The Season

Those readers who know me, know that for almost two months, I’ve been sequestered to the family room with Max, my border collie.  He’s been struggling, but at the moment, seems to have rallied after being put on a regime of medications that are helping him with the anxiety of pain and now, even tackling the inflammation.  In the meantime, we sleep here….together.  Thanks to those who have supported me.  For now, Max is making it up and down stairs, able to look out the window from his red sofa and is doing a walk around our urban circle each day.

There have been a number of events that have marked this season for me.  I’m just going to go through and gather from photos in my archives and stick them in here…I’m going to keep the writing brief.  This year, the darkness has really impacted me and I like that neighbours have strung up outdoor lights on their houses so early.  Christmas lights seem to dispel that cold and isolating feeling that might come with the darkness of winter.

Before I post the first photo,  I’d like to say that early in December, I ordered my gifts on line for the first time.  In the last week, I’ve received word that of all these, 100%, are delayed.  It’s 5 in the morning on a holiday Monday and I’m sitting here laughing about this.  Max is sound asleep on our wee cot, just behind me.

Steven and me after his very first daycare Christmas concert.  A brief video is posted below.

My Auntie Eleanor with a portrait I painted of her for her 90th birthday.  I love her so.

Daily walks at the Bow River fill me with a peacefulness.  I like to watch and learn from the various species that share this time with me.  I post a lot of those observations, here.

I did sponge printmaking with my grandson.  He’s made home made gifts for everyone this year.

Already, the male sparrow has taken up residence in the neighbour’s vent.  I will enjoy another springtime of observations…my sixth year of watching these families come and go.

Pat and I went to the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival again this year, this time being joined by Janet and Mary.  It was an inspiring experience.  I really learn so much when I attend this festival.  Thanks to all organizers.

When Wendy hosts a dinner party, the food is sooo scrumptious.  Happy birthday, Lauraine!!  Love the food, the conversation and all of the laughter.  Thank you, friends!

We attended the Bragg Creek artisan’s sale and I picked up my beautiful honey from Alvise and Paola.  Christmas wouldn’t be the same without seeing them.  A quick stop at the coffee shop to hug Randy and Jane…an ice cream.  Nanny Linda, it was so good to share this time with you.

A back yard snowman with Steven, Erin and Linda.  Fun in the snow!

I was able to paint Prince for my dear friend, Linda.  I’m pretty sad that she’ll be on her way back to London very soon.  I treasure her and I’m going to miss her very much.

Few people know that I’m deep in the application process for the Alberta University of the Arts BFA program.  The day that my sister, Val, contacted me that she had achieved her PhD, I was inspired to take this step, regardless the cost or the struggles that might come up.  In 1997, I took a sabbatical year to complete my third year of my BFA.  That’s when I met Bobby.  I’ve always been labeled a self-taught artist and I’ve really wanted to pursue my dream of actually ‘being’ an artist.  At this ripe age, it might be silly, but ‘OH WELL’.  When I went to the open house and orientation to the program, I stopped in to the Illingworth Kerr gallery and really enjoyed the exhibit, Thing to Wear.

Daughter, Cayley, and I were able to celebrate with Irene for her 70th birthday.  What a gorgeous setting at the Ruberto Ostberg Gallery.  Thank you, Phil, for the invite and your always-warm-hospitality.  We love you so much.

Linda and I went down to the Central Library to enjoy the exhibit of friend, Allan Rosales.  At this point in the season, I was beginning to feel unstuck.  I was beginning to feel lighter and like my feet were coming unglued from a deep muddy mire of grief.  It isn’t as though the losses of the past year were gone…it’s just that the grief was letting go of me and letting me stretch back into my life.  Good to bump into my cherished friend, Wendy.

My former student, Billy, asked if I would paint a tree on a headboard that he was creating and I was happy to do it for a few beautiful bottles of red wine.  I was spending my days with Max anyway.  These sorts of projects became opportunities.  I would see Billy again…a pleasure.


I reconnected with Joan.  My friend, Sheila, should be given credit for this because no matter how many years slip by, she has remained a friend over all.  I’m so grateful.  My heart is now open to share lunch with Joan on Fridays for as long as I can.  On a recent visit, Joan and I shared her books-to-read titles, stopping every so often to leaf through pages and talk about the subjects of these books.  Joan is such an influence on me.  Over the years she has given me so much in the way of ideas.  I love you, Joan.

My parish is my community of faith.  I love St. Albert the Great.  I love the narrative we share and the rituals of love, hope and peace.  I have found strength in this space over many years.  I’m grateful for this manger…and for the pure potential that I find in this space.

