Thursday, May 29, 2014

Germaine Greer and Tongue Mould

I thought my internet was down the past day and a half and was going through a bit of withdrawal and was getting frustrated not being able to find the source of the problem. Finally today I finally figured it out after seeing my WiFi was disconnected from the outlet, which was why I could not get online.  When this happens I get into a bit of an uncomfortable state of mind, because, well alright, I admit it, I am addicted to my computer. It is a big part of my routine in a number of ways, enabling me to keep in contact with family and friends, and to network with other artists. Having been a  regular blogger for six years also contributes to my co-dependent relationship with cyberspace.

I always find when I am without my internet the up side is, it becomes a pretty productive time for me, like listening to Germaine Greer on Ideas on CBC Radio, and it generally is a good experience being offline for a while, as I put my energy into making art and into other constructive activities. Not that I waste my time online, but it can gobble up an afternoon before you know it, especially if you are not mindful while using the internet, and are easily distracted.

So yesterday, I got two more paintings completed as I am getting geared up for an exhibit next week. This has been challenging to say the least, as I have been in a creative funk, a carry over from SAD after having the Winter from hell. As well, I drastically changed my subject matter, consciously taking a break from what I normally paint. I thought perhaps this would be a good thing for me, as the old adage goes, a change is good as a rest. It has proved to be enjoyable, when I am actually wrapped up in the process of painting my chosen subject matter as of late, Jellied Moulds , from a recipe book, called, Davis Dainty Dishes published back in the day of the 20s and the 30s. I thought this would be light subject matter and fun. True it is, but not something I am passionate about. As a matter of fact, some of the pictures of moulds I couldn't bare the thought of painting, as some of the moulds were absolutely gross. Tongue mould be one of those, along with other mystery type meats, not to mention " Recipes For Invalids" How about some " Jellied Soup ". Yum!

Nonetheless,  I am making good progress, and am looking very forward to my show. I have learned an important lesson. I need to not place such demand on myself, not allow myself to get so stressed and simply paint what I really love, and feel great passion about. And I do wished people still made jellied moulds, just not tongue mould, they can forget that one!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

People First

I have had a back ground of working with youth at risk, young offenders, those with mental and physical challenges. I grew up with a brother who died at the age of 59 with MS from the young age of 16 years, and my late husband suffered greatly with paranoid schizophrenia which took his life at 27, and an alcoholic father who died form his disease. I know all too well the stigma that comes from being labelled and being treated like someone who does not belong and is made to feel shamed or guilty for illness. This is not the shame or guilt that belongs to the person who is labelled.

Those institutionalized and marginalized by society, because of these particular labels that have been placed upon them, are not being given the respect nor care they need. Many fall between the cracks are placed in locked facilities or don't get the help they need, and their families are left alone, placed in a position of trying to wade through a system that is broken. Things desperately need to change.

When I found out about this group that has existed in Nova Scotia for 25 year and has produced a recent film Freedom Tour by People First Nova Scotia I felt I had to post this on my blog. CBC Radio will be covering this story tomorrow morning, Wednesday May 28th .

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jesse Krimes - Sentence To Create

Apokaluptein:16389067 - Jesse Krimes
I have a close artist friend who a few years back began to do volunteer work in a correctional facility, teaching art to inmates. I saw her own personal transformation as a young woman before, and after. The work empowered her and did the same for the inmates she worked with, for over a long period of time. She related and empathized with these young men incarcerated, as a result of her own personal struggles, and went on to pursue formal education professionally, so she could continue to work in the field of youth and corrections. She'd often express to me how the men she met inside prison felt they had no voice, and were simply forgotten about, out of sight, out of mind.

Some time ago I'd heard about this artist Jesse Krimes  I did not follow up until now, through an article written by Kristin Hohenadel for entitled, The Art of Doing Time .

 Jesse Krimes  is a remarkable artist, who has a very empowering story to tell about incarceration, isolation redemption, service and hope for the so called hopeless, through art.

