Rebellious Alberta Women Artists

Last night, I attended a session titled Rebellious Alberta Women Artists, hosted by the Esker Foundation.  Thank you and gratitude to Esker Foundation for another class act! AGA’s Curator, Lindsey Sharman, did an amazing job of moderating a discussion/conversation with Toyo Kawamura, Teresa Posyniak, Lylian Klimek, Vera Gartley and Katie Ohe, allowing for a beautiful organic flow and powerful conversation about art, feminine presence, space, materials, context and making.  Nicely paced and not forced, this platform was beautiful from beginning to end.

Peppered with humour and heart felt grit, I found myself both weeping and laughing tummy laughs.  While a hugely-attended program, it seemed as though I was in a living room, hearing the voices of friends.

This morning, as I sit to write this post, however, I wish that I had the notes that were pouring out the tip of my neighbour’s pen and into her notebook.  I told myself to just savour the words and to let them surface as they will over the coming days, weeks and months.  I feel forever-changed.  Some experiences just do that for you.

Toyo Kawamura was such a gracious participant.  In terms of her narrative, a few stories were particularly special to me.  First, I was caught up by her memory of 15 minute drawing practice every morning while attending school, as a child in Japan.  I was impressed by Toyo’s consideration of the ocean currents, the use of sand in her work and recent meaningful shifts in her work.  Toyo shared several recollections of teachers, especially, her private art lessons with Mr. Michio Kuwada (a member of Shinseisaku association of artists).  Finally, I was delighted to listen to her describe time spent with her grandson, teaching him the art of Ikebana and her consideration of the space/atmosphere around an arrangement, as much as the elements within the arrangement.  This reminded me, very much, about my observations of a single bush at a pond and how light/atmosphere and weather impact the appearance of that bush.

Teresa Posyniak and Lylian Klimek then proceeded to amaze me.  When it gets to writing about Teresa, I have to say that it gets way too personal.  First thing this morning, I made certain that I left her a note via her website. Her words took my breath away.  (I know this post seems overly dramatic, but I refuse to understate my experience.)  Beginning with her artistic timeline and speaking about Sanctuary to the near present, I could relate with so many of Teresa’s concerns and why she responds through such powerful work.  Please, if you have the chance, link up with Teresa’s website. These are two very strong women who have explored large format works throughout their careers and have an amazing connection with the diverse qualities of materials.

I enjoyed Lylian’s description of her childhood wanderings and discoveries.  How the structures and experiences of the space and the land in Saskatchewan served as jumping off points for her work and her thinking.

I have to find a way to go north to Edmonton so that I can enjoy the exhibit presently on display.

Finally, Vera Gartley and Katie Ohe took the platform. I can only say that I felt as though I was sitting at a kitchen table delighting in the warmest and most authentic conversation ever between Vera and Katie.  Please tell me that someone was recording this.  I found myself in tears through this section…quiet weeping, however…I certainly didn’t embarrass myself.  At different points I was saying to myself, “This is historical…this will never happen again in quite this way.”  It was rich, thoughtful and inspiring to the greatest degree.  Thank you, Vera and Katie for your generous contributions to the evening’s event.

You spoke of humour, space, community, choices, dedication and the art.  Two inspiring mentors for the women of today!

Thank you to Lindsey who had the sense to let things flow.  Thank you, again, to Esker.

Katie said, “You’re the Painter.”

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There are certain people in the world who have the knack for inspiring me to be a better person (and I use the term BETTER as it expresses itself in humility, kindness, empathy and plain hard work and creativity) and one of those people, for me, has been Katie Ohe.  I don’t know that she knows that she has that influence with me, but this is how some one who is truly remarkable can be laying down seeds in other people’s hearts.

I’ve written about her a few times.

In 2013, I wrote about the objects that live in Katie and Harry’s home.

In 2017, I wrote about KOAC and the experience of a studio tour, led by my creative friend, Wendy Lees.

And also, in 2013, I looked for a way to process my connection with Katie through a poem.  You see, she had taken some time, in the light of her kitchen window, to leaf through the pages of her sketchbook with me, and to talk about the experience of having ‘painter’s block’.  She spoke with me about painting.  She asked me, with all sincerity, about me.  I felt affirmed.  I felt filled.

A few weeks ago, I knew that the exhibit of Katie’s work at the Esker Foundation, was drawing closer.  As would be the case, I thought that Katie might be surrounded by many people…important people…at the opening. I couldn’t imagine myself getting anywhere near her. When I saw that the Herringer Kiss Gallery was hosting an exhibit of early works by both Katie Ohe and Harry Kiyooka, I thought that I would take the chance to visit her at that opening, so that I might make contact and wish her blessings for the big event.

