The Year of the Mugwump

It was 1973 and I was fresh out of High School. Somewhere in my archives, this morning, once receiving a message from a Lethbridge friend, I found, without too much looking, a copy of the University paper, the Meliorist. I laughed out loud as I read the profiles for our Mugwump Party. And guess what? We got in! I served my first year as part of the student council. This is where I met dear friend, artist and intellectual, Phil. I wanted to publish bits of this quickly and move on to the list of things to do for today.

How would I describe my importance to Mugwump, as I look back?

First Year Votes
Female Votes
No Fear of Speaking
Also, Easily Influenced

As I look at the profiles of these folk, I still feel very proud of these gentlemen. They DID influence me and my thinking about a lot of matters. It was through 73-77 that I formulated values and ideas that I still hold. The U of L was a perfect fit for me. I know that Phil continues to be a very strong artist (I own one of his wonderful pieces) and an involved activist. I wonder what the others have been up to.

Before I leave this…a few more gems.

While Coming Across Flower Paintings…

…I thought of Pauline.

She comes to mind often. Her humus recipe surfaced the other day.

I wonder if she reached out to our friend, Bobby, upon his arrival. A few more photos were tucked into albums today.

Ed, Bobby and I headed out to see Pauline, our inspiring University professor, who lived perched above Kootenay Lake in Argenta. This was in 1996-97 and I was on Sabbatical. We got lots of sketching/painting done. We slept under the driftwood shelter on the beach. It was the weekend that my friend, Lynn Kierzek, died. While I slept, I wore a painting vest that Lynn crocheted. I still have that vest.

The border collie found in the photo is not Max Man or Laurie Dog…that’s Pauline’s dog. I felt right at home. I love the memory of this time away from the city, of conversations shared along the drive. We picked up a rose bush for Pauline in Cranbrook and planted it while in Argenta. We also purchased a bottle of spice that she needed, in a small grocery shop in Coleman.

May Bobby and Pauline rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them.

Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage

My friend, Pat, has an astonishing way of discovering new and wonderful places to visit around Calgary.  My tendency is to always say “YES” when an invitation comes my way from Pat because, in the end, I learn something new and see something fascinating.  So, when I received an e mail to travel south to Nanton and to see the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage, I was keen.  Included in the experience would be a lovely and reasonably-priced brunch served up by Brown’s Catering and live music under a tent (although we all agreed the musician of the day might have turned down the mic…just a little).  As well, we then strolled about and admired the gardens and the buildings.  Delightful!

We could not have had a nicer day…a huge open sky and golden canola fields in full bloom created a backdrop of magic. The drive was filled with our usual enthusiastic banter and that always makes the miles fly by.  Gail, Mary, Pat and I embraced the visit and the views.  It was an exceptional time.  I’ve been digging myself out of a period of sadness, despondency and disconnect.  I am grateful for dear friends who have stuck with me through the malady, and anticipate, as I do, better days.  What can be more healing than amazing sky, flowers and forever-friendship. Thank you, Pat.

Click on individual photographs, in order to have a better look.


Thanks to Gail who hosted a further debrief at her home in High River.  I appreciate the hospitality and it was so wonderful to see you again.

Clearing Out the Cobwebs

I’m lugging a big box of paper out to the recycle bin.  It always feels good to do the ‘big sort’ and eliminate some of that stack!

I found a few gems though…I’m not going to say much about it.

In looking at these photographs, I can see why I got a C in photography.  I never really ‘got’ the idea of producing a body of work on a theme.  I chose something like death to resurrection, rather than ‘blossoms’.  Do you get what I’m saying?  Who would ever be able to understand that?  I’ll post those photographs (yes, I’m keeping them) one day and we’ll see if any of my readers can figure out what I was trying to convey.  I’m sitting here, laughing.

