Collaboration

Some weeks ago, artist, Kelsey Fraser, led a workshop at the Esker Foundation on collaborative art making in both drawing and painting.  A key feature of the present exhibit, Earthlings, collaboration creates a wonderful bridge between northern and southern artistic culture.

By happenstance, the week prior to Kelsey’s workshop, I had explored collaboration with a high school learning strategies class.  Often saddled with group projects, older students often struggle with their part of a piece of work (poster, presentation, power point, report) when they are assigned to work with a mixed group of individuals.  I thought that it might be fun to explore a small non-threatening Exquisite Corpse activity in order to enjoy the experience of individual contributions for a common goal and completed work.  To begin with, we looked at the process of collaboration.

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I forgot to grab some photos of the resulting drawings. (may post later)  I had the students complete the first section on a paper folded into three (a character’s head – fantastical to representational) and then walk to someone in the room that they might not know and to trust them with the second section (the torso) and then, finally, that person would get up and pass it on to a third person for completion (the legs).  I enjoyed this exercise with a former student of mine, Tim Belliveau, when he led a session of life drawing at the Glenbow Museum.  It is a great activity for warm up and for ice breaking.  If you want to loosen up the crowd, this is a great method or if you have a fear of not ‘knowing’ how to draw, this activity removes that responsibility.

So, it was no surprise when Kelsey used some similar techniques to begin with the workshop attendees.  She began with blind contour drawings and had us circulate, working with different people on three rounds of portraiture.  The HOW TOs can be found here.

These were the three blind contours completed, where I was the subject.  It was so good to meet up with Jocelyn again!

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Next (and I’ll use this with a class some time or maybe during a pot luck party) we began a telephone game activity…page one write something, pass the booklet on…page two draw something related to page one’s writing….pass the booklet on…page three, write something related to the drawing on page two….pass the booklet on…page four, draw something related to the writing on page three….and so on through ten or so pages.

One needs to completely let go of any notions…expectations…of where this booklet goes in terms on content.  They can become pretty hilarious!

Here are a few pages from my booklet…

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Finally, the participants visited four different tables, to hook up with pencil nicks left on the edges of previous artist’s  compositions and to create their own line drawings in charcoal pencil.  Esker, the paper was of beautiful quality….thank you!  After drawing on three compositions, without looking at any of the other related drawings, we were asked to return to our original places, lay out the four compositions in sequence and to add paint.  Both challenging and thought provoking.  At this stage, the main goal would be to add harmony and unity to four somewhat disjointed pieces.  The colour added a very exciting dimension.

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Thanks to Kelsey Fraser and to Esker Foundation for a wonderful afternoon of exploring line, colour and collaboration!

“Collaboration requires focusing on everything from vision and values to how individuals can feel they are making a real contribution.”
Jane Ripley, Collaboration Begins with You: Be a Silo Buster

While I don’t think my contributions made sense sometimes, or that I had anything ‘intelligent’ to say, I also really appreciated the conversation PLACEHOLDER: An Unconventional Book Club Discussion with d.talks.  I was low on energy and very distracted and yet I had the true sense that the circle of people attending the event were listening.  Watch for future programs/events on the Esker site.

Join d.talks, in collaboration with Esker Foundation, for an evening discussion that responds to the exhibition, Earthlings, and draws upon the ceramic influences from Rankin Inlet, Cape Dorset, and Medalta in Medicine Hat. Structured as an unconventional book club, PLACEHOLDER is an intimate discussion and an opportunity for Calgarians to identify how our city and citizens affect – and are impacted by – local and global themes borne out of the work of Esker’s current exhibiting artists. Receive a list of selected texts or bring your own book, poem, or object. Let’s form a new narrative in Calgary together!

 

Earthlings: Beginning With Kinngait: Riding Light into the World

This post…another case of not responding to events in a particularly expedient fashion.  Some days ago, I began to respond to two films that I had viewed at the Esker Foundation.  A lot has happened since.

I made the decision not to attend the opening of Earthlings, as has become my typical pattern, given the huge and disquieting nature of ‘openings’, in general.  I’ve come to accept this in myself. Openings are only disquieting for me in so far as I can not find my way through the many conversations that merely brush over the surface of life and art and being, instead of immersing into the depths of it all.  There is hardly an opportunity to wrap it all up in my arms and swing it in circles.  And so, I wait for those days when galleries are quiet and the works are entirely ‘exposed’.

To begin…

Take a look at the Esker programs and take advantage of the easy registration option.     On February 9, there were two screenings, the first, Kinngait: Riding Light into the World and the second, Ghost Noise.  Both were exceptional. My exposure to Inuit art was limited to a small calendar that I purchased back in the 1970s. I traveled to Lethbridge from Great Falls, Montana in 1973. The first person I met on the steps of the University of Lethbridge was Richard Nerysoo.  Quite out of his element, he was being sponsored to come from the far north for his education in Southern Alberta, of all places.  I bonded to him immediately, given my loneliness for my own nuclear family that had, once again, moved east.