My cousin, Peter, took me out for a lunch to Earl’s restaurant.  I was so happy to get to do something so special.  I just don’t get out to dine.  It was fun.  Peter is one of my dearest cousins, always supporting and loving me.  No photo of him here, but, our server was a former student of mine, Nicole, so we grabbed this snap.

Pat and I never did catch up to these guys…but we were all at the Holiday Train’s arrival at Anderson’s station.  I left my phone at home, so no photos for me this year.  But, that was perfectly fine because we were really swept up in the experience.  Here, Erin, Doug and Steven, with the Holiday Train in the background.  A great initiative for the food banks across Canada.

All three of my children were with me to decorate my tree this year…along with Steven and Linda.  This means so much to me.  I know that at some point all three of them will have families and traditions of their own and won’t be able to do this.  But, this year it worked out and I’m always going to remember it.  I am grateful for you, Erin, Cayley and James.

I’m going to miss you, sister-friend!  Thanks, Linda, for coming downtown with me for the Sybil Andrews exhibit.

Extraordinary Objects.  I was boggled by this porcelain work!

Thanks to Trevor for helping me to deal with this leak.  I’m so sorry that I missed Mark’s birthday, but I was so relieved to get this managed.  I had my own frozen Niagara Falls escaping the outdoor faucet.  Crisis averted.

Dawn asked me to paint poppies for her Mom’s 80th birthday, so this happened.  I taught Dawn’s son, Justin, and beautiful daughter, Jess.  I will always be connected to this family.  May you have a magical year!

Then I made Party Mix…lots of it! lol

I was welcomed into the Saint John Henry Newman circle and did some teaching before the Christmas break.  I was so excited to connect with Hollee, another former student of mine.  I snapped a few photographs of her grade six classroom because I felt so proud of her and so excited.  We embraced often.  We both have so many fond memories of those years in Junior High School.  Thanks so much, Louise and Carl and to Lorelie.

My neighbourhood is lit up!

My daughter and her partner and their two bands, Darktime and Napalmpom, participated in Merry Keithmas at the Palomino, to raise funds for Calgary Food Bank.  I had a very fun time seeing Cayley performing Stones tunes.

I drove to Didsbury to share in the annual Christmas open house organized by University-friend, Brian.  Juan and Brian, this year’s event was another very special time.  Glad to have connected with so many wonderful people.  Your home is warm and welcoming and so absolutely spectacular!  The food, (pickled sausage, lettuce wraps, pulled pork, etc etc) was so delicious!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  May you be richly blessed for the coming year.

Christmas baking, this year, was a major blitz.  It was a full day of chaos.  But, I can not tell you how wonderful it was to share time with these ladies.  Visits came in the form of nephew, John, toting coffee for people and treats for Max.  Thank you, John!  I love you!  Following that, we all shared in a very special Facetime event with my brother, Cliff, during lunch.  These two visits pretty much made my Christmas already!

The bell that friend, Pat, gave to Steven.  I love these two and I’m grateful that they come to Mass with me.

Winter walks at the Bow River are peaceful and help to recharge me.  I’m grateful for all of the lessons that the river teaches me.

Mikey’s on 12th, with friends Dan, Lauraine and Wendy…treasured time and terrific tacos!

 

I’m wishing all of you and your loved ones Peace on Earth….and Good Will to All!  Rest up…there are sure to be bumps along the way.

 

Wogibi Press and Incunabula

DSC_1328 DSC_1327 DSC_1326It’s magical when things are small.

There’s such a push in life to be big, have more, accumulate more, consume more, make more, do more…

…sometimes the small stuff is what can really take your breath away.  Sometimes the small stuff can leave you weeping like a baby and remind you to be grateful.

The other night I had opportunity to enjoy the launch of a fabulous book titled Incunabula.  Only fifty published, I feel blessed to own #35.  It is a beautiful object.  It is a beautiful piece of poetry.  Created collaboratively by poet Melanie Boyd, illustrator Bronwyn Schuster and woodworker MJ Boyd, this is a treasure.

Trea Jensen’s song, Orphan was one of four songs that set the tone for the evening.

Readings delivered by Melanie Boyd were captivating.  Eggs In the Field written by Sean Virgo/illustrated by Ryan Price and Incunabula were both performed with powerful voice and both stories gave way to chills down the spine.

 

 

 

 

Water Spiral

On September 27, in the Wildwood Community Garden, you can celebrate the official launch of the Water Spiral at their 2nd Community Harvest Festival.  I’m not kidding you, I tripped out  to this community all the way from mine in the deep southeast of Calgary, in McKenzie Lake, just to see what wonders an eco sensitive community and two artists might create together.  What I found, amazed.

My epic journey was on June 7 and a lot has happened since then!

Wildwood Harvest Festival

While I can’t possibly write, this morning, about the entire process, I can write about the wondrous day that I walked through the garden.  What I saw, captured my heart.

