Keirartworks's Blog

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


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#Selfie Post 7: Easter

Easter.

Into a cave for three days, where you find the old stuff – the callouses, the excess, the muck and the clog.  You cut it all off or out, and let it go.

FromthePaintingWall_Easter2014

Amazing how long three days can be, when you do this.  Amazing, how it feels to surrender to what you already know…

Test-driving the electric cello on Good Friday.  Mere hours after SweetWater's Seven Last Words of Christ.  I Swear the three of us - 2 incredible accoustic players and cello - levitated the bar together...

Test-driving the electric cello on Good Friday. Mere hours after SweetWater’s Seven Last Words of Christ. I Swear the three of us – 2 incredible acoustic guitar players and cello – levitated the bar together…

That’s only the beginning.

Then you look for the egg.  Or the eggs.  All of them fertile, every one of them at different stages of growth.

Because it’s Easter you can see what every egg has inside of it, and you know you need to choose.  This is easier because you’ve already cut away old stuff, old thinking…

RecordingGear_Easter2014

And somehow you’ve got help.  Ages and ages of help – Jesus, Black Elk, Dendrea, A Mowri Shaman, Eostre, Gaia, Orpheus, your 4th Grade teacher, your old friend, people you’ve only just met, or someone you just spoke to in the grocery line…

It's always good to have a six-toed cat around to keep you grounded & silly.  Thanks, Knuckles.

It’s always good to have a six-toed cat around to keep you grounded & silly. Thanks, Knuckles.

Here we are, all of us.  In the very centre of the human experience.

Lets go up.

 

Oh yes.  And Selfie, the art show, will open on Friday June 20th at Gallery deBoer, 7pm.

I promise:  we will all sing together, and levitate the gallery.

more to come; happy Easter everyone.

 

 


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#Selfie 1: Right then.

Leafs and St Louis Blues are skating like mad 2.5 feet above my head, with a soundtrack announcer who could clearly like the Leafs to tie it up & stay in the game.  2nd period, 13 minutes to go.

Blues just scored

Blues just scored

I’m writing in a local bar so I can get some distance from the #Selfie project that so dominates my studio.  I’m having a very good time digging in to define with paint, music and written language what it is about selfies that I find so abrasive.  It’s difficult to admit to intolerance, but I do.  I admit it with the caveat that I GET it:  if I’m intolerant, I’d better damn well be prepared to dig in and articulate exactly WHY I so resist and revile the selfie. By producing and publishing my own. Ow.

ikes...

As an artist I believe I am required to identify and explore my own intolerances.  To work with what is abrasive and uncomfortable.

One of the St. Louis Blue’s players is pounding the hell out of a Toronto player.

I couldn't be less interested.

I couldn’t be less interested.  This is not the same as intolerance.

Many indigenous peoples have felt, when faced with the cameras of apparently benign foreigners (some Mayans still refuse to have their image copied and used by anyone), that a photo contains part of the soul of the person photographed.  Mississipi artist James W. Bailey believes this too, and addresses his internal conflict this way:

I hold a religious belief, probably inherited from my paternal Mississippi grandmother, who was 1/4 Choctaw Indian, and who was extremely distrustful of photography, that photography, more than any other art form, has the ability to capture a living element of life, a flashpoint of the soul if you will. …  When such photographic images are taken, the only thing the photographer can do to make the universe right with what he or she has done is to place the photograph, which I believe to be a living organism, into a context of positive growth….

The great photographers, whether they know it or not, are photographers who have taken stolen elements of life and have placed those living substances into a context where the photographically captured life force has been encouraged toward positive growth.

Are we as careful with our own images of ourselves as he is on our behalf?

Are we as careful with our own images of ourselves as he is on our behalf?

So in I go, straight to the coarse sandpaper. My rules so far are these: 1. I work with and publish only images I take by myself of myself. 2. I publish each one first on social media before I use it in painting, writing or song. 3. I include whatever the response is in the work that develops.  Including zero response. 4. I ask everyone I know what they think of the selfies phenomenon. 5. Be unfailingly honest and up front about whatever vulnerability I feel throughout the whole process.

Show opens in June, in Owen Sound.  It will include performance art, music, and a small hand-made book which will document the process of building it.  I’m also booking it into a tour – through galleries, highschools, colleges & universities, museums & clubs. I’ll keep you posted.

hmmm.

hmmm.


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Old things and dungeons

Grocery store “…ya, seven car pileup in Dundalk.  I’m not going home to London looks like…”

snowfort stories – there were three of us, so …  that’s when the snowbanks along the roads were 14  feet high- we used to run along the top and jump over the hydro lines… 

I guess some people like winter, probly they don’t have to shovel…  Better get extra, looks like we’re socked in…

detail from a painting I'm working on now.  I think it's about my parents...

detail from the painting on the wall in front of me. – a teacup I got from david sereda and Stuart Reid

I’m here in the warm painting light thinking about old things.  There’s nothing in this studio that isn’t grounded in history.  Even the studio space is specific to this – it was part of a ladies’ hosiery factory founded and run by one of my great-grandfathers (mother’s mother’s father) in the 1920s that at one time employed 200 women.  If I close my eyes I can hear them talking to one another in counterpoint to the rhythm of the knitting machines…

I just finished a painting that I’d thought was about a snaffle bit – a reference to Athena’s golden bridle that Bellepheron used to bend Pegasus to his will.  I was going to call it Unbridled – but that just shows how little I know.  It’s called Chalk Horse, and in this painting, she is a mare.  We have been locked in battle for a week, but I do get it now.  She’s lived in the Oxfordshire hills for somewhere near 3000 years, and is known as the Uffington Horse.  This week she’s been very much in my studio.

Snaffle bit?  Pah.  Stomp.

detail of the same painting

detail of the same painting – my father’s excellent chop saw.  I cut 1000 square feet of 1 & 1/4″ ash floor on this puppy.

There’s something about writing music or prose, about making paintings that demands utter openness and honesty.  It’s a place of utterly precious fragilit, but there’s nothing judgemental about it – it’s just that when an image rings true then it has become itself – that’s the work.  Any contrivance, any force of will or intention will just get in the way.  So you listen.  It’s got to be collaborative if it is to have any relevance to the world at all.

Good art is always relevant to the world – it’s the why of it.  Art, music, writing, dance, theatre,  – these immeasurable, difficult things are our best chance to change our minds about ourselves.  This is where the difficult questions get asked, the ones that require real honesty to answer.

Icegrotto3

We are all of us very good at building dungeons for ourselves, are we not?  As I listen to Leonard Cohen, at age 75, sing about his Secret Life, I think this must be so.  We build them of bits and pieces of our failures and from inherited shame, and keep the dark door shut, when instead we need to spend well-considered time there, alone with ourselves – it’s the hardest thing to do, perhaps.  For me, this is where I get humbled, every time – groping around in the dark for something I recognize, something that can hold a difficult beauty.

Icegrotto2

I emerge always with fewer words.

Gratitude.  That’s a good one.