Lethbridge was a good place for people who wished to learn about Indigenous cultures and the University, itself, was introducing innovative programming based on insights from the elders of the regions that surrounded it.  Built on the edge of the Old Man river, I felt as though I was living in a very spiritual and inspiring place, geographically, aesthetically and spiritually.  So, it was during the ’70s, that I first became hungry for knowledge about Canada’s indigenous peoples.

Earthlings at the Esker Foundation creates visual bridges between artistic practices of the contemporary north and south, through the innate creative force of individual artists, as well as through collaborative exchange.  A powerful exhibit, the art works reach far beyond the notions of tradition and realism, and move into various contexts; collaboration, dreamscape, mythology and personal narrative.  Profound and heart-achingly beautiful, one really needs to see these works ‘in the skin’.  Produced by Roger Aksadjuak, Shuvinai Shoona, Pierre Aupilardjuk, Jessie Kenalogak, John Kurok and Leo Napayok, the art objects are both challenging and simple; joy filled and painful.  Creative, Shary Boyle, is phenomenal in her ability to create ‘bridge art’ and to have manifested such vision in this extraordinary experience of the visual world and the spiritual world.

It is apparent that this exhibit is an opener for me to learn about art and artistic practice and artists of Rankin Inlet, Matchbox Studios, Baker Lake, Cape Dorset and Toronto.  I will be responding to various tours and programs connected to the exhibit.  Most recently, Shauna Thompson conducted a thorough and enjoyable tour titled Cooked Earth and Ghost Noise, taking the participants through the entire gallery, addressing the various processes involved in the making.

Colour Bouncing Off the Walls: Pason Systems

I found this post in my drafts, all these months later and I’ve decided to entertain updating it and posting, just because I remember it as being a most amazing day of viewing art.

As written…some time ago…

What a glorious afternoon; one of those when spring heat and sunshine comes on the wings of a cool breeze.  From Christine Klassen Gallery, I head down 3rd Street to Pason Systems.  ‘Some of Jim and Susan Hill’s private art collection hangs on the walls of the Atlantic Avenue Art Block, but the majority of the collection is housed in the offices and common areas of Mr. Hill’s company, Pason Systems.’

Yesterday, the tour was led by Naomi Potter (Curator for Esker Foundation), Jim Hill (owner of Pason Systems and along with his wife, Sue Hill, an enthusiastic collector and visual arts advocate) and Dr. Shepherd Steiner ( Assistant Professor, University of Manitoba School of Art, who has recently completed a manuscript looking at Modernist painting, sculpture, and criticism from 1945–1968) of a portion of the extensive collection of works on view at Pason Systems.  A comprehensive and enthusiastic delivery of historical notes and analysis of paintings was given…very enjoyable and inspiring, at the same time.  This was a very special opportunity and arranged through registration via Esker Foundation programming.

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The first of the paintings, was a ‘Snap’ painting created by Harold Town, (1924-1990). Most of his life was spent in Toronto. In 1953, he was a founder and member of the “Painters Eleven,” a group of Toronto abstract expressionist painters which included Jack Bush, Oscar Cahen, William Ronald and Jock Macdonald. Painters Eleven took their cues from contemporary post-war American artists such as Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock.  Harold lived in rather privileged circles including original thinkers such as Marshall McLuhan, Pierre Burton and Stewart McLean.  There was a strong connection with Landon McKenzie of Rosedale as well.

In 1957, notable art critic, Clement Greenberg visited Toronto and the Painters Eleven studios.  The late 60s weren’t really kind to painters.  While Bush formed a bit of an alliance with Greenberg at the time…Town reportedly, benefited the least, most certainly linked to his own resistance to connecting with ‘what was going on in America’ in art.

The Snap paintings were the result of paint on strings being strung tightly from one dowel to another and, loaded with paint, snapped against the surface.

Nearer the front of the exhibition space, this Jonathan Forrest piece appears to be one of the ‘Best Foot Forward’ pieces.  Jonathan Forrest has a fabulous website and my favourite pages include some very vintage images of early studio spaces and process.  I hope that my readers might access this link.kaths-canon-april-2-2016-art-klassen-pason-ed-bader-017 kaths-canon-april-2-2016-art-klassen-pason-ed-bader-016

My documentation leaves a little to be desired in terms of true colour…I just wanted to collect a record of most of the things I was able to see on this tour.  There was a wealth of background given at each stop.  Saskatchewan artist, Forrest’s work,  includes clean-edged figures lifted off of the surface.  These often times appear to be folded-over-edges, impacted by the pouring on of paint.

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Doug Haynes (1936-2016) was an important non-objective modernist who explored floating figures in shallow spaces.  I particularly enjoyed this painting, Z’Idelo, for the potent red forms in space and the subtle ghosts of the same forms echoed throughout.  Follow the link I provide,here, to read a lovely tribute written in celebration of his life.

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I think that Dr. Steiner was speaking about a Chris Cran piece while I was staring at and wondering about a piece by Los Angelas artist, Iva Gueogruieva.  The dancing energy of her line and the passionate sense of colour created huge dynamic movement.  I could hear Dr. Steiner’s voice referencing Chris’s self portraits and the process of self-exploration.  The Cran piece was described as theatrical.  I was blessed to peruse the Chris Cran exhibit at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa some months later.