During my own personal vocation as a Youth Care Worker I saw first hand, how art gave voice to the troubled kids and young offenders that I worked with for over twenty years. They may not have been able to express their emotions, thoughts and feelings verbally, but talking about the work was a non-threatening, and indirect way of communicating.
Art can be very personally empowering for everyone on many levels.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Big Juicy Creative Life

“What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65… and you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life?
                                                                                          - Anne Lemott 

When I was a kid I couldn't seem to concentrate, or focus and sit quietly long enough to read a book from start to finish. I'm not exactly sure why. I can speculate I might have had a little ADHD or the type of kid that lived in her body, and was always on the go doing some kind of physical thing, climbing trees, jumping off a roof, looking for frogs along a riverside, or dancing around the living room with an ethereal look on my face, while my mother played the piano, as I imagined I was a great ballerina. I danced every chance I had, because I had a need and a desire, and I was always encouraged to do it. This was a good thing because I believe it is so important that kids are connected to their bodies and to the physical world.

By grade four, I knew I was not going to be a good student in school, as I didn't fit in, and the quality of my teachers went noticeably down.
 I wasn't able to retain facts; memorizing and then regurgitating information that I was supposed to be learning. It was all too boring and dull. I preferred daydreaming and looking out the window, engaging with my fellow classmates, dancing and making art when ever possible.

The first book I read on my own, from cover to cover at the age of 12, was Lewis Carroll's , Alice in Wonderland. It opened up the imaginative world of books. I spent night after night in bed with my flashlight, under the covers, reading until it was finished. I not only wanted to go to Wonderland, I really wanted to be Alice, and fall into that looking glass. I learned the satisfaction of reading a book from start to finish.
I still do my reading in bed at night, minus the flashlight.

 I continued to read, although far from voraciously, but by this time, I had a thirst for the power of imagination. I consider myself to be very fortunate to have had a family that knew the importance of learning and reading, but it was never forced upon me. It happened rather by way of attraction and osmosis, through example, and my own learning evolution. The books I loved when I was a kid, were mostly books about the children and animal adventures, like Huck Fin, Black Beauty, etc. Once in my late teens I was drawn to reading about world religions and philosophy.

I think one of the other books among many, that helped me immeasurably as an adult, is Bird By Bird: Instructions On Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. She is one of my very favourite authors and she writes about about spirituality and the human condition. Her books have given me strength and guidance. She is great at reminding me to keep things in perspective, with honesty, humour, and humility, as a imperfect human being. She continues to inspire me to keep writing. I love what she has to say about perfectionism and creativity.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Here's Something Incredible - Yusuke Asai

Lately I have been blogging a number of posts about street art.
It has always been absolutely essential to me that my art be subject matter that the average person can relate to on some level, and I am very keen on artist's that find alternative spaces to and ways to expose their work to the public .

Street art or using alternative space to exhibit has an ability to do this and it requires the viewer to engage with it some how, as it comes to where people are. It can be interactive and presented outside of traditional venues such as galleries and museums, it can greatly reduce the intimidation factor and is easily accessible to the average person.

An artist like this is not at the mercy of a curator, dealer or gallery owner who picks a chooses what and who will exhibit. Of course you will need to get permission to present your art work on the street usually depending on what kind of medium and genre you choose.

Here is an example of how a remarkable artist Yusuke Asai  creates a very empowering alternative way of exhibiting, that brings art, and the artist directly to a village with mud paintings.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


When I heard over the radio early this morning that Oscar award winning Swedish film director of Searching For Sugar Man  Malik-Bendjelloul  had committed suicide yesterday, after a bout of depression, I was shocked and very saddened. A very tragic and surreal event to happen, and unfortunately, all too common. It simply once again, sadly, shows how no one is immune to suffering from depression or having mental health issues no matter who they are. It is an epidemic.

He was obviously greatly loved and a beautiful creative soul.

 May he rest in peace and God bless his family and friends.

