Mosaic 101

Wendy Lees is a vital leader in our visual arts community here in Calgary.  She has spearheaded so many wonderful projects and visual arts tours, either through making, leading or inspiring.  I’ve treasured her friendship for years now and I’m so grateful for our meeting.  I was blessed, yesterday, to have the opportunity to learn the first basic baby steps to mosaic art, in the comfort and organized studio that is her own home.  What a fun experience and what great people!

Wendy took on the magical practice of  create! in the East Village some time ago…and through that program, I met some of the most authentic and beautiful people of a lifetime.  Gladly, a few of them were able to attend the Mosaic 101 workshop, so renewing those relationships was an additional blessing!

If you have opportunity to participate in or attend any of the programs that Wendy advertises, DO!  Such fun!  It’s not just about techniques and skill development…it’s about community and connection!

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Love the focus and concentration that surfaced during the program!

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KOAC: Kiyooka Ohe Arts Centre

This morning, I’m celebrating Wendy Lees and the Love Art in Calgary tours that she provides, here in the city.  Yesterday, we had the opportunity to enjoy the intimate and generous experience of visiting KOAC.  Harry Kiyooka and Katie Ohe directed a magical tour of their property, studios and home and today I am still ruminating about the conversations, the practice and the encouragement received.  Grateful!

Katie and Harry have done so much for our community and, both visionaries, they have a commitment to leave an amazing legacy for all of us.  But right now, they need our support, both monetary and philosophically.  Calgarians need to see themselves as both beneficiaries, but also contributors to this dream.  I hope that my readers will take the time to visit the website and explore how they can be a part of this.

We began our tour with the wondrous drive out to the property under an amazing chinook arch.  The light and arch contributed to the aesthetic experience of being on the edge of the city, looking west toward the mountains.  Good conversation, laughter and shared philosophies are always a part of a Love Art in Calgary tour and this time, I reconnected with a like-minded woman, Sharon, who I had met on a previous workshop at the Esker Foundation and Melissa, who has a long history of Gorilla painting with me.  So much fun.

Melissa and I went for a wander to look at a couple of the sculptures on the property before the tour of Katie’s studio began.

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This one made a journey across the ocean in a crate…missed the sculptor’s name.

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‘Dandelion’ a kinetic sculpture created by one of Katie’s former students.

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Treasures.

Walking to Katie’s studio, we stopped and had fun, listening to Katie’s stories and being present to her larger-than-life energy!

I think this woman is such a role model for us.  She is so full of warmth and has such a generous nature.  And…she says that she writes a lot of reference letters! :0)

Katie Ohe, when speaking of her sculptures, touches them in such a special way and speaks about them in that manner, also.  It is evident that she has a very close relationship with the materials and knows and loves the process of creation in a very intimate way.  I cherish listening to her speak of her art.

 

 

Next, we went to Harry’s studio, a treasure trove full of discoveries and large canvases.

Harry is such a gentle and kind man, with such enthusiasm for the vision that has been forming over such a long period of time…a vision and partnership shared between Katie and him.  He is a huge promoter of KOAC and has announced that tickets are available for the next big fundraiser.

Next, the two artists invited us into their home and we sat and snacked and shared a coffee break, while being surrounded by amazing works of art, as well as an extensive collection and library!  Phenomenal!

 

I will never forget the strength of Katie’s hand wrapped around mine, as I thanked her for the afternoon.  What an amazing woman!

Previous posts…

Art Tour 2013

Poem For Katie Ohe

Katie’s Idea Books

Objects of Affection

Bitterly Cold Winter, Wrapped Up In Wool

Monday morning saw the accumulation of a whole lot of snow overnight.  The sun was shining and I was grateful for that, as I picked up the shovel and cleared the sidewalk, yet again.  I was excited to be heading for sister-friend time, a hearty soup and warm-biscuit lunch prepared by my Ya-Ya, Wendy Lees, and the experience of felting with a woman who knows wool, so well.  In fact, like me, wool is her history…her story.  Ruth Purves-Smith, oh, how I grow to love you!  Now, you have been my teacher and I treasure that!

Gathering together means the sharing of stories, the week’s events, creative projects, vision, frustration, hard work and yes, edits on cover letters, even dog tales/tails!