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I’ve seen Colleen Philippi’s Mountain Standard Time before and find the assemblage aspects of her work, compelling.  Philippi’s work “has an element of personal history, from the creative to the domestic, with the sense of opening up self-referential rooms. Originally from Winnipeg, Philippi graduated with a BFA from the University of Alberta, and has long been based in Calgary.”  I identify with the inclusion of objects and think that the work captures a sense of gender.  It is refreshing.

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Dr. Steiner described The Lantern as Paul Resika’s first tentative effort to move into abstraction.  The Wharf and the fish canning plant, shut down, Resika moved into colour field painting.  The processes captured in the following video are magical.

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I think that, here in Calgary, we could not speak or write about colour field painting, without also mentioning William Perehoudoff.  As a long-time landscape painter, I spent years impacted by the works of his wife,  Dorothy Knowles. Both artists had strong associations with the Emma Lake workshops.

This painting includes a set of key figures, thin stained pigment, yellow sun…the piece is really inseparable from the prairies.  The pink and red is interesting as is the placing of the shapes on a slight diagonal.  The painting seems to pulse.  The dynamic forms rest up against the stable aspects of the frame.

In terms of ‘coming to terms’ with abstract colour field paintings, Dr. Steiner recommended ‘letting the elements produce stories within you and let those stories speak to you.’

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At this point, Dr. Steiner spoke a little about Amedee Ozenfant and his approach to the elements of abstract works and their dynamic nature.

Steiner was enthusiastic about the jazz like influences in the piece, Diamond Variation by Jack Bush.  He addressed the parsing out of post-cubism and the jig saw shapes on the surface of some of Bush’s paintings.  There was some reference to the influences of Stuart Davis from the 20s, 30s and 40s, with the impact of orange, yellow and black.  Elements may have surfaced out of Bush’s life as a graphic artist.  Here, we see a connection of the various parts of his life and the extension of his life stresses.  His psychiatrist, J. Allan Walters, at the time, advised Bush to explore ‘freeing up his art’.

I was excited to have participated in an earlier art walk with Dr. Sarah Stanners at the Esker Foundation.

Dr. Steiner wove narratives throughout his analysis of Jack Bush’s painting at this point. “Irony”, he stated, “is at the base of cubism”.  He had us look at edges, borders and boundaries and how paint comes up to the frame and that the pencil lines found there were ‘cutting edge’.  Again,  Jack Bush was criticized for being a colour field painter because it was such an ‘American’ thing.  Clement Greenburg, again, influenced thought and thinking about abstract painting in Canada.

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I was happy to see Edward Burtynski’s work in this collection.  Dr. Steiner pointed out connections to cubism and the fact that the photographs of Burtynski lean on the genealogy of painting.  He spoke briefly about the issues of environmentalism and the scale of the work.

I believe that Jim Hill spoke to the John Adams Griefen piece.

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Dr. Steiner elaborated upon  Dan Christensen’s 1995 piece.  He shared with us the galactic sensibility in the piece and an almost cosmic spirituality in the work.  Dan’s work is about opticality.  He was not locked into a single motif or approach.  Very versatile in nature, it is, again, fun to look at the website for the freedom that is found in his explorations.

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With the exploration of Donald Judd’s work, there is pressure put on the viewer to look at the object, pan through the circles and to make as much of negative spaces as the positive.  I like that Judd made his life in Marfa, when I’ve connected with the poetry and photography of Joshua Edwards, also from Marfa. The connections I personally make with an open and minimalist approach to the landscape began about four years before meeting Josh, again, at the Esker Foundation.

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I notice in my little black notebook that I didn’t write any comments on Evan Penny’s work.  I enjoy the physical experience of viewing the sculpture, having seen several exhibits in the past, featuring Penny’s work.  A pleasant surprise in the Pason Systems collection.

As the tour moved on, I wrote fewer notes and spent more time exploring the art works.  I don’t know that I’ve represented the work very well or not…but, at the very least, I have a record of an extraordinary afternoon, jam-packed with information and insight.

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Regarding the piece by Jules Olitski, (name at birth…Jevel Demikovsky) Dr. Steiner was very excited.  He explored humour in the two green dots, contrasted with the somber colour of the larger form coming from above.  Olitski works typically included a sense of irony, comedy and distance.  Symbolically, breasts appeared in earlier works.  Concentric circles directed the viewer to zoom in on particular colours.  Zippering was used to optically precipitate a sense of ‘closing up’. The process of staining was explored and sometimes both sides of the canvases were painted. There was a relationship between Jack Bush and Jules Olitski.

This tour was invaluable to me, in terms of giving me a concrete exploration of abstraction…a very ‘real’ experience of colour, form and light. With gratitude…

Larissa Fassler: CIVIC. CENTRE.

One of my favourite places to hang out on wintry days is the Esker Foundation.  It is either bopping with gaggles of work-shoppers, panel discussions, tours or other such events or it is simply peaceful, quiet and bathed it beautiful light.  Yesterday found me relatively ‘on my own’ in the space and I really appreciated the impact of the exhibits.

