Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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Bill Reid, Through and In

My phone is in Kingston, 200 km of driving sleet and transport trucks ago.

I travel through this with my daughter from my aunt to my niece. There’s a rightness to the timing.

Bill Reid's Orca

Bill Reid’s Orca

In the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau I find a plug upstairs after the cafe closes.  There’s a bench with cushions so I cross my legs and balance the laptop as I would find centre and lift my paddle in a canoe. Then I write, staring at horizon.

There’s a curve in the tail of Bill Reid’s Orca that keeps him suspended in the air, impossible and alive.

My paddle-calloused fingers type,

I intend…

2001- a painting from a show called Sea Hear, in which I tried once again to paint music

a photo of  ‘Play’ from a 2001 show Sea Hear, in which I tried with all my heart to paint music. My daughter, at 5, chose all the imagery for this one, especially the orcas.

Weightless I am, suspended in the air like this massive hunter whale.  Out of my element, on purpose:  I intend.

I am above the Ottawa River which looks drugged into surrender by the ritual, annual, comforting January cold, across from the Parliament buildings where Justin son of Pierre sits with renewed and informed vigour as our head of state.

They built the beautiful, flower-shaped, buttressed library on the river side, away from the possibility of attack.  Those Statesmen, their advisors, their Wives.  Some of them in came and chose and made it so in ways I can respect.

Bell1, 2015, 20" x 24", mixed media (acrylic) on canvas.

Bell1, 2015, 20″ x 24″, mixed media (acrylic) on canvas.

I think about my Scots ancestors who fled here two generations & eight generations ago to look for a horizon they could aim for, for once.  I think about now and La Loche and four people dead like lightning, like an arrow to what we need to see and be accountable for.  I think about Idle No More, about Truth and Reconciliation.

I can barely remember the last specific, technical idea I had about music or painting – these old old ideas are far stronger.

'Black'. 2014, 36x36, acrylic on dyed cotton.

‘Black’. 2014, 36×36, acrylic on dyed cotton.

I intend.

To take the next precious decade of my life to examine and build a good answer to these things I wonder and care about, more every day.

My thinking fingers have written this:

We are all a product of our own small community that overlaps in myriad ways with larger ones like the Internet, like a city, a collective, a field, an orchestra, a band, large or small.  I’ve come to believe over this small span of years that each is an ecosystem that thrives according to the strength of it’s connectedness.

I’ve found also that few connectors are stronger than the making of good music. As a painter who also writes and performs regularly as a vocalist/cellist I have experienced this time and time again: visual art and writing connect us more deeply to ourselves but music connects us, through ourselves, to others. One might say that community music is like mycelium – a connective tissue that can convey a supportive ‘nutrient’ through the system to everyone who requires it….

photo by Robbin McGregor, bee-keeper

photo by Robbin McGregor, bee-keeper

The timing is right.  I will get my Master’s degree at Laurier, in Community Music.

Like the impossibly suspended whale, like a Rebel, I will pay for this with the proceeds from my paintings.  They will be on paper and canvas, in watercolour, ink and oil.  They will sing.

Bent_Tree_close

Find a door you like, one that calls change to you.  Then you go through and in.


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Summon the Artist

The studio is different, this second day of 2016.

It’s taking some time for the subtle but undeniably permanent changes to sink in.  Some can be identified now; the bell paintings I began in December ring at a new frequency – thirty-six hours from now they will finish in a way I hadn’t imagined.  There’s a kind of inner ‘glow’ to them – as though they were still in active process of becoming while I was elsewhere attending to christmas gatherings, encountering and engaging family; playing like someone 5 years old and far wiser with dear dear friends; making and sharing beautiful communal music; solving puzzles; sorting buttons by colour and size; breathing the outside air, forgetting worry.

These bell paintings are more fully themselves – I won’t need to work so hard to bring them home.

Almost impossible to get the yellows right for this photo. The real one is like sunlight - I'm utterly charmed by it.

It’s impossible to get the yellows right in this photo – I’m not a good photographer & certainly don’t understand enough tech to make it right. The actual painting I stare at on the wall is like sunlight.  It puts me into a hammock on a hot summer day that is made bearable by a perfect, sun-quenched breeze.  I can hear honeybees, cicadas, crickets, red-winged blackbirds, the caterpillar beside me, who chews an ash leaf.  A crow comments, occasionally.

There’s more room in here, impossibly.

How…?    I’ve not moved anything out except – oh ya.  The Bell paintings already at the Bean Cellar, and two hanging in living rooms.  Paintings that are finished take up a great deal of space and need to move on to some other wall, somewhere else.  I’d forgotten how strong they were.

