Love Art in Calgary: Aaron Sidorenko’s Studio

Always a few steps behind the rest of the tour group, I was grateful to be met by a very special door man, young York, as I made my way to his Dad’s studio space.  “Really?  We’re not taking the elevator, York?”  Exhilarating! I climbed several flights of stairs and followed the sounds of voices…the artist already in enthusiastic conversation with the tour group. “Thank you, York.”

Magic!  Pure magic!  I really really really enjoyed getting to visit Aaron Sidorenko’s studio.  Artists’ studios are fascinating places because they hold so many personal objects…they capture the mysteries of technique that has been developing over long periods of time…they contain book collections…they remove some of the mystery.  I felt as though I was stepping into a treasure chest.

I enjoyed bumping into photographer, Jeremy Fokken’s blog…it features some brilliant photographs of Aaron within his space.  Nice to see some professional photographs!  The quality is stunning.  Also, a great resource, Aaron’s website.  Thank you, Aaron, for opening up your studio to us.  I am so happy that when I left, we could all get a ride on the elevator!

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Allen Sapp Skies

I met Allen as we shared an opening at the West End Galleries Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta sometime early 1990s.  We sat together in the back space of the gallery.  He ate broccoli and dip…wore a big black cowboy hat and crossed his legs…I remember that part because he wore awesome cowboy boots and they were most evident with the gesture.  We shared few words, but the few we shared, will be forever cherished by me.  He gave me encouragement about my process and what I was doing.  He struck me as humble.  He didn’t look at my face.

Last evening, the skies were Allen Sapp skies.  Those of you who know his winter paintings of the open plains, know the skies that I write about.  It was magical watching the muskrats dip into the icy waters as I walked by the small dark circle remaining open on a white frozen pond.  A coyote loped over an embankment, mere feet from Max and I… the sky seemed to be painted in watercolour and the world was bathed in that soft yellow-pink light of a winter evening.

Allen Sapp

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It was good to meet you, Chris Flodberg!

I have admired the work of Chris Flodberg for years.  From the time I used up my father’s leftover pots of oil colour (He was a real fan in the late 50s/early 60s of paint-by-numbers.), I’ve enjoyed the smell of linseed oil.  The memory of the years and years of painting with oils when most artists were using acrylics, makes me smile.  Such a yummy medium!  It is also a rich experience to work with the paint over a longer period of time than what polymers will allow.  It is his sensitive use of this medium, that causes me to really, really enjoy Chris Flodberg’s work

On the day when I believed it to be unfortunate to be a day early for On Common Ground: Conversations About Our City featuring A Matter of Trust, hosted by the Public Library, I ended up being very-much blessed by the Encounters exhibit at the Glenbow Museum.  Second to that, I was exiting the second floor by the stairs,  just as the artist, Chris Flodberg, and a friend were heading up those same stairs.  Initially, we shared observations about the way that his painting, Love and War in the World of Men (2004) was mounted in the stairwell.

It was a surprising and pleasant conversation because Chris then examined the context of the painting, its symbolism and explained how he staged his environment for the work.  It was such an awesome and serendipitous event!  I  recently wrote Chris, asking his permission to post the image of this interior here, so that I might more explicitly share some of those elements, so stay posted.

Uh huh!  Chris has given me his kind permission to post an image of his painting, Love and War in the World of Men (2004) here.  A grander description to follow…but now, on to the off-leash!  Thanks, Chris.

"Love and War in the World of Men" 6'x4.5' 2004 Chris Flodberg

Chris pointed out some of the connections between Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait and his own painting, Love and War in the World of Men.   If you look at the details; the orange perched on the window sill and the pair of shoes in the lower third of both compositions.  These elements create whimsy, along with an interesting continuity of what it means to be ‘a guy’ in a very intimate space.  I challenge my readers to find other such similarities in the content.

Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck

 

The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it. Benjamin Disraeli

My Teacher and Friend

I received news yesterday that my friend of many years, Pauline McGeorge, passed away on July 2nd in Kaslo, B.C.  She has had tremendous influence on me as an artist, but primarily, as a person.  We have shared letters and art invitations over many years as I first met Pauline in 1973 when I began my work in the art department at the University of Lethbridge.  The news of her passing actually influences me to pursue my art…to contribute to the world…and to see that by teaching art, I can also carry a similar positive influence with my students.  Pauline will continue to be present to me in my studio and I will never forget her.  I will do everything in my power to attend the celebration of her life out in Argenta in August.