The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The summer of 2013, I was also staying with my father.  That is the summer that India swooped into my hands and I read her.  Grieving for my mother, I went deep into a couple of epic narratives, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  I immersed myself, much as I am this summer, in a lot of Al Purdy poetry and George Bowering poetry, as a way of dealing with loss and feelings that not only bubbled onto the surface, but became like open boils on my heart.  To go back further, to the summer of 2011,  I became captivated by Belleville and picked up everything I could that was written by Gerry Boyce, local historian (who happens to now live in my father’s building), and began stalking Susanna Moodie; visiting her house on Bridge Street west, visiting her resting place, even locating original marble at Campbell’s monuments and of course, read her writing and what others wrote about her and her sister, Catherine Parr Trail.  Summers with my father have proved to be interesting literary events, every time.

This summer, I brought along The Goldfinch by Donna Tarttt, a novel that every one was talking about, but one that I had not taken the time to read.  In retrospect, I regret that I did not previously read The Secret History.  In most reviews I find that there are comparisons being drawn between the two books and typically, The Secret History surpasses the other for its construction, originality and popularity.  It’s now on my ‘to do’ list.

So…my thoughts on a book that is likened, in part, to Rowling’s Harry Potter, Dickens and Breaking Bad?  I guess I can only review this one through my own eyes and that’s why literary reviews can be very interesting…they are so personal.  Dr. Joan Macleod’s words come to mind. “You notice what you know.”  Anything you do, see or understand is coming from a prior knowledge and experience, without any intention to do so.  While I may perceive some Goodreads reviews to be desperately arrogant where this novel is concerned, I can’t fault those authors because they may have been looking for something very different where a ‘good book’ is concerned.

I have no choice but to break this one down…

First and foremost, for me, is that ‘THE GOLDFINCH’ (the 1654 painting done by  Carel Pietersz. Fabritius ) was the element (yes, it became a character for me) that I would not lose sight of throughout the novel.  I fell in love with the painting at the first moment that Theo saw it through his mother’s eyes.  Once described by the author, I was captivated.  I would be concerned from that point forward until the end, about what was to happen to the painting, but also, what the painting had to say to me, the reader.

Now, not every one would be captivated by the painting and its symbolism.  I would propose that readers who have adored a piece of art in a dusty art textbook or on an art card or reproduction for years and then see it for the first time ‘in the flesh’, know what I’m talking about, here.  Edgar Degas’s sculpture, The Little Dancer, is that for me.  I saw the sculpture in so many forms, but until I saw it in three dimensions in the center of a room at the National Art Gallery, the first exhibit to be showcased in the new building the summer of 1988, I did not realize just how much a person can be left breathless by art.

I remembered weeping when I saw her. (but enough of that)

The point being that, while others are annoyed by the last fifteen pages of the novel, I was engrossed in them.  An examination of the subject of the painting and its treatment was crucial to me.  While many readers found the high keyed description annoying, excessive and boring, I lavished in it, likely because I’m that sort of writer. (this makes me laugh)  To be honest, though, there were sections in Las Vegas where I tuned out…also, places where I found myself skimming.  Did that happen for you?

Some critics describe the portion of the book set in Las Vegas to be the strongest portion, but this was the section I had the most difficulty with.  Not to draw comparisons, but it was the drug culture and experience in Shantaram that I found the least interesting.  I find that ‘druggies’ quickly become treated as stereotypical mono-faceted characters.  There isn’t anything that surprises me in the writing of their habits, their related bad choices or the consequences of those.  I really didn’t care ‘how many’ pills Boris or Theo were taking…or how much vodka they were drinking.  So, can you tell?  This section rubbed me the wrong way.  (Note that I’m trying not to ruin the story for others here, by being rather vague.)  I guess we needed Vegas because we needed to know Theo’s father.  Boris just rubbed me the wrong way…throughout.  I wasn’t all that taken by his character, the way he was written or the seamless way that he managed to undo his past mistake.  Oh my!  That was all too easy and a disappointment.  (no spoiler alert required…see!)  READ THE BOOK.