Bell_SmSquareGround

None of my camera batteries have juice left.  I find patience, while they recharge and catch up with my curiosity.

step 3

step 5 – I’d give you step 7 but my camera batteries…. What I’m looking at is more like a golden thought than this earlier one.  Somehow the little bells ring inside a warm memory of change from long ago. Every colour is there- golden, rich red, deep violet, spring green, hemlock green, deep aqua loke Georgian Bay.

While I wait for camera batteries I listen, and realize that a new set of materials call to me for the first time in many years.  Paper. Ink. Plaster. Chalk.  – these will be a re-visiting, since that’s where I started long ago.  Pencil crayon, after seeing a drawing at the Durham Art Gallery that stole my heart in December (it now astonishes me in my kitchen, as it did when I unwrapped it at Christmas).

I feel I want to make use of Black for the first time since rejecting it’s place in my work 30 years ago.  It is the absence of colour.

Why black?  Now?  That’s a curious thing.

I follow the call to new media. Like a wise 5-year-old engaging in serious play. Hours go by, and no time at all.

I follow the call to new media. Like a wise 5-year-old engaging in serious play. Hours go by, and no time at all – like a good walk in the forest.

Happy 2016, everyone.  It feels new and full of promise to me.   You too?


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#Selfie 15: You get what you need

I once played a minor (non-musical) part on a Rolling Stones Tour – ‘Steel Wheels’ in the ’80s. I have a tour jacket, even, that boyfriends past have happily worn… and torn and stained. This comes up now because I wrote the blog title first.

It's true.

It’s true.

It’s still a good jacket, and I keep it to remind myself that I was there in my 20s, watching them play Sympathy for the Devil when Mick (atop a 20-storey stage tower) forgot the words…  I asked myself in that moment – Really? Really? How can you forget the words to THAT song?

There were many moments on the tour  (way more telling than that one) that turned me off the ‘Stones permanently.  For me it was like watching the end-play of 60’s dark side play out in industrial money-grabbing meanness – utterly devoid of relevance to the real world of human beings.  Hope you can forgive me all die-hard fans.  They’re a piece of history, granted, but I do not worship at that altar.

An almost-finished selfie painting of the waterfall I grew up with on the Niagara Escarpment.  I don't have words to describe for you how sacred this place is - not just to me, but ... just sacred.

An almost-finished selfie painting of the waterfall I grew up with on the Niagara Escarpment. I don’t have words to describe for you how sacred this place is – not just to me, but … just sacred.

Nothing worthwhile is accomplished without limitation, I believe.  This is not Protestant sensibility, but a law far older – we are not supposed to have every whim answered, every passing wish fulfilled.   There’s a muscle of ingenuity in the human brain that requires ‘lack of (……….)’ to work effectively.  Many folks default to complaint well before this happens, but if you can get beyond discomfort and engage ingenuity, you’re doing your job.

 

This is photo reference for "White", which is on the boards now

This is photo reference for “White”, which is on the boards now

#Selfie is a fine example of this.  I started the project as I was just entering the heavy spring concert season.  It was an impossible thing to commit to – fill the space at de Boer’s with art, write and hand-make a book, write and rehearse a performance art piece, and immerse my#self regularly in #Selfie online via social media.

…in 14 weeks, while working full time teaching, coaching, rehearsing and playing cello, planning 2 summer camps in art and music, and attending to those things not work-related, but oh so important…

I said yes because I knew I wanted to take a risk and do a show, and this was the only way to make that happen.  Ingenuity has had to kick in, big-time, especially in these past two weeks.

Photo reference for black canvas

Photo reference for black canvas

Here’s the thing, though –  throughout the 14 weeks, but especially in these last two, I have had great need for some things that could have stopped me in my tracks, were they not fulfilled.  No tripod, poor cashflow – a friend chips in half as a gift.  Low on essential materials only available in Toronto, no time to get there – Tim at the Colour Jar finds what I need in days.  Dangerously low on basic confidence and faith in myself some days, spinning my tires – someone says just the right thing (so grateful for this, every time) to kick my butt in a better direction.  I need pro help to sign on for the Performance piece, since we have next-to-no rehearsal time available – david sereda, Coco Love Alcorn, Kristan Anderson, Larry Jensen, Sandra Swannell and a few other incredibles say ‘Sure!’ with no hesitation.  I need social media ‘response’ material for the Book and the opening – eight people agree to put pen to paper and pitch in.  I’ve never even met some of them.

Here’s Brad Morely’s haiku, just in:

Narcissi beckon
in the light blue facebook pool
cam’ra bugs fly off

 

…you get what you need.

photo reference for Totem 1

photo reference for Totem 1

Paintings are due in three days.  They’ll get done.  Book and show have only next week – they’ll be fine.

See you there.