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The last five. Spring Show of new work June 19 #ConversationPieces – by me. Sign up to my newsletter for more info and previews/ first dibs

www.instagram.com/reel/COnCZk-Asx9/

…and the first twelve:  Insta reel 2 this morning

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Forest-maker

I have a little time to say some things that are important to say about my dad, now 81.

oak stairs designed by dad, built by Lou Currah.  The ones I climbed to get to my room were spiral - climbing them was wild like a circus act.  This replaced them after I left
Oak stairs designed by dad, built by Lou Currah. The ones I climbed to get to my room were spiral – climbing them was wild like a circus act. This is what replaced them after I left

There are some people who are reliable in their ‘rightness’, who – if asked a genuinely perplexing question about human complexity and what to do next – will listen, consider and then dig deeply for an answer.  Without fail, that answer rises out of compassion, intuition and a razor sharp insight into what, to most others, cannot be seen.  My dad had that.  It’s close to mystical for me – what he knows, almost without knowing.

Fireplace - designed by dad, and build by an artist-stonemason circa 1973.  Back room (to balance the cool dark cave of the schoolhouse), designed by dad, and built by him, my mom and all their friends.
Fireplace – designed by dad, and build by an artist-stonemason circa 1973. Back room (to balance the cool dark cave of the schoolhouse), designed by dad, and built by him, my mom and all their friends.

We painted together, when I was a tweener.  It was mom’s idea I think – but a good one.  It means we were terrified together, met our internal demons together, screwed up lots, burned bad pictures regularly, found humility together.  With me, 31 years his junior, he was always the teacher, always suggesting, offering, nudging.  But I knew that we were also partners on the torture road to find-your-place with paint.  I was glad he was with me then and I still am, now.

from the dark into the light. Designed by Dad. There's a rightness to this.
from the dark into the light. Designed by Dad. There’s a rightness to this.

While dad and mom were teaching full time, raising my sister and I (which involved the normal feeding, cajoling, suggesting and exploding that parents do, but also gymnastics, piano, cello, spinning and weaving lessons; 2 orchestra rehearsals a week, piano trio rehearsals and concerts; a farm with 24 head of cattle, six goats, twelve chickens, and a half-acre garden), my parents came to every single concert I played.

Dad, in the back, front or corner of every venue, cried joy at me with a wet face beaming.  I didn’t need to look – without seeing him, I felt him there.

Briar Hill was built in 1867 by colonial scots stonemasons, the year Canada became a country.  My parents bought it in 1968 as a decommissioned rural school, complete with desks, a centralized woodstove, a wall of slate blackboards,  institution green paint, and big white globe ceiling-hung lights.
Briar Hill was built in 1867 by colonial scots stonemasons, the year Canada became a country. My parents bought it in 1968 as a decommissioned rural school, complete with desks, a centralized woodstove, a wall of slate blackboards, institution green paint, and big white globe ceiling-hung lights.

Dad was my teacher in  grade 12 french – not a good idea, since I wasn’t academic, and that’s the way he taught.  It was okay though.  He was also careful to carefully mention that my hair looked nice that way every once in a while, when he sensed I might be down.

I remember waking up here as a child in the early 70's.  The green ceiling was coming down to make room for 18 feet of elevation.  In the mornings I would go into the bathroom and half my face would be covered with plaster dust from overnight sleep.  I loved it.
I remember waking up here as a child in the early 70’s. The green ceiling was coming down to make room for 18 feet of elevation. In the mornings I would go into the bathroom and half my face would be covered with plaster dust from overnight sleep. I loved it.

In 2004 dad and I went to Scotland together.  I was shocked to feel myself crying, face wet, as the Glasgow train climbed north into the rising highlands.  We stayed in Oban, and later Campbeltown, where McArthurs are from.  We walked the entire circumference of Kerrera, dad getting faster and faster as the hours of walking went by.  I ran beside him, as I had when I was a child, trying, but not quite able to match his strong stride.

In his life here, dad has planted thousands of trees.  The cornfields I once ran through -  powered by joy with my sister- are now pine forests - habitat for deer, birds ... for flora and fauna that Used to live there, until the trees were taken.  Dad is forest-maker.
In his life here, dad has planted thousands of trees. The cornfields I once ran through – powered by joy with my sister- are now pine forests – habitat for deer, birds … for flora and fauna that Used to live there, until the trees were taken. Dad is forest-maker.

Happy fathers’ day, James Robert.  I’m fu’ the ‘nu with love for ye.

 

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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.