Thursday, February 26, 2015

Am I Nude Or Am I Naked?

Artist As A Crone - Catherine Meyers

Early into in my art education at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, when I was regularly attending life drawing classes, with nude models, I was never really uncomfortable with their nudity when rendering them, but I felt a differently if I came eye to eyeball with them, and they began to speak to me.
I short while later my perspective drastically changed when I became a model myself, in the University I was attending. Now, I was viewing the viewer. I got to see the reactions of fine art students to me, as a nude model. I was surprised by what I sensed was discomfort from students, when I would walk around (robed) to look, and perhaps comment on their drawings.

Some people might think that the model would be uncomfortable with their own nudity. In fact the opposite is true. In reality the model would not be able to disrobe and do their job, if they did not have a level of comfort with their bodies, and understood the differences between nudity, and being naked. This opinion of the individual doing the rendering, is mostly due to not being able to imagine themselves ever getting nude, in front of strangers or even those they know.

It didn't happen immediately, but not long after I began to model, I became at ease with my own body, and skin so to speak. I was able to detach psychologically, is the way I describe it. It was the viewers or art students who were not so comfortable. I think this comfort level changes and increases, as the artist becomes more experienced working with nude models.

I never really thought so much about there being a difference between being naked, as opposed to being nude. But I did yesterday, after listening to an interview on CBC with Curator Virginia Eichorn. This interview was about an exciting exhibit, opening March 7th, at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener Ontario. In this exhibit Getting Naked is wanting to facilitate a dialogue on the topic of nudity and nakedness after gathering over a hundred plus paintings for this upcoming exhibit, from the Canadian Art Bank, that have nudes as subject matter.

Call me a traditionalist, but I strongly believe as an artist, learning how to render the nude is an absolute essential part of your education. For me, and I think many artists, life drawing of the figure is the foundation of our training. It has also been my experience the best models have been artists themselves. On the other hand, I can not say that the best artists are models. There is however, something that happens to your perception, physically and physiologically, when you get into a pose or gesture, that somehow helps you to understand  the process of drawing, which very much involves the body. I think it works on an intuitive and subconscious level.

Perhaps, if the took on the postures of the life drawing model, before actually drawing, they may be given more insight into their renderings. This is speculation on my part, as I have never experienced this teaching technique in a life drawing class, but would certainly like to try it as an experiment.

” The soul of a human being as well as the soul of a culture cannot evolve if the body is not reclaimed and honoured “. Maureen Murdock

Kitchener, ON – January 22, 2015 – The Canadian Art Council Art Bank has many all-but-forgotten nudes, unclothed or naked pieces of art. That will change this spring when THEMUSEUM reveals its 100+ piece exhibit, Getting Naked, to the public.
“We have 17,000 works of art by Canadian artists at the Art Bank, but for a number of reasons the small collection of nudes do not get rented out to boardrooms or office spaces. My goal was to see the works displayed, but no one has had the courage to show the works until David Marskell of THEMUSEUM enthusiastically agreed,” says Victoria Henry, Canadian Art Bank Director.
The collection is wildly disparate, but has only one message, medium, or theme tying them together. Nudity. Not pornography, though some are erotic. Not gratuitous, though some are challenging. They are provocative and evocative, joyful and heartbreaking, breathtaking and hilarious, wry and fascinating.
“Since its rebranding and evolution over the last several years, THEMUSEUM has made its mark in establishing itself as an organization that is not afraid to make bold choices,” says Virginia Eichhorn, Getting Naked Curator.
Many of the artists are recognized Canadian icons, well known for other works, however the nudes have remained rarely seen. “From the hyper-sexualized voyeur viewpoints, depicted by Dennis Burton, to the historic referential evocations of Frank Mulvey; situating the nude as a site of liberation as per Joyce Weiland or of defiance when used by Donigan Cumming or Evergon; the dynamic, dark and sensual artworks presented by Diana Thorneycroft; or simply as form or shape in and of itself as demonstrated through the work of Greg Payce and Evan Penny – Getting Naked evokes the continued fascination that artists have had with the human form, for as long as art has existed,” Eichhorn says.
“This is a rare opportunity to not only see these incredible works of art but also have a conversation about why Canadian culture shy’s away from nudity,” says David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM. “As Canadian citizens, we own these works of art but until now there hasn’t been an opportunity to view them all at once. THEMUSEUM is going to pair the exhibit with discussion around nudity and culture. We want this exhibit to inspire discussion.”
The Getting Naked exhibit opens March 7th, 2015.
Additional quotes:
“The artists who are represented in the Art Bank’s collection are all well-recognized and highly accomplished artists. We aren’t speaking about amateurs here or people who are gratuitously trying to be proactive. So it seems surprising that here, in 2014, we can be made so uncomfortable with seeing a bit of skin. Why is that? Getting Naked sets out to answer that question as well as to provide examples of the enduring power of the human figure, in all its naked glory, as a powerful purveyor of meaning and representation of many ways and states of being,” Virginia Eichhorn.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Levi Bettweiser - Building a 4x5 Bender View Camera

