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.

Alvise Doglioni Majer’s Studio

I was excited to be invited out to an open house gathering, just outside of Bragg Creek. Thank you, Randy and Jane, Alex and Colton, Emma and Sophie!  Your home spilled over with that community love that sings!  What a magical place. These types of gatherings are what make the spirit of the season.  As if that wasn’t enough,  then I received the gift of this wood sculpture of a salmon!  WHAT?? The next day, I decided to roam through the website created by the artist, Alvise Doglioni Majer.

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The New Year was just slipping upon us and I decided that I wanted to commission Alvise to participate in a year-long project with me and to design an angel for each month.  This would mean a monthly visit to his studio and wood shop located at the end of the drive way at Folk Tree Lodge (a beautiful get away) that my readers really should check out if you want a respite from the city.  No longer owned/managed by Alvise, the lodge is teaming with sculpture, furniture and crafted objects made with love, by Alvise.  Please adventure through his website to catch a glimpse of some of his projects!  You might also want to preview his Blurb publication to get a more in depth look at his work.

Yesterday, my daughter and I enjoyed a drive out to the Folk Tree Lodge.  I liked having time away from home and responsibilities.  It doesn’t matter how old you get, you need time away to ‘just be’.  For me, the child of a military father, road trips are always the best.  I’m not one to be found on a bowling lane, if you get my drift.

We had a tour of the lodges upon arrival and then stepped into a place of magic and creative energy.  And…I met February…the first of the angels.  I love the smell of a wood shop and have treasured two different visits to Al Gerritsen’s wood shop.  I like the lined up clamps and bins of nails.  I like the schematics and plans and abandoned projects.  It’s all so beautiful.  Thank you, Alvise for our first visit.

Next, Alvise writes, I will be able to share a cup of tea with his wife as she harvests natural elements from their neighbourhood…Achillea, Horse tail , rose buds, wild mint…yummers!  Looking forward to that!

This series of angels (and he has created several series) designed and created by Alvise is titled, the Journey Around the Sun.  I love the concept and this is yet another rich and beautiful life-experience!

When we left, Cayley and I shared coffee, carrot cake and cinnamon buns at ‘The Spoon’ in Bragg Creek.  Thanks, Emma!  A beautiful afternoon.

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Thank you!  And now, an angel finds her home.

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Look at what Stacie does with those heaps of Scholastic Book Order forms!

Teachers amaze me!  I particularly like it when they find ways of reusing items that would otherwise head for a landfill somewhere.  Scholastic Book Orders are very exciting for most students, but let’s be honest, there seems to be an excessive amount of paper that, monthly, appears in your boxes and spread all over your staff room tables.  True?

ScholasticThis week I happened to notice Stacie’s solution and re-purposing of the leftovers.  In the past, I’ve had students roll sheets of newspaper to use in the building of a whole number of three dimensional constructions and also as a base for papier mache building.  I’ve used newspaper in the construction of masks and helmets as well, but I’ve never thought to harvest the piles of book orders and create impressive sculpture with the resulting rolled pages.  Longer rolls can be made rolling corner to corner…shorter and stronger, directly across, edge to edge.  White glue is necessary just at the ending lip.  If you are going to use brushes for this application, thoroughly clean the brushes out with hot water afterwards as this will permanently ruin your brushes otherwise.

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In researching the possibilities, I also found a few ideas that might also be explored using the same materials.  Here’s a relief sculpture.

Artist, Ophira Avisar and her creations with newspaper.

And while I often question the music and sound quality in these Youtube videos (Lol), this is the best I could find for making a newspaper roll paper basket.  I own a circular newspaper roll basket and really like it.  You could whistle while you build…:0)

Graceland

The same evening I attended the Peter von Tiesenhausen opening at Jarvis Hall Fine Art, my daughter joined me for a panel at Glenbow’s Theater. Bart Habermiller, Tim Westbury and Xstine Cook shared a rich and inspiring background on the Graceland experience and its legacy. Graceland was the seven-acre former junkyard that Habermiller transformed into an alternative art space in the 80s and 90s.

As I was researching for this subject, I found a great history described by another blogger, Home of the Muses. A short history of Graceland as a connect with his post about the Vending Machine at the Glenbow, appears here. I highly recommend!

Some notebook pages for you to ponder.

That evening with Bart Habermiller, Tim Westbury, and Xstine Cook absolutely blew my mind and I felt it was so disappointing that it was not better-attended. However, as is the norm, there was so much going on in the arts community on that particular night! Just for the record, I am so very grateful for my choices that evening! Stories reminded me a lot about my experience in the art department of the University of Lethbridge in the early 1970s. I was a part of something very special at the time and know that, especially, in looking back. What a reference point!


P1160522 P1160523 P1160524 P1160525 P1160526 P1160527 P1160528My notes…sketchy and also including some names, jotted with incorrect spellings.  I apologize for that, but treasure the wee snippets of personal narrative shared during the three talks and countless images shared on a rolling slide show.  It all felt so magical…a huge disclosure of the very personal experiences of three artists.
I’ve also taken screen shots of a fabulous article that gives a detailed history of the same years, Bart Habermiller: A State of Grace in Calgary, written by Debbie O’Rourke in 1996.
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Photo Credit: Graceland Facebook Page Photo of Frank Landry taken by Grace Colton

Photo Credit: Graceland Facebook Page Photo of Frank Landry taken by Grace Colton 1954

Panel Discussion Gratitude to Kayleigh Hall Nancy Tousley Tim Westbury Xstine Cook  Bart Habermiller

Panel Discussion: Glenbow Theater April 2014 Gratitude to Kayleigh Hall, Nancy Tousley