Most impact-full, for me, was Larissa Fassler’s work.  Given my incessant record-keeping and my daily walking-observation-documentation of my pond study, it makes sense that her work speaks to me.  I’ve almost finished my second coffee and Max needs to be speed- walked before a day of teaching.  So, I’m not going to go into long explanations here, but yesterday I felt that I had collided with a very like-minded artist.  It is wonderful to see concepts mirrored back.  And, completely by surprise.

Directly from the Esker website…this…

Larissa Fassler’s work begs us to slow down, look around, and consider more deeply the spaces and structures that organize our cities, our lives, and our identities. Fassler’s current artistic practice is premised on a prolonged process of observing and recording: she visits her chosen sites at varying times throughout the day over a period of weeks or months and remarks upon the unremarkable. She records countless everyday encounters and charts minute architectural details, creating a meticulous record of highly complex sites, looking ultimately for the ways in which space influences behaviour – and for traces of protest or disruption.

I will, later, post about Cedric and Jim Bomford’s work, The Traveller.  Given my University of Lethbridge residence experience…and gazing out at the High Level Bridge for those four years, I was left breathless once confronted by the powerful construction of space in the ‘guts’ of the gallery.  I have much to say about the traveller and was intrigued by the process of a father and son installing such a beast as this, within the context of the Esker Space.

I was grateful to be greeted by Parisa.  It has been quite a while.  The hospitality shown by the Esker staff is consistent, warm and educational.

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Ashleigh Bartlett Workshop

I never fail to be excited by the programs and resources available to us in Calgary.  Some weeks ago, I attended a workshop led by Ashleigh Bartlett at the Esker Foundation.  There, we explored the possibilities within abstract painting, with a lovely connection drawn between the works of Jack Bush and Colleen Heslin and process.  The process of exploration included elements of collage, painting and play.  Thank you to Esker for providing such hospitality and wonderful materials.

Thank you to Ashleigh, for sharing a clear and embracing experience!  I’m sad to see this exhibit go.  It has been so inspiring.

Since teaching this workshop, Ashleigh has received one of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards for Emerging Artists.  This made me so happy.

Ashleigh actually took the time to chat with me about my thoughts on being a self-taught artist versus ‘a real artist’ (one who has attained credentials).  Years ago I made a choice to attain a Bachelor of Education degree, with a double major in art and English and never did receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts.  As a result, when I applied for a Masters in Studio Art program some years ago, the wind was knocked out of my sails when I learned that my years and years of accumulated portfolio work was not in any way equivalent to ‘THE DEGREE’.  So, I registered with ACAD and completed my third year toward a BFA, while on Sabbatical from my school district, but when my friends moved on to their fourth year and graduation, I had to return to teaching.  All these years later, the registrars office people seemed less than impressed with my desire to enroll for my fourth year and the two studio courses remaining.  They were not encouraging.  Ashleigh told me to NOT lose hope based on the hoops that they have created for me to jump through.  She encouraged me and for this, I am most grateful.

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The Practice of Shibori

Since attending a workshop at the Esker Foundation last Saturday, I’ve been reading a little about the practice of Shibori and discovering the many ways that one can, using Indigo, create brilliant patterns on fabrics.

Keep in mind that this was my first experience.

Esker’s workshop presenter was Lyn Pflueger, generously assisted by Jeri, also from Bragg Creek.  Borrowed from the 2009 Annual Report for the Immigration Services of Calgary, this beautiful photograph by Fritz Tolentino.

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Everything about this workshop reminded me of working side by side with my mother…learning to crochet, knit, sew garments, embroidery and basket weaving.  My mother loved these things.  One of my biggest regrets is that I never had opportunity to learn the skill of weaving on a loom with Mom.  She was an inspiring person for so many reasons.  Lyn and Jeri demonstrated the same patience and the Esker programming staff was so wonderful, providing materials and a smooth pacing of the event.  Thank you.

While I stitched a running stitch (the first technique described) I thought about Mom and while I evidently did NOT pull my stitches tightly enough (optimally, you achieve a beautiful white to contrast with the deep colour of the indigo), I enjoyed every minute learning the methodology, with intention of pressing forward with such exploration.

I decided to explore a gesture of the bush that I visit and document every day at the pond.I felt a lot of strength in my surroundings.  I was emotional, I must admit.  The technique at the bottom of the image is called binding, in this case, around soya beans.  In the end, I wrapped these tightly enough so that the ink did not manage its way into the cloth.  My running stitches, on the other hand, were not so successful.

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Kath Stitching Esker Shibori 2

Photo Credit: Esker Foundation

 

Kath Stitching Esker shibori

Photo Credit: Esker Foundation

Break here for a song that came to mind…I had heard the St. Mary’s University choir do a version of it…and I was thinking how I’d like to be with my Mom.  She would so enjoy Shibori techniques!

 

The samples that Jeri and Lyn showed us were so absolutely beautiful.  I liked the connection between the exhibit, Colleen Heslin’s work and the process.

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The technique used for the samples below is a clamping technique.  I have not yet documented my clamped sampler, but was pleased to learn this second technique.

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An amazing process of dye baths and oxidation…all timed.  It is easy to get absorbed by the interesting process of it all.

 

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I managed to catch the gesture of the bush…very strong sense of the rock with the bound soya beans…a  strong border, but the loss of some branches, likely by a pulled thread or two or three, lost and not knotted properly.