Levi Bettwieser's Bender 4x5 View Camera

Wow! I really love it when I can find real special artists who have a great story about themselves, and are so passionate about the art they make.

Levi Bettwieser is one such photographer. He has an incredible camera collection, and much of his own photographs are taken with the view camera.

Levi Bettwieser- Camera Collection

 If you have a passion for photography, you will love what this man does, and has done. One particular project he undertook was which involves rescuing rolls of film.What he found is remarkable.

Having had the privilege of being taught by a great heuristic teacher  I learned the satisfactions, rewards and the challenges to be found in photography. In particular, I developed the deep appreciation of large format, black and white photographs taken with a 4"x5" view camera.

When I was studying at Mount Allison University, photography became my nemesis, in that I loved and hated it, at the same time. Being a painter and not a technically minded, I finally had to face this fact, and I let go of my technical study of photography, to focus solely on my painting. That certainly has never lessened my passion for the traditional and contemporary photograph or photographer.

The other project Levi Bettwieser took pursued was building a view camera . He found a Bender 4x5 building kit and painstakingly proceeded to build it.

Levi Bettwieser just blew my mind, and I think he will yours too.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Edward Gorey - I Love The Beastly Baby

The Beastly Baby - Edward Gorey

The first time I saw one of Edward Gorey's books I was a teenager and I immediately became a fan . I was crazy for his art, and the dark humour reflected in both his drawings, and his writing with his delightful sense of word play.

I believe it is a certain type of person that is drawn to Edward Gorey's work. One who possesses a sense of black humour, has experienced ennui, and understands the humour to be found in the tragic. I don't think I can do justice in describing Edward Gorey's work, I just know that he has been my one of my favourite artists ever. There is no one quite like him.

"Ideally, if anything were any good, it would be indescribable."
         - Edward Gorey

One of my favourite Edward Gorey illustrated stories of his is, The Beastly Baby. The story of a rather ghastly and ugly very bloated baby, who's arms and legs are too short, and has two left hands. The child can only roll around on the floor. No one picks the baby up or shows it any kind of affection or love. The baby stays under tables and furniture, cutting up the carpet with sharp objects. The adults are wanting to rid themselves of the child, and commence to bring about it's demise. They first place the beastly baby into the sea, but the baby comes floating back to the shoreline, only to be covered in green slimy seaweed, no matter how many times they try, it continues to return to the shore, alive.

The last attempt finds the adults placing the child onto a high ledge a top a mountain, where they once again abandon him and they walk away. Shortly after, they hear a explosion of sorts in the far distance. The Beastly Baby finally met it's inevitable end, when it is carried off by a large bird of prey. The bird's talons caused the baby to explode.

I know it's a very dark story, and I can't help but feel sorry for the horrid beastly baby, and though the adults where really worse than horrid for doing such a cruel thing, to a defenseless baby, but nonetheless it is funny story, just the same to me, and I do think there may be a moral to be found in this tale.

Many of Gorey's stories do present some kind of enigma, dilemma, or tragic event that has happened or is about to take place, leaving the viewer wondering how this has happened and why. I would call them odd and mysterious enigmas, not to be understood but within our imaginations, and that we can relate to on some level perhaps, whether it be conscious or unconscious.

I think about another favourite entitled The Doubtful Guest. This undetermined peculiar creature arrives at a Victorian home wearing a scarf, in what looks like Converse tennis shoes. It stays for dinner but never leaves. I often refer to this story as being the thing that came for dinner, and wouldn't leave, because I think we can all relate to this thing. We've all had people arrive in our life or come into our spaces, and we just can't seem to get clear of them.

Pins and Needles stayed with me always and I especially fond of it. The following is the text that goes along with it. Gorey's wit, love of words and anthropomorphizing objects is very obvious in this drawing, and I love it so much.

