Keirartworks's Blog

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


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Rage like a mountain

There’s nothing new. But there is a new urgency I can’t ignore or discount – to do so would be futile, and frankly, cowardly.

It appears that I’ve come to a place of no return with critical parts of my life that have always been up for negotiation.

Like the movement of tectonic plates, a deep and radical shifting of my priorities.

I find myself, with some regularity these days, shaking with rage. I feel also, and at the same time a profound sense of deep and steady calm, no less intense and alive than the anger.  The word Ferocious comes to mind.

I have somehow expanded my capacity to contain Ferocity.

It feels quite safe in a dangerous sort of way.  I’m mindful of a need for care.

While I read for my masters.  While I make buffalo stew.  While I use my chainsaw to cut firewood, practise new bow technique on my cello.  While I write, sew, draw, listen to Joni Mitchell and RVW Symphony number 9 for work and pleasure.

While I think about wise, strong people who have been denied a voice of their own for far, far too long.

It’s difficult to put my finger on the ‘why now’ of this.  I think that doesn’t matter.  It’s the thundercloud that matters.

I will do the things I do for better reasons. I’ll learn to do other things, because they need to be done.


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To Locate

I resist the obviousness of GPS as a tool to locate, navigate, identify.  Most interesting to me is when GPS is wrong, as in the case this spring when a K-W woman, travelling in deep fog at the tip of the Brice Peninsula, drove her car into Georgian Bay instead of the Hotel parking lot.

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tap water filling the bucket I used to water my garden every day, in this dry dry summer we had

There are so many other ways to identify that have more meaning, make more sense. They pull from deeper source data to inform us about identity.  Navigation there is not by straight, measurable lines.

very simple shore cabin where I spend several summer weekends this year. This is Georgian Bay, at the mouth of the "sound" that leads to Owen Sound, where I live and work

This is Georgian Bay, at the mouth of the “sound” that leads to Owen Sound, where I live and work.

I live in a place surrounded by water.  It rains and snows more here than any other place in Ontario.  Travel by car in any direction and you’ll find a river (likely with a waterfall), a lake Great or small, a creek or stream – in less than fifteen minutes.

Jones Falls, Owen Sound

Jones Falls, Owen Sound

My mother’s family has lived here for six generations before me.  The (scots) paternal side of her family was famous for their foundry, where they made enormous propellers for lake and ocean-going ships “At one time, [Kennedy’s] supplied propellers for about ninety-five percent of marine traffic on the Great Lakes” (Grey Roots Museum and Archives).  Water people.  Industrialists.

a brass replica of a Kennedy Propeller pattern. I'm using this as reference for a series of paintings.

a brass replica of a Kennedy Propeller pattern. I’m using this as reference for a series of paintings.

Mom’s Maternal side (Pennsylvania Deutch – descendants from German refugees of the 100 years war) not so famously made ladies’ hoisery, employing 200 women at a time when women were organizing to get the vote. A great great great uncle of mine fought for the North in the American civil war; we are making a book of his letters home at the moment.  Dependable people. Steady.

It is in that factory building, on the third floor NE corner, where I have kept a painting/music studio these past eight years.

studio a couple of years ago

My parents are retired (and excellent) Highschool English teachers saturated by music, literature and art (Mom – ARCT Piano, Toronto Conservatory; Dad a painter of landscapes and literary references).  My daughter is now twenty, mostly fluent in Japanese, studying modern languages and international studies at U of Ottawa.

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I had a mentor and teacher as a young music student who was fierce like a grandfather to me.  As a young man he used to play violin like Fritz Kreisler in my Great Grandmother Kennedy’s parlour for the WCTU ladies. He later played at my parent’s wedding and made both of my cellos, the first of which was just returned to me last summer after 14 years. (link to that blog if you click on the picture I believe)

oldcellotuners

Instead of studying cello at Laurier at age seventeen I chose to study Visual Art at York University.  Somehow I felt that the formal study of music would ruin my love for the pure joy of playing it.  I will never know if I was right, but I’ve also never regretted the decision.  I’ve been able to do both in my life and love them equally. Each practise informs the other I’ve found, so I teach musicians how to draw and it makes them better players.