On June 7th, the Wildwood Community hosted the Water Spiral Community Workshop.  It was with open arms that Michelena Bamford greeted my cousin, Margy, and me upon our arrival.  Lane Shordee, at the time, was quietly engaged with a young man who was doing something inventive with wood.  If you have opportunity to meet Michelena and Lane, you will see their humility first and then you will notice their greatness.  Both are actively engaged artists, but with a twist.  They both have a solid connection with sustainability and the earth.  Surprisingly, I connected with both first at the Gorilla House.

You can read about Michelena’s accomplishment by hooking into the Wolf Willow Studio website, some of which describes school mosaic mural construction and installation, public art projects and seasonal wreath construction.  Lane’s work is very diverse and his projects include important contributions to both the Wreck City and Phantom Wing.  They are both inspiring creatives in the City of Calgary and the fact that they got together and successfully pitched the Water Spiral project was a blessing.  For the complete process, hook in with the Water Spiral Facebook link that will take you through this labour of love from start to finish.  It is such an amazing story.

The smell of wood filled the air…the sound of hand saws and hammers to nails…children throwing water at one another…fathers with children, inventing…mothers, pushing strollers, exploring, chatting, meeting other mothers.  All was magic.

Wildwood5Margy and I first slipped into a trailer (Michelena’s family vacation mobile) to meet with Canadian Art Foundation Writing Award recipient, Jenna Swift.  She was inspiring written intentions and blessings that would later be etched onto the underground cistern of the Water Spiral.  Given the fact that brevity is not my strong point, I felt that writing was a way to release my intentions; it didn’t matter if my words were to land onto a cistern.  For me, the words were permanently etched on my heart.

I view myself as a ‘river’ woman..and so, I am completely enamoured with any project that has to do with sustainability, protection and responsible use of water.  This is how the Water Spiral works.

Paint wsI wrote of my connections with the protagonist Morag, a writer, who divines a river in Margaret Laurence’s novel, The Diviners.  For me, as Laurence eloquently captures, the river of our lives flows both ways.  We can not help but be connected.  We are fluid.  We breath one another in all day, every day.  We need to be responsible for one another; for the air, the land and the most precious commodity, water.  I wrote something about all of that on the blue-green piece of paper before me (generously donated by The Social Page).

Wildwood6From the trailer, Margy and I did not contribute in construction, but we wandered the grounds, dodged water spray and children playing, munched on apples provided by the Apple Lady, spent time sitting in the sunshine observing, and then went to explore the lay out of the gardens, just newly planted, but evidently, organized by a community of people who enjoy an aesthetic, as well as a love for the land.

Wildwood3The day was, as I call most days, a blessing-day!  I was so taken by  community members who welcomed us, chatted with us and encouraged us to seek out involvement and initiative in our own communities.

Wildwood Map There is much in Calgary to be grateful for and because we are physically, such a sprawl, we need to go outside of our own part of the city to connect with and enjoy the company and vision of other Calgarians.  It will be a wonderful thing to see the completed project and to enjoy the evidence of a great garden harvest in the Wildwood Community!

Wildwood1 Wildwood2I hope that my readers will find opportunity to attend the celebration of the Water Spiral on the 27th of September.  It will delight you…inspire you and give you optimism for a healthier future.

Thursday Night at Folk Festival 2014

There are a whole number of rituals tied in with attending folk festival.  First of all, the required objects are pulled out from where they were stored last year; folk festival chair, tarp and cozy blanket.  Then for the practical stuff, another layer of clothes, a hat and an extra pair of socks.  I stopped at the corner store and picked up a booklet of 10 transit tickets because I park and then ride the train down to the core.  The walk to Princes Island Park each day doesn’t hold as much magic as the return trip after each night’s events. The ‘collective’ feels like a huge mass moving upstream at eleven o’clock; many groups, singing songs, laughing, chatting and comparing stages and stories…it’s a hoot.

Line up to pick up four day pass bracelets was long, but very fast-moving.  My daughter and I are not fond of the new plastic bands because they are not so forgiving as the paper bands.  I’m guessing that there is a good and very functional reason for the change.

Thursday night always takes some sorting as far as the fine-tuning of sound quality.  Last night, both the National and the Mainstage had their struggles.   Basia Bulat was first on our list and while nothing could match her enthusiasm, there were some serious glitches at the National Stage at this point.  Generally, the poor sound as related to the keyboard and percussion distracted from Basia’s vocals.  This lady is a definite ‘must hear’.

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Greek food was on the evening’s dinner menu.  Yummy!

I headed over to the Mainstage to hear Hey Rosetta! and a couple of numbers from Old Man Luedecke.  This went much better.  While I had heard that sound needed some tweeking with Valerie June’s set, the kinks seemed to be worked out.

