Monday, August 31, 2015

"Some Kind of Love"

Yolanda Sonnabend

Last night I watched this fascinating and touching documentary by Vancouver film maker and nephew Thomas Burstyn, to Yolanda Sonnabend, Joseph  her brother, about the Sonnabend family. It is a unique very personal glimpse into an artist's life and the dynamics of family. It is both beautiful and sad, rather like life.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

"My Week On Welfare" - Jackie Torrens

A social media campaign to tackle welfare stigma is about to launch. Actor, writer and documentary maker Jackie Torrens, who initiated the project and herself was on welfare as a young mother, shows what it will look like. Photo contributed.
Poverty has long been a concern for me as a person and as an artist. I wouldn't consider myself poor relatively speaking but I know what it is like to go hungry because I haven't had enough or any food, and being faced with the choice of going hungry or swallowing my false pride and getting my butt to the food bank, and being on welfare.

If you have every found yourself in a position with your back is up against the wall and you have to ask for help and need to apply for social assistance, you will know and understand, what a dis-empowering and demoralizing experience it is. This is just the tip of the downward spiral of poverty. Poverty is like living in another country, and if you haven't lived there, it is difficult to fully understand the experience if you have never been.

Last night I watched a very poignant documentary, "My Week On Welfare" that addresses the harsh realities facing those individuals living on welfare/social assistance,( the nice word) in Nova Scotia. Actor, writer and documentary film maker Jackie Torrens directed this excellent film and in collaboration with other poverty activists, has started a social media campaign to fight the stigma of being on welfare. 

Please join the fight against poverty if you care, and want to advocate for change, take action. It's this artist's antidote to worry!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Drawing People From Life

This portrait of fellow artist Lynn Rotin, by Catherine MacLean, is part of MacLean’s series of portraits completed in live sittings.- Photograph Elissa Barnard

My beautiful friend, mentor, and fellow artist Catherine Maclean I first met several years ago, when she came with her husband to live in the nearby coastal village of Advocate Harbour.

Catherine is a wonderfully creative, hardworking, very intelligent,and personable individual with whom I have come to respect and love very much.

She may not realize how much she influenced my decision to return to University to finish my Bachelor of Fine Art Degree.
It was Catherine I first told between the years of  2007- 2008 that I was seriously considering returning to University to finish my degree after being out of school for 30 years. She gave me the affirmation I needed.

Her attitude was so supportive, understanding, and shared with me she had done the same thing a number of years back. We both attended the same art schools  during different periods of time. We discovered from there on in how very much we had in common, and have been close friends ever since.

I am posting an article written by Elissa Barnard, that was published recently written about Catherine's most recent exhibition, entitled "People".

Catherine is very much a people person in that she takes a genuine interest in them, and loves to interact with others, and so her portraiture drawings, and paintings are very much a reflection of this connection she makes with her fellow human beings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Who Wants To Go To Dismaland?

Part of an installation is seen at Banksy's 'Dismaland' exhibition at a derelict seafront lido in Weston-Super-Mare, England. (Matthew Horwood/Getty)
While listening to CBC Radio 'Q' yesterday morning on the topic of Banksy's Dismaland art project, located in the seaside town of Weston Super Mare, England, I was left feeling that any criticism of Banksy is not so acceptable because his work is considered almost sacrosanct. 
Personally I thought the Canadian art critic RM Vaughan made some very valid, and relevant points, in spite of the fact that he did not see Dismaland.

His comments resounded with me being a fellow Maritimer, who well understands the tiredness and poverty that exists in small rural areas, as I live in one. Artists and locals often rely on tourism to bring in the dough to alleviate our financial hardships, declining economy, natural resources, and increasingly aging population.

If artists or people in general have no sense of humour toward difficult circumstances we'd be unable to survive. Bansky understands this as well.

RW Vaughan's comments made me hearken back to my art school days when he referenced that seemingly oppositional defiant, clever art student, full of snark, who appears to know everything in class. Turns out he's mostly a jerk, when you go for a beer with him afterward. I had a little nostalgic snort and giggle.
To be clear I am not saying Banksy is the jerk in this case, as RW Vaughan stated he's just preaching to the choir.

When Damien Hirst 's name came up in the conversation my ears perked up.
Damien Hirst has in many ways become the “ it boy”, and, perhaps even a victim of his own persona, that represents all that is superficial, shallow, capitalistic and self-absorbed and dishonest within the art market. In light of accusations and legal charges made against him, being accused several times of art plagiarism, including the public controversial comments he has made, leads one to seriously question his scruples and integrity. In many of his public statements his lack of integrity is evident, “ I can’t wait to get into a position to make really bad art and get away with it. At the moment if I did certain things people would look at it, consider it and then say ‘f off”. But after a while you can get away with things.” Julian Spalding, The New York Times 2008

I have to say, much of the behaviour and attitude exhibited by Damien Hirst was a result of abuse and use of substances and one needs to take this circumstance into consideration when judging his work and who he is as a person taking into account that he no longer is the same person as he was in earlier years. That said, the body of painting has produced more recently, I appreciate and I would conclude he has more to contribute as a painter.

