Keirartworks's Blog

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


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In Christmas

It’s the 18th of December, one week before Christmas day.  I’ve rehearsed and planned and delivered and engaged, I’ve painted and written and talked and sang and posted, I’ve cooked and sorted and laundered and cared-for and now all of a sudden on the eve of my first day off in what feels like centuries I’m hearing the call that maybe only dogs can hear, that no other human around me seems to acknowledge but nevertheless has got my full attention in this moment…

…. stop.

Not sure why this image. Something to do with Christmas I think.

This feels correct to the moment just previous to the moment I turned off my Christmas engines.

Basil Johnson once said to me, “Simple, and good – that’s all you need.”  We’d been talking about art, and what makes it resonate with human culture in the short, medium and long term.  As I remember, I’d been talkative and keen then – about socioeconomic indicators of health and growth, artists in the workplace and some utopian ideas around the political value of the arts as a generator of individual authenticity.  In 2004 I was Cultural Capitals Coordinator for my town of 22,000, doing my best to imagine and then somehow impossibly manifest a bridge between national and local, micrososm and macrocosm, embracing all issues visible and audible under the sun. I’d been given my rein, was impossibly curious, – a single artist-mom on the eve of a lifelong marriage that would only last a decade. I was provocative, insistent and intense, flailing.

“What kind of painting do you do?”, he asked, in a pause I’d left open.

again, no articulate explanation for this choice

My answer was long and exhausting.  He listened and gave me two words in exchange.

I heard them enough through all that noise in my head to swallow them whole and keep them alive in my belly.  They sing to me now.

 

I love these ladies with all my heart. This was a gig we played at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery six days ago.

I love these ladies with all my heart. This was a gig we played at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery six days ago.

The planet, the politics, the migrations of people and animals; conviction, passion, intensity, art and music; friendship, hurt, joy and the passage of time….  our response can be simple.  And good.

It’s a choice, to live and work that way.

 

BHill_SEwindow

I choose therefore to fill my tomorrow with simple rituals.  Instead of a phone, a computer, a list of errands, I will make a breakfast, a burning, a giving-away, a silence.  I will listen to what lies under all the Christmas noise.

This is good.  Thanks, Basil.  I can feel you smiling.


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Production

I’ve given myself two weeks to answer a list.  On my list are relatively small goals but they are necessarily comprehensive, since the overall aim is to break through a log jam of old unfulfilled ideas, to clear out what is no longer useful or appropriate, and give form to the ones with a vigorous pulse.   So.

Ten paintings finished and hung in a public space in two weeks.

Hammer drawing #1 - rough

Hammer drawing #1 – rough

Two public performances booked for cello ensemble, so that we HAVE TO polish these beautiful pieces, and present them.

(If you’re interested in hearing us:  December 1 Aids Vigil at the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, and December 16 6:30pm at Owen Sound City Hall)

One new project for 2016, very dear to my heart, fleshed out and taken to the collaboration table.

Eight long hikes.

Three non-fiction books finished.

One grant application mentored and sent.

Five daily rituals carefully designed and established.

One package, two letters sent to Japan.

…and space in-between.

Autumn ferns on the Bruce Trail, September.

Autumn ferns on the Bruce Trail, September.

This reads almost like a Dr. Seuss book…

One fish, two fish, three fish, four….

inheritance from two families on my mother's side:  A proud sign from Kennedy Foundry of Owen Sound, hanging on the wall of Circle Bar Ladies' Hosiery factory, also in Owen Sound, owned and operated by my mom & aunt's grandparents, Walter and Catherine Keebler.

inheritance from two families on my mother’s side: A proud sign from Kennedy Foundry of Owen Sound, hanging on the wall of Circle Bar Ladies’ Hosiery factory, also in Owen Sound, owned and operated by my mom & aunt’s grandparents, Walter and Catherine Keebler.  The fish are mine – made from carpentry scraps.


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Morning triggers

…if the nose & claw of a big hammer could be hung from the ceiling of the space so that it seemed as though it was coming through the building to hit a giant nail embedded in the floor…..

table saw, morning

… if one section of the installation was a series of small paintings all connected by a wire which carried an electrical current.  One painting would have a switch, another a plug, another a speaker.  Plug in the painting, turn on the switch in another, and two other paintings begin an audio conversation:  “My father gave me this chisel when I was 13.  My mother taught me to sew by hand first, then …..”

morning, front porch

… a painting that’s wired with the sound of an air compressor, triggered to come on when someone comes within 5 feet of it…..

morning, back porch

… record a cicada.  record a skilsaw.  Dig up data on construction site stress.

Paintings of:  Shovel, axe, hammer, clamp, grinder (s), sledge, crowbar, drill bits & railroad spikes, technical and engineered drawings, blueprints & electrical drawings, forge stamps, handsaws, chisels…

music?

And poems.

hmmmm.  Blog like a scratch pad.