What I loved…apart from the Goldfinch…the painting…the symbolism there…Welty’s love for the painting, Theo’s mother…

I relished everything and anything to do with the old house, the writing of Hobie and his life in the downstairs wood shop.  Pour on the detail!  Would this engage every reader? No.  But, moi???  YES!  Antiques, wood, bric-a-brac, trades, recuperation, recreation and the interesting characters who came and went in Hobie’s life.  This was the ‘stuff’ of life and I think that Theo had stability in this setting.  It was a relief whenever and however he landed there.  Pippa was a beautiful maiden…a disappointment that the relationship didn’t feel resolved, but interesting none-the-less.

Andy and the Barbour family…another layer of story, a setting, somehow separate from the number of others.  The Barbour family becomes a microcosm, each character struggling in a unique way.  One can get wrapped up in their world, as well.  Written as a separate, but somehow connected, passage to the larger narrative, the ‘endings’ for each of these characters become concerning and the reader is left asking, “How does any of this impact Theo, after all?”

My readers, here, may have already wondered about the multiple settings and the long litany of characters…well, I suppose that this is where Tartt receives most of her criticism.  In the end, however, I view the book, in culmination, as a fanciful narrative about everything that is ‘us’…the traumas, the celebration, the consequences and the histories within one life.

I am staying in an apartment building that overlooks a very Victorian landscape, well manicured lawns and beautifully constructed, if not ornamental, homes.  I’ve met so many individuals who live here and each one comes with their own complex story.  This book is like that, oodles of tales within a single character’s life time.  They enter and they depart and at the end of it, we are left with the tale of a single image, an object of affection and the fact that it was something that remained, however ephemeral.

A Goldfinch bound by a small tether…for a lifetime…to its own life.

I recommend the book and will be looking for The Secret History.

I liked this review/analysis.  You might also.

 

goldfinch-donna-tarttMy Shantaram Review

 

 

 

 

Alvise Came to Town!

Dang!  I wanted to document each and every monthly angel, with its creator, Alvise Doglioni Majer.  This time I forgot.

We had lots of creativity to talk about, though, and the minute I saw her, I was smitten by July!  Thank you, Alvise.  She has now officially joined the other ladies in the Journey Around the Sun series.  The summer critter to be represented is the honey bee.  Alvise has two hives on his property now and will expand to four next year.  I particularly enjoy the face, halo and wings on this angel.  She has a bit of a summer tan.

I’m enjoying a bowl of beef barley soup on this rainy chill of an afternoon.  I’m glad I got out to the pond this morning…so sad, however, to find that pesticides were being sprayed in an area where young geese were feeding and the other birds were still busily harvesting worms surfaced after yesterday’s rain.  I just don’t understand why we are not more invested in caring for delicate ecosystems.  Why would the pristine turf of a sports field take priority?  The city of Calgary website explains that the presence of broadleaf weeds is a tripping and safely hazard.  But…I digress.  I’m praying for the conversion of the human heart, in so many ways.

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Former archives.

Alvise Doglioni Majer’s Studio

Sunday Driving on Friday

April’s Angel

Road Trip and Angels

 

 

The Week in Review: Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions

The week began with Live Painting at Congress 2016, a huge event hosted by the University of Calgary that included ‘six interdisciplinary symposia to exhibit the university’s most compelling and leading-edge thinking and research.’  The symposia on Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions was inspired by University of Calgary assistant professors Shane Sinclair and Graham McCaffrey, ‘who share a mutual research and practical interest in the topic and in sparking conversation and debate around some of the realities of compassion.’

The topic, Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions, really inspired me and I was thrilled that I would have opportunity to hear Margaret Atwood speak as I find her very entertaining, closely linked to family and very very smart.