I thought Hey Rosetta! created an elegant and many-layered sound.  From Wikipedia, Hey Rosetta! is a Canadian six-piece indie rock band from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and led by singer/songwriter Tim Baker. Known for its intimate songwriting and energized live shows, the band creates a massive, layered sound by incorporating piano, violin and cello into the traditional four-piece rock setup.

The best was yet to come for me.  I highly recommend Andrew Bird & the Hands of Glory.  Excellent!

The fam jam and friends gathered on our tarps for this set and had a ton of fun.  Little toddler, Zoe, pretend-fed us jugs of beer and strawberries, with a hand full of sticks.  We cuddled in and kept time to the music.  It was a beautiful night.  Friend, Dave, just arrived from London, England, was a tad cold and will come tonight, I’m certain, wearing layers.  Sorry, buddy.

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Helping Hands

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.”

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Where are you Craig First Rider?

We had just stepped out of the M. C. Escher exhibit and Buzz Elroy was entertaining the crowd down at the Olympic Plaza. It was the weekend for the 6th Annual Spaghetti Western Festival. Sitting under the awning, the three of us were just taking in the goings-on when I was certain I recognized a man, dressed in First Nations dance regalia.  I spoke out loud to my friends, “I think that’s a former student of Holy Cross, Craig First Rider.”

Sure enough, once introduced by the MC, I heard his name.

I met Craig back in the days when I taught at Holy Cross School in Calgary.  I saw him as a young boy, dancing the Fancy Dance for our school population and community.  I was big on coordinating huge festivals in the day, given our huge multicultural population.

When I met him down at Calgary’s sixth annual Spaghetti Western Festival, I was in awe of the man he has become and impressed that he has now danced for over 35 years.  This was a fantastic addition to Calgary’s Spaghetti Western Festival and we enjoyed three demonstrations after Maddison Krebs (excellent and very entertaining for a sixteen year old) and Buzz Elroy (dawning a great hat) and before Angela Harris.

I’m very proud of you, Craig and hope that we can speak again and I can be updated on your accomplishments over the years.

 

Craig First Rider and Keegan Buffalo

Craig First Rider and Keegan Buffalo

Craig First Rider

Craig First Rider

Craig First Rider and Keegan and Kasha Buffalo

Craig First Rider and Keegan and Kasha Buffalo

 

 

1979

Surprise #5: Taking Care of Business!

P1120253 P1120254 P1120255 P1120256 P1120257 P1120258 P1120259 Randy Bachman really shook up the crowd.  One awesome act after another, but this one seemed to inspire YouTube video and got the most people up off their seats.  I was surprised that his set resonated with me so deeply.  I had no idea that of all the music to be heard the evening of the Alberta Flood Relief Concert, Bachman’s tunes would so reach into my heart and memory.  He was not only entertaining, he was genuinely musical.  There was so much energy in the band that the crowd could not help but get pumped.  Nice going, Randy!  And, thank you!

This would be the YouTube video that really put a smile on my face.  I was too busy dancing to create one of my own!  This one’s titled, “Guy givin’ er at Alberta flood relief concert”

Wreck City: A Conversation

If my local readers have not yet visited Wreck City, please do!  I have decided that I need to separate emotional experiences and so there will be a whole number of moments that I try to archive here over the next while.

When I stepped into this particular room, I stood silently and listened to others converse…watched them spin the crocheted chandelier in the center of the room.  It was in this space that I first realized that we were all saying a ‘good bye’ to the home of a family and the home of a family before that and possibly the home of another before that.

Wreck City 1

Saying a ‘good bye’ is such a familiar experience for me lately.  I watch myself saying a constant ‘good bye’ as my mother loses memories and associations with her story and our common narrative.  I watch the pain in my father, who is too busy as caregiver, to even grieve that particular loss as he simply wants to get through each new day.  At Wreck City, it seems to me, that artists are trying to sustain something…create a collective memory for us.  The internet is presently swamped with photographs of the events of these few houses and these last few days…in these images, will the houses be remembered?

Summer Comes to Endings: Gorilla House Magic

Aaron McCullough
Red Dot Photography

…provided the next couple of photographs from LIVE ART August 22, 2012 at the Gorilla House.  You can’t tell I’m having fun! (nah!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012…a particularly awesome evening at the Gorilla House.  LIVE ART included the appearance of my own daughter and two of her dancing friends.  It added yet another dimension to a consistently amazing experience.  Thank you, Vincent.  It was wonderful getting to know you over this summer’s painting.  Rich and the Gorilla House have brought many very cool people together.  Sometimes I wonder if our lives would have intersected otherwise.  For you and your talents, I’m grateful.  Enjoy this Vincent Varga/Rich Theroux video happening!