April 22, 2015: Beautiful Rumblings

No grand stories this morning about the Rumble House experience, just that Bana and I car-pooled from the south end and intend to do that from now on.  It was just so fun chatting away on the trip to the core.  We’re hoping that our friend, Louise, will be joining us soon in our vehicle.

While the wind seemed to pick up ‘like a hurricane’, as described by Frank, everything was calm in the cozy studio-gallery-extravaganza space.  Zach did an awesome job as M.C. and we enjoyed some excellent readings at the microphone, performed by Matt…one from Alexander Eliot (so bang on) and the others from Morgan’s book, Break From Reality.

I completed another glam-girl painting and have decided I really want to take a class or two in portrait painting.  I love exploring the face so much, but want to create more mass and structure.  In the meantime, I’ll keep on pushing through.  I was so happy painting with one of my art besties, Jenn on the left and then Bana, on the right.  There was a beautiful calm spill over the place last night, like a bucket full of light blue paint.  Thanks, Zack, for purchasing my piece at auction.

Cell April 22, 2015 Rumble 020 Cell April 22, 2015 Rumble 019 Happy Earth Day, every one!Cell April 22, 2015 Rumble 014 Cell April 22, 2015 Rumble 013 Cell April 22, 2015 Rumble 012 YES!  We have fun at the auctions!Cell April 22, 2015 Rumble 010 Cell April 22, 2015 Rumble 004

April 15, 2015: Rumble and a 100th Battle

I just found it extremely peaceful at the Rumble House last night.  Apart from the focus of painting, there were the hugs and the laughter ringing out.  I put aside the celery sticks and, instead, enjoyed a piece of cake.  It was celebration time!  A night of enjoying the camaraderie and the art with friends made since the inception of the Gorilla House-now-Rumble House.  Thank you, Rich, for all of it.

As time goes by, our network of artists and visitors grows and we welcome everyone.  Last night was a full house, as well as some familiar faces from the beginning days.  Elijah, it was awesome to see you.  Frank, Harold, Tamara…I just feel warmer and happier when you’re around.  Mike got back from his vacation, rejuvenated and inspired.  Louise, shared strength and a huge desire in her heart, to create.  Magpies seemed to be surfacing.  I’m wondering what that’s about.  Mark, Aaron, Daniel…such inspiring people and voracious painters! Christine…painted the skyline and the tower as a celebration of the Flames entering into the playoffs!  Bana…Elena…your work blows me away.  Dawn, always a story…about mothering, grand-mothering or flowers.  Priscilla…a constant and nurturing presence. James…Chinese name pronounced…An-du…for the times that we fumbled over our words, trying to communicate profound ideas. Dave…for your wisdom and observations on faces.  Morgan…for your courage.  Jess…your laugh.  Ringo…your music. Ed…your leather bound guest book.  Rich, Matt, Sean, Galen…your generous hearts.  And…Zack for the purchase of my piece at auction…thank you.  If I have not mentioned you, it’s because I have to get Max out to the field before I teach! Missed tonight…Andy, Jenn and Enriquito for three…Jeff and Johanne for five…Asa for six.  And THESE THREE…who wandered in at 11 and asked, “Did we miss the auction?”  Such a beautiful time.

??????????If YOU ever wish to wander in, we’d love to have you!

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Rumble House: March 4, 2015

I wonder how other women seem to have their ________together, especially those with young children, a career and outside-of-work volunteering and exercise programs.  I took on a contract, teaching grade three, beginning last Tuesday.  You’ve been wondering why I haven’t been writing?  Why my poetry response to each day has gone to the wayside?  Well, let me tell you, it’s a crazy life we’re living; crazy-busy, that is!  Max is still getting out to Frank’s Flats each day when I arrive home, dragging my feet and tempted to slouch on the red sofa!  We’re still out there.  And…we’re out in the middle of a field at 6:30 every morning and I drill at least twenty Frizbee throws into the darkness while Max, like a bullet, whizzes into the abyss.  These two daily events are the routines I can manage.  All else seems to be crumbling.  I laugh as I type.

Yesterday morning, I stood in line for the photo copy machine. You try to minimize the use of paper, but truly, paper is a blessing when it comes to a full day with grade three!  There was Lina (perhaps spelled wrong).  She was/is beautiful!  I was taking pause (a wait in a photo copy line just may be your only pause all day long) when I noticed how put-together she was.  A pony tail was lifted to just that perfect spot on the back of her head, speaking of youth and optimism.  YES!  Pony tails DO speak!  Accessories, colours, textures and the shoes!  I asked her, “How do you do it?”  I’m not going to spill the beans on her particular life at this time, but let’s just say, it’s a busy life she lives and while she says that she’s bubbled up inside, she expresses herself with friendliness and calm.