These three little sketches created a bit of nostalgia in me, though.  The drawings on the cupboard, created in Pauline’s drawing class.  I MADE THAT MACRAME!  The objects in silhouette, all remind me of some place, some one or a special experience.  The sheep area rug came from my Grandfather’s woolen mill.  Anyway, it is what it is.  These three photographs ended up in the ‘keeper’ pile.


Mark Mehrer’s stereo sitting there…Valdy and Bruce Cockburn records…Stanley, my guitar.


MY ’70s Show!

My life experience is very much rooted in the 1970s.  I graduated high school in Great Falls, Montana in 1973 and certain events of that period inform my memories. From 1970 onward, a  fund raiser was in place, selling bracelets for the soldiers MIA, as a result of the war in Vietnam. It is an interesting recollection that contextually, it was a very different matter to be a Canadian in this place and time.  When I look at That ’70s Show, I see myself and my family.  It is entertaining, but it is also a curiosity.

Being a Canadian, living south of the border through my high school years, I studied American History, Ancient Civilizations and experienced a huge focus on sports, clubs, expensive field trips, some racial segregation, even in the west, (although I was very naive about this and crossed boundaries of every sort), and a leaning toward a particular type of art.  Here is an example…a calendar that I still have, silk screened by my high school art teacher, Mr. Dwight Winenger and a piece of his work titled, Seriously Centric displayed at the Charles M. Russell Gallery in 1972.  Silkscreen was big at the time and I enjoyed the process.

1973 Winenger

Seriously Centric Charles M. Russel Gallery Great Falls Mr. Winenger 1972

This is where I went to high school, graduating in 1973…Charles M. Russell High School.

CMRKath GraduationThis is my bestie, Ramona.  We did the photo booth thing after one of our epic walks around the city.  We walked everywhere and this was great preparation for the lifestyle I took on once moved to Lethbridge, Alberta.  University was across the Oldman River from the city and so I bought myself a pair of gators and hiked in routinely, when the river was frozen and took the long hike over to the bridge (only one bridge in the day) when the river was open.

CMR MonaThis is family…AND our basement and our kitchen.

Great Falls 1 Great Falls 2 Family Photo Great FallsI had a crush in high school, but only one date, and not with the crush.  Dick didn’t have me out again because at the Drive-In movie, Castle Keep, I didn’t ‘keep him warm’. I’m laughing as I type this. The movie was fantastic!  My only regret was that my Mom had spent money on such a fabulous pair of lilac coloured bell bottoms.  I have hunted for a photograph of the Drive-In, but am having some troubles with that.

Someone found a photo for me!!  Whoot!  Thanks goes out to Rhonda M. Potts!


My family moved east again; Dad, transferred from Malmstrom Airforce Base back to North Bay, Ontario.  I liked the dry air of the west, the vast expanse of sky and really wanted to remain west, so having done my research, landed myself up in Lethbridge.

I don’t want to get into a huge narrative about life in Lethbridge, but I do want to say that it is my favourite place in the world.  It might be that this is because it was/is such a sleepy place, but something about the people in my life and the landscape, remained in my bones always.  These were years of formation for me.  I hiked those coulees until I knew them through and through.  I harvested cactus berries and rosehips, made tea in my room, listened to Valdy on my friend’s turn table.  I wore ankle length embroidered jean skirts and Progress store work boots.  Times were good.

Robert Waldren has kindly shared some archives with our common friend, Ed Bader, and has given me permission to use them here, so with gratitude, I share them.  I’m also including here a few coloured photographs that really pick up on the ’70s.

A hundred years later…Pauline and I share time out in Argenta.  I love and miss you, Pauline.