I think Banksy has a different kind of scruples and personality than Damien Hirst.

As RW Vaughn stated I agree his politics hasn't changed. If the basic premise is to educate an uniformed public with answers instead of questions, he may very well be "preaching to the choir" and Dismaland has mostly captivated his art smart fans as opposed to the so called locally uniformed.

I am of the opinion like Damien Hirst, Banksy he has also perhaps become a tired victim of his own persona, but I do think the art world is taking advantage of the "it boy" status, and exploitative for capital gain, and in the very ways that Banksy's purports to abhor about the art world.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Pleasure of Creativity - Art Isn't Art Unless It's Shared

The Emperor - Egg Tempera of Porcelain Tile 6"x6"', 2015 - Catherine Meyers

Today I had the great pleasure of having an opening at The Art Lab in Parrsboro. The creative process of painting is a solitary thing for me. Some folks want to have the company of others when they are creating art. Not me.

Although making art is a very satisfying thing because it is solitary, sometimes you can feel isolated and almost detached from what you are doing, just you and your painting thoughts, and perhaps from time to time find yourself wondering why you are even involved with making art, and asking what it all means.

When you have the opportunity to have an opening with your peers and are able to share your work with others who appreciate what you do, suddenly it all makes sense, becoming a very rewarding and extremely satisfying experience. I am of the opinion that art isn't art, unless it is shared.

The exhibition will be up for three weeks until September 12th 2015.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Opening This Week At The Art Lab Parrsboro Nova Scotia

The Empress/Demeter/Earth Mother/The Red Tent-Egg Tempera on Porcelain Tile, 6"x6" 2015 - Catherine Meyers

It's been a bit of a whorl wind this month, and I've been trying to avoid getting my underwear in a big knot, working on new pieces for this exhibit. My Tarot series of 22 Major Arcana paintings are coming along, and I'm in a creative groove. There will also be older pieces in this show that some folks might have seen before, others whom may have not.

I am very excited to be part of a thriving creative community of artists in the Parrsboro and surrounding areas.  

The professional development of artists and the creative economy contributes greatly to our quality of life and will continue to do so. Please come out, and support our local artists.

Opening this Weekend

Sunday August 23 - 2pm

Associate Artists

Catherine Meyers and Helen Wasson-Graham
Catherine Meyers
Helen Wasson-Graham

Please join us at 2pm on Sunday in celebration of the work of these two Associate Artists

Catherine Meyers
Catherine Meyers was born in 1953, in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up in Ontario after her parents relocated when she was six months old. Her family returned to Nova Scotia in 1968.

After attending the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design for four years in Halifax, during the 70s, she returned to study art again at the age of 56 as a mature student, at Mount Allison University, in Sackville New Brunswick, where she recently graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, receiving the Catherine Arsenault-MacDonald Memorial Award. This award is given to those mature students who exhibit perseverance and determination in achieving their degree.

During the period in between her art education she has worked as a Youth Care Worker for many years, as an Apprentice Welder and an Equestrian. She has had a varied and colourful life of experiences, from baking bagels at the Wild Cat Cafe, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to teaching Middle Eastern Dance (Belly Dance) to fishermen' s wives in her small village at the local community hall.

Helen Wasson-Graham
Helen Graham is a native of Parrsboro who for many years worked in Toronto and Southwestern Ontario before moving back to her hometown. She comes from a long line of seafarers. Her grandfather and father both worked on the sea with her grandfather, Capt. Walter Wasson owning many well-known Parrsboro schooners.

Helen has a sharp eye for color and detail, as illustrated in all her art work. She is a master quilter and in this medium too, her eye for matching colors and detail makes her work highly desirable.
“I love putting colors together to achieve an attractive theme in both quilts and paintings,” she says. Helen particularly thanks her mentor, Arlene Collins for first putting a paint brush in her hand.

“She inspired me to take my painting seriously. As you might expect, I'm very excited to have a show at the Art Lab. I hope friends and acquaintances will drop in to see my work.”

The Exhibition runs
August 23 - Sept 12

Art Lab Resident Artists - Krista Wells, Jill Langford, Krista Odlin-Levy , Michael Fuller

Is Making Money Art? Is Working Art? Is Good Business the Best Art?

I understand how there is corruption and greed that drives much of the business and political world. I despise both.

The 'art world' is no different unfortunately. The only art world that really seems to exists today, can be found thriving within the imagination of the creative individual, devoid of the primary goal being as much financial gain and wealth possible, regardless of the cost. Instead, the creative process, art for art's sake, for change, and having some kind of moral compass, is what is paramount to many creative individuals.