This gave me something to think about during the day.

Before I headed for Rumble House (late, as per usual), I captured a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, as I washed my hands.  I looked at my reflection.  Those eyes spoke to me.  (not going to write down what they said)


And while I was so so tempted to recline and find a good Netflix binge for the coming two hours, instead I walked to the computer in search of a reference image of a glam girl…I wanted to paint some concept of beauty, whether facade or authentic classical beauty…I wanted to explore the beauty-feminine, thinking about all of those amazing women who are so diligent in their lives to become ‘the archetype’ full-on.  I printed off a reference and headed out.

vintage womanArriving at 7:30, I grasped one of the concepts determined at the wheel…’what inspires you’ and the one and a half hour painting frenzy began.  I didn’t get a chance to say hello to Paula.  I was excited to meet up with friend, Bronwyn, from East End.  I parked my easel next to Dawn.  Priscilla came by and showed me an awesome book of portraits, flipping pages and pointing out beautiful contrasts and powerful black and whites. I met Miriam, James Young and Anna.  Enriquito gave me a big hug, as did Rich.  A couple of very friendly Shaw guys came by and interviewed me about the community,  Beatles music played in the background and voices buzzed.  There was energy and life and creation.

Thanks to Jess for purchasing this one at auction.

Grace CooperDSC_2684

At auction, I saw that many of the artists captured the ideas that were floating my boat.


Painting by Bronwyn Schuster

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Women Painting Women Painting Women

Just last Thursday, I attended an exhibit at the University of Calgary, Women Painting Women.  Participating was a diverse group of four artists, Isabelle Hunt-Johnson, Donna MacDonald, Bonnie Scott & Wanda Rottenfusser.  I was so happy to be viewing the exhibit with friends, Cheryl and Tami.


The following is the event descriptor…

Women Painting Women is an international movement that explores how contemporary women painters are handling women as subjects. The goal is to “promote the visibility of contemporary female artists portraying female subjects in the figurative traditions and showcase the quality, variety and breadth of women making figurative art in the 21st century”.

The movement began as a Women Painting Women Blog in 2009 showcasing treatments of the female form as painted by female artists. It has since expanded to include exhibitions in the UK and the US and now throughout the world. We are delighted to bring this international movement to Calgary to encourage and inspire all figurative artists especially women.

This was a truly enjoyable and interesting evening.  The conversations were enlightening and I am so pleased that I had opportunity.  Thanks, Cheryl.


What I’d really like to see happen is an exhibit of Women Painting Women Painting Women.  This means that you would need to have someone create a photo reference of you, painting women.  The photo reference, after collection, would be dispersed to another female artist participating in the project.  These works would then be archived or even exhibited at some future date.  Message me if you have any interest in this.

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Contemporary Calgary Serves Up Made in Calgary: The 1990s and Deadly Lady Art Triumvirate

Made in Calgary The 1990s and the Deadly Ladies Art Triumvirate

It’s the ‘morning after’ writing this post and as I read it, I think that it might be a particularly challenging post because Saturday night was so FULL to exploding with art and at this single venue, a lot was going on.  For those who are not familiar with the physical lay out of the building that was once called the Art Gallery of Calgary, there are four floors, each separated by a very open stairwell.  Presently, on three of those floors is an exhibit titled Made in Calgary: The 1990s and on the top floor, an aboriginal women artists’ exhibit titled the Deadly Lady Artist Triumvirate.  This post will explore both, although, barely touching on the 1990s portion.

The Art Gallery of Calgary and our MOCA, located by City Hall, along with the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Art have consolidated/E-merged as Contemporary Calgary.  So, to begin with, the language that I use to label the evening venue becomes a tad complicated.  Here are some of the highlights, as I saw them.

An upbeat evening was had at Contemporary Calgary on Saturday night…friendship (happy birthday, Jen), hugs, laughter, great catered food and fantastic art.  In the 1990s, I remember making the acquaintance of several local artists in their studios…places like the Burns Building.  I think that the exhibit nicely characterizes the sorts of things that were happening at the time and it was very reminiscent to be in connection with the ‘stuff’ again.

