Monday, June 25, 2012

Tommy Hunter's Playlist - A Real Canadian Icon

When I was a teenager I spent most of my hours at the local hole in the wall YMCA. It was a very influential period in my young life and holds great memories. It provided a refuge for me and many of my peers.

One special memory was when Tommy Hunter came to my home town of Amherst Nova  Scotia. He made a very special visit to our YMCA because we were involved with the Blueberry Harvest Festival. He showed up for breakfast of home made fresh blueberry pancakes. Immediately I was struck by how tall of a man he was. Secondly he was so good humoured and humble. In my eyes he truly lived up to his reputation, of being a real country gentleman.

I had the pleasure last night of hearing his personal playlist that I think reflects the kind of person and artist he is.

The Last of Dispatches

Yesterday I heard these words of wisdom. "Art gives life meaning" and "Art disables destructive power".

I listened to this last CBC broadcast of the documentary program Dispatches.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

RCI // Historical Farewell

RCI // Historical Farewell

I have long been a radio listener of CBC, more so now than ever, finding television greatly lacking. As a kid I fondly remember the Summer trek back to Nova Scotia and coming through the Tantramar Marsh were the RCI headquarters and great towers majestically stood and still stand.

                    Photo Radio Canada International - Thaddeus Holownia

I am also a late night listener to Radio Canada International in particular, The Link. I was very saddened and disturbed to see this wonderfully informative and entertaining program gone. This historical farewell, given by host Marc Montgomery reflects his passionate dedication and commitment to Canadian culture, that CBC has chosen to  thwart and abandon. It is shamefully unscrupulous.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art"

I thought in light of Gary Neill Kennedy's recent publication of The Last Art College , it would only be right to post this video about John Baldesarri.
Tom Waits is my very favourite all time musician and songwriter/balladeer. I just love him and have followed him since the early 70s. When I was living in Toronto I got a chance to see him. Man that was some kind of show, I'll never forget.

The audience was full of every kind of personality and lots of folks living on the fringes. I sat with two strippers and the bouncer from Le Strip, the strip joint on Young Street who were brown baggin' it and offered me a swig. I thought it might be rude to turn the offer down, and I figured just added to the ambiance!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gary Neill Kennedy " The Last Art College "

Today I heard interview on CBC Radio, Information Morning, with Gary Neill Kennedy , the past president of  NSCAD. He has just released his recently published book, The Last Art College - The MIT Press
Listening to Gary Kennedy talk and read, I felt nostalgic for those days during the early 70s at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. I also felt proud to know I was a part of this great school during this time like no other.

Perhaps because it was that particular period in history, when so many of us were questioning the meaning of art and that significant sociopolitical changes within the world where taking place, this translated into our art making and greatly contributed to the iconic myth of the 70s, that was and is still very much NSCAD.

I don't know if we didn't make any more boring art, that the great John Baldassari had students write out on the walls of the Anna Leonowens Gallery , but the Art College was definitely not boring. It was one of a kind experience, where you could make any kind of art, our imaginations were unlimited and the relationship between faculty and students was egalitarian. You knew your professors and they knew you by name.


 Coburg Road Saint Andrew's United Church Hall Building
When I first started out in 1971- 1972, the "Art College", which it was mostly referred to back then, was located on Coburg Road, in the large four story Saint Andrew's United Church building, before we made the big move to downtown Halifax, in 1978.  It was an intimate space, with a tight knit community of artists and  about 600 art students. I missed out on this protest by three years!

I remember the first day I walked in to the building, having so much anticipation, nervousness and excitement . I knew it was going to be something special I would remember for days to come .

You never knew who or what you were going to see or do and that made it very exciting. It was the best of times and the worst in many ways for me, but I don't once ever regret my four plus years there. I learned an immense amount, had some incredible teachers, wonderful life long friends and memories. I met some great artists and saw some great art.

Feminism, The Second Wave, was at it's height in the 70s and most of the female artists there had a fight on their hands. It was an education in and of itself!

NSCAD Downtown Location

Anna Leonowens Founder -Victoria School of Art

I like to believe that the passion and commitment we all felt toward art is still a deeply embedded within NSCAD students, the historical walls, beyond buildings and conceptual or traditional art but is an essence and spirit that continues to thrive not in spite of, but because of our NSCAD history.

Sadly I am afraid NSCAD is under threat and may very well be the canary in the coalmine in a culture obsessed with money. Lets hope not and if so we need to know Nova Scotia needs NSCAD.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Am My Father's Daughter

I too, as probably many others, have been thinking about what it means, being a good father, and thinking about our own fathers. For me, it's all about being a good example. However we can't give what we don't have. Many of us grow up without fathers, they are either emotionally or physical absent to us.

As an young adult, I had to decide at some point, what kind of person I wanted to be, regardless of what happened to me.  Twenty four years ago I got sober and went into recovery as an alcoholic and an adult child of an alcoholic. I decided and accepted what I could and couldn't change. I hoped and prayed for discernment to know the difference. Forgiveness was essential toward my father and toward myself for what was not given or could not be given. I am not talking about forgiving what seems to be unforgivable toward those who have hurt us, for them, but for ourselves so we can move forward in life. This is what I had to do, forgive my father and forgive myself.

It was once explained to me, by a dear friend that resentment grows like bitter root, growing, strangling and poisoning so many parts of our lives. It's not something most of us can afford, carrying around that gunny sack full of resentments that we just keep adding to, until it is over flowing. I certainly couldn't.