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It is this very thing that has led me to a Masters in Community Music – at Laurier, where I chose NOT to study music performance 35 years ago.  I love the way life travels us back to ourselves.


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Full Moon Morning

I stayed over because of the cat. He’s not mine, but I care for him over the winter while his owner’s away.  Six toes on each foot. Patti says that makes him magic.

He’d been locked in the basement for four days until yesterday when I got the store owner to let me go down and call for him – out he came from one of a thousand dusty corners, thin, wide-eyed and exhausted.  He’d been looking for freedom, but found dust-dark-no-water instead.  Clingy now, but it’s good to see him.

Knuckles staying in touch.  His owner and brother-cat, Toulouse come home tomorrow - I'm happy for him

Knuckles staying in touch. His owner and brother-cat, Toulouse come home tomorrow – I’m happy for him

Studio is not the best for sleeping but it’s wonderful to wake up in on a spring morning.  Three large third-storey windows face full east, and the sun spills in like honey.  Starlings hang out on the wires and chatter endlessly – Knuckles is mesmerised.

Studio facing northwest - a study in red

Studio facing northwest – a study in red

I leave for Toronto soon – visits with dear ones, airport trip and some hunting of insights, input.  Back home tonight, back here tomorrow morning, to record music-for-film, work on a painting commission and a Study in Blue, and share in the Joy of Knuckles as Paul and Toulouse return to his building.

facing southwest.  Just replaced the old 15x12 foot dropsheet - tabula rasa

facing southwest. Just replaced the old 15×12 foot dropsheet – tabula rasa

It will still be humming.  This is the best studio ever.


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fathoms

I stare at the handle of a red screwdriver and use my ears to see the space around me.  There are tires scribing the wet street three floors down; the clock ticks each second in counterpoint to the keys on my laptop.  Furnace just kicked in like a huge breathing thing acres wide and deep; the cat licks its’ shoulder. I cannot hear walls.

Audio memory kicks in now too, adding the plink…plink! of piano tuning from this morning; the breathless excited scramble-wiggle of dog claws on studio floor; footsteps like signatures in the hallway; doors squeaking open and banging shut – punctuation for arrival.  All the voices who spoke here today, each carrying different degrees of anxiety or humour,  as we navigate the measured hours before Christmas.

StudioDec2014_Piano_Cello

My ears cannot hear the sound of a to do list.  They hear only what is, and record what has been, for playback later.

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These small moments I get –  to explore the shape of the room with my ears, to examine with just my fingertips the shape and texture of my cello, of a book, or a pencil as my blind grandmother did for 50 years – they are possible because I’ve chosen to make gifts, not buy them.

I have also given myself the gift of time.

StudioDec2014_selfiewpaintingwall

Happy Christmas and Hannukah everyone.

May the time with yourself and with those you care for be rich with love.


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Wonder, wander

Loved that concert on Saturday – what a beautiful piece!.  We are so lucky to have that venue here…

At my annual check-up, my Doctor referred to the  Vivaldi Gloria performance, which to me was five concerts and seven rehearsals ago. Each one of these has been marvelous – food for curiosity, stretch for skills, a jeweled strand of eternal moments …

treeHipCello

Meanwhile at home, we found a night in between all that to put the tree up with care, good humour.  This required a large degree of shared determination – that this WILL happen, no matter what work schedule demands.

The tree fell crashing to the floor the day after it went up…

Oh well, it happens.  We had too many glass decorations anyway…

It’s been that kind of approach to Christmas.