While I won’t be able to feature or write my connection with each piece, I want to showcase a few. For example, a nice little threesome of silver gelatin prints by Lawrence Chrismas were exhibited.  I met Lawrence when I attended a powerful exhibit of photographs at the Esker Foundations some time ago. The exhibit was titled Splendid Isolation…and captured the intimacy and narrative aspects of spaces. At one of the art talk events, Lawrence (Larry) had shared, during question period, an encounter with photographer,   Orest Semchishen.  It was a highlight for me as I was taking in Orest’s historical images of small town Alberta.

P1150108I’ve made a visit to the Paintedearth Coal Mine with my friend, Bill Webb and so when I saw the image of these welders, I was so impressed with the fact that faces were ‘put on’ the history of the area.  Art sustains our narratives so that we might always make reference.  I felt engaged with a small part of the archive that is Alberta mining.  Beautiful.

P1150104A Wayne Giles piece demanded the viewer’s attention by its monumental presence on the lower level.  The first image is the AGC’s documented image and the following one is my attempt to capture its presence at my first encounter.

Wayne Giles Mondrian's Cat 1992

Wayne Giles Mondrian’s Cat 1992

P1150106Then I headed for the Top Floor gallery space…and THIS!

From artrubicon. Visual Arts Magazine, this...

Contemporary Calgary, (formerly The Art Gallery of Calgary) is pleased to announce its first Artist-in-Residence (AIR) project, supporting local and ntional artists in the research, creation, and presentation of new artwork while building mentorship opportunities between emerging and established artists.  Throughout the month of January, the AIR project features three Aboriginal artists; Tanya Harnett, Amy Malbeuf, and Brittney Bear Hat.

P1150102It is my hope that my readers will find opportunity to enjoy this exhibit that runs until May 4, 2014.  Opening night, the voices of female singers and the sounds of their drums filled the Top Gallery and left me, in a few different moments, silently weeping.  The exhibit of works was brilliant and create a composite of deeply felt moments…stories of family, identity and healing.

Deadly Lady Art Triumvirate February 8 2014

Miriam Meir, Tanya Harnett, Chantal Stormsong Chagnon and Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes

Deadly Lady Art Triumvirate February 8 2014 2 Next, musician, Olivia Tailfeathers performed with a young lady and gentleman…exquisite!  Powerful!

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Artist: Brittney Bear Hat

Artist: Brittney Bear Hat


Sculpture in Mixed Media by Artist, Tanya Harnett

I had previously written some ponderings about Tanya Harnett while being blown away by an Edward Burtynsky exhibit at the Glenbow.  It was wonderful to finally see her very potent and beautiful works exhibited in this way.


Artist: Tanya Harnett

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Artist: Brittney Bear Hat

Artist: Brittney Bear Hat

I had done some reading about Chief Running Rabbit, just recently, and chose to depict him in one of my paintings at the Gorilla House.  It was a quick two hour engagement with the subject and a bit more in research, but to have this encounter with his story during the night’s events, was a highlight for me.  I’m disappointed that I didn’t meet Brittney.


A blog format isn’t necessarily conducive to writing on the subjects I currently need to write about.  Over coffee this morning, I quickly finished up the last two remaining posts about my recent experience on the Love Art in Calgary art tour. At 11:00 I was walking a prayer around the pond with Max.  And, yes, you read that correctly.

Before the hike, I sought out my father on Skype because I was feeling fragile.  Dad is giving me everything I need to journey my grief, everything that is, apart from what I am giving myself…and what God is giving me.  In short, Dad wasn’t available.  I went to the kitchen and ate an apricot square (I should have greased my pan, or as Dad later suggested, used parchment paper on the bottom of the pan) before making an exit.

At 11:00 the funeral Mass was beginning for a dear friend in Lethbridge and I was at a loss as to why I wasn’t there.  I’ve sat with that feeling all day long.  And just now, sitting here, I’m no closer to the answer.  The wind was a cold one from the north and on the south side of the pond, I couldn’t forge through the drift that, over the last few days, had accumulated.  So, I did an about face and headed back the way I had come.  That put me into the wind…and the cold lashing made my nose run and my eyes tear and then I was able to cry.

I seem to be losing women of greatness…women of tremendous influence…women who have inspired me and made me who I am.  And this is a difficult thing.  Because women of greatness have passed, the bones of my own mortality are being shaken and I am feeling an urgency about almost everything and that urgency sometimes exhausts me.

Last night, with remembrance of having done this alongside Gunda, I made a huge batch of cabbage rolls.  I am here alone, but I made enough for ten.  She would smile at this, I’m sure.

Cabbage Rolls and Apricot Squares

Cabbage Rolls and Apricot Squares

I know.  Like everyone else, I also say, “You never really lose someone you love.”

