Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Michael Gaudet - Go Big Or Go Home!

Initial Construction

Michael Gaudet- Hard at Work

Here is a recent update on the progress of my friend Michael Gaudet's mural project, for the Saskatchewan Government Employees' Union (SGEU). I suspect Michael is working tirelessly on this monumental undertaking.

Michael has so much experience creating and executing this kind of large scale art work, which boggles my mind really. That said, SGEU could not have chosen a more qualified artist or individual to do the job.
I am so very happy for him to have received this much deserved commission.

I am really looking forward to seeing the completion of this wonderful mural that Michael is creating.
I have provided the link below to read more about this project.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Karolina Jonderko - " Portrait With My Mother "

I have learned that there is no time line for grieving. When my first husband died at the age of 26, while in my last year of University in 1980, I excelled in my art work. Creating art helped me to grieve. Many artists use there work as a vehicle to process their grief. It's something I think for many artists is a natural inclination, even if we are not fully conscious of this at the time. Creativity is a conduit for processing and communicating deep heart ache.

Karolina Jonderko I think, found this to be true for her, inadvertently with no intention of sharing what she was doing after the death of her mother, who had been very sick with cancer. She began to take a series of photographs of herself, in her mothers clothes. To some this might seem morbid, and perhaps not being able to let go. There is never a set formula in knowing how to grieve if we have not experienced it personally, in such a profound way, and it think it is different for all of us, though we can identify with many of the feelings.

When those we love die, it is profound, death is profound, as is life, neither are easy but both can be very beautiful. I believe mortality is what gives our lives meaning.

A few years back I learned about Caitlyn Doughty a member of The Order of The Good Death, and a mortician in Los Angeles, Califonia. Her approach and attitude toward death I believe we can all learn and benefit from, as our society has kept death at arms length. We don't want to talk about it.

People need to be allowed to grieve in what ever way they wish. However suppression of feelings after a period of time becomes repression, which is toxic to our health and happiness. I can't think of any more proactive way to communicate emotion, than expressing ourselves through creating art work.

Here's the link to an interview with Karolina Jonderko about her exhibit of photography, Portrait With My Mother.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Johnathan Kozol - "Losing My Father One Day at a Time"

Sitting in the waiting room at the dentist office, is not an unusual thing for me these days.

What is unusual is seeing and meeting a 99 year old woman, with whom I struck up a very pleasant conversation with while we both waited.

She spoke to me about a teacher she'd had, when she was just 16 years old. I knew of him I said, and told her he was still living in the area of Nova Scotia where I lived. I mentioned he was not well, with dementia. She could remember the details of her whole life, but wasn't good with names, she commented. When she told me her age, and that she still had all her teeth, and that were all over 90 years old, as she laughed. Her mind was sharp and lucid. I was very amazed and impressed by this beautiful sweet soul.

She made me think of the item I heard today about dementia, an interview with jounalist, author, civil rights activist and educator Johnathan Kozol.  His new book, Losing My Father One Day at a Time is about his father, the brilliant neurologist Harry Kozol, and how Alzheimers disease had affected their relationship. It was a touching, wonderful interview, and he has so many insights about this disease.

I haven't had family members that have suffered from long term dementia, or Alzheimers, but I am all too familiar with several life threatening illnesses. Disease is disease regardless of what kind it is, every one has to learn how to cope and live with it the best way they know how, and education is key.
Considering how dementia is on the rise, it is so important that as an aging society we educate and prepare ourselves for this fact.

Johnathan Kozol's does much to enlighten and educate about dementia, and I am certain his book will do a great deal to change misconceptions, and perceptions about the disease. His words and experience will deeply touch hearts, no doubt.

I've posted a video that was taken in 2007 Letters To A Young Teacher that gives you an impression of the kind of man Johnathan Kozol is, and you will agree with me. The world needs more people like him.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What Elizabeth Gilbert Learned From Tom Waits

I started this blog seven years ago, as a exploration of what it means to live life creatively. I've learned about, and from so many creative people along the way, and continue to do so.

This journey truly began in 1994, when I was first introduced to a book and recommended by art therapist friend. It was then I read, The Artist's Way a Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron,  which was powerful and life changing for me. I know I always rave about this book, for good reason.  Julia Cameron's ten spiritual principles, and exercises, especially the practice of morning pages, helped me immeasurably. I learned the importance of daily writing. It was the way to channel and create my own creativity. Daily journaling has enabled me to achieve important goals and fulfill some life long dreams.

