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A knock on the locked door

March’s social media is a-twitter with #WomensHistoryMonth, #5WomenArtists…

20 minutes is my limit for work on this, I've found. My eyes lose their focus
20 clock minutes is my limit for this work I’ve found. My eyes lose their focus

This question has arisen, from the thoughtful and compelling minds of the National Museum of Women’s Art NMWA in Washington, DC:  off the top of your head, can you name 5 women Artists, from any era?  I can, but then I’m a painter, and I studied art history in the ’80s.  Curious, I pulled a massive tome from that era about Impressionism (1870-1885, give or take) and did some digging.  I found women – certainly; lovers, wives, mistresses, models, muses…

…but Not. One. Woman. Painter.

I can do this for twenty minutes, clock-time.
But those twenty minutes are meditative – they actually last for hours.

Come on.  That’s as nuts as immaculate conception.

I can only work on this for twenty minutes at a time, when my eyes give out.
While I’m at it, choosing colours, stringing, sewing down then up, my mind is in a kind of free place

I visited the National Gallery early in February, and found my heroes – all male because, well that’s what they’ve been teaching us all this time – and I believed it, as a young painter gendered female.  Astonished, again, as I have been for 30 years, to see the living breathing originals in front of me.  They beg stillness, and they get it. But this time beside them occasionally were beautiful pieces I’d never seen that pulled me in and demanded my attention. My GOD- the brushwork, the light, the power!

The Women.  They are there too, now.  In small numbers, to be sure, but they’re there and they’re strong.

fabric in all of these photos is designed and printed by women in Indonesia. Beading on the green satin is by Helen Donald, seamstress extraordinaire and children's clothing shop owner in the 60's. Somehow when I work on these I feel I'm stitching us all together
fabric in all of these photos is designed and printed by women in Indonesia. Beading on the green satin is by Helen Donald, seamstress extraordinaire and children’s clothing shop owner in the 60’s. Somehow when I work on these I feel I’m stitching us all together

I visited the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound this weekend to see the new shows and what do I find but an entire show of mad, serious, playful, rule-breaking women artists,

Crossing Natures is a group exhibition that explores cross-generational influences and affinities, and a lineage of feminism, found in the work of Joyce Wieland (1931-1998), Christiane Pflug (1936-1972), Janet Morton and Mélanie Rocan. Crossing Natures looks at the idea of thresholds that convey aspects of our relationship to habitat and the natural world.

Thank you once again, o enlightened TOM, for bringing the world to our door.

Women artists are also represented in a touring exhibition about the Beaver Hall Group from 1920s Montreal.  It’s in Hamilton, ON until May – I’m going.

I feel like I'm in communion.
I feel like I’m in communion.

Painting will NEVER go away, for me.  There’s been a two-month delay due to family issues (now at a place of peace), but the Bells That Still Can Ring will open this spring and travel after that to several places.  In this pause, however, I find myself gratified that there always have been and always will be strong women artists. I am more than comforted.

Oh yes – this also: Smithsonian now thinks that “Ancient Women Artists May Be Responsible for Most Cave Art”

And that’s just fine.

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#Water, and Bach’s Air

Heart and mind, heart and mind.

I was teaching a transcribed Bach Air to one of my cello students today and was brought to tears, once again, by the beauty of that music.  Such a dance between air and sea, earth and sky, leaf and root.


I’d forgotten what day it was, actually, until my daughter sang the song at 12:05am.  Then she came again at 9am with flowers, a lovely note, and a… cooking pumpkin.?  We sat together a while, in the studio.



Then as I worked through the normal wednesday schedule, so very many people offered beautifully crafted birthday thoughts to me, by phone, by email, on social media and in person. The sun shone, the breeze finally required sweater, and my family agreed to meet all together for the first time in several years.


I can call the ocean from a drum.  The travel time between here and good friends in Winnipeg is only as long as the hairs on my cello bow. I am rich with astonishing poetry written by two friends, one native, one not, about right here were I sit, right now.  And I’ve only just begun to be thankful.

Some days are green and golden.

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Frozen Pipes semi-resolved, Day 20

The morning raising of the bedroom window blind reveals a bright blue pipeline stretching east-west across the backyards of our neighborhood block, turning north at my forsythia bush. I look out the front of the house onto our street and it’s filled with orange trudging men.

It’s raining water and corn snow as I ask one of them if he’s tired, because I know they’ve been at it non-stop.

“Getting there, ya.”  but he’s smiling

2015-03-14 12.27.09

Some of us gathered a while later to talk with Denis about what it’s been like – how the experience has raised questions about water as a human right (it is); how it should never every become a commodity for sale only to people who can afford it; little we know about the system that brings it to our taps (and want to know more); how good it feels to understand just exactly what 30 litres can do; how this is such a first-world problem but nevertheless bathing in our own homes will feel like heaven…

the street. They brought the men dressed in orange and the blue pipes sometime in the early early morning
the street. They brought the men dressed in orange and the blue pipes sometime in the early early morning.  Brent next door left coffee out for them.

And then I came to work to write music for Liz’ film and develop my water paintings concept a little further.  I didn’t stop on the way to load up with 30 more litres, though I did consider it.

At 7:30 my daughter texted this:


this is a picture of happy.
this is a picture of happy.

So never mind work.  I’m going home to my bathtub and my washing machine now.

Can you hear the angels singing?