 2015 105

September 3, 2015, I watched two herons in flight for approximately five minutes…dodging one another…staying in flight…a wonder!

It’s not that I know anything about totemic animals apart from the fact that a huge number of cultures listen to, speak to and are impacted by the creatures that share this planet with us…whether they fly or creep or roam or swim…but I do know that all of this and them, are grace…holy…

We have not taken very good care of any of this and these.

Whether in July, you notice and think about the Dragonflies that hover at your feet or in August you are looking at the Great Blue Herons, it all has a significance to your life, your heart and your mind.  Nature has taught me much these past two months and I am filled with gratitude for her lessons.  God is manifest and all is Holy.

Walking While an Eagle Flies Overhead

A friend shared something earlier today from Rebelle Society: Creatively Maladjusted’s blog titled Joseph Campbell, on the Art of Being Alive.  I’ve written about Joseph Campbell here before and often think about things he’s taught me over the years.  As we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, these particular words stand out for me…

“It reminds me of Isaiah‘s biblical poetry:

“{You} will find new strength. {You} will soar high on wings like eagles. {You} will run and not grow weary. {You} will walk and not faint.”

But between soar and soaring, Joseph advises: “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”

And you’ll be home, no matter where you are.

And it’ll be a new day, everyday.”

Today, I took Max out to a beautiful ridge above the Bow River and above our city…the Chinook winds were breathing new life into the landscape after such an extremely cold period accompanied by plenty of snow.   From the outset of our hike, a bald eagle flew overhead.  I was in awe of the power of its wings in such a strong wind and equally amazed that he stuck with us for the duration of our walk, hanging on the air and then diving, reaching up and then hovering, over and over again.  What a blessing to be able to make such observations for an hour-long walk and to be swept up into the awe of ‘being alive’.  What an amazing thing to have such a mighty and regal bird seem to look into my eyes for a sustained period of time, sometimes from as close as ten feet away.

This experience brings new meaning to the words

“{You} will find new strength. {You} will soar high on wings like eagles. {You} will run and not grow weary. {You} will walk and not faint.”

 

Sixteen years ago, today, a young student of mine passed away.  It seems like yesterday.  Where have those sixteen years gone?  Today, walking in those hills, I felt as though I was given a little taste of heaven; joy in me…joy above me…joy beneath my feet…joy in my heart and in my head.  All that I saw or experienced was glory-filled.  It is such a privilege to encounter the divine in the places and people who surround us.  It is a privilege to be a part of this journey.  I am grateful…for Jarrett…for Mom…for those who have graced and grace my life each day.  I am blessed.

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Gorilla House LIVE ART: November 13, 2013

I spent my daytime hours painting a soldier…a young lad from Newfoundland; he was deployed to Cyprus and separated from his family.  He suffered huge loss and died very young…before his time.  As I painted, I felt as though I was immersed in his life.  My efforts were more to honour his life in each stroke of paint, than to ‘do a painting’….a prayer, I guess.

Words adhered to the panel came from Walt Whitman’s preface to The Leaves of Grass…

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body… . The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is always ready ploughed and manured … others may not know it but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches … and shall master all attachment.

I think those words are powerful and certainly apply…I experienced them at my core.

So, having spent a day in this manner, I was ready to cut loose at the Gorilla House.  Artists had already been notified that our concepts of the evening would conclude with “…but Heavy Metal made me do it.”  I went in search of references for a pop culture figure that people would easily recognize, thinking I’d like to represent also, some form of robot.  Clearly, I didn’t want to focus on the Heavy Metal sound…but rather, on a metaphor for the sound.

I chose Master Chief, after a number of suggestions.  Tyler, thanks for the idea.   Anyone who has encountered Halo will be familiar with the character, especially gamers and those with gamers in their lives.

