Keirartworks's Blog

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


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The Sweet Ouch

Home to find the Shire bathed in sunlight and still buried in snow.  Three days home and yet another winter storm howls and screams at my north windows.  It’s mid-march.  I don’t feel in any way inclined to take pictures of this weather.

But oh my studio is warm warm.  Full of echoes left from hours of cello practise:  Faure, Brahms, Bach, Schubert, Dvorak. Endlessly gratifying workout-studies.

Every muscle hurts.  Including my heart.

singing, now....

singing, now….

Paintings all leapt ahead and comparing their new selves – mirrored across the walls, watch me move, see how I am, now.

More more more.

Wires like the promise of further connection:  1/4 inch to loop pedal to Soundboard to speakers.  xlr from MK40 to board to speakers.  These wait on new arrangements written in the car, on the road, in waking moments – and time…  after the meetings, the rehearsals, the photoshoots, the graphic design, the lessons, classes, visits….

Tonight.  Tomorrow, and then the tomorrow after.

my friend's house

my friend’s house

I’m bigger somehow, since I’ve been away.  So is the world.

Didn’t think I could love more than I did when I left.  Turns out I can.

To achieve great things, two things are needed;  a plan, and not quite enough time.


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Lip service

One month:  Corelli to Handel to Brahms and Faure to Jensen to Patootie to sereda to Kurt Cobain via Drew Wright.  In between some work re-arranging songs by JTaylor, Norah Jones, Kris Delmhorst and other specials for cello and voice.  Or just cello, or just voice.  And thumb piano (note to self:  revive and nourish friendships with sweet tasteful drummers).

Our Band, Catchpenny, somewhere in Toronto, sometime in the 1980s.  Aruna Handa, Frank Klaassen, Michael Klaassen & me

Our Band, Catchpenny, somewhere in Toronto, sometime in the 1980s. Aruna Handa, Frank Klaassen, Michael Klaassen & me

This sounds urgent, but it’s not.  It’s more like breathing.  Or working out, with the intention of finding muscles that haven’t been used for a very long time, and… using them again, even if it takes a rebuild.  And yes, yes, all that about pain and gain, too.

wild carrot

wild carrot

I believe it’s important to Do the thing that you feel compelled to do.  There’s a reason you feel so compelled, after all – you can probably trust it.

If there are obstacles to your Doing of the thing, don’t waste time blaming them, just remove, or find a way around.  Complaint and self-defeat have never once written a song or painted a picture:  dump them.  You’ve got better things to do with your time.

swimming-dock

St Lawrence River.

Jump in.  Do the work.  It’s warm.

Oh, and if you see someone else who’s doing the work, love them for it.


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Saturday morning, 4am

Yesterday was requiem day as I worked in the studio, which seemed fitting, somehow.  Every layer of grief and joy is expressed and exposed in them – the Mozart, the Brahms, the Faure, the Rutter.  Outside my windows there raged a storm that tore hydro lines and uprooted trees – for a while my phone and my internet was dead, and I was startled that this made such a difference:  me utterly alone with my grieving, raging, joyful, impossibly beautiful requiem (Mozart at that point).  Some deep internal things happened then that were very good indeed – thank you Bruce Telecom, Mozart, and the Storm.

falls2_October2013

My work continues to go well – barring another major dharmic intervention, two very large paintings will be finished by the end of Sunday Nov 3, which is also the day of an eclipse of the sun.  We will rehearse another requiem (the Popper, for 3 celli and piano), I will get some deep practise in, and the weekly routine will dance on.  For me, though,  there will be a rich, indescribable difference, thanks to the Storm, the Requiem and Bruce Telecom.  I’m humbled by it, actually, in an empowering sort of way.

a yellow christmas cactus that I raised from a wee thing.  Blooming like mad in my eastern window...

a yellow christmas cactus that I raised from a wee thing. Blooming like mad in my eastern window…

The tectonic plates beneath us are shifting.

Can you feel it?  There is an air change, a sea change, an internal change wherever you look, if you look for it.

How wonderful it is to be alive.

