Keirartworks's Blog

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


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Paper work

It is re-focus time in the studio.  I have all weekend for this – just one little gig for an hour today, then back at it.

PrintingMaterials

I think of studio as a map both for and of my mind.  It’s a container for schedule; a flexible structure that can be altered according to the needs of each project.  Currently, it’s a mess – the detritus from several months of steady-work-no-break is all around.  I’ve been gifted some tools and supplies, materials and media from my father who is packing up his own studio for a big move – they have yet to find their functional place.  Other materials have never had functional space, and languish invisible in the back of an old filing cabinet drawer…

This will not do.  It begs a re-think, a clearing out, a clarification.

I love the way this draws me inexorably to a hunt for passions, new or old.  Arrows are questions, propelled by a bow of necessity:  what am I drawn to?  How and whom will these ideas serve?.

I discover I’m feeling compelled to work this out on paper as I did when I was 15, with media I’ve not used for years…

I clear the boards, make a pile for burning.  Sweep and clean the floor, listening.

Sewingfoot

Sacred space certainly, but this place is no shrine.  It’s a factory inside the factory my Great-Grandfather built.

Factories run on schedule.  Which reminds me of something Annie Dillard wrote,

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. … It is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. 


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Solo

Snow is both light and heavy, slow and fast, visible and not.

It’s a season of contrast.

WinterRose

I live in a Canadian province that stretches from Windsor/Detroit (on a latitudinal par with Northern California) to Hudson’s Bay – a stretch between 42 and 57N; from carolinian forest to tundra – “Ontario is Canada’s second largest province, covering more than 1 million square kilometres (415,000 square miles) – an area larger than France and Spain combined”, reports my provincial government.

cropped-geeserback_header.jpg

Somehow, after exploring many other places on the planet, I became the sixth maternal generation to live in the one small town in this enormous province that gets the biggest annual snowfall (and rainfall).  Owen Sound is nestled at the base of the Bruce Peninsula, which defines the west shore of Great Lake Huron and the rocky eastern shore of Georgian Bay.  A note:  I identify more with Georgian Bay than with Huron, which is like a lukewarm bath to swim in when all I want is the rejuvenating shock of cold water.  GB is 80% the size of Lake Ontario, second-deepest of the world’s largest inland freshwater lakes, and is guarded by a hothead Anishnabe god called Kitchikewana.  He called me back here from far far away and I came.  For good reason.

Pic by Vita Cooper, friend and artist.  12 street from the river, where I spend most of my time....

Pic by Vita Cooper, friend and artist.  Just right of centre you can see a brick building – I’m writing this from the top floor of it.

The geneaology is important in a personal way.  But the effect of all this falling water, both frozen/ light and heavy/ wet – that has shaped me and my understanding of the world in a very profound manner.

I think differently, because of it.

PicnicTable_Dec2013

Snow, here, is peace.  The wind on our walls;  the vast plain of white outside our windows;  the deeply understood value of fire and warmth; the call to our belly muscles as we shovel ourselves out of a four-foot blanket of confinement – we live in a kind of shared solitude that makes things clear and simple.

In an ocean full of the salt of complaint, I exult in my good fortune – to be Here.

 

 

 


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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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find a reason

I have two feet’s worth of projects to move from here to over there – from the possible to the more possible pile; to the surprisingly good pile, a few to the “well now I know that won’t work ever” pile.  They all have a best before date; some of which I know, others I’ve misread, so I pre-empt, and miss the mark…

factory windows

art factory windows

Every one of them is worthy of the best attention.  Unfortunately tonight, after 18 hours of steady steady…  for what feels like the past three months straight, I’m really really tired.  And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Bofoto shot (https://www.facebook.com/the.bofoto) from the sold out & very successful Nirvana Unplugged, which happened 6 days ago...

Bofoto shot (https://www.facebook.com/the.bofoto) from the sold out & very successful Nirvana Unplugged, which happened 6 days ago…

Last night I sat in for the GBS’ principal cellist to sight read Dvorak (a last-minute surprise; I tanked), the night before I was melted by the Goldberg Variations played by Mark Fewer (vln), Steven Dann (vla), Richard Lester (vlc), which was like witnessing the reason the planet turns and the sun rises.  The night before that I tried again to reconfigure my brain to fit the frequency of the instruction manual for a BOSS900  digital THING which will allow me to write and share songs with my collaborators….