It turns out that I had a lovely chat with both Katie and Harry in the peace of the gallery.  She looked into my face and her eyes looked that remarkable blue and as she held one of my hands in both of hers, she said, “You are the painter.”

These words were/are transformative words.  I am changed in the way that I think of myself, in the way that I feel and in the way that I am processing the events of my life, even the simple every day events.  I can’t explain it.

Included here, a few of the images from the opening at the Esker Foundation.  I got no where near Katie.  It was such a mighty celebration of her art and her life, I felt it was just marvelous to witness her with friends, former students, well-wishers.  As I was negotiating my way from the bar and past the steps to the nest, at one point, she looked up and literally our gazes met in the big hubbub and we smiled at one another.  That was enough.

(I know…i sound like a blithering goofball here, but, Katie is a hero for me, as she is for so many others.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bergen Rocks and soooo Much More!

Yesterday saw us traveling north on Highway 2 to do a bit of an exploration of Olds, Alberta.  Both Pat and I had heard a CBC radio interview about the Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway and both wanted to see it.  Cayley just came along for the ride.  What a beautiful day!!

It seemed that we sailed there…when sister-friends are together, conversation seems to carry them and quickly!  A short jaunt on a sunny summer day, Calgarians can be in Olds in an hour tops.

There was a lovely walkway, edged with beautiful landscaping.  All three of us agreed that at some point the city will have to relax the parking restrictions on at least one side of the blvd that edges the park.   Pat parked her car, with permission, in front of a very welcoming real estate office on the 27. We enjoyed our casual engagement with the sculpture, as well as sharing a personal critique of the sculptures.  Read about the beginnings of this vision here.

From the sculpture garden, we began our exploration of Olds, first looking at the residential areas and then locating the amenities, including churches, sporting facilities and other venues of interest.  We started off at Centennial Park.

Noteworthy, I thought, was the Horseshoe Pitch.

The Centennial Park offered a splash park (presently closed), a series of historical plaques informing us of the relevance of various buildings, early settlers and businesses.

I was very enthusiastic about the building facades…

A particularly interesting venue was Pandora’s Boox, providing for opportunities to game, read and drink nice teas and coffee.  Housed in a 1910 Bank building, this space had great charm and seemed to be a bit of a hub.

 

I also absolutely loved this little shop…a real community self care spot.  I was grateful for the tour offered up by the proprietor.  Awesome, Olds Town Square.

By the time we located and explored the large number of churches and saw the various parts of the town, it was time to eat and we decided to try out the Mad Greeks.

Nummers!  Good choice!  Cayley and I enjoyed a regular meat Donair, combined with a Greek Salad at 11.00.  Pat enjoyed a massive Caesar Salad with a side of Garlic Toast, followed by a very light cheese cake.  Fresh food produced by a lovely couple.

From lunch, well, we met up with City TV, of course!  Ranked last by Macleans???  Mountain View County???  Are you kidding???

Small town Albertans react to list saying they live in Canada’s worst community

This little interview was followed by a bit more of a shop wander and then off we were to discover Olds College and their Botonical gardens.  Amazing stuff, people!

This is a destination that every Albertan would enjoy!  I felt like yesterday was a really relaxing day and that I had the opportunity to see new things.  We followed our walk at Olds College with an icy cold lemonade from Tim Horton’s and east and south we headed.  Thank you, Pat!  Another great adventure!

 

Reflecting on Andy Goldsworthy With Grade Three

Back in June, I had the opportunity to teach grade three for Deb.  I created an experience that combined viewing, planning, and sculpting in nature and writing.  The students were over the moon with excitement and expressed some brilliant ideas.  I think I’ve written about a number of different ways that Andy Goldsworthy’s work has inspired my teaching…here’s one.

Grade Sevens built Goldsworthy-inspired sculpture over Easter holidays, documented their work and then wrote haiku poetry based on their sculptures in nature.

When I step into landscape of any variety, I am always hyper aware of the textures, light and the impact of one element upon another.  It really drives me as an individual in relationship with my natural world.  Andy Goldsworthy sculpture is very beautiful in its complexity and its consideration of natural contexts.  The manipulation of found materials is inspiring…the challenges seem impossible, but he finds solutions.

You may wish to try this type of project with your students, either in the spring or autumn, no matter the grade. Nice weather days are best.

I began by sharing a movie with the students.  There are several on YouTube.  Select something that is age appropriate, so, take the time to screen for yourself.  It is a good thing to learn about the artist so that you can support ideas/concepts and philosophy with the children, appropriate to age.