 


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sunlight, & ee

My studio is new and beloved.  The paintings, the sewings, the drawings and the music have all surged ahead after long weeks and months of stasis.  Patient, faithful and still, they have all waited like the good friends they are, for my return.

Ahhh.  So rich.

Bathed in sunlight I stand at one of my six big windows and listen to the conversations flowing through the room – Faure with a fabric artist guru from New Zealand about interesting new trends in upholstery;  Seamus Heaney with John Newton about Dan McGee’s gladiolus – that specific colour of luddite red; Ted Hughes roaring his laughter with hobbit-sized Edouard Bartlett about a sideways student who managed to astonish his audience; Sir Ken Robinson with my beloved Cow (a puppet made in Carnarvon 20 years ago) about the pleasures of a sharp pencil.

This morning a long-time friend and colleague sent this to me from her fridge:

I haven't yet found the title for this, but I will.

I haven’t yet found the title for this, but I will.

Here’s a bio of ee. (1894–1962), who said this in summary of three final ‘non-lectures’ at Harvard University:

“I am someone who proudly and humbly affirms that love is the mystery-of-mysteries, and that nothing measurable matters ‘a very good God damn’; that ‘an artist, a man*, a failure’ is no mere whenfully accreting mechanism, but a givingly eternal complexity—neither some soulless and heartless ultrapredatory infra-animal nor any understandingly knowing and believing and thinking automaton, but a naturally and miraculously whole human being—a feelingly illimitable individual; whose only happiness is to transcend himself, whose every agony is to grow.”

So bless this Sunday full of sunlight and total engagement with the world.  I’m going to go and paint with Seamus now.

Be well, everyone.

K

(*He meant “human”, I am sure. )

here’s the poem again – yes, she’s got it right.:

yes but even
4 or(&h
ow)dinary
a
meri
can b
usiness soca
lled me
n dis…cussing “parity” in l’hô

tel nor
man(rue d
e l’échelle)
die can’tquite poison God’s sunlight


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The deep rain

Even the loud old fridge is drowned out by straight-down-rain.  Not sheets and thunder and driving – but a rain that will drench us for days, soaking the soil, swelling the creeks, rising the shoreline of Georgian Bay above the sad sorry rocks that appeared this spring, covering their nakedness once again.  It is 12 minutes from midnight, and in this place water rules the world.

blurrymorning

After days and days of standing sweat this is the moment we’ve felt was coming. Come it has, all the way from the Rockies and the Purcells.  This same deep rain has fallen down through the foothills of Alberta into the basements of Calgary houses which are now buried in the mud and the death of water, their downstairs dens & offices rendered useless, their keepsakes now garbage-bin bound with the reminder: nothing is forever.

Three vast Canadian Provinces to the east, we are nowhere near a floodplain. Our houses are built on the bones of ancient sea creatures, layer upon layer of them still pushing up through the soil along the northeasterly curve of the Michigan Bowl. Half a mile to the east of this table lies the cold and deep of Georgian Bay, fed by a thousand thousand rivers, swelling now in ever-generous acceptance of more and more and more.  Here, we are nourished by the same deep rain.

This rain comes from God – from a place where the details of human life have no meaning.  This rain, heavy on our metal roof and our gardens is the consistent, inexorable kind of rain that erodes illusion and denial, lays bare the bones inside of a feeling.  What is laid bare becomes an honest offering on the altar of Acceptance:  Ah. I see, now.

Fog_wtoyotakey

I’m almost cross-eyed with tiredness after a long long day of listening to music, tweaking arts business strategies, watching baton twirlers, karaoke tweens, future head boys (also a few who could command world change but opt instead for just pitching in to the school talent show for now until they’re good and ready to save us all) – teach, rehearse, promote, schedule, rehearse, cajole, listen, play, insist, back off, stifle two yawns, spark a few ideas, accept two challenging projects, steer clear of others….  a day in the life of all who work in the vast, unquantifiable ocean of The Arts.  Always satisfying, sometimes enthralling, mostly just a lot of good, clean, decent work.

The idea that diverted me from the sleep I should be in right now hovers around the concept of muscle memory.