Malik-Bendjelloul was only 36 years old.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Street Art - The Personal is Political

I found this site today,

I also heard about a local school not allowing the female students to wear shorts because it was distracting the male teachers, and male students. This dress code did not apply to the male students. I found this really hard to believe. But then again it wasn't, considering the kind of abuse of power and control that is very evident throughout the world.
 In North American bullying has become a huge problem with the social online networks and youth being driven to end their own lives. This is a serious situation and can not be taken lightly.

Coming from an abusive relationship myself in the past, and finding myself in a woman's shelter on more than one occasion, I learned about the cycle of violence, and that abuse is a continuum. It all starts with misogynistic attitudes, were young girls and women are objectified, which most girls grow up with in their own families and it is carried over into our society, and in our education system unfortunately. I believe this situation in this school is a perfect example of this kind of attitude, and especially when it comes to art, the personal is political.

Here's another link to women's street art. 21 Daring Women

Monday, May 12, 2014

" Out of Mind, Out of Sight "

Today I heard about the winner of the Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award for the documentary film, by renowned Emmy award-winning filmmaker, John Kastner . Out of Sight ,Out of Mind is a riveting documentary that addresses the myriad of problems facing our psychiatric institutions, the lack of understanding and stigma surrounding the mentally ill, and the reasons for this fear and misunderstanding.

 My late husband lost his battle with paranoid schizophrenia and died in 1980 at 26 years of age. I understand on a very personal level the stigma and misunderstanding, that exists regarding mental illness. This film is a very important documentary to watch, especially if you have never been touched by mental illness in some way.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Sarah Helen Milner- Meyers

My mother loved pansies, and when I see them I always think of her. They are not only beautiful but very resilient like my mum. She always would say pansies look like they have a face. She died almost twenty years ago, though it seems like yesterday. She lives always very close to me, in the small of my heart.

When I reflect on mother's today, and my own mother, the word that comes to my mind is tenderness. I remember those small tender loving moments of my mother's love, and they are very precious to me. These take up the biggest part of my heart. Most of us have those kind of tender memories of our mothers, whether it be a touch, a word, a smile, or a tear that she wiped from our eyes. All of these convey a mother's love that cannot be underestimated in it's power, to heal, to transform, to encourage, and most of all to love.
We do not have to be a biological mother to mother, and many of us choose our mothers, and we choose our children. We love and can love them just as much as if they were part of our biological family, if not more so because we do choose to love them.

The day before yesterday I was at a friend's house who is a young mother of two little children. She told me of this story about a mother and father who had just become new parents of twins. One of the twins was healthy and the other was not, both being premature. The one little baby boy had actually been declared dead. The parents had accepted this, and had come to terms with this fact.
 The mother spent the next two hours cuddling and speaking to the baby, with the father close by her side. What happened next, was nothing more than miraculous.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

National Day of Honour - Moments Defined - Mothers

Dust Series - Jessica Wiebe
The hype of Mother's Day can make it a difficult holiday, particularly for mother's who have lost children, and for those who not longer have mother's alive, or for those who could never be mothers, for whatever reason. Unfortunately, like so many of our Western holidays the media commercial hype is mostly overwhelming and continues to relegate the holidays to consuming and spending money. We have really lost our way in understanding the meaning of what is really important in life, that being our relationships and that we belong to one another.

Yesterday was a National Day of Honour, a tribute held in Ottawa Canada, to honour those who fought and served in Afghanistan. The Huffington Post had a good article covering the day. It is truly a bitter sweet tribute, considering the way the government does not provide veterans with the support and help they so desperately need, especially regarding PTSD. As well with Mother's Day being tomorrow, my thoughts and prayers are with the mother's, who will not be celebrating with their beloved sons and daughters.

Artists have historically recorded war. There is a now a new generation of artists doing the same. I think of J.P. Cormier and his song Hometown Battlefield which recently went viral online. A moving and powerful truthful tribute to our veterans everywhere.

Another, is the visual artist Jessica Wiebe. She was a reservist at the tender age of twenty, for the Canadian Armed Forces, was serving in Afghanistan, and is now attending the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. I am certain her family is full of gratitude that she returned alive.

Recently, Jessica won an art competition for emerging artists through Taking It Global, entitled Defining Moments.