Pins and Needles-Edward Gorey

'Death and Distraction!' said the Pins and Needles. 'Destruction and Debauchery!'
Almost at once the Mo.37 Penpoint returned to the Featureless Expanse It encountered the Glass Marble, but neither recognized the other.
The Two-Holed Button concealed its apprehension
The Half-Inch Thumbtack told the Four-Holed Button what had happened
'Duplicity and Desolation!' said the Needles and Pins. 'Dissolution and Despair!'
Quickly the Knotted String decided to wait on events.
The Four-Holed Button came to it with a sinister proposal.
The Two-Holed Button overheard them unnoticed.
No sooner had it withdrawn than it ran into the Glass Marble.
The Knotted String appeared and the Two-Holed Button fell sensless
'Discomfort and Damage!' said the pins and Needles. 'Doom and Discrepancy!'
Incontinently the Four-Holed Button approached the Mo.37 Penpoint with another sinister proposal.
The Half-Inch Thumbtack informed them what had taken place.
The Glass Marble regretted its actions.
The Mo.37 Penpoint and the Knotted String confronted one another.
'Dishonour and Depredation!' said the Needles and Pins. 'Degradation and Dismay!'
Immediately the No.37 Penpoint, now ruined, and the Two-Holed Button fled.
The Half-Inch Thumbtack acquainted them with what had transpired.
The Two-Holed Button found itself alone.
The Glass Marble, mistaking the No.37 Penpoint for the Four-Holed Button, pushed it into the Yawning Chasm.
When it saw what it had done, it went mad and rolled off the edge.
'Danger and Deceit!' said the Pins and Needles. 'Defeat and Disaster!'
Promptly the Knotted String surprised the Four-Holed Button.
In the struggle they went over the edge together.
The Half-Inch Thumbtack made known to the Two-Holed Button what had occurred.
The Two-Holed Button threw itself over at the same spot.
The Half-Inch Thumbtack looked around and fell down lifeless.
'Depravity and Disappointment!' said the Needles and Pins. 'Disappearance and Damnation!'
Forthwith they too flung themselves into the Yawning Chasm.

Today is Edward Gorey's Birthday, and would be 90 years of age.

Happy Birthday Edward.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

How To Embrace Winter-Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

Ice Church: In The Glade
David Andrén, Johan Andrén, Tjåsa Gusfors, Sweden

This Winter really got started here in the Maritimes in February, and we've have a huge amount of snow. It gets to a lot of people, and those who love it, I often hear them parrot, "You just have to learn how to embrace it." I'll never do that. I have tried. Even as a kid I never much liked Winter. The cold, ice and all that snow never impressed me much, and I have some not so great memories of Winter as a kid, and even worse ones as an adult.

I got thinking today, there are artists who do beautiful snow sculpture and I like that. But I wouldn't ever do it. Then the thought of the Ice Hotel in Sweden came to mind. I think I could embrace Winter a guest of course. Oh ya, definitely could do that. A person can even apply to work there. Only thing is you must be fluent in Swedish. Well I'm not about to learn Swedish, and I wouldn't want to work there, but be a guest? Oh ya, I'd embrace that!

"ICEHOTEL is the world’s first and largest hotel built of snow and ice and it is situated in Jukkasjärvi, a small village in Northern Sweden with 1,100 residents and 1,000 dogs."

There are artists that come from all over the world to the Ice Hotel that create amazing art and design art suites. If you have never seen the Ice Hotel it is just amazing! No I've never been, just virtual visit. I can't imagine how beautiful it must be is in reality. It changes ever year.

Stay warm and don't eat the yellow snow!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Aaron Huey - America's Native Prisoners of War

Yesterday I connected with an online friend who told me about a presentation from an Oglala Lakota  elder Barbara Dull Knife from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. I told my friend I had always been very drawn to the Lakota in South Dakota, for a myriad of reasons, both spiritual and emotional.

Today I found the photography of Matthew Williams. He did a multimedia piece about Pine Ridge Reservation and it's youth. There are very few people who know the profound, and tragic history of this area. How The Black Hills were seized, and taken from the Lakota by the US government, who ignored Treaties, and are still doing so today.

Then I found the photographer Aaron Huey, who's photography evolved into a powerful TED talk, that I have posted. He gives the historical perspective regarding the Oglala Lakota, that is both disturbing and moving.