At home, I shot about loading easel, panel and STUFF into the car. At the U of C, I was met, early, by Allan Rosales who made the invitation for me to submit my artistic intention a week earlier.  Allan was helpful and very gracious. I also met Zareen and friend, from the University visual arts department, as they displayed a beautiful art exhibit based on compassion.  It wasn’t long and I was settled alongside artists Mark Vazquez-Mackay and  Rebecca Zai.  As the day opened up, Mark seemed to be painting the various layers and facets of compassion and his piece was breath taking.  Rebecca was working from a photo reference that she had taken while on one of her international travels, a person demonstrating care for the ordinary street cats of his village.  Again, a beautiful painting!

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales  painting by Mark Vazquez-Mackay Sunday, May 29, 2016

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales painting by Mark Vazquez-Mackay Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hmmm…doesn’t seem I have a completed painting by Rebecca in my photo archives.  I’ll grab one and post later.

It was a blessing day, as it revealed itself. I thought it was very gracious of both Shane and Graham to come and introduce themselves and chat a little about art and life.  While my painting was not completed by end of day, there were a lot of different feelings that I moved through in the process and I was very excited to begin the journey of painting a body of work based on British Home Children that I’ve been researching for probably, WAY TOO LONG.  I interviewed descendant, Janet Fair, such a long time ago. Her grandfather, Sidney Emms Prodgers, was about to become my very first subject.

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Red underpinnings…the pain of the stories.  Gold…elevating the experiences of these lost/forgotten/abandoned children.

 

Application of Collage bits to the panel...S. S. Scotsman, the ship that carried Sidney, at age of 11, to Canada...facility where Sidney was surrendered as an baby, maps.

Application of Collage bits to the panel…S. S. Scotsman, the ship that carried Sidney, at age of 11, to Canada…facility where Sidney was surrendered as a baby, maps.

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The complete biography written in gold…information received via electronic mail from descendant, Janet Fair

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Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

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Photo Credit: Allan Rosales

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Photo Credit: Waqas (Rebecca….last name?)

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Home!  I’ll take Sidney into the studio to complete…so happy with the process!

I was grateful to hear Margaret Atwood’s talk on Compassion…the humour woven throughout, colourful  experiences of nurses and health care providers, historically, leading up to contemporary issues, as well.  I thought a lot about my sister as I listened.  I’m grateful for Valerie Jean Fiset, more than she will probably ever know.  She has had a most inspiring journey and I am so proud of her.  I likely should have brought along some of my Atwood books for signatures…I’m not surprised that I forgot.

Another blessing during the course of the day was to have a visit with a dear friend, Dr. Rita Irwin.  Our friendship began while we both achieved our B. Ed degrees at the University of Lethbridge.  She wandered over to my location, along with three of her witty and smart friends, and had a short but amazing visit.  Another strong and accomplished woman; I simply loved our shared big hugs and the familiar ring of Rita’s voice and laughter.

Rita...second from left.

Rita…second from left.

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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Rumble House: May 11, 2016

The car got a detailing.  I purchased a new soft-walled kennel for Max.  I made a nice grilled cheese sandwich and then I headed down for a two hour Rumble.  It was good to take out the paint box and hang with these beautiful people.

Painting dissolves the forms at its command, or tends to; it melts them into color. Drawing, on the other hand, goes about resolving forms, giving edge and essence to things. To see shapes clearly, one outlines them–whether on paper or in the mind. Therefore, Michelangelo, a profoundly cultivated man, called drawing the basis of all knowledge whatsoever.

Just some photos…and grateful to Ralph and Edgar for purchasing my piece at auction.
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This moment, this being, is the thing. My life is all life in little. The moon, the planets, pass around my heart. The sun, now hidden by the round bulk of this earth, shines into me, and in me as well. The gods and the angels both good and bad are like the hairs of my own head, seemingly numberless, and growing from within. I people the cosmos from myself, it seems, yet what am I? A puff of dust, or a brief coughing spell, with emptiness and silence to follow.  Alexander Eliot

Little Birds

Thank you, Jenn, for your wonderful class!  They were amazing, respectful and so appreciative of everything I had to share with them.  I enjoyed being in your class.  I’ve collected a few ideas here that I thought other teachers might appreciate.