Meeting  Booster for the first time was more than fun!  This sweetie really wasn’t ever supposed to have a chance at life, but because of her willingness to negotiate around Booster’s many special needs, Ruth gave her that!  Apart from very unique dietary concerns and the fact that she has to consistently wear a little diaper, Booster seems to lead a very happy and contented life.  As Max’s best friend, I can tell you that this gives me great respect for Ruth.

Settling in, I loved the colours and textures that began to spill out into Wendy’s living room!

I’ve had opportunity before to watch a remarkable lesson on felting delivered by Leah C. Donald  to my grade three students.  However, I didn’t have the opportunity to share in the experience because it was necessary to supervise the students’ use of the felting needles and to be a part of their process.  So, I was excited to actually manipulate the media and to enjoy the hands-on practice.

Ruth brought some of her creations and I was at once, in awe.  Hmmm…no pictures of lunch, likely because I was enthusiastically ‘putting it down’.

 

I decided that I would like to create a hot pad for the table and to focus on technique.  I was definitely the slowest person in the room!  It took quite some time before I sorted out the use of the felting needle.  Thanks for your patience, ladies!

 

Yesterday afternoon was just one of those magical times that created memories, both in my heart and head, but also in my body.  The warm smell of wool, the texture and the concentration…all so wonderful!  The next time you feel really cold, I highly recommend wrapping yourselves up in wool, good food and friendship.

Support the Custom Woolen Mills, when you can.  Buy your gifts from artists and artisans.  Buy music from local artists.  Support the creation of treasures that come out of your local community.

 

Laurel Crescent Little Free Library and Little Gallery OPENING DAY!

I always feel proud of Wendy Lees and the magical events/experiences she creates. Today was no exception as the Laurel Crescent Little Free Library and Little Gallery enjoyed its opening with a large draw of neighbours, family and friends.  The festivities were marked with warm buttered popcorn, lemonade, heart shaped cookies, painting, bubbles and chalk drawing.  What an amazing community feel!

It was great to see the MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, Ms. Anam Kazim (ND) and to see her engaged and genuine support, as well as Lakeview Community Association’s President, Geoffrey Vanderburg out and about, meeting the neighbours on Laurel Crescent.

I brought my contribution to the Little Library since this was a bit of an historical event for the neighbourhood.

Glad to celebrate this event with you, dear friend, and congratulations.  We honour what you do for community building throughout Calgary, Wendy.

Ruth Purves-Smith and David Holloway

I’ve suspended my writing for the week because I’m teaching elementary children on a month long contract and I’m focused and inspired and need to line up all my jelly beans. What I really want to sustain over this month is my time in nature because things are evolving so quickly out there…and so many new birds are on the wing.

I’m writing diligently about an art tour that I took at Pason Systems on this past Saturday…one piece at a time…it was such a fabulous experience!  I suppose I’ll publish that during the coming weekend.

But…

…here’s an exception. I felt I needed to write my gratitude for Wendy Lee’s invitations to meet and listen to the music of Ruth Purves-Smith, accompanied by the fantastic guitar player, David Holloway.  So, for Juno weekend, I ended up having time on Sunday to attend Wendy’s house concert where chili was served, chilled white wine and the most wonderful company ever!  It was a hub of Juno energy and such a down-to-earth experience.

It turns out that Ruth’s father, Bill Purves-Smith and his wife, Fen Roessingh, have a connection to my own family patriarch, John Moors…and so, Ruth and I are connected by the beautiful warm smell and coziness of wool!  My grandfather is pictured below, a young man, in the throws of excitement about wool.

John Moors Woolen Mill Magrath, Alberta

Bill Purves-Smith and a photograph that appeared on his memorial 1934-2011.

Bill Purves-Smith

This story about the collision between Ruth’s family and my own appears on the Custom Woolen Mills website…

Fen Roessingh and husband Bill Purves-Smith developed a keen interest in weaving while studying at the Leighton Centre near Calgary, Alberta in the 1970’s. After being given a truck-load of raw wool in order to pursue their weaving, they began searching to find a mill that would process it into yarn. This took them to Magrath, Alberta, to work with John Moors in his mill, Wool Carding and Spinning. John had started in the woolen mill business at the age of 12 as a bobbin boy and worked his way up to running his own mill. When Fen and Bill came to work with him, John was in his 70’s and looking for someone to take over his business. Game for a challenge and motivated by their love of fibre arts, Fen and Bill bought the mill from John and moved it to Carstairs. They then acquired a wool washing system and additional carding machines from a small mill called Custom Woolen Mills in Sifton, Manitoba. The mill was owned by Anna Weselowski who, also in her 70’s, was looking to retire. Combined, the new mill was called Custom Woolen Mills Ltd. Wool Carding and Spinning, but everyone just called it Custom Woolen Mills for short. Over 35 years later, Custom Woolen Mills is still going strong; a hub in the community, a multigenerational family enterprise, and a producer of quality, Canadian grown and manufactured wool products.  