Me, my sister and our Grandfather Kennedy in Trafalgar square, London, 1968.  I'd like to say that things were simpler then, but I find I can't, really.  In a bizarre way this is comforting.  I wonder if anyone gets that.

Me, my sister and our Grandfather Kennedy in Trafalgar square, London, 1968. I’d like to say that things were simpler then, but I find I can’t, really. In a bizarre way this is comforting. I wonder if anyone gets that.

What’s my point?

I think it’s pretty simple.  I really am really tired, and I need real sleep.

Also that I love what I’m doing.


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How do you know?

We were in my studio where almost every inch of wall, floor table and shelf is crammed with stuff in process and use, with tools, & paint & vine charcoal & buttons & books & thread & blank paper & other paper covered with notes or ideas or solo, duet, trio, quartet or orchestral music.  Even the chairs here carry drips from paintings long sold, are saddle-worn from 20 years of rehearsals; ready for more of both.  Almost everything emits light, or energy, if you prefer that – either because it’s becoming something, or it’s ready to be of use in the becoming of something.  It’s noisy with work, here – louder than the cars and sirens outside, distorting the seconds as the retro-industrial clock strives to maintain regularity, but often concedes it’s rule to some other God than Time.

IMG_9446She looked like a dry ocean sponge soaking up water when she asked me how I knew what I wanted.  I felt privileged  – as if by asking she put me in a club I’ve often wondered about,

<thought bubble even now: “I’ve no idea.  But maybe … They Get It.”>.

Thanks for the rehearsal, L.  More therapy.

Thanks for the rehearsal, L. More therapy.

Hope my answer was ok.  It was something about what your heart tells you.


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Enemy lines

The struggle for six hours daily to make fingers move at lightning speed, and in the balance of the day to re-shape one’s mind into a vast reservoir of history, style and technique, impress the right teachers and build the pedigrees that could make all the difference in earning potential  – this felt, to my 17-year-old mind, like a serious distortion of what I knew and loved about music.  Six hours of practise daily – good exercise, but no balance with laughter.  There was nothing playful about it.

I never found a mentor there, or perhaps I wasn’t open to the possibility after receiving a damningly dismissive letter from my Conservatory teacher just months before.  The world of music study felt cold and hard.

So I put my cello away for a decade and pursued fine art – York University in the ’80’s, Sheridan College in the ’90’s, many joint and solo exhibitions since.   With apologies, because I’m just beginning the process of overhauling this old website, here’s some of my work @ www.crowsink.ca.

At the time I believed that music and art were two different things.  Silly me.  Eventually I figured it out, got my cello & vocal chops back and have included music and performance in every art show I’ve done since.

Here we come to my point – ANY artistic discipline is equal parts cold, hard and terrifying, and deeply, soul-quenchingly rewarding.  There’s no way around it, if you’re serious about the job of being an artist.  We serve our communities by tackling the toughest questions and finding (hopefully pro-active) means and ways to offer solutions, generate discussion, make precise, accessible statements that have universal resonance.  It’s an incredibly difficult job to do well.

Ask any serious artist about obstacles – constant lack of time or money is the obvious one, though I’m  frankly sick of the the ‘starving artist’ stereotype – so often this comes from an overblown sense of entitlement.  In some few cases artist poverty happens for legitimate reasons rooted in abuse and mental illness, but such is the case in any profession.  Being a professional artist in this culture includes the hard work of attending to self-promotion, maintaining multiple streams of income, and making sure you respect yourself enough to cover your needs.

A conductor friend of mine once told me that he spends only 3% of his time on his craft.  The remaining 97% he spends building and maintaining the continued possibility for good work.  Most young artists don’t understand this  – it’s where we mostly fail.

However, I find that the difficulty of mastering those things pales when I’m finally alone in a studio, developing a piece, a show, a concept, and building the images that will describe what I’m trying to communicate.  It takes a strong stomach to face down the inner demons who will tell you:  Nobody will get it.   This is weak.  This has no relevance whatsoever to what’s happening out there.  You can’t see.  You can’t draw.  This work has no function, no meaning.  You’d be better off mowing the lawn.

The enemy lines.

I have been at it long enough to know that if I don’t feed them, the demons will fade away.  If they’re stubborn, I pick up my cello and dissolve them with music.

Happy art-making, everyone.  Stick it out, and make it good.