I asked each child to select a partner before we left the classroom. The students and I went out into the school yard and very automatically, they began their search for materials.  It was a lovely experience.  I photographed each sculpture as they completed it and once all were documented, we returned to the classroom.  There, I taught them the structure for a Cinquain and then they went to work responding to their sculptures, using words.  It is a magical experience when learning takes place despite anything you say as a teacher.  Inspire them.  Give them the tools and materials.  Then, watch that magic happen!  Congratulations, Grade threes!

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My Life Falls Out of Order

I’ve left writing and art-ing and almost everything in order to tackle the new material of my life.  As a result, while surfacing out of the cave that has been my last several months, I don’t know where to begin.  I don’t think the events of my life are sequential any more…they will be presented here, slightly out of order.  Yes, since June, there continued to be art and music and reading and friendship and family, but archiving became the least of my concerns while I was rapidly stitching what had become a torn life, back together again. Family was and is my focus.  And so…this morning, I begin, with my difference.

I leave this post for a second and think about some pages I want to slip into this narrative.

I’ll begin with something small.  I am smiling here.

I took a guest teacher role one day in the spring.  During one of the classroom periods, I was to meet the young group of children in the library.  There, magic happened.  The librarian’s name has escaped me, but the library was/is housed in St. Boniface Elementary School.

The magic began with the reading, in amazing vocal expression and pacing, a book about snails.

The book was titled Snail Trail by Ruth Brown.  Hilarious!  And just look at the organization and the wee project created after this reading.  Snails!  A great idea for your elementary classroom!

The children moved seamlessly into their places at the round tables where they conducted the business of creating their own snail characters.

Other Snail books?  I’d love to hear your recommendations!

 

2016 Visiting Al Gerritsen

Today marks the Feast Day of St. Nicholas and I was blessed to share an afternoon in Al Gerritsen’s studio with a friend.  Every time I visit Al, I feel calm and happiness and I take in everything I can; the visual aesthetic, the smell of wood, and the recollections of so many wonderful stories.

My nativity is set up in the front yard, the indoor nativity figures are set out on the table for Advent and it has become a bit of a custom for me to make an annual visit to the woodcarver’s shop, just to enjoy the friendship and the creative energy.

Today, I had the opportunity to hear about Al’s Christmas posters and selected four for my Gerritsen collection.  Each one, unique, and again, with a story all of its own.  I don’t think I’ve ever known such a prolific artist.  This second week of Advent is all about PEACE…and today was certainly that!

Following the visit, a hot cup of peppermint tea and some pretty special ocean vessel talk! Overall, a magical afternoon!

-18 and -30 with windchill, this day brought with it, sun dogs, two eagles circling above the Bow and frozen eyelashes at the pond.  Amazing day!

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Sumac and Cedar

I was so excited to see the new gallery that gifts Bridge Street and Belleville.  Friends, Peter Paylor and Lisa Morris, took me under their artistic wings on my last visit in 2013.  Since then, they have opened a spectacular and vital space on Bridge called Artists & Artisans Studio and Gallery!  Whoot!  Love the sensibility and the openness to emerging and practicing artists of every variety.  These two are Makers and Shakers!  I’m so glad to be able to reconnect.

Peter Paylor’s art, both wood carvings and prints, was featured in the recent opening, Sumac and Cedar.  The artist harvests fallen and cast off wood and creates uplifting pieces of sculpture that are exquisite. Lisa’s jewelry and paintings are also exhibited throughout the well-loved space.  At the opening, hospitality was extended to this Calgary chick, by every one I met.

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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

 

 

Road Trip and Angels

I drove out to Folk Tree Lodge this afternoon after my pond exploration with Max.  After a couple of days of rain, the world was brilliant green and blue.  It was the absolutely most perfect day for a drive west toward the mountains.

White puffs of seed playfully made their way to the ground…magic!

Artist, Alvise Doglioni Majer was there to meet me, on his bike, carrying May and June.

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May has as her vegetation, the pussy willow and as her featured animal, mother and baby moose;  June, the dandelion and the bear waking after winter’s rest.  I treasure these angels so much and I enjoy my monthly ride out to see Alvise.  It was nice to compare travel stories about the Lake Superior route and eastern Canada experiences.  It makes me hungry for a big road trip!

 

I was thinking about these angels and today’s news about Tragically Hip’s musician Gord Downie.  Driving home, CBC radio played Courage…and I thought how appropriate that I should be collecting this beautiful series of angels.

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.