Of course, as soon as I could, I grabbed onto Ruth…gave her a big hug…and we began to spill out the memories.  I loved hearing about her playing in the back of the mill and watching the old television…I could picture it all.

Thank you for the stories, Ruth…and the music…and the generous heart.  Thank you David for the absolutely amazing guitar accompaniment and the talk of clocks.  And most of all, thank you to Wendy and Dan for their hospitality and for the sharing, always, of music and art!  Good to see so many friends that we now share and for the introduction to so many more!

Kath's Canon Ruth Purves-Smith, Franks 040

There’s nothing like a bookshelf filled with interesting titles…and a guitar that’s about to be played!

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It was a wonderful experience…bought the recent CD….so should you!

 

Related Posts:

Woolen Mill

Objects of My Affection: Woolen Blanket

Of All the Places

The Sunshine of Your Smile

Leah Came to the Door

May 8, 2015

Going to the Country

Southern Alberta Roads

Wool Card and Spinning: My Grandfather’s Story

John Moors 1908-1988

Ancestry Geek

John Moors 1876-1918

John Moors 1841-1914

 

 

 

 

Orange!

I met Loretta down at the East Village, once asked to do some painting at the Golden Age Club in a madly creative environment called create!  Loretta Young has some kind of story!  What’s most amazing is how she lights up a room!  Last Sunday saw the launch of a collection of her paintings, collage and mosaics at the Hear’s My Soul Cafe.  It was a brilliant blue day and Loretta was wearing orange.

DSC_0618The surroundings were exquisite.  I was able to connect with beautiful and dear friends, sharing in the music of Trio Velocity while munching on Janice Beaton Fine Cheeses and sipping complimentary wine.  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Wandering slowly from one space to another, I really engaged Loretta’s work, seeing a vibrant statement about life and freedom.  Having also been a very active participant in Calgary’s MOMO Dance Theatre, Loretta’s visual work also appears to dance, no matter the medium.  A spattering of orange seems to be a consistent underpinning and a delightful complement to the cerulean and ultramarine dominance.

I enjoyed embracing new friends and Loretta’s family, all present and excited about sharing this really important moment in time, a celebration of Loretta, her spirit and her art. Thanks again to visionary, Wendy Lees, who works tirelessly to create experiences around art and life in the East Village!  Thanks also to Mike who contributed his time to some beautiful framing and display.  A magic touch!

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Art and Connection

The day was a chilly and wet one, but filled to the brim with connecting, whether that was with people or art.

I got Max out in the early morning.  He was in his typically joyful place, leaping through the air in order to retrieve his Chuckit! Paraflight Fetch Toy Frisbee Disc.  He loves it!  It’s durable and I concur with all of the points made in the following review.  I try to alternate his types of work outs each day, taking him out onto trails on his own or doing work outs such as this toy provides.  I call this toy a whizzo…and I pick them up, two at a time, when they are on sale and keep them in stock in my front hall closet.  Max seems to go through about two a year.

While you play this sort of game with your energetic dog, you need to remember to temper the height of your throw in order that your dog does not experience long term wear on his hips and joints.  Border collies are so active, agile and obsessed that they have no limits on what they choose to endure, so you, as an owner, must set the limits.  It is a difficult thing to watch your very active dog succumb to arthritis at some point because you chose to be an ‘over achiever’ with him.  A side note here is that I have developed very beefy arms in my years of training and owning this breed. Certain dogs require hard work every day.  My boy would be one of those.  This work needs to be varied so to remain interesting and so sometimes making your dog sit and stay for 45 minutes is another alternative, particularly on bad weather days.