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These art ideas are colourful and include subjects that grade three students adore, ANIMALS!  I turned on Duke’s LIVE Eagle Cam while the students wrote their journal pages this morning and they were amazed.

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I browsed around as they worked and discovered some wonderful guidance in the word walls, the charts and the resources that are posted for student use throughout the classroom.

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This afternoon, I spoke to the students a little bit about how we can sometimes feel abandoned by God, at times when big things happen, like the news of so many people having to leave their homes in Fort McMurray.  This morning in Health, we had learned about several ways to calm ourselves down when life is stressful and we practiced a five minute meditation together.  It was amazing how calming that time was!

So, we wondered this afternoon,’when something big happens, what are some ways that we can calm down the stressful feelings we are having?’  Well, it is really helpful to know that there are kind and caring people around who are going to be there for us.  I spoke to them about the Footprints prayer and that sometimes when we don’t experience God close to us, “it is then that HE carries us”.  We are not alone.  Look at the lilies of the fields.  Look at the sparrows…the tiny birds…if our Father loves them, how much more does He love us?

I moved from this shared conversation into an art activity where I spoke to the students about observing a sparrow family in a vent across from my kitchen table.  I’ve watched these sparrows for the past six years.  At this point, there were all sorts of stories shared about nests/eggs/sparrows and I tried to listen to every one of them.

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The students are really getting to appreciate that a visual journal is for practice and exploration.  I was really impressed by their studies.

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I handed out small-scale pieces of heavy toothed white paper for their final compositions. While students were drawing, they took turns painting swirling sky colour onto blue construction mural paper, in order to create a sense of spring and atmosphere.  The students added colour with pencil crayon, to their final depictions and after observing several projected images of sparrows.

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Collaborative projects are a way of displaying smaller projects that are skill oriented.  Thanks for your class today, Jenn.

Exploring the Glenbow on a Quiet Day

Some days, I just really relish the wandering and the peaceful consideration that comes with attending an exhibit on my own.  Exhibit openings are magical for conversation and that sort of electric energy that sparks the air as a result of the dynne, but truly, I am far more engaged by the art when I am alone and visiting at my own speed.

Concurrently, some interesting things have been on view at the Glenbow.  I think I visited last Sunday, but these moments all seem to blend together when you see so much as I do, so don’t hold me to the calendar.  On my exploration…these…

Kaleidoscopic Animalia: An exhibition designed and curated by Paul Hardy

Embracing Canada: Landscapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven

The Demise of 17th Avenue, one of the Glenbow’s Recent Acquisitions

One New Work, Walter May: Object Lessons

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I was welcomed by Widow.  The one venue I had missed during the exhibit, Oh, Canada, was the Nickle Galleries.  I was very happy to see this piece, Widow, an eight-foot bear sculpture made of wool and mixed media, donated by artist Janice wright Cheney, to the Glenbow.

The John Hartman painting in the stairwell captured my heart immediately.  I’ve been an admirer of his work for years and to see this monumental piece was just so exciting.  One of my favourite books on my art shelves is Big North: The Paintings of John Hartman.

Bad picture…but…really, I wasn’t in the Glenbow to collect photographs…I really was there to very consciously, take in the works.

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While I have no images to represent the time spent with the section ‘Embracing Canada’, I spent a long time standing in front of the countless images of landscape and in some cases, responding emotionally.  I think that at my core, I am a landscape painter, likely because of my huge connection with the Trans Canada highway and my life as a child of a military father.  I am truly the biggest fan of our nation, for its beauty and its expanse.  This exhibit is a strong representation of Canadian landscape painters and their art.  It was a physical collection of works…meaning, I felt its impact in my body as well as in my heart.  I remember feeling this same way while visiting the McMichael art gallery so many years ago.

Walter May’s work struck me as whimsical, humourous, light-hearted and sparse.  I liked the childlike freedom of the work and the materiality (if that is a word?) of his pieces.  The more dynamic angular pieces were difficult for me and I found his more linear works more appealing from an aesthetic stand point.  I liked his apparent inclusion of functional objects in unusual circumstances.