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We enjoyed the various fabric samplers that demonstrated the limitless possibilities of applying these techniques and more to other types of fabric…felting, organza and others.

 

Thanks to all, for a beautiful morning at Esker! There was a powerful bonding to fabric artists, both present and those who have left this world…to feel that spirit of connection and creation was awesome!

An Investigation of Colour: Esker Foundation

I can go for weeks, wanting to write about something and never get to it because it was either too beautiful or too overwhelming or too devastating to actually get the words out…at least on a blog post.  I’ve got more drafts than I do posts, sitting waiting for publication.  Some of these include a huge post about last summer’s Folk Festival and one titled ‘The Gaze’, something about keeping my eyes on the face of Jesus.  When I consider posting, I also think that my honesty will not be appreciated, so I hold back.  While some days it feels like I have no readers…that I don’t have an audience…I DO think that I have a responsibility to what I write because it is flowing out into the internet world…and I don’t want to post junk.

Back to the point.  I’ve visited the recent exhibit at the Esker Foundation six times now and I am so in love with it that I find it hard to write about.  This morning, I thought that I’d make an effort.

To begin with, I attended the opening of the ‘Winter Exhibitions’. The openings at the Esker are sometimes unbelievably populated.  This one surpassed that description in every regard.  Jim Hill greeted us, at the beginning of the line, out on the street and quietly said, “You might want to come over tomorrow when it’s more quiet” and I responded with, I’ll be attending tomorrow also.  So I began my slow weave up the stairwell, conversing with friendly people both ahead of me, and behind me.  It moved seamlessly and was a real pleasure.   Stepping into the space, it was easy to become anonymous in the crowd.  While I did share some words with a few of the friends that I bump into at such events, I made the effort to disappear into the art and I did.  The works by Jack Bush and Colleen Heslin sing off of the walls!  This is a show that impresses, with its colour relationships, its monumental presence and its juxtaposition.  I’m so in love with the art!

That night, I had this huge feeling rush over me that Jack Bush was observing the crowd and all of the conversations…that he was a voyeur, of sorts, watching from the seat of his own work.  I had a sense that he was entertained by the spectacle of all of it.  But, truly, I felt his presence to this opening. (readers roll eyes here)

So, what were we looking at?  Jack Bush: In Studio…from the Esker Foundation website…

January 23 – May 8, 2016

In the most classic sense, the word studio is defined as “room for study.” This exhibition was conceived as an opportunity to gather 20 select paintings in a new space with the aim to spark study – in the form of looking and conversation.

Five works on show have never before been exhibited in Canada. Fifteen of the paintings were made in the artist’s small one-room studio in his family home at 1 Eastview Crescent in North Toronto, while the remaining five were produced in his downtown Toronto Wolseley Street studio, where he would execute most of his very large paintings from 1968 until his death in January 1977.

and…Colleen Heslin: Needles and Pins

January 23 – May 8, 2016

Colleen Heslin’s paintings resonate with the tension of material and gestural complexity. Successfully fusing thought and action, the work dismantles material hierarchy by providing equal space to art and craft. Considering formal abstraction and craft-based methods of mark making, Heslin’s work thoroughly explores colour, shape, and texture. Constructed out of hand-dyed and ink-stained fabric, the work acknowledges histories of photography and textiles, and finds connections with the Colour Field painters of the 1960s and 1970s.

I met Alex Cameron while on a horse-packing trip up Blue Rock, with 9 other artists.  I forget what led to my good fortune, but I think my friend, Laurel Cormack, had to cancel and she called me up to fill her spot on a horse.  Bob Blair, a huge supporter of the visual arts in the city, was funding the adventure, with the understanding that we would provide a painting, in the end, for his collection.  I remember sharing the journey with some wonderful people, among them Alex Cameron, Brenda Driscoll, David Alexander, Tania Laniel and Ken Christopher.  Generously, Virginia Christopher offered up her gallery for our post journey exhibit and meeting with Bob Blair.

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Blue Rock

It was on this journey, and around a magical campfire, one of many, that we shared stories with one another about art and life.  Ken brought out the guitar and we sang songs.  We put on skits.  We drank Johnny Walker in our tin cups.  It was during one of these night time conversations that Alex Cameron told us the stories of working for Jack Bush in his studio.  I felt that I was a witness to something pretty special where each artist was concerned.  That journey was life changing and as a result, I painted an exhibit of oil paintings titled Kindred Spirits.

It was very emotional to walk up to one of the exhibit walls and to read the words of introduction by Curator, Sarah Stanners, Ph.D. Director, Curatorial & Collections McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

There…in description of Jack Bush: In Studio…were these words.

Kath's Canon, February 22, 2016 Jack Bush and Franks 002

Kath's Canon, February 22, 2016 Jack Bush and Franks 003

Kath's Canon, February 22, 2016 Jack Bush and Franks 004

It was a life-circle moment.

The next day, I was out to Dr. Sara Stanner’s tour of the exhibit, where she shared so much knowledge about the artist, his studio practice and his relationships.  We heard about influences and friendships…about Clement Greenberg, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland and also Anthony Caro.  It was a very rich session and I made certain to fill my little notebook with details about each piece, things that I am considering and understanding more as I continue to journey through an exploration of ‘Colour Field’ painting.