I'm not sure I believe in Andy Warhol's premise of, " Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. "

Andy Warhol made it very clear when he stated " I'm not a social critic".
I know it is essential that artist's be momentarily well compensated for the value of their work, to be able to make a living supporting themselves, like any one else. Making money is not art, working is not art, and good business is not the best art in my opinion. Making money is making money, working is working, and good business is good business.

Artist's do need to think and learn about business. That said, at what point do you begin to sell out your integrity, and your values for the almighty dollar? At what point do you leave the art world and join the art market? It's all good if your not a social critic and you can deaden your conscience.

I was motivated to write this blog post today by this article posted by a friend on Facebook. Thanks Jerald!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Heuristic Teacher

Area resident Thaddeus Holownia (right), an internationally-renowned photographer and fine arts professor, has been honoured with the Order of New Brunswick. - Katie Tower Photographer Sackville Tribune

I once said to my fine art Professor, Thaddeus Holownia that teaching was like being a Youth Care Worker, which I had been for 20 some years, in that you either have the passion for it or you don't.
I told him it was obvious to me he had the passion for teaching. I went on to say you can always get the education, but not the passion.

And so I was so happy and proud to learn that my heuristic teacher had been recognized to the Order of New Brunswick.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Grandmothers

Spider Woman Art by Susan Sedon Boulet

There are a group of beautiful recovering women that I met twenty years ago in New Brunswick when I first got sober. They gather yearly and they are gathering again this month where they will celebrate one another and share in their talking circles. I have had the privilege in the past to attend a few times.

One year I'll never forget, there was a First Nations woman who late into the starlight night sky sang for us, among the trees, a hymn to the grandmothers in her native language I never forgot it because it was so powerful. I did a painting of her singing the hymn and sent it to her.

I was sent this video today and have to share it. I didn't get a chance to watch it until now after a long day and it was just what I needed.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Love Letter to Chris Farley

Yesterday I heard two Canadian Directors Brent Hodge and Derik Murray being interviewed on CBC Radio discussing their film that is about to premier in Toronto this week August 14th 2015 at TIFF.
I was happy and simultaneously sad to hear of this documentary called I Am Chris Farley, about SNL comedian Chris Farley.
I was sad, as I understand, and know the profound tragedy that comes to a gifted and beautiful soul that suffers from addiction and all those that love them who are also deeply affected. I think in many ways it was surprising that there hadn't been a film about Chris Farley done long before now.

Chris Farley and Robin Williams were two of my long time favourite comedians.  More importantly than this, they were two of my favourite humans. It was easy to see who they were, loving, sweet childlike, open honest and gifted.

There is a strange combination that you often see in addicted artists. Others love them, more than they love themselves.  It isn't so hard to understand really, because this is the way the addict is. What they are drawn to, like a moth to the flame, is the addiction. Combine all this with mental health issues and it is a recipe for tragedy.
It's an all too well known, and all to common dark story yes. I am glad to know that this movie is a tribute to the beautiful loving soul, that was Chris Farley.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Empress/Demeter/The Earth Mother/The Red Tent

The Empress/Demeter/The Earth Mother/The Red Tent  - Completed Painting/ Day Three

Second stage of painting/ Day Two

First Stage/ Day one

Finally I am able to find and take the time to work on my third painting of my Tarot series. I've completed this painting the third Major Arcana card out of a series of 22 I am undertaking.  Eventually I hope to complete the whole 78 cards that make up the whole deck. These paintings are be based on my own interpretation of the Mythic Tarot, using egg tempera on 6"x6" porcelain tiles. She is The Empress. My art practice and passion for art and Tarot are fusing together.

Painting should first and foremost be pleasurable and fun. If it isn't, we're really missing the most important thing about the creative process I think. I have come to understand that it is through pleasure, play and desire we connect to the Creative Divine, and this is lateral thinking, or generative thinking, not linear.

As an artist I don't believe I am any different then the next one. We are sometimes full of self-doubt, and that inner critic creep, rants and raves about how we are not artists or what and why we create just isn't right, or good enough. We all have to find a way to get over this, get over ourselves, and get beyond our delicate egos. The adage of the egotist with an inferiority complex comes to mind.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Big Gulp - In Praise of Television

The 20 years I've lived in my home, I have had two televisions. One very small black and white, with  broken knobs, and a broken antenna, that would work great with a coat hanger, and I turned the knob to the  with a set of pliers. I got two channels. Good times.

 I think perhaps part of the reason I hung on to it for so long, was because it had been a wedding present given to my late husband and I in 1980 from my father and mother-in-law. When it finally bit the dust, I bought another small  this time coloured T.V., only because I had two foster children and decided to get a satellite dish for my daughters.