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I probably spent the most time exploring the works of Robert McInnis, the Demise of 17th Ave, mainly because I was seeking out the representations of the familiar and iconic people related with the arts scene at a point in Calgary.  I went looking for John Snow…Ken Christopher…Doug Maclean … Joane Cardinal-Schubert…and others.  The amazing story of the work is found here.  Given my own interest in history and family history, I feel this work is absolutely archival.  I remember meeting Robert McInnis several different times, hanging at the original CAG here in Calgary and once out at the Leighton Center.  He was living out in Cayley at that time.

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Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Kaleidoscopic Animalia exhibit curated by Paul Hardy.  A disappointment was that the gift shop downstairs had no documentation for purchase about how these potent spaces were curated.  From the time I was a child and watched Chez Helene and her pet mouse, Susie, teaching the french language over Mom and Dad’s black and white television set, I have loved the idea of little mouse houses, assemblages, spaces cluttered with amazing objects.  I am compelled to explore objects of affection and wonder about them…their historical significance…or what they meant in the context of ‘the ordinary’.

This exhibit fulfilled all of my curiosity about such spaces.  Loved this!  I could spend hours on a visual journey through these spaces!

Having recently written a post about my remembrances of the Oldman River, I stopped into the gift shop and ended up finding a single copy of Robert Girvan’s book,  Who Speaks for the River? The Oldman River Dam and the Search for Justice.  Happily, there is a chapter that describes the entire day at Maycroft Crossing, so many years ago.  This is something that I can give to Cayley and Erin who were with me that day on the river.

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It was a beautiful afternoon at the Glenbow Gallery and it was important that I post some of my thoughts about the magic that I experienced there.  If you can, take the time, to find your magic there.

Painting Spring Lilies With Grade Threes

Goofy how-to videos are out there in abundance.  I actually think the best way to learn how to draw ANYTHING, is to observe it…look at it…analyse it.  But, this morning, I didn’t have a bucket of Easter lilies and after a 40 day journey of Lent, I’d love to leave the children with the anticipation of spring, new life, renewal and Easter.  In this video, I like the idea of drawing the star shape first.  I can’t guarantee that after you do a step-by-step activity of any sort, that you will be an overnight artist!

To begin with, in their visual journals, the students wrote a ‘waiting for spring’ short poem, after brain storming vocabulary words.  On the next page, they drew their lilies.

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We will use this video as a reference, as well as my own photographs of lilies in my garden, for studies in visual journals.  These will be tucked away once we move into compositions.  Initially, I had thought to paint tulips with the students, but, the limited palette of white and a number of greens will make the preparation quick and easy.

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I provided a limited palette, having mixed up a variety of tints of green plus yellow and white.  The grade threes began by drawing their images in chalk and then outlining their lilies in a single colour.  Each bucket of paint includes two brushes so two friends share the same colour.  I mixed fifteen colours, knowing that I had twenty five students.  The focus of my side coaching and support was to remind them how unique flowers are and that they are like us, in that there is no single flower that looks like another.

Here are their paintings.

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After music class and their agenda writing, wee Isaiah came up to me and gave me this little gift…proof of the extended learning and  that made me super happy!

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Display…ready for proper caption.  Thanks for your class, Jenn!

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The Peel Project

My children are warm-hearted and inclusive.  Last night I was very excited to have been invited, very spontaneously, by Cayley, to the viewing of the documentary, The Peel, in the intimacy of The Blank Page studio.

It was Cayley who, 27 years ago, picked purple flowers for me, while surrounded by wolf willow, at the edge of the Oldman River at Maycroft Crossing.

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Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 008

I had missed the huge public viewings of the film the night before.  So, as I look back on last evening, I’m very grateful that I was able to curl up on a sofa and enjoy such remarkable vistas coming out of the Peel Watershed documentary and to enjoy, in part,  the narratives of the participants on this wondrous adventure.  I could not help but connect with the narratives, struggles and histories in the documentary, given my close connection with the Oldman Watershed in southern Alberta in the mid 1970s through the 1980s.