This past weekend, I attended, first, an artist talk about Understanding Light and Energy, given by Jesse Stilwell.

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He has, on exhibit, an installation in the main floor Project Space. I suggest that my readers take opportunity to visit this piece, both in day light and at night, as it has very interesting light interplay and energy.  It was delightful to hear Jesse’s honest portrayal of his process and absolutely fascinating to hear, in part, knowledge about eye and brain in perceiving colour.  As I left the session, I met friend, Michelena, and gave her a big hug.  And through her, met a long time friend, Jocelyn, who as it turned out, would be attending the Saturday workshop with me.  Together, the three of us took a little bit of time to peruse Colleen Heslin’s work and talk about it.

The next day, I was able to practice, through specific guidelines, exploration in Simultaneous Contrast and colour interaction.  Thanks to both the Esker staff and Jesse Stilwell, for an excellent experience.  I treasure and support the idea that programs be included in the experience of gallery spaces.  I think that working with concepts is fundamental and crucial to integrating artistic concepts.  Esker programming rocks!

Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 022 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 023 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 027 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 028 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 029 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 030 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 031 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 032 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 033 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 035 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 036 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 039 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 040 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 041 Kath's Canon February 21, 2016 Jesse Stilwell Sparrows Franks 042

Jocelyn and I sat and played the afternoon away and colour began to explode through the space.  Solid direction was given and materials were provided.  I became a little more intense than I would typically be while painting, but I was definitely journeying into an area where I had little or no experience.  When I pulled myself out of my paint fog and Jocelyn and I were able to exchange contact information, I learned that she had been born 12 years before her sister.  I shared that I had also been born 12 years before my sister.  In the end, it turns out that my sister and Jocelyn’s sister are good friends, and living in Ottawa.  The serendipity made perfect sense, given the magic of colour and the sharing of our personal narratives.  It was a magical afternoon!

Jocelyn's Photo workshop with Jessie Stilwell

 

A photograph of Jocelyn, Caterina and me, upon completion of our afternoon workshop.  A wonderful afternoon!  Thank you, Esker.

 

Whirlwind

This is a beautiful day!  I got up early and Max and I headed over to the pond.  I made a decision to attend a later Mass again because light will be fading soon and our pond walks will be later in the day…it is time to soak up the beautiful morning light while it’s still possible.  It is another golden-blue day as tree branches become more exposed and the leaves move into a warmer shade of yellow.

Mass was inspiring.  With my church family, I was able to reconnect with a friend I hadn’t visited with for quite a long time and I felt as though I was able to be really present to her and to the blessed peace of the Mass.  I thought a lot about discipleship…and took pause to consider what direction these thoughts might take me in my community.

Once home, I ate a nice lunch and then visited with Dad on Skype.  Now, I am sitting in my pyjamas, ready to have an afternoon nap.  The sunshine is creating beautiful patterns on the floor near by.  This relaxed feeling that pours over me is quite a contrast to the whirlwind of activity that has been filling up my life since Enriquito’s departure and connecting with Dylan last week.  A few images as an archive…

Dragon Pearl Dumplings and Hot and Sour Soup…a family favourite and great for an art night.

Dragon PearlEsker Foundation autumn opening.  The snacks, as per usual, were amazing!  And it was such a nice thing to visit with Jim and Sue Hill again.  I bumped into people I knew, but it was especially good to share the experience with my daughter, Cayley.  I have to say that this exhibit is a challenge for me.  I’m looking forward to programs that will supplement the visual exhibit over the coming months.  I’m guessing I will learn more about art as communication and installation.  The programs began on Saturday, with an artist talk, but one needs to pace ones self.  Charlotte Moth: living images and Celia Perrin Sidarous: Interiors, Other Chambers will be on exhibit until December 20.

From this gallery setting, we headed over to Pith Gallery, meeting John Will in the center of 9th Ave, where funny enough, he stopped to talk.  Comic Con’t by Ryan Statz, had me in stitches.  Honestly, the work made me laugh out loud.  A great find!  Autobiographical in nature, this work was technically astute and in very good humour.

Lifted from the Pith Comic Con’t public share, I hope that Ryan will not mind me sharing this…sort of gives you the back story.

Ryan Statz – Biography

A native of Montréal Québec, Statz completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Alberta College of Art + Design in 2000, and received his Masters of Fine Arts degree at Concordia University in 2008. Currently based in Calgary Alberta, Statz’s work has been exhibited across Canada, The United States, and Europe.

Ryan Statz – Artist Statement

I am an idiot.

Anyone who knows me would likely admit that this is neither a stretch of the truth or the imagination – in fact, if I were a gambling man I’d say it’d be a pretty safe bet. Based on a personal, and experiential reality, my work owns up to this; however, because I also do not lead a life that is altogether interesting or exciting, the subject matter of the work references the mundane.

In the production of my work, I employ strategies from performance, executed with a deadpan fervour that includes elements of humour, wit, and humility – with just a hint of self-deprecation. Any self-flagellation, however, should not be taken as an admission of a lowered self-image; it is used primarily as a comedic device that addresses the notion of hegemonic masculinity.