I dropped Max home and headed to meet with my retired teacher-friends for a coffee.  I treasure these friends so much and felt absolutely blessed as I left yesterday morning.  Our conversation was varied and enthusiastic.  We had opportunity to share both joy and pain and were there for one another to celebrate and support, both.  I continue to be surprised with the human resistance to retirement.  There is so much that happens in the world beyond ‘the job’.  Thanks to my friends for sharing your interesting lives with me.  I am truly blessed by your smarts and your wit.

From there, I jumped on the C Train and got off at the City Hall stop.  After a warm chicken salad sandwich, enjoyed in our central public library, I headed over to the John Clark exhibit at C2.  I found Jeffrey Spalding in an intense conversation with a couple of people and so enjoyed my encounter with the images on my own. I love the synchronicity of the entire event….CTrain City Hall Chicken Salad, Clark, C2…it was a C sort of a morning.

The exhibit is a beautiful collection of works by John Clark.  The collection, available until August 31, is another amazing tribute to a person with a unique statement about his surroundings and experience. I was most emotional in front of a huge canvas painted in 1989, the piece that appears at the complete right of the following photograph.

??????????The following image was acquired via the University of Lethbridge Lasting Images linkArtist-Photographer, Arnaud Maggs, passed in 2012.   May 2013 edition of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.

Arnaud Maggs, John Clark in his studio, 1988. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of the artist, 1989.

Arnaud Maggs, John Clark in his studio, 1988. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of the artist, 1989.

I continue to long for a greater connection with the University of Lethbridge since attending during the years 1973 to 1977, and so I really enjoyed this piece, I believe to be titled Bird and Bridge.

DSC_0256An excellent tribute to John Clark’s life and exploration…beautifully displayed and worth our admiration.  Gratitude to C2 and also the various contributors of the pieces featured in this exhibit.

DSC_0254 ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ?????????? ??????????From C2, I headed over to the Glenbow Museum to enjoy the Bee Kingdom’s:The Iconoclasts in Glass.  AWESOME!  Get out to see this one.  I have written several times about the Bees over these last several years, but, please DO enjoy this elegant display of a very comprehensive collection of works.  Such a clear vision was evidenced in this body.  A pleasure!  Congratulations and shout out to Phillip, Tim and Ryan!

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Phillip Murray Bandura

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Timothy Belliveau

Timothy Belliveau

Ryan Fairweather

Ryan Fairweather

I hung out in the museum for a little while…thinking especially about Marion Nicholl’s work for some reason.  I thought she was such a phenomenal visionary.  I don’t wish to get into the generational and gender ‘thing’ here…but…come on!

DSC_0266It just wouldn’t be right to be so close to create! at the Golden Age Club, to not walk over and see what was cooking.  I enjoyed a coffee and rice crispy square with visionary and facilitator, Wendy Lees; artists Margaret, Lorna, Jo-Anne and Les and got filled in about all of the recent goings-on including the creation of a Little Library and another zine.

I met up with my daughter after jumping on the train and rockin’ my way to the ‘burbs’ from the core.  After yet another Max-event, Cayley and I met up with a beautiful friend of ours at the Blue’s Can and I spun some circles in the dance floor to the all-so-familiar tunes of Tom Phillips and the Men of Constant Sorrow.  The day could not have been more full, rich and beautiful.

After all of this, I remembered to take the garbage out for a Friday morning pick-up.  And, after reading a few fantastic pages of Carol Shield’s Small Ceremonies (Karen, get this book!), I was off to sleep.

Plein Air With Great Peeps Sooths The Pain of Loss

Recently, the world lost a great painter and a great person, Robert Genn. He is featured in the small clip above. For some reason recently, I’ve been blasted with loss over and over again and have almost been knocked out of my socks with sad news. My son-in-law aptly announces, “Let not the reality of today deter you. But the image of tomorrow spur you.” Sometimes a person has no choice but to be grateful for another day of love and life and go forward with tremendous courage, being light to and with the people that give connection…always being patient…always forgiving…always being light.

I receive connection while gathering with the participants of create! down in the East Village. Along with their fearless leader, Wendy Lees, the folk of the neighbouring buildings, gather to write, sculpt, paint and create! and it is a fascinating experience…fascinating, because no matter the burdens that a person carries, once together and creating, somehow the load gets lighter. The gifts that I receive as facilitator, I’m certain, must surpass what I might ever influence in such genuine and caring, such courageous participants!