 Many folks have fathers that did the best they could do, with what they had at the time. There wasn't the kind of help available to those suffering from disease or illness, or unstable behavior, like there is today. If a person knows better, they do better.

I am grateful that some of the gut wrenching work I did for myself to reconcile and reunite with my father after being apart for 26 years of my life, which helped to heal from the effects of being a fatherless daughter with a broken heart and relationship and to learn that he loved me as much as he could. I also learned I was very much like my father in so many good ways and for this I am very grateful. I have his stubborn, resilient, sensitive, youthful heart, his humour and spirit for adventure. He told me once I had his hands, and my mother's ugly feet. I know, I am my father's daughter.

Allowing children to be who they are, with you close by their side, to love them unconditionally, to keep them safe and to understand them, are the very best gifts you can give children. Too many in our world are more concerned about power and control over children.

As a Youth Care Worker working with trouble kids, youth at risk, and young offenders, I saw a system more interested in control and power over youth. Many of the youth I worked with had absentee fathers or far worse.

Here’s to unconditional love, safety and understanding, happy children, happy fathers, happy mothers, happy families and to those parents who fight the good fight, to do the most difficult and most rewarding job in the world!

Mum and Dad - Helen and Rudy

                                       Happy Father's Day, I love and miss you Dad always.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Family's Creativity

Being born into a creative family is very affirming, and I suppose can be a little crazy making. Often along with the creativity comes with it, a kind of hypersensitive personality, which can be troublesome in one way or another. By this I mean, as creatives we are perhaps perceived as being easily hurt, thin skinned, even spleeny .  I now consider being sensitive as being a positive characteristic, not a liability, weakness, or character defect, but it wasn't always the way I felt. I'm grateful I no longer feel like I have to apologize or feel less than, because of my creative soul.

Growing up I knew many of my family members on my mother's side had  great music abilities, and were very skilled working with their hands.
I knew little about my father's family's talents, as my dad was estranged with his own family and left our family, when I was thirteen. I did hear a few things about an aunt who painted and my grandmother, who I was named after was very skilled in doing very fine needle work. My father was a creative spirit in many ways. He built absolutely beautiful scrolled shelves with a jig saw. I remember this magnificent, intricate double bird cage he made, when I was a kid. It looked liked a Chinese pagoda. I still have some of his shelves, that I dearly treasure.

As a Youth Care Worker for many years, working with trouble kids and having been one myself , imagination becomes a solace and escape. It always amazed me how powerful creativity and art is as a tool for positive change with great therapeutic qualities, to heal the broken spirit and heart.
Art is all to often underestimated in our society and it's ability to enable real change and individual empowerment. Once we begin to grow in what I think is a self-actualization that happens when we claim our own creative power, imagination and capacities, we can become a force like no other that can change the world for good.

Later on in life after twenty six years of separation, I reunited with my father and we were able to heal our broken relationships. I began to discover more about my  my father's family and was so happy to learn how much creativity was very much part of my identity. Our family is full of painters, actors, movie makers, singers, musicians, woodworkers, and animators. What a great discovery!

Another discovery I found was learning about my young cousin,  Jesse Hefling  I have posted here the link to his site. He is a very talented animator and is studying animation in New Brunswick. It's wonderful to see how he is improving his skills and he has a wonderful imagination and creative talent, as so many youth do. We are never to young or too old to make wonderful use of our imaginations and creativity. We are all artists in one way or another. Who cares if you can't draw a straight line? That's not what creativity is about any way! I prefer squiggly lines and colouring outside the lines!

Just a suggestion, and yes even a word of advice. Stay away from colouring books if you really care about creativity. The father of art education Viktor Lowenfeld will haunt you! Creative and Mental Growth has long been my creative art education bible! Read it and you'll see why!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Advocate Concession Stand Art

Well Saturday evening I finally finished working on the concession stand. I was painting hotdogs and hamburgers on the sides, along with many tedious hours of lettering.

My training in drafting came in handy, but oh I understand why folks resort to stenciling when making signage. Regardless, my friend was happy with the job and I felt satisfied in completing this time consuming effort. It's not exactly high art but by gum those hotdogs and hamburgers look some good as us Maritimers say! I've posted a few photos I took today.

I've been eating more sausages lately which I think is a direct result of painting pictures of them over the last two weeks.

This one got accidentally smudged so I took the linseed oil to it. I hope the varnish will hide the multitude of sins! The front menu board, I wasn't able to photograph because the tarp was covering it. I finished that up last night, and I was in a hurry to get the heck home!.

No sausages for me for a while. I do have same hamburgers in the freezer, but I'll what til the weekend. Eating too many hotdogs or hamburgers, that's what I'd call the occupational work hazards of concession stand art work!

Friday, June 8, 2012

National Geographic Asks Do Animals Have an Innate Sense of Music?

Here's a confirming article from National Geographic, about the music of animals.
Personally I've never needed science to prove to me music is shared universally by all living things. First Nations people have always known this. Certain professionals in science world deem it necessary to factually demonstrate over and over to human beings that animals and the environment are directly connected.  This is a positive thing however, I wonder if science really makes the difference in changing minds. To me it's a spiritual awareness and walk, not necessarily factual reality that will change world for good, the way the Creator intended .