1977 February-u-of-l-pauline-mcgeorges-watercolour-class-01 Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

1977 February University of Lethbridge Pauline McGeorge’s Watercolour Class 01 Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

1977 October: Dennis Burton Opening Ed Bader and Paulinemcgeorge

1977 October: Dennis Burton Opening Ed Bader and Pauline McGeorge (Photo Credit: Robert Waldren)

1957_60115820210_602_nArt Department Magic

1977 March U of L Herb Hick's Drawing Class (I include this photograph because my friends from residence would sleep on this platform at all hours of night while I worked.) Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

1977 March U of L Herb Hick’s Drawing Class (I include this photograph because my friends from residence would sleep on this platform at all hours of night while I worked.) Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

October 1977 Dennis Burton Opening: Charley, Ed, herb, Pat

October 1977 Dennis Burton Opening: Charley, Ed, herb, Pat

One of my favourite people, Larry Weaver, ceramics prof…a man who has fathered me on more than one occasion.  Grateful always to him and to his beautiful wife, Nina.

March 1977 Larry Weaver in Ceramics Studio (Photo Credit: Robert Waldren)

March 1977 Larry Weaver in Ceramics Studio (Photo Credit: Robert Waldren)

Larry and Nina Weaver 1979

Larry and Nina Weaver 1979

I don’t think I have a single photograph of me from ’73 until ’77.  It was not the age of the selfie.  IT WAS THE TIME FOR LIVING.  A short musical interlude at this time…a tune coming out some time around 1968.  If this isn’t enough for you, I’ll point my readers in the direction of the song, Time for the Seasons by the Zombies.  Same time, same sentiment.  Just not such a self-focused world at the time.  This is what I grew up with.

Recently, I attended a fantastic event, Art on the Rocks, a figure drawing experience hosted by the Glenbow Art Museum and taught by a friend of mine, Tim Belliveau.  I told him that I would give him feed back about his workshop to share the differences between his approach to figure drawing and the practice he has been taught and the experience of my own practice, coming out of the ’70s.  As I was drawing gesture, contour, negative space and focused on the model, I was swept back in time…the whole reason for this post.

This was the University of Lethbridge, the year that I graduated with a B. Ed degree in 1977.  The architect, Dr. Arthur Erickson, is no longer with us, but this particular building, its residence, academic rooms, landscape surroundings and people, had huge impact on my life.

University of Lethbridge April 1977 Panorama Robert Waldren

Photo Credit: Robert Waldren April 1977

My bedroom in residence…overlooking the coulees; and YES, that IS macrame!

Kath University RoomThe art and physical education buildings were separated from the main block by ‘the worm’.  Freezing cold in the winter and stifling hot in the warmth of other seasons, I walked up and down this structure more times than I could ever guess.

University of Lethbridge April 1977 Panorama Robert Waldren 2

Photo Credit: Robert Waldren April 1977

The Worm Winter Storm 1977

The Worm Winter Storm 1977 Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

Billy McCarroll in the day. Fantastic person, artist, teacher, musician. Photo Credit: Robert Waldron

Billy McCarroll in the day. Fantastic person, artist, teacher, musician. Photo Credit: Robert Waldren


Robert Waldron 4

Ed Bader, drawing in beautiful light. We were always surrounded by lots of concrete. Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

Robert Waldron 2

Carl Granzow; Spirited sculpture prof. Maker of magic and full of laughter.  Photo Credit Robert Waldren.

April 1977 SAAG opening Dale Ketchison Guitar Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

April 1977 SAAG opening Dale Ketchison Guitar Photo Credit: Robert Waldren

It’s time to take Max for a walk, but it’s been really wonderful looking at the impact of the 1970s.  I am grateful to my friends and teachers of the time.  I developed a real hunger for experiences in nature, a desire to create in both written form and in art.  Great professors caused me to teach more than anything and so I did.

Here are a couple of tunes.  My very first concert wasn’t a big name band, but rather, Bruce Cockburn, sitting on a stool center stage at the Yates theater.  It wasn’t until years later that I heard Valdy singing in a community center here in Calgary, but his music was a part of my creating back in the day.

Coaldale Farm House 1973-1974.

Kath with FidoMaking home made bread 1976-1977.  Photo credit: Lorraine Lee

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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.