I offer up the joy of today to Robert Genn, Lawrence Morin, Glenn Gangier, Maxine Morin and to my beautiful Mom…may you, through the divine Creator, be a part of our celebration of creation always.

Today, we painted joy, pain, breeze, seeds, leaves, sky, clouds, grass, air, light, dancing, rolling, bubbling, trees, light, life.

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Angels in the East Village

Time spent in the East Village, working with the folk from create!, was treasured time and so good for my soul.  We tried to bring into our midst the energy of mothers and the feminine…welcoming memories of our mothers, the earth and, for me, Mary.  It was such a beautiful two afternoons.  I feel blessed to be with such creative people with so many powerful stories.  I thank Wendy Lees for opening up this opportunity in my life.

The lesson involved a conversation about how artists use references in order to create, some more than others.  We talked about using historical references and real life references.  The act of painting landscapes on location is called plein air.  I described the importance of asking for permission from photographers when using contemporary images as references.

All of this reminds me of a conversation that I once shared with Father Carroll.  We always had such wonderful chats.  He shared this Latin quote with me.  So, while most art has roots in other art or reference points, it is important that the artist explore a personal interpretation or reaction to that reference point.

ars est celare artem
True art is to conceal art

This is evident in the following example, looking at a Frida Kahlo Self Portrait and compared to Bronwyn Schuster’s fabric sculpture.

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Leon Trotsky). 1937. Oil on masonite. 76.2 x 61 cm. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA.

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Leon Trotsky). 1937. Oil on masonite. 76.2 x 61 cm. National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA.

Bronwyn Schuster Acquisition

Bronwyn Schuster Acquisition

Some people prefer to refer to angels as guiding spirits…for me, it doesn’t matter how you look at the theme.  We have much to be grateful for, in considering the ‘maternal’ in our communities.  Painting angels at the East Village was a joy.

P1160727 P1160728 P1160729 P1160731 P1160732 P1160733 P1160734 P1160735 P1160737 P1160738 P1160739 P1160740 P1160741 P1160742 P1160743 P1160745 P1160746 P1160747 P1160748 P1160749 P1160750 P1160751 P1160752 P1160753 P1160754 P1160755 P1160756 P1160757Alanna shared that she added wings to the woman sitting before the table and that the angel was her mother.  She remembered sharing a table with her own mother.  It was a very powerful moment for me.

Thanks to the group, for sharing flowers and a birthday gift bag with me.  Thanks to Mark who gave me a rosary.  Thanks for the genuine hearts.

create May 16 Alanna create may 16f Leslie create may 16e Leslie create may 16d Loretta create may 16b create May 16a

 

Final Stop: The Studio of Mark Vazquez-Mackay

Margy and I got caught up chatting with Phillip and bid Anna and him good-bye with hugs before heading over to Weeds Cafe for a Montreal spiced meat sandwich and Italian soda.  It was a pretty nice feeling.  When you go out on a Love Art in Calgary tour, your brain goes “ZING” and you find yourself processing so much great insight…sometimes it’s a good decision to punctuate!  On we raced to the studio of Mark Vazquez-Mackay.

P1150856Mark’s studio was magical, but how can it not be when he has such a beautiful way of seeing life and his world.  I think that he is extremely generous and very community centered.  His hands and mind are engaged a lot in terms of visual arts in Calgary and we need to be grateful for people like him.  He generates a lot of chatter.  I really do treasure the fact that we got a window into just a small part of what he does and accomplishes.

P1150816I liked learning about his use of ivory black to mix colour.  I liked that he had a Lucien Freud book perched against a wall. (I am nuts over Lucien Freud’s figurative works.)  I was excited to have him demonstrate his exploration of camera obscura, his connection with Vermeer, his insights after reading David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters.  I felt so excited about his vision around public art and his open concept of public art everywhere.  I had a warm heart as he spoke of his son, the innovative and driven musician who worked alongside his Dad to paint his mother’s eyes on his front yard fence. Generally speaking, his time spent with us was jam-packed and invaluable!

P1150832Mark, impacted personally by the spring flood of last year in Calgary, appears to have not missed a heartbeat, but, with determination and resilience, rebuilt and then some.  He is a hero to our arts community.  A good person.

I’ve written sometimes about the objects of our affection…about how our objects hold memory and such.  In Mark’s studio, I felt that I was surrounded in a blanket of so much love, perception and imagination.  Truly remarkable!  Thank you.

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