Tree_GlassAngelBall

Tricky time, this season, especially in a year of profound change.  We have not had a death to adjust to – a large pulsing place of Absence – but many of my good friends have lost mothers, dads, kids, grandchildren, friends, brothers.  I can feel the larger community shuddering with the effort of containing these losses with dignity and grace.

Though thankfully not as dire, we face our own new internal tender spots here too.  Death comes in many forms, and it’s name is change – one accepts this & shares this, or does not, choosing denial instead.  Each family is a country with it’s own cultural dances, tales and music, all learned by rote and later either challenged, updated, amended, revised – or not.

The holly and the ivy - a gift from family this year

The holly and the ivy – a gift from family this year

Our larger family is spread thinly – glue that has been there in years past has let go in places.  In the rituals that remain though there is deeper value felt, because of this.

I have answered a call in these past two days to slow myself down.  An instinctive urge to consider and observe what I love, right now, to recall what I admire and respect in people who are dear to me.  I have made some time to wander these things, name them in wonder, and make gifts of them.

Happy Christmas, all.


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#Selfie 19: The Writing of Book

As predicted, each painting for #Selfie has had it’s own arc of becoming.  They have all been surprises, have all taught me things I wouldn’t otherwise know. It’s been a privilege to be at the centre of this project and participate in the discovery, the shaping and polishing of each facet.  Quite a geological process – I am changed by it, I know.

I sat down to pull the book together and realized that even though the whole project has a broader, wider arc I was still inside it, making.  Still in process, still on the curve…

It became clear over the days of showing up for writing that this lovely broad #Selfie arch also had a corresponding shadow.  As I walked along this one it became narrower, and darker, and steeper – in descent.

Then I realized, “Ah.  This is personal now.”

also, “Ah.  This is writing of Book”.

'map' for the last #Selfie painting, Totem.

‘map’ for the last #Selfie painting, Totem.

#Selfie has been a great collaborative experience – music, performance art, spoken word, poetry, well-considered response and story.  Ron de Boer and staff, david sereda, Kristan Anderson, Larry Jensen, Coco Love Alcorn, Christopher McGruer, Paul Hartmann, Christian Wilke, Marcus Vichert, Norm Bell, Thom MacFarlane, Kate Walsh, John Fearnall, Brad Morley, Frank Klaassen… so many more who climbed in and on to add thought, response, notice, rhyme, feeling, rhythm, comment.  Highly resonant, this idea of examining #Selfie.

#Selfie Examination.

three of five images, underdrawing...

three of five images, underdrawing…

Did I think it had already got personal, in the making of the paintings?  Yes.  Yes I did think that.

But the paintings were one of five components to #Selfie.  There was also the collaborative performance; the collaborative spoken word; the blog (the way in to the paintings); and the book.  The book is the larger arc – both visible and public, and invisible, personal.  Not a compilation (though I thought that’s what it would be), not a summary or a closing paragraph.  It has elements of those ideas, but the book needed to be a distillation of the experience into something …chewable.

So I wrote a folk tale.

all five images on, blue wash on butterfly

all five images on, blue wash on butterfly

It begins this way,

A girl was born with a sleeping wound buried deep inside her.  She also had joy, which was clear for anyone to see.

While she was growing up, her family, who loved her very much, gave her another wound to keep, and buried it deep in her future.  They also gave her love, which was clear for anyone to see.

They made the wound they gave her out of pieces of their own memories, fragments of their parent’s arguments, scattered bits of rage and anger that they had collected from behind the doors and under the carpets, in the chesterfield beneath the pillows, under the beds, under the kitchen sink.  they put all of their hopes and dreams for her in the wound, and wrapped it all up in a beautiful cloth made from their love.