But, for the sake of this writing, I need to say it. I considered titling this post, Losing Gunda.  It feels as though we’ve lost her.

The truth is, I haven’t seen Gunda for the longest time.  The last time I saw her, she smiled and her eyes smiled, but she said very little.  I sent her Christmas cards.  That was the sum total of it, in the physical sense…oh, but in the spiritual sense, it was something completely different.

I think one of the most surprising blessings of my life, apart from having my children, was the moment I decided to be confirmed in my church.  Gunda inspired my faith every step of the way.  I sometimes sat on a stool in front of her…she would grasp my hands in hers…and we would talk.  She had such devotion and her devotion wrapped itself around me and never left.  So many times along the way of my life, I referred back to the wisdom that she shared with me and treasured the impact that she had on my life.  Gunda has always remained with me.

GundaI am sad today that the world has lost her beauty and her light, but I am confident in the promises of Jesus.  I will not forget her laughter.  I will not forget her raised eye brows when she was in doubt or questioning.  I will not forget how much she loved her beautiful family and her husband.  Thank you, Gunda, for connecting some of life’s dots for me.  I will continue to carry you in my heart for always.

Eternal rest grant unto Gunda, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

You Are More Beautiful Than You Think

2 Year Old Mom1st CommunionInteresting…my Mom sometimes described herself to others as overweight.  I saw Mom on diets, while at the same time, working her way through the 10 BX, a fitness program developed by the Royal Canadian Air Force.  I used to sit on her legs for a lot of her exercises when I was a wee little thing.  I sat on her feet for sit ups.

Mom wasn’t crazy about her freckles…so, in a way, I wondered if she was crazy about mine.  She had troubles controlling her curls.

She really didn’t have any idea how beautiful she was/is.  I scanned some old photographs while I was home this past couple of weeks.  The photographs tell the truth about my mother’s beauty.  This is food for thought, my dear friends.  As you read my words on this page, consider…are you more beautiful than you think?

29-03-2009 5;10;06 PM Mom 29-03-2009 5;16;42 PM Mom in Sherbrooke 2n510266132_2664474_5795 New Years

Mom at the Beach Kay Moors

Gorilla House LIVE ART: March 20, 2013

The weather in Calgary was spectacular on Wednesday.  It certainly provided impetus for heading down to the Gorilla House although I felt drawn to the red sofa and a snuggle with the cat.  Instead, after Max and I walked the perimeter of the pond, I purchased a beautiful plywood panel that was riddled with six beautiful knots.  There is a bit of a shift in dynamic or motivation when an artist sees a new box of water colour pencils or a gorgeous piece of wood.  Possibilities begin to bounce in the brain.  This piece of wood did that for me.

I’ve been trying to eat Mediterranean recently, but I lined up at the Harvey’s Burgers joint and picked myself up a single burger, slathered in onion, lettuce, relish and tomato.  Not exactly Sonoma, if you get my drift.  What we do as a way of speeding up our lives…sad, but true. Regardless, I was on my way.

A bowl of sugared candies and friends were waiting…waiting for friends, painting, experience, bedazzled moments of genius under pressure.  It is true that a person feels welcome, once at the Gorilla House.  Priscilla had a new hair cut.  Tamara…another week gone by without her son…a few tears…a hug that lasted.  Karen’s smile.  I wandered in to her studio space and snapped a picture.  I so admire Karen’s meticulous work.

P1090910Those are river stones wrapped in white silk threads, under the blown glass globe.  Exquisite.

The concepts for the evening were….

1. Moon Horror or Sun Shower
2. A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by Chloe Rhodes, Aficionado.
3. From Barbara Ann Kipfer’s Word Nerd: More than 17,000 Fascinating Facts About Words, Kabuki

I thought that it was interesting that the night’s concepts included two sources linked to words.  So, to begin with, on my panel, I recorded those two sources at the bottom.  I then turned my panel so that the dark knots of the wood were linked on the far right of the panel and the words were parallel to them left and right.  I was thinking about the power of words…their ability to bind people together and the way that they pull people apart…both internally and in communion with their fellow beings.



Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  1. n. A fellow-creature; especially, any member of the human race as compared or contrasted with any other.

Some, in today’s global culture, would take offense to this term, given that we are now avoiding being gender specific and fellow being assumed to be male in nature.  I don’t hold too many hang ups about this.  In fact, I become frustrated with the forced inclusion of inclusive language.  I don’t like taking liberties with language if I can help it.  Does this make me ‘conservative’? Does it make me less ‘progressive’?  insensitive? Am I not a ‘feminist’?  Do I not care about women’s rights in the bigger picture?