In the process of teaching the fingers of my left hand to think differently so that I can play the fast bits of the Faure Elegie,  I’ve learned that my mind has also developed deep muscled habits that no longer serve well.  Several of these were paths laid first in my childhood, and are now like canyons…

Ah.  Yes I see, now.  To change my mind – this will take a great deal of steady steady work.

So, tonight in the deep dark rain I stand before the Altar of Acceptance, and on it I offer my love –  for the terrible, astonishing beauty of Change.


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Through the gate, I think.

I look forward to this shift to Schedule every year – a good time to set clear intentions.

Here goes 2012-2013, Part 1:

1. I will learn the Brahms by March.

2. I will learn the Faure by December, tape a performance and send it down to Guelph, for application as a Suzuki teacher up to Book 8.  Then I will take the courses which will enable me to really help teach all these kids here who need to play.

3. I will finish five paintings by December (shovel, axe, hammer, teacup 1, teacup 2).

4. I will send in my October 15 Integrated Grant App to OAC.

5. I will wash the floor every week (Studio and home).

6. I will learn how to use this blessedly complicated digital 4-track BOSS thing so I can record this music I have floating in my head.  (this may be a winter project).

7. I will write here every three days at the least, and never if what I’ve got is dull and repetitive.

8. I WILL plant lots and lots of garlic in October.

9. I will visit our beautiful new Y every other day (at least) for an hour of pure physical exuberance.

10. I will write one letter every month, with a pen, onto paper.  AND I will put each one of these in the mail.

11. I will apply to at least 5 venues for an art installation/ performance exhibit, by February 1.  Also some good jury shows.

12. I will get out in the kayak at least two more times before the snow flies.

13. I will put in the time required to finish the final bits of this house, so we can move our bed into our bedroom, clear the upstairs for house concerts, and have a PARTY in November.

14. I will have a Great Deal of Fun.

Ahhh, yes.  It’s going to be a good year.

I’m goin’ in.

The way through.

 


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I LOVE our Youth Orchestra.

I’m a big fan of binders if you’ve got a long program – the tabs are new technology by me, for which I caught a good ribbing. They worked though…

I’ve seen it time and again, but it never fails to restore my faith in humanity:  if you gather smart, hardworking teens together under a conductor every week with their chosen instruments and good music to play, magical things happen.  Add 40 degree heat inside the church, a six-week hiatus from playing and a good audience and impossible magical things happen.

I love these young people and what they can do – sometimes they know exactly what they’re capable of, more often they surprise themselves.  I’m feel honoured to bruise my fingers with them (this leads to better calluses and stronger playing).  Yesterday we began practise at 4pm, and played straight through until 10pm, with only two 20 minute breaks.  That requires a special kind of stamina, especially when playing material that even pro orchestras and soloists find challenging. My fingers are killing me this morning.

If you haven’t heard of this group, I’m happy to introduce you.  Keep an eye out for us near Christmas, and again in May of 2013.  It’s always worth it to come.

Here’s a link to the website, which only needs a little bit of updating – http://www.gbsyo.ca/

What we played last night:

Symphony #1 in C major, III – Menuetto                    L. van Beethoven

Violin Concerto #1 in G minor, I – Allegro                    Max Bruch
Samantha Orr – violin

Horn Concerto #1 in E flat major, I – Allegro                Richard Strauss
Paige Mitchell – french horn

Un Moto di Gioia (from ‘The Marriage of Figaro)           W.A. Mozart
Kathleen Chayer – soprano

Piano Concerto #2 in C minor, III – Allegro                   S. Rachmaninoff
Christine Camidge – piano

Intermission

Hockey Night in Canada                                               R. Mascall

He Shall Feed His Flock (from Messiah)                         G.F. Handel

The Death of Ase (from Peer Gynt)                               E. Grieg

Pavane                                                                       G. Faure

Dreadlocks ‘n’ Dreidel                                                  R. Mascall
Rob Tite – clarinet

Symphony #9 in D minor, II – Allegro Molto                   L. van Beethoven

the trickiest bit of the Beethoven for me – I had a mental block on this passage, which appears twice. The notes aren’t difficult – just my mental block….

Encore – Ojibway Songs, IV – Allegro Vivo                      R. Mascall