Canadians everywhere are deeply proud of, and supportive of all of our Vets, none more so, than the families of those who have served. I wished we felt and could say the same, for our Canadian government.

God bless our Veterans, their families and our mothers everywhere.

Defining Moments.
Defining Moments.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gypsy Wagons & Caravans

Many years ago I acquired a marvelous book called, Gypsies Wanderers of the World by Bart McDowall and Bruce Dale . I still have it and I often look at it. The link I have provided gives you an insight into the beauty captured by the authors, and in particular the photographic art work of Bruce Dale who worked as a photographer for the National Geographic for over thirty years.

Have you ever had a dream of living as a wanderer of the world in a Gypsy Wagon? I have. I've always been enamored by the beautiful craftsmanship of these incredible beautiful creations inside and out.

The thought of having it horse drawn, a beautiful wagon to live in, greatly appeals to me, as well being a horse nut and animal lover is my cup of tea.
Here's a fellow called  " Bear " that does just this, lives and travels in  Gypsy Caravan, in the contemporary world, and living the old tradition. He explains and describes the reasons he loves the lifestyle, which makes a lot of sense to me!
As well I have a great appreciation and love for the Roma people and their culture.

Juliette of the Herbs lived with the Gypsies in the United Kingdom. She was a great animal lover and studied to be a Veterinarian, but she really learned about animals from the Gypsies.

I could live here!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Art Should Be Fun

Cindy Sherman As Mrs. Claus

Art can be a serious matter. But it doesn't have to be. I firmly believe in the importance of fun in all aspects of our lives.  Not doubt we all love to laugh, some of us laugh readily, others are more reserved. Humour is immeasurably necessary in so many ways, to lighten our load in the midst of our difficulties.

 There is something very attractive about an artist who incorporates a strong element of humour in their artwork, to convey a message whether it be lighthearted satire, a politically charged statement, or simply to present thought provoking questions.

A few artists come to mind; Suzanne Heintz, Cindy Sherman, and Mark Bryan are a few of my favourites. Those are just some of the visual multi-media artists, but there are many singers, actors and writers that I greatly admire for their satire, and ability to make us think, using humour as a tool for change.

Mark Bryan - Odalisque

" ART21: I think you have a tremendous amount of fun and there’s a lot of humor in your work yet people mostly take it very seriously. Tell me how you think about that.
SHERMAN: Well, I’m much more ignorant about Old Master paintings and art history than many people involved in the art world, so I’m not really taking it seriously. Like the tit in [Untitled (#216)] looks like a slice of half a grapefruit stuck onto someone's chest and the baby looks plastic because it is. But in Old Master paintings a lot of these figures’ breasts don’t even look real or the children look muscular, like miniature wrestlers. I guess I’m also commenting on how we think these things are masterful. Why do we think they’re so great? "

Here are a few examples of some art that is fun and might even make you laugh out loud 

Suzanne Heintz- from Life Once Removed

Friday, May 2, 2014

Art's Purpose As Therapy?

I was very interested in listening to Jian Ghomeshi' show on Q the other morning. The show featured a compelling lively debate between U.K philosopher Alain de Botton and Canadian writer RM Vaughan. It was a very engaging debate, however I wasn't convinced but RM Vaughan.

I believe each individual's perspective regarding this debate, is relative to what our personal philosophy and experience is, and how this relates to art. Art has a higher purpose I believe, because we are human beings, who almost innately long for meaning, and a higher purpose in life. We don't live in a vacuum nor does art. Art is about communication in my opinion, and emotional language, an exchange between the one who creates the art and the viewer who may or may not choose to interact with the art. Art is complex yes, I don't believe is that mysterious nor does it need to be.

Although I respect, appreciate, understand and even agree with some of the points RM Vaughan makes in his argument, in my opinion he is somewhat reactionary, and has missed the point, but this again I think is perhaps as a result of his philosophical beliefs relating to life and art, which cannot be separated. Pluralism is what is reductionist. I suspect RM Vaughan may believe in pluralism.