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!
Love the focus and concentration that surfaced during the program!
The elevator repair has gone on a tad longer than expected. Wendy Lees and her band of creatives from create! at the Golden Age Club, have spent some time relocated to another space while renovations and such were taking place, but…now, back at home in the Golden Age Venue, the elevator is still not fixed. “Soon”, everyone hopes.
Sometimes when I read what people struggle with or what they take issue with, I have a tricky time feeling empathy. Sometimes we are each ‘devastated’ by such benign issues and so in order to withhold judgment of ourselves and the other, it is important to consider each issue as it relates to current conditions/variables. An example: We can celebrate that Target closing down can be a problem for someone because this means…their health is good…they live in a warm home…they have the food and water they require and they likely have family and friends for company and support. They ALSO have the cash in their pockets to go shopping. But let’s simply look at the very first…GOOD HEALTH.
Loretta told me that she didn’t mind me telling her story. I explained that she’s just so inspired me this week, that I wanted to try to capture that inspiration in a post! Loretta is a woman who has such a positive attitude about her life and is willing to do almost anything in order to express her creativity, whatever form that might take. All is done with a sense of humour. Over time, Loretta has suffered six different strokes, but the fact that this has impeded movement and function on her right hand side, has not stopped her from being a dancer with MoMo Dance Theatre or making paintings, mosaics and recently, papier mache! (That’s Loretta on the left.)
On Tuesday, I was witness to Loretta’s climb of the stairs to arrive at our papier mache experience and I have to say that her determination caused something more than awe in me. I guess that’s why I’m writing.
She began her bowl project, with enthusiasm…and with the use of her left hand only. By the time that the class had ended, she had applied three layers of Handel’s Messiah, in strips, to her form and with some assistance from me, applied a pedestal stand as well. We all gave one another hugs good-bye after our clean-up and one last cookie. :0)
As the story continues, Loretta came into the Golden Age Club yesterday, thinking that it was art day…looked at the stairs…and said to herself, “I just can’t do it.” She went home, she said, and had a good cry (at this point in the story, we embraced) because she really really wanted to paint her bowl.
Well…if she didn’t run into Michael at some point in the afternoon and she told him that she couldn’t get up to create! He gave her the news that, in fact, it was scheduled for Friday…TODAY!! Loretta made it up those stairs again, to her waiting project and created spectacular transparent layers of paint!
I cherish my friends at Create! and every one of us also has a story. Each participant (I include myself here) in the experience is vulnerable in their own way, but we carry on, especially cherishing good health and creative experiences that find us sharing positivity, good laughs, support and friendship. Thank you to Georgie, Michael, Brian, Marian, Patruch (can’t say it…can’t spell it…and he knows it!), Tony, Joanne, Patrick, Leslie, Nicole, Margaret and Loretta…and our other Loretta. Charcoal sketching with Gary next week!
We missed you, Wendy…but you reveal yourself even when you’re not in the room with us. See you soon!
It was a big day again for the City of Calgary, with the opening of the Barb Scott Memorial Park, the Inglewood Night Market and the Helping Hands Mural launch, celebrated along with artists, Mark Vazquez-Mackay, Hannah Poon and Ryan Delve and “Just Bill”. I opted to celebrate the Helping Hands mural and so glad that I did! There was a sense of a beautiful community that hovered under the overpass on a very rainy day! There were delicious DONUTS, offered up for free by Jelly Modern Donuts! I was very proud of the creative participants from the create! program in the East Village who contributed to the mural. I was happy to be witness to this historical moment for our city.
Directly from the Calgary Media Release, this background…
“(CALGARY, AB) – Plans to transform a small wall under the 5th Avenue flyover began when “Just Bill,” a resident of the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre (The DI), decided he wanted to add more colour to the neighbourhood by creating a public art installation everyone could enjoy and actually participate in creating.
Bill, a born and raised Albertan, has been homeless for the past 15 years. Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, Bill resolved to explore his lifelong dream of becoming an artist. At 50, he picked up a paintbrush for the first time, began reading books about famous artists and started running with a very creative and collaborative art crowd in Calgary.
“I credit Angel and Angela, the two young women who founded Market Collective here in Calgary, with giving me the courage to really follow my dream and start making my art a reality,” says Bill. “They encouraged me to showcase my work and make connections in the arts scene. It’s changed my life for the better.”
Inspired by some of the magnificent public artwork within East Village, such as Julian Opie’s LED installation “Promenade” and Ron Moppett’s mosaic tile wall “THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER,” Bill and three fellow artists decided they wanted to contribute to the emerging art scene of East Village by adding some colour under the 5th Avenue Flyover. Working with City of Calgary Roads and Centre City Planning & Implementation teams, they have imagined a mural called “This is our City:
Helping Hands,” which celebrates diversity, choice and community building and honours former DI Centre Executive Director Dermot Baldwin for his contributions to Calgary’s homeless. Dermot Baldwin was present to the celebration yesterday.
This isn’t the first time a group of local artists has teamed up to bring life to an unconventional canvas. Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the organization charged with redevelopment of the East Village, began a curated art program on the bridge abutments and storage sheds in 2009. Local photographer Derrick Besant debuted his black and white images on the bridge abutments three years ago, and just last summer a new group of Calgary artists called Light & Soul added “The Field Manual: a compendium of local influence” – a mural that spans 11 surfaces along Riverfront Ave.”
I enjoyed another wonderful opportunity facilitating with Wendy Lee’s create! program. When I arrived, somewhat flustered because of a whole series of misadventures, Wendy had the coffee burbling and welcomed me with open arms. So good to see friends down at the East Village!
Eyes…the windows to our soul?
The origin of this profound thought is attributed to different writers and great thinkers…not precisely as it appears in my title, but in one way or another. Here are just a few, appearing on the Quoteland.com site and shared by the moderator.
The quote originated with Cicero, but in a different form.
The eies. . . are called the windowes of the heart by which love enters into the same.~Stefano Guazzo, Civile Conversation, bk IV (1584)
These lovely lamps, these windowes of the soule~Joshua Sylvester, Devine Weekes and Workes (1591)
The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs records the Latin “vultus est index animi (also occulus animi index, the face (also, eye) is the index of the mind” and “The eyes…are the wyndowes of the mynde.” (1545)
Today, inspired by a North Park University community art project, we painted eyes. Participants of the North Park University made images of fellow North Park students (or in a couple cases, faculty). 67 blocks using various media, mounted on a gold-leafed tondo. It is now installed in the vestibule of the chapel at North Park University.
I decided to begin create’s! portrait series at the Golden Age Club in the East Village with a look at the basic structure of frontal view eyes.
To begin with, one of the participants arrived, sporting an AWESOME fashion statement and gave me permission to photograph him. AWESOME! Yellow lenses? Are you kidding? More AWESOME!
While everyone was tentative, we began…analyzing the eye…exploring its complexities and having some fun along the way. Newsprint sketches began as small detailed miniatures and gradually grew to be confident explorations of the subject. More fun! More laughs! Quiet concentration!
At create! we modify our projects and expectations as need be…some artists are still dabbling in landscapes of our last sessions…some require assistance due to special needs. We can adjust! We want everyone to be in full participation to the degree that they are able!
I had a wonderful time and as we offered as our intention at the beginning of class…building…building nests…building community…I am pleased to say that the resulting experience was a warm and loving experience. We really looked into one anothers’ eyes!