So many wonderful books about creativity, and not enough time, and am always excited to learn of new good reads by creative people, especially about creative process in all forms.

I have never read the Eat, Pray Love I didn't even see the movie, nor do I recall hearing anything about of Elizabeth Gilbert, though I had heard the title, as a good friend recommended it to me some time ago, but I never got around to reading it. Some times I feel I live in cave. Progress not perfection is the order of my days.

So I consulted the Google god! I found this great TED talk with Elizabeth Gilbert. When she mentioned the Greeks and Romans, along with Tom Waits, she got my attention!

Now I have to read Eat, Pray, Love, and can hardly wait for Big Magic! I'll  skip the movie, because the book is always better than the movie right?

Monday, June 15, 2015

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” - Ian Maclaren

I am excited to recently learn of a book entitled "Getting There", a book about mentors.  I hope we all have mentors, everyone should have at least one. I haven't known so much about Marina Abramović who was one of the accomplished visionary mentors that inspired Gillian Zoe Segal to compile these interviews with these individuals, but I have to say Marina Abramović what I do know of her, I would definitely call her a mentor. She has overcome so much. It is a testament to the healing and trans-formative power of how our weakness can become our greatest strength, and how trials can turn into triumph.

It causes me reflect on the relationship between fear and creativity. I ask myself the question, is fear triggered by creativity or creativity triggered by fear? I know it takes courage to be an artist, then again it takes courage to be a human being.

 Here are some compelling facts and thought about Marina Abramović and people like her, published on the Brain Pickings site, that I read today, based on Gillian Zoe Segal's interview with the artist.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Teresita Fernández - Ten Practical Steps to Being an Artist

Teresita Fernández

Three years and one month ago I graduated from Mount Allison University with my Bachelor of Fine Art Degree. I can hardly believe it has been that long. I remember that day very well, but I remember very little about what was said during the commencement address. Perhaps because there wasn't enough said that  spoke to me directly, about being an artist, as it was a general speech to the overall students in the University from various disciplines.

 I really love to read commencement speeches that have been archived online, especially written by creative individuals. One of the very favourites, given to me by one of my Fine Art Professors to read in my final year before I graduated,  was written by the late David Foster Wallace, "This Is Water."
The second favourite is entitled "Make Good Art" by Neil Gaiman. Today I found another favourite by Teresita Fernández, “On Amnesia, Broken Pottery, and the Inside of a Form.”

Teresita Fernández - Ten Practical Steps to Being An Artist
  1. Art requires time — there’s a reason it’s called a studio practice. Contrary to popular belief, moving to Bushwick, Brooklyn, this summer does not make you an artist. If in order to do this you have to share a space with five roommates and wait on tables, you will probably not make much art. What worked for me was spending five years building a body of work in a city where it was cheapest for me to live, and that allowed me the precious time and space I needed after grad school.
  2. Learn to write well and get into the habit of systematically applying for every grant you can find. If you don’t get it, keep applying. I lived from grant money for four years when I first graduated.
  3. Nobody reads artist’s statements. Learn to tell an interesting story about your work that people can relate to on a personal level.
  4. Not every project will survive. Purge regularly, destroying is intimately connected to creating. This will save you time.
  5. Edit privately. As much as I believe in stumbling, I also think nobody else needs to watch you do it.
  6. When people say your work is good do two things. First, don’t believe them. Second, ask them, “Why”? If they can convince you of why they think your work is good, accept the compliment. If they can’t convince you (and most people can’t) dismiss it as superficial and recognize that most bad consensus is made by people simply repeating that they “like” something.
  7. Don’t ever feel like you have to give anything up in order to be an artist. I had babies and made art and traveled and still have a million things I’d like to do.
  8. You don’t need a lot of friends or curators or patrons or a huge following, just a few that really believe in you.
  9. Remind yourself to be gracious to everyone, whether they can help you or not. It will draw people to you over and over again and help build trust in professional relationships.
  10. And lastly, when other things in life get tough, when you’re going through family troubles, when you’re heartbroken, when you’re frustrated with money problems, focus on your work. It has saved me through every single difficult thing I have ever had to do, like a scaffolding that goes far beyond any traditional notions of a career.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Blood - Algiers


A month or so ago I heard an interview with Mavis Staples. She was asked if she saw the younger contemporary musicians reflecting the kind of political protest, unrest, and call for change in society like the music did of her era. She stated she did not.