Few of us are aware of the extreme poverty and despair in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, which is on par with third world countries, being the highest poverty rate in the United States, and is greatly affected by alcoholism, gangs, drug abuse, and suicide.

It is not only the travesty and the legacy of genocide, of a proud people, so rich in culture and spiritual tradition, but it is about what is continuing to happen at Pine Ridge and beyond, with Indigenous First Nations people everywhere. It makes me sick.

I am however heartened by hope, and inspired to learn of people like the young woman, Maggie Dunne, who at the tender age of 16 years, was moved into action to make a difference by creating the Lakota Children's Enrichment. 

When all is said and done ultimately,  I have to agree with what Aaron Huey states at the end of his TED talk, give back the Black Hills and honour the Treaties.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Saturday Night Live - Happy Anniversary!

Growing up with the culture of Saturday Night Live, is one of the very best memories and experiences I had as an young adolescent, and into my young adult life. It is a proud and remarkable thing to know how many Canadians contributed to this really rather timeless show, in particular the genius that is Lorne Michaels.

After watching  this first episode with George Carlin hosting, I can't help but be sadly and poignantly aware of how many of the members have left this mortal coil, almost too many to count now, gone. but forever alive and etched in my memory, as are so many of the sketches. But the show is still going strong and thankfully, so is Lorne Michaels.

This first episode is a real trip down memory lane. I still laugh like I did when it first aired in 1975. I would have been 22 years old in my second year of art college, my brother was 32 and Lorne Michaels was 31 years old.
 Here it is now, 40 years later since the first show, a kind of legacy that's been with all of us who lived through the 60s, and into 2015. Amazing, just amazing.

Here's the link to the first episode of Saturday Night Live episode 1975 Season 1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Louie Palu - Documentary Photographer

I heard about Louie Palu, a documentary photographer today on Tapestry. I don't have much to say about him, because his story told through his powerful photography speaks volumes. What he says about doing the work he does, and the affect on him personally, reminds me of Chris Hedges who was an American war correspondent.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Creative Brain In The Frying Pan of Life - Oww Vs Wow

Learning a new skill means I have to have someone show me, I try it out, and then I have to practice, practice, practice. I was fortunate to have a mother that gave me music lessons as a kid, and so I learned about skill unconsciously. Once I became conscious of the mechanics of a skill, it helped me a lot in later life. I can be a slow learner, and that's ok as long as I'm learning, because I love life learning.

This post is a continuation of yesterday's, because I am learning the new skill of exercising and how to grow my "Wow Brain".
I thought this picture depicted a good expression of how I feel about my 'Oww Brain', like I am a prisoner of my own brain. I'm not sure who's painting it is. I'm thinking the highly imaginative, talented, funny, and skilled artist  Mark Byran.

Since yesterday, I've been absorbing and contemplating very intently, about Canadian, (yes he's ours!), Todd Herman's eye-poppin, eye-opening explanation of the 'Oww Brain' and the 'Wow Brain'. Todd says, we are all in possession of both aspects of this brain at different times, on a genetic, and hormonal level. The great news is, we can turn things around once we understand how our brain cells work with all those endorphins and dopamine swishin' around. Well isn't that a great thing to find out! Honestly, it was the big aha and eureka moment for me yesterday, after seeing Todd's video on Marie TV.

For those of you who don't want to watch the video, but I suggest you do watch it , a couple of times, cause humans a real good at forgettin', but regardless, let me explain the highlights.

The oww brain or the pain brain I'll call it for now, can kick in when we are trying to make a change in a habit for the better, we protest and say eww! This hurts. We're stuck, bored and want to stay in our safe warm place.

Flip that big gray matter over in the big fryin' pan of life, and we have the wow or pleasure brain. Wowweewoowow! Now were talkin', the fun brain I'll call it, which says, Oh yeah baby! Bring it on! All about the feelin' good.

When that fun brain is workin' it, it's all about Growth, Confidence, and Adventure. Now this is where the magic happens. Now I know it's not exactly magic, but science, though it feels like magic it to me, because it is so darn exciting to know the facts, and to have the knowledge to change ourselves and our lives for the positive. Finally it really does feel like, everything IS really figureoutable, as Marie Forleo's mama says.
God bless our mamas!

So here's the best part.

When Growth and Confidence overlap this gives us Momentum and we get unstuck.

When Confidence and Adventure overlap this gives us Excitement, the opposite of boredom.