When I think about people who have ‘stood up’ for the down trodden, I am begoggled by the will and the courage to initiate change and to fight for the freedoms who those who have not.  It goes so much deeper than the words we use and perhaps ‘the words’ merely represent these greater notions.  Example:

The Persons Case and Womens Right to Vote in Canada

{The Vote: Suffragists were relentless campaigners, lecturers, demonstrators and petitioners. They bravely faced politicians’ ire and the aggressive opposition of public opinion. By 1918, some women were granted the right to vote and to have a say in the political future of Canada. For many other women, their race, ethnicity and religion still barred them from the vote and, for them, the fight continued for almost 50 years. It wasn’t until the introduction of the Universal Right to Vote in 1963 and the addition of the equality clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1985 that the right to vote could not be denied on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, mental or physical disability, or gender.}

The “Famous Five” and the Persons Case:

Early activists challenge conventional views to change Canadian history ==è The Famous Five achieved not only the right for women to serve in the Senate, but they and their many contributions paved the way for women to participate in other aspects of public life and the assertion of women’s rights ==è Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards

“We want women leaders today as never before. Leaders who are not afraid to be called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization. Women are persons.”

– Emily Murphy – 1931

The early 20th century and the courageous women who challenged the existing status of women are now part of the historic landscape of Canada. Five women created legal history in women’s rights by contesting the notion that legal definitions of persons excluded females. If women were not legally persons, then they had no rights.

These words borrowed from here…

1918!  What a remarkable thing that up until this point, women had no say in the decisions around their government and its policies for their lives.  What a great day it must have been to cast the first vote as a female.  I remember reading something about this as I studied my own family history and it caused me to weep.  Equity and equality are such important concepts to uphold.  But, as is my typical style, I digress.  (This is because my van is being maintained and I am home for the day.  Digression is sometimes a luxury.)

Another woman who was, in her simplicity, an inspiration in her time and as a result, timelessly so, was Rosa Parks.

“At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.
Rosa Parks

I painted Rosa Parks.  While painting…or just as I began to write a few words on my panel, a new visitor to Gorilla House LIVE ART, stopped and visited.  I think her name was Barbara.  (If that isn’t your name, please write to me and tell me because I know you are reading.)  Let’s, for now, call her Barbara.  Another example of the importance of words!  Barbara has begun to draw.  She attends figure drawing on Thursday nights at the Gorilla House, but hadn’t been in for the Battles.  What she was about to share moved me to the core, so much so that I wanted to put down my brushes and chalks and sit on the sofa.  Her words were ‘enough’.

Barbara shared about reading my words…about using the Public Library computers to read my entries about the Gorilla House LIVE ART battles.  I guess, in our imaginations, when we write, we don’t think about there being a ‘reading audience’.  The words spill out for ourselves…well, at least mine do.  But there, in conversation with me, was someone who reads my words and actually, it seems, looks forward to reading them.  This was a real inspiration to me and supports my experience as a writer.  So, I thank you, from my deepest heart and I hope to see you again.

Thank you to Melissa, who generously purchased this piece at auction.  I so admire you for your knowledge, for your connections with Arusha and for your courage to use Calgary Bucks.

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Feminology: A Guide for Womanhood by Florence Dressler MD 1902

For this find, the photographs posted here speak for themselves….absolutely beautiful coloured illustrations, but I thought that I would spare you the content!  I’ve included some bits that might be of interest to my readers.  This is going to be a family treasure!

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Frida Came Home

I met Bronwyn Schuster at one of the Gorilla House Battles.  Take a look at her portfolio, using the link provided, to be convinced of this young woman’s talent and unique way of viewing the world.  When I saw her Frida Kahlo piece, I was convinced that she was made for me and now she has found her way home, with Joane Cardinal Schubert’s piece based on dreams in a sweat lodge beside her and my own piece of art-furniture based on Chagall’s stained glass window, Zebulon, a beautiful piece that connects with the energy of water, below her.

P1080798P1080802P1080799I am really pleased with this new piece of art and will cherish it always.  I have learned much from reading The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes and viewing her art in books and in life.

A warning to my readers/viewers, Frida suffered significant pain throughout her life…physical, as well as emotional.  She used her art in a very honest way to express and live out this journey as a woman.  If you have difficulties with very sensitive content, you may not wish to view her biography.  However, if you wish to become both inspired and knowledgeable, this is an amazing archive of her life and her life’s work.