Art History ubiquitously portrays the male artist as an iconic figure, a genius, and a hero. As I often approach things with a great deal of humility, I present the male artist (myself) as an individual who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, whose social status amongst his peers isn’t the highest, and whose success within the local, Canadian and international art context is virtually non-existent. So for my own purposes, and in the context of the male artist-as-bumbling-idiot, failure is always a viable option.

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From Pith Gallery, Cayley and I walked down to the Ironwood Stage and Grill where Steve Coffey and Sheri-D were performing a collaborative piece titled, Tales From the Moonshine Room.  Over a glass of wine, a snack of calamari and conversation shared with a writer out of LA, Cayley and I really enjoyed this performance piece.  On a few occasions, the spoken poetry brought me to tears.

Sheri-D and Steve CoffeeNice to see you again, Paul Forestell!

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Saturday morning began with an early morning pond walk.  Even when life is hectic, having a beautiful border collie (Max-Man) in my circle, causes a connection with nature and required exercise.

Kath's Canon, September 27, 2015 Heron 002 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 061From there, I headed up north for an Open Door YYC activity.  I had registered to see the warehouse where the City of Calgary stores and cares for the Public Art Collection.  It was fabulous!  Barb and Quinn did an superb job sharing such a ‘magical’ place with us. Articulate and genuinely passionate, their collaborative presentation was excellent. A staff of two, they manage a beautiful space and collection.  I was really glad to have seen this. (No pictures inside…and if you’ve ever attended to such an event, you would understand the logic.)

Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 001 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 002 Kath's Canon, September 26, 2015 Heron, Pith, Open Doors 003Had I prior knowledge about the density of population that would attend a Pop Up Etsy event, I would not have committed to the 50 minute line up to get to the 97 vendors inside the Golden Acres venue on Saturday.  While I did pick up three Christmas gifts, I find that Market Collective provides a more ‘chill’ experience and as many artisans and creatives.  I missed food trucks and live music.  The crowds were oppressive.  Hmmm…let me see…I’m sure I took a photo of the line up that wove in and out of shelving.  Yes, here it is…

DSC_1357Yes, Dad, I DID do this!  The best part of the line up was that I met up with one of my fans…just love this girl!  Hannah is in one of her dance poses for this photo. :0)

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I decided to opt out of the bus tour of the Shepard Land Fill site and headed home to chill out before sharing the evening with my girls, attending Alberta Ballet’s Balletlujah.

It was nice to sip (or would that be, down?) a gin and tonic at intermission with my daughters, reviewing the experience together and getting some Auld Triangle time (a little name we gave ourselves during a show put on Tom Phillips one night at the Ironwood).

Jean Grand-Maitre

Jean Grand-Maitre

From Avenue Magazine: Photo captured of a moment in Jean Grand-Maitre's choreography for Balletlujah!

From Avenue Magazine: Photo captured of a moment in Jean Grand-Maitre’s choreography for Balletlujah!

Now…it might be that my readers will think that Saturday was over…but, no.  What did we do?  We stopped at the Blackfoot Diner OF COURSE.  We thought we would share a piece of pie.  But instead….this.

Breakfast after Alberta Ballet Kath and ErinI have much to be grateful for…I’m offered up so much in the way of opportunity…good food and drink…friendship and family.  It was quite a weekend!  Late this afternoon, I will drive out to spend time with my dear Ya Yas. But…for now…a snooze!

Oh, Canada!

Art is everywhere in Calgary and I enjoy it so much!  The four-gallery exhibit entitled, Oh, Canada! is somewhat overwhelming for its extent and variety. It was nice, at introductory comments at the Glenbow, to meet in some respect, the curator of the project, American Denise Markonish.

Max and I got waylaid by a ton of fresh snow at the pond, so I didn’t get up to the Nickle Galleries or ACAD’s Illingworth Kerr for two of the first stops of the four-gallery art extravaganza.  Sometimes beautiful wonderful magical awesome life gets in the way of the plans we’ve made.  I just so absolutely loved my afternoon that I had to adjust for the wonder and the awe.

??????????For 6:00 p.m. I headed north on the train from Anderson, and landed at the Glenbow in plenty of time to enjoy a bag of chips and wander, in amazement, the fantastic exhibit of a portion of the original artworks on display.  At some point, my daughter Cayley and a friend landed there, so I had opportunity to share a glass of red wine and exchange some art banter as I did my second run at the exhibit.  It was fun to chit chat with and shake hands with such an iconic artist as Eric Cameron.

DSC_2206 DSC_2205I noticed in attendance, as well, artists such as Ron Moppett and John Will.  I feel invigorated about our arts community and loved this portion of the exhibit.

DSC_2204Great surprises…three more paintings by Janet Werner. (really really enjoyed her work at Esker in an earlier exhibit)

DSC_2196 DSC_2195 DSC_2194Wanda Koop’s work…powerful!

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Chris Millar’s work…amazing…involving.

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David R Harper’s work stirred up conversation and intrigue.  The most cell phones were out at this location.

I’m including the first paragraph of his artist statement here because it’s so relevant to the conversations I was overhearing…

“I am drawn to the form and idea of memorials, those markers that formalize links between memory and present experience. My main fascination is for the ways in which people bring facets of these ritual systems and objects into domestic spaces in order to amplify their personal identification with them, or perhaps with the cultures that support them.”

