Painting Narratives: Saying Enough

Last evening I wrapped up a panel that I’ve been working on over the past few weeks.  I was thinking a lot about the act of painting someone’s story and the privilege of that opportunity.  I think that it’s important to be true to the story, but also to incorporate your own style and approach.  It’s a balance.

The greater themes here are father and child, service to country, sacrifice, connection and transcendence.  I received excellent biographical information from the little girl in this photograph…a young lady now.  Her story is a potent one and initially, it brought me to tears.

Text comes from Walt Whitman’s preface to Leaves of Grass…these were adhered to the panel through transfer. As well, the words Blood and Memory.  To say that Lawrence Hill did not impact this piece would be a fib.  I began painting the commission after listening to him speak of universal truths…I see an artist’s images like he sees the written word and so there is a true responsibility in the marks that I make.

“But I have long loved the written word, and come to see in it the power of the sleeping lion. This is my name. This is who I am. This is how I got here. In the absence of an audience, I will write down my story so that it waits like a restful beast with lungs breathing and heart beating.”
Lawrence Hill, Someone Knows My Name

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” Whitman

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Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

Frank's FlatsIt’s official.  The City of Calgary has determined that Frank’s Flats, this year, is city parkland and I now have their support with the crud that mounts up at the location due to the user groups that are just a little irresponsible!  Yeah!  Justin Brown assured me that I would have help with the spring clean-up and he followed through, sending out a team that scoured the slopes, much quicker than I could possibly do ONE BAG AT A TIME.  So, now it is for me to maintain the park and hopefully solicit some support from other like-minded individuals in the area.

Nature is at its finest in this area, even when it is filthy.  The ground squirrels pull the plastics into their nests, not comprehending that this is human waste; but they adapt to the function of such plastics and paper.  Even on the nesting platform being used by Osprey, there is a huge piece of plastic that bats in the wind.  I am amused watching the activity on this platform and watched the grand predator try for over an hour to chase a Canadian goose off of the platform.  When I left the park that evening, the goose was continuing to fight for the nest in the sky, neck outstretched at each nose dive from the beautiful falcon.  This went well into the next day, but finally two days later, the goose had succumbed to the stubborn bird.  Please see fantastic images capturing this event on the Birds Calgary blog.  Now it is fun to watch the male bringing home the catch of the day routinely.

As sun was setting one evening, I watched six white swans fly overhead.  The muskrats are back and ducks of every variety are nesting.  A coyote who was guarding a spot under  the evergreens has finally disappeared, likely pressured out by all of the human presence and back onto the wilderness corridor on the other side of the fence.

Frank’s Flats is a beautiful spot for nature lovers to watch wildlife at its best.  I want this place to be safe and solicit the continued support of the City of Calgary, Bishop O’Byrne high school, South Fish Creek Recreational Center, Shawnessy Library and the various retail stores (Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Tim Hortons, Wendy’s, Jugo Juice) in the stewardship of this land.

I encourage my readers to take some responsibility for stewardship of your own surroundings.  Teach your children by being a living example of how to care for other species.


Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

An edit: In the last slide of my published youtube, I spelled circumference incorrectly.  I just don’t have it in me to pull the project off, in order to make the correction.

March 22, 2012 6:00 p.m. Weather 1 degree, clear skies, bring sun, a layer of fresh snow on the ice of just yesterday.

Findings: I attempted to get a start on the school slope.  It is in an outrageous condition and will take quite some time to clean up.  Much in the way of food containers, sandwich bags, fast food packaging and more plastic bags.  The most interesting find was a plastic skeletal hand.  I begin to wonder about the burned pages of a book/manual in a foreign script.  I’ve been finding these pages strewn everywhere since the beginning of this project.

Writing is a struggle against silence. Carlos Fuentes

Work Socks for the Mustard Seed

Lent began yesterday with Ash Wednesday and our classes are collecting work socks for the Mustard Seed.  I love the photographs, so make certain that you visit the SOCKS photo album.  Like any good installation sculpture, we’ll see if we can, in the end, make a huge visual impact by providing many pairs of socks….what? perhaps 2000 pair?
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I’ve been teaching every student I meet how to fold socks and we are sharing the work together….along with a calming radio station, this experience transforms the art room into a huge EXPERIENCE!  I have always loved Bruce Cockburn’s music…saw him for the first time in the Yates Theater in Lethbridge, Alberta.  Now that I am able to embed music videos and things, I am going to pepper my blogs with his tunes so that you can listen to something while you read.  The first one…a powerful tune called Soul of a Man.  Enjoy!