I began by creating a series of block letters…I don’t know where this idea came from.  The experience of Gorilla House-painting is always surprising.  Without measuring, this process went easily.  Friend and artist, Jen and I were discussing how the world of graphic art has changed over time and the fact that fonts are designed through computer imaging where as ‘in the day’ letters and signage was done manually.  Quite a shift over years.

I laid my guide down quickly in pencil and then the words, R.E.S.P.E.C.T, REACH and in cursive, Forward Unto Dawn…and the selected theme of the evening, coming from Dylan in 1966.  “I never wanted to be a prophet or a savior...but Heavy Metal made me do it.”

Block LettersThe words all have some sort of connection with the Halo game, but also speak to me in a completely different context.  So, this painting is really a clash between two different worlds or realities. Master Chief, the other-worldly soldier, was a pleasure to quickly block in and paint before the end of the two hour session.  I am grateful to Cherise who purchased this piece at auction.

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For the non-Halo player, this from Wikipedia.

Halo 4 is a 2012 first-person shooter video game developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft Studios for the Xbox 360 video game console. The game was released in most territories worldwide on November 6, 2012. Halo 4s story begins four years after the ending of Halo 3; the player assumes the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier. The story is mainly set on a Forerunner planet, where Master Chief encounters the collection of alien races known as the Covenant and ancient warriors of the Forerunner empire known as the Prometheans. Master Chief is accompanied by the artificial intelligence construct Cortana.

Setting and characters

Halo 4 takes place in a futuristic science fiction setting in the year 2557, four years after the events of Halo 3.[21] Backstory details that hundreds of thousands of years before the modern era, humans were one of several interstellar civilizations. Following a war with the parasitic Flood, the humans came into conflict with the Forerunners, a powerful race that upheld the Mantle of Responsibility, a policy of benevolent shepherding of other races. After years of conflict the Forerunners defeated the humans and stripped them of their technology and empire. The Forerunners soon fought the Flood themselves; after exhausting every other strategic option available to them, the Forerunners activated weapons of mass destruction known as the Halo Array. The Array’s firing killed all sentient life in the galaxy to deprive the Flood of their food. Life that the Forerunners catalogued was then reseeded throughout the galaxy.[22][23]

In the 26th century, space-faring humanity (organized under the United Nations Space Command, or UNSC) comes under attack from the Covenant, an alien collective of species that worships the Forerunners as gods. The Covenant believe that activating the Halos will bring about salvation, not destruction.[24] The human supersoldier Master Chief John-117, along with his artificial intelligence companion Cortana, are instrumental in stopping the Halos from being activated, and the Flood from once again menacing the galaxy. At the end of Halo 3, Chief and Cortana are left stranded in unknown space aboard the remains of the vessel Forward Unto Dawn.[25] Much of Halo 4s campaign and Spartan Ops’ missions take place on or near the Forerunner planet Requiem. Part of the game also takes place on Ivanoff Research Station—a human base in orbit around the Halo ringworld Installation 03—and in Earth’s orbit.

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Gorilla House LIVE ART: October 2, 2013

Cold wind. Grey skies. Zillions of sparrows eating their feathers full at the feeder…snow in the weather reports.  Dark cloud zooming from the west.  Yellow light of sun on the horizon, smothered in vertical bands of rain, racing this way. Spaghetti dinner with my cousin.  Watching the cat across the street tossing its prize again and again in the air.  Thinking about elephants…

I packed up my art stuff and headed down to paint.  A deck of Edward Gorey Fantod cards became the generator for the three concepts.

Echorche Urn Yellow BirdI had already decided to make some sort of observance of the fact that there is going to be a March to Save the Elephant on October 4…I wanted to have people at the Gorilla House, artists and audience combined…bring the plight of the elephant to the forefront…just for an evening.  So, in combination with the Yellow Bird image in Gorey’s cards…I proceeded to draw and paint.

“Whoever has seen these giants marching across the last free open spaces of the world knows that this is something that must not be lost.”
– Romain Gary, The Roots of Heaven

We are in a world that is agitating with loss…species...glaciers…my mother.  Concerning this, I am not an alarmist and I am not a pessimist.  In fact, I live in hope…but most certainly for things ‘not of this world’.