When Growth and Adventure overlap this gives us Transformation and at this point we have left our safe warm place.

This brain mash up results in Leadership.
So hopefully all this will help my creative brain to go from the frying pain into the fire in a good way of course.

My Wow Brain - Catherine Meyers

    Friday, February 6, 2015

    Marie Forleo's B-School and My Oww Brain

    I'm not one to be a groupie of online or TV personalities, but I felt strongly that I wanted to post, a person I found out about a few months back, Marie Forleo. She has an infectious enthusiasm, high energy, an big open creative heart, a real funny sense of humour and heaps of practical wisdom.

    I wanted to blog about her simply because I like her personality, and I wanted others to know who she is, if they don't already. She has much to offer anyone wanting to improve or change their life, and to creatively build upon or improve their business skills. I must have really been out of the loop to have not known about her before now. But better late than never.

     Marie is presently offering some free videos, you just might find very worth while, and if you decide that you want to go on further, you can, with what she calls, Marie Forleo B-School. Hope you tune in, and check out her website, She has really helpful videos she sends every Tuesday. I really look forward to these every week, and enjoy them immensely.
    I just finished watching the first B-School free video ( free is good). I took notes! Good practical, detailed information you can use.

    I spent a couple of hours this afternoon watching some videos about Marie Forleo, and then one she'd done on Marie TV with Todd Herman Five Steps To Change Your Life and Make It Stick. Eek! I found out when it comes to exercise right now, I have a big Oww brain!That hurts!

    Thursday, February 5, 2015

    Tuesday, February 3, 2015

    Side Walk Sam - Robert Guillemin

    Yesterday I heard about this beautiful soul, a man nicknamed Side Walk Sam. Robert Guillemin was an very accomplished artist, with a noble, and hope filled higher purpose. He empowered people to create art, on the street.

    I'm very sorry to say I'd never heard of him until now. He lived in the Boston, and brought art to the street and worked  hard at making art inclusive, enriching the lives people young and old alike.

    Sadly Robert Guillemin died  Monday January 26th 2015. Side Walk Sam was 75 year old. He will be deeply missed by many in Boston, especially those who loved him.

    Add caption

    Monday, February 2, 2015

    Mark Henick's Letter From Mike

    Being a troubled youth myself, who was given help by others who cared, made all the difference to me in my life, and lead me to the vocation as a Youth Care Worker for 20 years. I wanted to give back what was so freely given to me, by those adults who really cared. This is what life is all about, giving to another, who is in need of help.

    Sunday, February 1, 2015

    " Boy, Snow, Bird " - Helen Oyeyemi

    Helen Oyeyemi

    I intended to write this post sometime ago, when I first heard it on Eleanor Whachtel's, Writers and Company, but the time wasn't right. Feels like the right time now, after having read The Book of Negroes a few months back, written by Lawrence Hill, and has been recently made into ten episode mini-series, which I have been watching and really enjoying. Usually I find the book better than the movie, when books are made into movies, but this series is the exception. The mini-series made the book come alive. Both the book and series are very educational and enlightening to say the least. The factual and fictional story changed and even challenged my ideas about the meaning of racism.

    Eleanor Whachtel's guest, author Helen Oyeyemi wrote her own interpretation and re-telling of the fairy tale Snow White, in her book entitled, Bird, Snow, Bird . This book also challenges one's ideas about racism, beauty, identity, and our perception about our reflection that we see in the mirror. The mirror she describes as being a either a clock or a door. This is a wonderful analogy.

    Helen Oyeyemi's interest in fairy tales, and story telling is so insightful, and compelling. Story telling, like fairy tales reflect, what it means to be human, based on culture, archetype and stories, that embody the human experiences and struggles with morality.

    When I was a little girl I had a birthday party when I turned 10. My mother gave me a Snow White watch, and a small figurine to match.  I loved Snow White so much, and treasured this birthday gift. I would often wish I still had the figurine of Snow White, but I broke it. I don't know why I loved Snow White so much. I think perhaps as a child, she was my ideal of the perfect woman. Wow did I ever get that wrong.

    After hearing Helen Oyeyemi's interview, how could I ever again think or feel the same way about the perfect Snow White, which is a relief I must say.

    "  I don't feel there's a difference between the real world and the fairy-tale world. They contain psychological truths and, I guess, projections of what the culture that tells them thinks about various things: men, women, aging, dying — the most basic aspects of being human. "

     - Helen Oyeyemi