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First, to describe the Peel project, directly from the website, this…

The Peel is a multi-layered project bringing together film, the arts and sciences as a means of telling a uniquely Canadian story of art, adventure and Canadian identity. The Peel highlights the landscape, culture and wildlife of the Peel River Watershed (PRW) in Yukon/Northwest territories. This watershed is one of the last undeveloped watersheds left in Canada, spanning nearly 68,000km2 of intact arctic wilderness.  As of January 2014 71% was opened for economic development related to mining and oil exploration — that decision has been continuously fought.

There is something very interesting about aging…one collects a whole bunch of experiences that later, become reference points for others.  I’ve always treasured the words and stories of my elders…now, very slowly, I become the elder.  It makes me smile.  Life marches forward.  We are left with the photographs and the archives and the documentaries.

Surprisingly, as I sat down this morning and did a search of the internet for the steps that we took in defiance of the building of the Oldman River Dam, there was very little in the way of an ideological footprint (there have been a couple of books written, one newspaper archive and the mention of the Oldman River Expedition appears sparsely on a whole number of artists’ Curriculum Vitaes) and so I decided to dig up my own archives coming from the late 1980s.

First of all, SAAG in Lethbridge celebrated the works of the following artists in an exhibit, as a response to a shorter but similar journey down the Oldman River.

In the summer of 1990, a group of well-known artists in all media from across the country took part in a week-long rafting and camping expedition down the Oldman River, arriving in Lethbridge on Canada Day. This exhibition will document that trip by showing that the work was initiated by that experience. Participating Alberta artists are: Barbara Ballachey, Carroll Moppett, Stephen Hutchings, Jeffery Spalding, Janet Cardiff, Billy McCarroll, Catherine Burgess and others include Dan Hudson, Tim Zuck, Judith Schwarz, Toni Onley, Tak Tanabe, Terence Johnson, Robert Blake and Landon MacKenzie. Although the work in this exhibition is diverse in media and approach, it is unified in its tribute to the southern Alberta landscape. – See more at: http://www.saag.ca/art/exhibitions/0516-the-oldman-river-expedition-exhibition#sthash.Z0dUPaWF.dpuf

I continue to admire the work of several of these artists and have followed their careers and work with great interest.

While painting could not be my sole focus through this precise period of time, I had been painting the Oldman River as a subject for a number of years.  Nestled on the edge of the river, the University of Lethbridge had already been my home for four years at this point.  The river became an obsession with me for many years and I had spent countless days/hours exploring and dreaming in the coulees and at the river bottom.  When the politics became heated over all aspects of irrigation and development of a Dam on the Oldman, I was consumed and soon became a contributing member to the “Friends of the Oldman”.  My own grandfather, the owner of Magrath Wool, Card and Spinning Mill, had taken a position on the Oldman Planning Committee.

Grampa Moors 2

The number of connections I made and conversations I shared around the river, grew. I remember meeting and speaking with Joane Cardinal Schubert at the time.  It was an image of hers that became the poster for our legal and artistic struggle.

Joane Cardinal Schubert and the River 2

Joane Cardinal Schubert and the River I began painting a series titled Oldman on the Edge and continued to paint the river right into the 1990s.

Maycroft 3

I snapped some photographs from my albums this morning…as our family, like many others, headed out very early in the morning and drove from Calgary to Maycroft Crossing for a musical festival to raise funds and to voice opposition of the dam that was already in the works.  That day, I met Ian Tyson, Gordon Lightfoot, Andy Russell and Chief Crowshoe.

Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 010Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 009Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 013Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 001Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 007Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 006Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 003Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 004

Kath's Canon, March 2, 2016 Maycroft Archives 012

So…was it any wonder that I felt deeply about the documentary, The Peel, last evening?  I’m glad I had opportunity to talk with both Katie Green and Daniel J. Dirk for a short while.  I admire their attempts to integrate the power of the journey, their artistic practice and their strong desire to preserve, for future generations, this last remaining watershed in North America.  It’s crazy what has happened to our rivers, in the name of progress and in support of industry.  I understand their efforts to articulate what their journey on a portion of the Peel has come to mean to them.  I know that, given my own physical/emotional/psychological efforts on  a 31 day Outward Bound experience (white water and mountain climbing), what it means to try to ‘be an artist’ on a journey and how it must have been challenging for the artists on the Peel Project.

Reflecting back, again, on ‘my’ river…take a look at this…the land use…the cut lines.

Land use Oldman Watershed

I’m publishing a few pages that come out of a 2010 report on the Oldman Watershed…I think it touches on the history of a river and might give my readers something to think about.  I guess something that really touched my heart last night were Daniel’s words to me…and I paraphrase…

I guess even if our voices aren’t heard and we are unsuccessful in our efforts to create sustainability, where the watershed is concerned, we will have been defiant and stood in opposition.  Maybe that’s the best we can do sometimes.

2010 Oldman Watershed Report Preface

2010 Page 2

2010 Page 3

2010 Page 4

2010 Page 5

Aldo Leopold’s words ring true…

“We end, I think, at what might be called the standard paradox of the 20th century; our tools are better than we are, and grow better faster than we do.  They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides.  But they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history; to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”

Congratulations on the North American premiere The Peel, a free Art!Flicks documentary directed by Calder Cheverie and Anthony Wallace.  Congratulations to six artists; Aurora Darwin, Carleigh Baker, Anthony Wallace, Katie Green, Daniel J. Kirk and Callan Field.

 

 

Scandinavian Motifs With Grade Fours

It’s February and elementary art teachers are scrambling to create something with their students that connects with the seasonal event, Valentine’s Day, quickly approaching on February 14.  Red, pink and white lace begin to appear in all sorts of shades, tints and forms, as does the heart motif.  Popping up are paper weavings, rainbow bracelets and hearts growing off of trees…all sorts of projects, Pinterest or otherwise.  I think it’s important, regardless of the timeless tradition of thematically moving through the seasons with elementary students, to continue to deliver a strong program including, if possible, all strands of the curriculum; reflective practice, depiction, composition and expression.

I’ve painted tempera valentines with elementary students before, with a focus on repeating pattern and the introduction and development of painting techniques.  Primarily, these have been expressive lessons, with a short discussion about line and repeating pattern.

This year, I decided to incorporate a reflective component by examining Scandinavian motifs, having seen such designs on plastic Ikea ornaments during last Christmas season.  A tradition of clean edged linoleum prints in crisp red and white, these motifs lend themselves well to an activity such as this one.

 

First, I showed the students a map of the Scandinavian countries and then a collection of motifs where they might draw their inspiration for a valentine.

 

 

For the purpose of depicting (studies or plans), I gave the students a piece of small 8 x 10 red construction paper and a piece of chalk.  They proceeded to observe the projected motifs and incorporate some of the patterns and designs discovered onto their own red hearts. At this point, I talked to the students about what it means to arrange pattern, line and shapes symmetrically over a line of symmetry.  I also demonstrated that an outline for a heart can be created by folding paper in half for perfect symmetry or drawing freehand for an approximation.

The students planned out their designs for the large compositions, to be completed on 18 x 24 construction paper, following a similar sequence of steps as was explored in the smaller format.  I chose purple as a background colour because of the approaching season of Lent, beginning next week, with the observation of Ash Wednesday, next week.  Other colours that might work successfully would be pink and black.

Again, with chalk, the students followed similar steps in larger format, in preparation for paint.  I had formally arranged the student desks so that they were all in partners.  I had 24 students, and prepared 12 buckets of paint, 6 white and 6 red.  I placed two brushes in each bucket.  The students traded off red and white, as they needed, making certain that whatever pattern, shape or line created on either side of the line of symmetry, needed to be reproduced on the other side of that line.

 

Let the ‘wild rumpus begin’!  Paint happens!