DSC_2214 DSC_2213 I stood in front of this piece, and wept.  All of the work coming out of Cape Dorset was powerful.

DSC_2211 DSC_2209Terrance Houle’s buffalo pretty much shouted off of a wall.

Given my mother’s Acadian side, I really appreciated the paintings of Mario Doucette and stood, captivated in front of the two featured pieces for quite some time.  Shary Boyle’s pieces were equally as mesmerizing and because of their location, it seemed that wee cubby was always very populated in the gallery.  Andrea Mortson’s canvases…romantic…warm and a relief. Of course, everyone who stood before the Douglas Coupland piece had a few things to say about Generation X and that is inevitable.  I enjoyed the art…I enjoyed the conversation.

DSC_2201Standing in line for the Bassbus, I chatted with Janet Werner’s friend from Saskatoon.  What a spectacular evening and live music performed by Chelsey Hazelton waited for me on the bus.  Chelsey’s beautiful vocals sang us quickly to our next stop and one of my favourite places in town, The Esker Foundation.

IMG_20150131_193047Once I had my coat checked, I entered into Esker and was first met by beautiful, Sue Hill…a generous and truly authentic woman, she once opened her place on Lake of the Woods to me and my family…shared chipping of wood…canoeing…crayfish catching…swimming off a dock…sitting in a biffy by candle light…good chats and refinishing furniture.  What a lovely way to make an entrance at the Esker.

The work at Esker was no less fascinating than the Glenbow, but perhaps I kept my camera more in my pocket. Kim Adam’s piece,Optic Nerve, did get a photo moment or two.  I enjoyed her work in the Winnipeg Art Gallery years ago.

 

 

DSC_2234 DSC_2233The Artist Collective, BGL’s La clôture also made the cut. (no pun intended)  The Esker runs programs for the public (please visit their website) and so I know that I will be returning again and again to this collection over the coming month.

DSC_2232 DSC_2231My favourite bit of work was an installation piece…quite complex and yet so simple.  I have a little bit of video from this space and when I get it ALL together, I might post it here.  You must see this work.

DSC_2225So from upended picnic tables…

DSC_2229…to backwoods cabin/pubs…

DSC_2236…you’ll see it all.

Treated to little dixie cups filled with seasoned french fries and on the other end of the gallery space, Nanaimo bars…the evening was a lovely and intoxicating one.  I hopped onto the Bassbus for another run, entertained by the music of Patrick Whitten.

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Back at the Glenbow, I made my way to the train, recharged and happy about my home town and the many beautiful people I have met over the years.

Calgarians, grab your passports and get out to these four venues over the coming month.  You will receive many insights into what is happening in the world of contemporary art and as Canadians, we have much to be excited about.

Oh, Canada Passport

Voted Most Likely

My dear friend, Bob, was in town and from the time we met up at the Central Branch Public Library, last weekend, until we got to my place to share dinner, we were able to fit in a few art events.  I’ve posted about Bob before.  We met at ACAD, sharing a third year studio space and conversed our way through many lunch hours.  A lot of time has passed since 1998 and he has had a seat at many Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. Likely our most memorable event was meeting up in Paris to enjoy art together and then some relaxed time in Monet’s part of the world, Giverny, France.

Over the years, I’ve commissioned Bob to paint several pieces for me, the most important being the ten magpie paintings through my final months of teaching, one to represent every season and one of Pauline’s window looking out onto Kootenay Lake.  My treasured teacher from the University of Lethbridge is easily remembered each and every time I look up at the painting.

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Painting by Robert Melville: Blue Glass Looking Out on Kootenay Lake

Painting by Robert Melville: Blue Glass Looking Out on Kootenay Lake

P1130993Bob and I walked over to C2, where the exhibition Voted Most Likely curated by Kim Dorland is happening and then I took him on to have his first ever wander of the Esker Foundation.  Borrowed directly from the C2 description…Contemporary Calgary has invited Kim Dorland to guest curate an exhibition of artists who currently call – or have previously called – Calgary “home”. Featuring the work of emerging and established artists working in a variety of mediums, Voted Most Likely includes Chris Cran, Bradley Harms, DaveandJenn, Mark Lawes, Erik Olson, Annelie McKenzie, Tiffany Wollman, Pamela Norrish, Kent Merriman Jr, Stacey Watson, Kiarra Albina, Matthew Mark, Jeremy Pavka, and Chad VanGaalen.

DSC_0938 ?????????? DSC_0935 ?????????? DSC_0933 DSC_0932 DSC_0931 DSC_0930 DSC_0929 DSC_0928 DSC_0926 DSC_0922 DSC_0921 DSC_0920 DSC_0919 DSC_0918 DSC_0917 DSC_0916I have decided that I much prefer attending these art exhibits in the quiet of my own time rather than during the busy and sometimes crowded opening events.  If you are in the mood, however, openings are a great opportunity to meet up with the artists and converse about their process.  Why not do both?

Regardless, it was a beautiful thing to meet up with my friend from Vancouver and share in delightful conversation about the work.