That was the way it had happened for them, the way it had always been, and the way it would always be.

more colour

more colour, corrected drawing

I’ve loved the essential nature of Folk Tales for as long as I can remember.  They don’t mess around with descriptive filler or emotional drama, but deliver metaphor in layers which the reader can take in and combine, to build their own image and intuitive response.  Always I’m trying to do this with my paintings.  This last #Selfie painting more than any of the others – possibly because of the book writing, and the Folk Tale…

When the time came for the girl to leave her parents and seek her fortune, everyone agreed that she was well-prepared.  Beautiful and full of life, promise, intelligence and talent, it was clear that she would have no trouble finding success, fulfilment, happiness and love.

And so she did.  As the years passed, everyone who knew her was reassured by the clean arc of her life, since This was the way it had happened for them, The way it had always been, The way it would always be.

She herself was happy, content and grateful for the comforts she enjoyed, until she came to the day in her future where her parents’ gift was buried.

TotemJuly27

Today from 6 until 8pm we will launch the book and this final #Selfie painting.  The show will come down on August 8th, and then #Selfie will be in Chapter Two, which I’ve not written yet, but I shall.  Here’s the link to that event if you’re nearby & on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/748736241853940/

The story to be told there is a more introspective one – it’s mine, certainly, but also it belongs to anyone who is pulled to #Selfie Examination.  Good heavens there are riches there – fragility; audacity; strength; disempowerment; blind, mute sadness; singing joy; risk and nourishment.  It behooves one to keep walking down the path….

Final painting.  This was taken outside at 6am, so as always, the colour is... interpretive.  Come and see the original if you can.

Final painting. This was taken outside at 6am, so as always, the colour is… interpretive. Come and see the original if you can.

In the story, the girl meets a Hermit.  Then she meets the Great God Pan.  Then she meets Baba Yaga, and ….

Well, write to me if you want the rest of the story.  It belongs, I think, to all of us.

 


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#Selfie 17: new moon

It’s been a week since the morning after #Selfie’s opening at Gallery de Boer.  That was such a profoundly good time, rich with love and excellence, risk and joy.  We all of us had about an inch of air beneath our feet as we walked through the space and played together on the roof afterwards.  That felt so good I’ve barely touched the ground since.  Thank you thank you to the 150 and more people who agreed to meet in that space & do marvelous things.  To Ron de Boer, Sarah, Jean and everyone at the gallery who jumped on the #Selfie train and rode it, screaming around corners to the station.  Deep deep gratitude especially to my incredibles who held centre:  david sereda, Coco Love Alcorn, Larry Jensen and Kristan Anderson.  That was fine fine work.

playing in photoshop- me layered & floating between two shots of the same painting.

playing in photoshop- me layered & floating between two shots of the same painting.  I’m frowning because I’m not awake yet- this is about 6am…

#Selfie work continues.  I am compiling the oceans of material I’ve collected from social media, written response pieces, research and documentation of my own process into a book, which is coming along nicely.  We hope to have this published and available by the third week of July – write to me here if you’d like a copy or two.  I’ll keep everyone informed about how that project is progressing.  I’d also like to put a couple of new pieces in before the show comes down on August 1 – they are whispering in the back of my mind, and would like to be manifest.  We’ll see how that goes.

An 'out take' from the last #Selfie shoot before the show.

An ‘out take’ from the last #Selfie shoot before the show.

Much has occurred between last friday and today – a noon-hour concert with david sereda in a church with wonderful resonance, a gathering of friends to move me from country to town, a reclaiming of things I’ve not seen for ten months, a sort and file.  I’ve been especially challenged by the process of coming back to normal sleep patterns – by 19th June I’d become accustomed to a 3-hour sleep then work then sleep then work out routine, like some subterranean sleep cycle experiment.  Mostly back now, but that was interesting.  It got the work done, though, and perhaps more importantly it put me in a place where I was open to imagery and resonance beyond what was immediately obvious.  Love that edge.

Me loving the edge.

Me loving the edge.

Cello is calling me to practise this morning – I have two solo gigs this weekend, and need to build that stamina back.  Wonderful.
Life is incredibly, marvelously rich.

more coming, too.