Living in very rural Nova Scotia especially during the long Winters here, I thought having subscribing to a satellite might be a way to alleviate those long dark days in order to hopefully avert teenage angst and boredom.
 After my foster daughters were gone, I immediately unhooked my dish, got a computer and finally the internet, when it became available. I haven't watched T.V. since, and don't miss it. I am no longer a  fan.  I never really was so much and I'm glad I grew up with radio and CBC is on everyday. It's good for my brain.

I still have my old Dell computer, no cell phone or iPad and it is my T.V. now, though I only watch one show, a few you tube videos, and use my computer primarily for writing my blogs, pursuing my creativity, and of course for staying in touch with folks I don't get to see much face to face, due to distance.

Falling short of becoming a Luddite, long before the internet, I used to think computers were not exactly evil,  though I suspected they posed some unknown threat to the world as we know it. I had an attitude much like the one that existed when televisions first appeared around the year I was born in 1953. Needless to say, I don't feel this way any more, however I do see the positives and the negatives of our online lives that we are consumed by with the internet and all our gadgets, that are supposed to improve our lives. Sometimes I seriously wonder if it's made us smarter or stifled our brains, and are especially affecting our ability to learn, particularly our children.

As a kid there was nothing more delightful then Saturday mornings on the floor, in front of our big black and white TV watching Popeye, Paul Winchell, Captain Kangaroo, and Soupy Sales, Merry Melodies, Bugs Bunny and Felix The Cat. As I got older and I could stay up later,  the Ed Sullivan Show, Bonanza and Gunsmoke replaced the cartoons more or less and watching these shows with my family was a special kind of time that is ever engrained in my nostalgic memory of TV.

Mark Schatzker is a Toronto Journalist/Writer and a CBC Parenting Columnist who gave a real interesting commentary about television versus iPhones and iPads and family interaction and the family dynamic. He made some pertinent points.

I'll never forget the great Journalist and CBC host of Man Alive Roy Bonisteel who had gave a very poignant presentation at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design way back in the 70s, when I was a art education student. The main message he imparted about television was that we needed to watch, and engage in a mindful way. He encouraged us to prompt children to talk back to T.V., to question what we were seeing. I think we now need to do the same with all of our media and more importantly talk to each another not always behind a computer screen, but face to face.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Rethinking Prison:Music and Life Beyond Punishment"

" Those walls are to keep you out as much as to keep anybody in."

                              - Jean Vanier

Continuing on the theme of my last post, concerning the transforming power of music, I happened upon this re-broadcast today on CBC radio. I had heard the program a while back. I guess I wasn't listening closely enough because I found this TED talk. The site about Hugh Christopher Brown's Pros and Cons program is full of  trans-formative creativity from inside prison walls.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Malek Jandali - Art and Creative Defiance

Music has always been such a huge part of my family's life, that I know if this had not been the case, we'd have been so very impoverished spiritually, creatively, emotionally and in countless other ways. I saw my brother completely immerse himself in the music of the Blues, and how it not only enriched his life, it relieved and healed a huge amount of his life struggles. My mother's dreams were fueled and inspired by music, and so many other family members as well, myself included.

I have an eclectic taste in music, however I have never been a huge classical music fan, but when I first heard Tchaikovsky and Beethoven they moved me beyond words. That's what the language of music does.

Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to hear a Latin Dieppe New Brunswick-based woodwind quintet Ventus Machina. Along with the music the members of this wonderful group would introduce the pieces with a story that set the stage to transport and transform your imagination to another place and time.

The great power of music to transform, transport, change and heal is explained in such a compelling way that I'd never heard before, until listening to Syrian composer Malek Jandali.
This interview opened my mind to this power even more, and was so moving like no other I have ever heard, explaining the power of creativity.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Desire - Creation - Sheela-Na-Gig

This weekend I spent three glorious days with a group of wonderful women friends, I call my soul sisters.  At one point during our weekend I very enthusiastically in so many words, shared my thoughts on how historically the connection between body and soul was destroyed with the overthrow of the Mother Goddess, (Sheela-Na -Gig). The body of the woman was once the equivalent of the body of the Goddess, a container for the creative miracle of life. Then, there was a feeling of awesomeness in the truest meaning of the word. I feel very passionately about this, and I believe in the world today there is a movement of reclamation of this sense of sacredness, the deep wisdom of the female body, and the mysteries of feminine sexuality.

Finding this video I have posted, I closely watched for a second time today. It encapsulated and affirmed what I have been internalizing and processing, over a number of years.

Regena Thomashauer I'd never heard tell of, up until two weeks ago. I glean a lot from what she says. She affirms for me, what I have believed for sometime now, that many women are reclaiming the Divine Feminine, are on a quest for wholeness as Maureen Murdock talks about, and explores in her book The Heroine's Journey.