While the magic key turns in the lock of a project I’ve been baffled by since 2017, I clear out the closets, files, corners of this apartment. Summerfolk 46 was powerful; Georgian Bay was alive with colour and shocking love; Wevolve artist retreat last weekend was intense on a cellular, soul level – each experience provoked deep shifts in my awareness. As the dust settles in the last week of August I wake into a question: What am I doing? I reconfigure, simplify, shift every object in a process of subtraction. I have a stereo, a collection of LPs that span 60 years here. Do I still want this? The box of books culled from my shelves is full overflowing. I find dead projects in my studio, and a chair that’s missing a front wheel – back to the Hamilton Waste Exchange I go.

What am I doing here. Surrounded by ancient trees, nestled beneath the Niagara escarpment in this city built on the shores of a Great Lake that is just slightly bigger than Georgian Bay*. In an apartment into which light spills generously from every window, in every direction. My studio just twenty minutes by foot down the road, Gage Park one minute away from my front door. This is where I’ve chosen to be and work since 2019.

Of the thirty-six months of this Hamilton residency, seven remain. The Conversation Pieces work on paper entered the world in early summer through my Apartment Pop-up Exhibition, my new online gallery and shop, Centre3 Members’ Gallery (until September 30), and SergioGomezCurates’ international online show out of Chicago, “Openings”, which runs (until October 31 (see www.sergiogomezcreates.net a great, positive, powerful show that I’m honoured to be part of). These Conversation Pieces and the work that evolves from them will travel to other galleries and spaces throughout 2022 – I’m pleased and proud of this project and all it continues to teach me.

There’s exciting new work in my studio – for two fall shows. One series of large canvas pieces that explore myth, memory, cracks and light, and another series of 15 or so small “thought form” works for an online show and sale in October. It’s a lot, but with the good momentum and focus I have now, more than possible. If I need advice or assistance, I have support – I’m blessed to be part of an international group of very smart artists. We share insights and resources, build strategies for building a sustainable life of disciplined expression.

Studio shot of the largest of the Backdrop/ Foreground series I found the key for this weekend. This pieces is the largest of twelve – five feet by six feet, and I’ve been moving with and staring at it since 2017. I know what to do now.

A silver lining from the pandemic is a new sense of balance, a rhythm of work and rest that eases my stress and cancels anxiety. My tiny Cabin glows with welcome after many months of mouse removal and reno, the lake beckons me always into surrender and peace. Eight months and two lockdowns ago I could not have imagined myself so immersed in joy and challenge, so rich in beauty. But then, eight months ago I was lying in bed with Covid-19.

But there’s …more. Feels like there’s more that I can’t quite see from here. This peace I feel is spiked with a curiosity that nudges me forward, well beyond what I know to be possible. Like a piñata dancing just out of my reach, the question floats: what am I doing. I swing sticks at it; it dances. So I keep looking around to see what else no longer fits, and let it go. When I finally connect and the Piñata breaks open, the treasures inside will have a good place to land.

Beside me, coffee #2 marks the start of the next task for today – a proposal and application to a highly respected gallery as their Artist-in-Residence for twelve weeks in 2022. Wish me luck!!

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  • Georgian Bay is 80% the size of Lake Ontario, and much much deeper, hence the shock of soul-clearing cold you get when you jump in, even in the hottest months.