I think Algiers attempts to reflect a call for change, and protest in their music in such a song like Blood. The lyrics and video get the message across in a powerful way. I think this band is pretty amazing, and I'm certain we will be hearing more from them in the future. Lyrically, and the creative musical mash up are both a powerful voice for protest, social change and hope.


For all your love of soma
All my blood's in vain
You say your history's over
All of my blood's in vain
Your television coma
All my blood's in vain
It's gone too far to change
All of my blood's in vain

Flash across your screen
They got you in their hand
Fifteen minutes of freedom
Still 3/5 a man
Sterilize your conscience and
Disgrace your name
A healthy simulation
All my blood's in vain

For all your love of soma
All my blood's in vain
You say your history's over
All my blood's in vain
Your television coma
All my blood's in vain
It's gone too far to change
All of my blood's in vain

Liquor stains your table
Women change you bed
You rise on Sunday morning
Just like the living dead
Your Hell is fornication
Your Heaven is the same
But master is complacent
So all my blood's in vain

For all your love of soma
All my blood's in vain
You say your history's over
All my blood's in vain
Your television coma
All my blood's in vain
It's gone too far to change
All of my blood's in vain

Four hundred years of torture
Four hundred years a slave
Dead just to watch you squander
Just what we tried to save
Now death is at your doorstep
And you're still playing games
So drown in entertainment
Cause all our blood is in vain

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Death of English? Amazeballs!

Artist's need and want to express themselves via the language of creativity. Human beings have an innate desire and motivation to communicate. Language takes many forms in non-verbal and verbal expression. I am always drawn back to my interest in language and communication because it embodies so much of who I am as a human being, and as an individual artist, which I believe are really one in the same.

Last week I heard a discussion regarding the correlation between music and language. To me this is an obvious no brainer. What came first I ask myself, which I think is really like the question about what came first, the chicken or the egg. There really seems to be no hard scientific fact to know this, however there is evidence and much speculation about how music can improve language, speech and communication.

The study of linguistics in University helped me to see how language is a living thing, that changes over time and not set in stone,  forever contained inanimately within dictionaries. Finding out recent entries into the Merriam-Webster dictionary, of such contemporary words like amazeballs, chillax, schwack, ginourmous, gription, conversate, woot, etc., might disturb the language purists. Your spell check won't even accept them, and I wonder if they will stand the test of time through continuous usage.

After listening to CBC Q with Shad about the topic of whether or nor the English language is being killed off inspired this post. I have highlighted the podcast.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dr. Cornell West - "Jazz Man of Ideas"

Justice Murray Sinclair - Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

There has been a confluence of events in the media this past week, that for me, have a real synchronicity. .

The first being the findings and report given by Justice Murray Sinclair from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, regarding the treatment of First Nations people, torn from their families, who were placed in residential schools, tortuously abused, treated less than human, and as many as 6,000 children died. Justice Murray Sinclair described this as being "nothing short of cultural genocide."

The second event, is the opening this month, on June 6th, of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre located in Birchtown, Nova Scotia’s South Shore, the location of the first Black Loyalists to arrive in Canada.
After reading the Book of Negroes by Canadian writer Lawrence Hill, and then watching the mini-series, I began to have a deeper understanding of this historical legacy, and that in so many ways directly parallels the cultural genocide that Justice Murray Sinclair refers to in his comments concluding the outcome of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I have never underestimated the brevity of these histories, but to learn the depth and breadth of the injustice perpetrated is staggering, beyond comprehension for most of us who come from a shameful, colonial history.

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing a powerful and poignant address and interview on CBC radio with Cornell West on the program Ideas. Dr. West's talk was for the Axworthy Distinguished Lecture Series on Social Justice and the Public Good, on Social Justice in a Secular World. Dr. West had such a way of summing up and clarifying the injustice within our western world that spoke volumes, and I am certain touched all who heard his powerful and hopeful message.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission with Justice Murray Sinclair listened to thousands of survivors painful personal stories, that spoke the truth. Simultaneously with the opening of The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre this month, in Birchtown, Nova Scotia, also tells the painful stories of truth.

Cornell West clarified very succinctly for me, the connection between the historical legacies of cultural genocide, that Justice Murray Sinclair emphatically spoke of, and that apology must be followed by action.
Justice Murray Sinclair speaks the truth, as does Cornell West. I hope and pray that we will all fight the same fight, speaking for the truth in the face of all injustices.

Brother Cornell West