The three archetypes shared with Gorey DID generate some connections for me while I worked.  The Gorilla House concepts always do!  The Urn as a metaphor…a container for what remains and L’ecorche…humanity, exposed…at its core (the bad and good of it).  The Yellow Bird…my mother’s song…my father’s whistle…the bright hope, small but apparent.  I thought also of the canary in the cage…the small warning of a big catastrophe in the mines, the pits that we dig for ourselves.  (apologies for the scattered images of last evening…but I pulled it together and it became this)  Thank you to Taylor for purchasing this piece at auction and to Teri for wanting it.

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Referring to Pelicans

While at home I found, tucked in Dad’s leather photo album, a couple of articles from newspapers about the capture of a one-winged pelican…an act that got me thinking about art as a vehicle of remembrance and Covenant.

Based on this narrative, I began to paint endangered species.  To some extent, humanity is riding the rough seas…in the pouring rain…still in a fragile ark.  What is it that we do about any of that?

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

Pelican 1 Pelican 2

Awe and Wonder

I will have to catch up on the act of blogging once Holy Week observances have concluded.  Suffice it to say that the entire walk has been inspiring.  Tonight, I celebrate the anniversary of my Confirmation and First Communion at the lighting of the Easter Candle and the celebration of the Easter Vigil.  I’m beyond excited and wish my readers a most Holy and beautiful Easter season!  I’m posting a couple of blips from my recent time Changing the Landscape.

The first reading tonight…after the lighting of the Easter Candle, will be from Genesis.  All over the earth, Catholics will enter into the mystery of this HOUR, the hour that has united the faithful for over 2000 years.

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4

 1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” 21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

26Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

29God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

4These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

 

Rabbits

Sketch: Domestic Rabbit Offspring

I’ve been reading about Fibonacci for the past two weeks.  That doesn’t mean that his science/math/reasoning makes any more sense than it did to me earlier…but I’m going to visit the humane society this week and they have some people who are going to speak to me about the genetics in perhaps, lay-person terms.

Read about the Fibonacci sequence, here.

Portrait of Fibonacci

You can get the history of Leonardo Pisano Fibonacci on Wikipedia.

I’m trying to scientifically understand what happened in Canmore, Alberta, and I’m creating a family group in a huge series of rabbits, linked to one single couple of domesticated rabbits that were set loose in the wild.  In order to link the colour and the parentage, I need to know what are the possibilities.  I assert, to begin, that whoever the individuals are who made the decision to act irresponsibly, this has caused a huge hassle for Canmore residents;  it has attracted natural predators to the town, animals such as coyotes and cougars, and it has cost likely millions in court and mediation hours and dollars.  Now, the cull?  Think about it…think about all of the issues linked to the irresponsible choice of one person.  Wowsers!  I’d like to have your thoughts OR knowledge on such issues and would especially like to hear from artists, environmentalists and scientists.

As I paint this body of work, I will, as I’ve done with all of my animal species investigations, link the process with initial thoughts around Covenant and the Genesis story.

ART!!! and WHALES!

Alright…so, the last fifty pages of  “Moby Dick” are churning up everything in me that gets excited about writing, nature, humanity and strength of human spirit, adventure and art!  I knew that there was some reason I was drawn to this VERY difficult read!  Ahab is presently suffering the apparent blows of a whale with WILL!  It is a superb challenge that is going on at this point…unbelievable!  It took 430 pages to bring me to this magical place!  But….I am here!  Engaged!  Challenged! Thoughtful!

One year I considered organizing a group exhibit with my Grade Nine art students.  At the time, I spoke to them about the demise of the Beluga Whales of the St. Lawrence seaway.  I demonstrated and talked about, at length, my process.  And then….we made art!  The exhibit has never happened…but, I hold on to the future possibility.