Keirartworks's Blog

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


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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.

Canopy

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.

 

Bent_Tree_close

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.

InglisTree1

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:

“WAAAAAATERRRRR”

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?


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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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#Selfie 19: The Writing of Book

As predicted, each painting for #Selfie has had it’s own arc of becoming.  They have all been surprises, have all taught me things I wouldn’t otherwise know. It’s been a privilege to be at the centre of this project and participate in the discovery, the shaping and polishing of each facet.  Quite a geological process – I am changed by it, I know.

I sat down to pull the book together and realized that even though the whole project has a broader, wider arc I was still inside it, making.  Still in process, still on the curve…

It became clear over the days of showing up for writing that this lovely broad #Selfie arch also had a corresponding shadow.  As I walked along this one it became narrower, and darker, and steeper – in descent.

Then I realized, “Ah.  This is personal now.”

also, “Ah.  This is writing of Book”.

'map' for the last #Selfie painting, Totem.

‘map’ for the last #Selfie painting, Totem.

#Selfie has been a great collaborative experience – music, performance art, spoken word, poetry, well-considered response and story.  Ron de Boer and staff, david sereda, Kristan Anderson, Larry Jensen, Coco Love Alcorn, Christopher McGruer, Paul Hartmann, Christian Wilke, Marcus Vichert, Norm Bell, Thom MacFarlane, Kate Walsh, John Fearnall, Brad Morley, Frank Klaassen… so many more who climbed in and on to add thought, response, notice, rhyme, feeling, rhythm, comment.  Highly resonant, this idea of examining #Selfie.

#Selfie Examination.

three of five images, underdrawing...

three of five images, underdrawing…

Did I think it had already got personal, in the making of the paintings?  Yes.  Yes I did think that.

But the paintings were one of five components to #Selfie.  There was also the collaborative performance; the collaborative spoken word; the blog (the way in to the paintings); and the book.  The book is the larger arc – both visible and public, and invisible, personal.  Not a compilation (though I thought that’s what it would be), not a summary or a closing paragraph.  It has elements of those ideas, but the book needed to be a distillation of the experience into something …chewable.

So I wrote a folk tale.

all five images on, blue wash on butterfly

all five images on, blue wash on butterfly

It begins this way,

A girl was born with a sleeping wound buried deep inside her.  She also had joy, which was clear for anyone to see.

While she was growing up, her family, who loved her very much, gave her another wound to keep, and buried it deep in her future.  They also gave her love, which was clear for anyone to see.

They made the wound they gave her out of pieces of their own memories, fragments of their parent’s arguments, scattered bits of rage and anger that they had collected from behind the doors and under the carpets, in the chesterfield beneath the pillows, under the beds, under the kitchen sink.  they put all of their hopes and dreams for her in the wound, and wrapped it all up in a beautiful cloth made from their love.

That was the way it had happened for them, the way it had always been, and the way it would always be.

more colour

more colour, corrected drawing

I’ve loved the essential nature of Folk Tales for as long as I can remember.  They don’t mess around with descriptive filler or emotional drama, but deliver metaphor in layers which the reader can take in and combine, to build their own image and intuitive response.  Always I’m trying to do this with my paintings.  This last #Selfie painting more than any of the others – possibly because of the book writing, and the Folk Tale…

When the time came for the girl to leave her parents and seek her fortune, everyone agreed that she was well-prepared.  Beautiful and full of life, promise, intelligence and talent, it was clear that she would have no trouble finding success, fulfilment, happiness and love.

And so she did.  As the years passed, everyone who knew her was reassured by the clean arc of her life, since This was the way it had happened for them, The way it had always been, The way it would always be.

She herself was happy, content and grateful for the comforts she enjoyed, until she came to the day in her future where her parents’ gift was buried.

TotemJuly27

Today from 6 until 8pm we will launch the book and this final #Selfie painting.  The show will come down on August 8th, and then #Selfie will be in Chapter Two, which I’ve not written yet, but I shall.  Here’s the link to that event if you’re nearby & on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/748736241853940/

The story to be told there is a more introspective one – it’s mine, certainly, but also it belongs to anyone who is pulled to #Selfie Examination.  Good heavens there are riches there – fragility; audacity; strength; disempowerment; blind, mute sadness; singing joy; risk and nourishment.  It behooves one to keep walking down the path….

Final painting.  This was taken outside at 6am, so as always, the colour is... interpretive.  Come and see the original if you can.

Final painting. This was taken outside at 6am, so as always, the colour is… interpretive. Come and see the original if you can.

In the story, the girl meets a Hermit.  Then she meets the Great God Pan.  Then she meets Baba Yaga, and ….

Well, write to me if you want the rest of the story.  It belongs, I think, to all of us.

 


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#Selfie 8: due diligence

There’s a subtle art to avoidance – one can accomplish a great deal when motivated by discomfort with a project’s requirements:  Go work out – more often.  Coach at GBSS’ annual music clinic; play at elementary schools in Bruce County for GBS.  Go see Art of Time’s Cadmium Red with Aruna; wander introverted and happy through Toronto; visit an old friend & musician colleague in Guelph; rehearse for and perform at Kiwanis Music Fest with my cello kids; teach. Rent an electric cello and test drive it in a bar with two groove-great acoustic guitar players.  This past week:  Wed to Fri rehearsal & performance for the Georgian Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra with Owen Sound’s Choir that Rocks.  Two shows to packed houses in a beautiful old church which is now an arts building/soup kitchen.  We raised the roof both nights, and the kids are on fire.

Photo of Friday's show by John Fearnall of Goodnoise photography.  I love his work - well worth a visit to www.goodnoise.ca

Photo of Friday’s show by John Fearnall of Goodnoise photography. I love his work – well worth a visit to http://www.goodnoise.ca

Yesterday Larry Jensen and I played an impromptu set at The River Cafe at 1pm before my big paintings came down off the walls there.  The Mayor dropped by, and 20 or so others, to help us say thanks to Karen Rosalie (River Cafe Queen) for her hospitality.  I could have played all day long, despite my impairment from celebrating until 4am …

This one was still drying when we hung it at The River in January.  It's good to see it again.

This one was still drying when we hung it at The River in January. It’s good to see it again.

It’s easy easy to swim in the big wide river of life here.  On the same night as GBSYO & The Choir that Rocks, Don Buchanan played excellent, tasteful jazz at The Frog Pond and there was a live 60’s revivalby great players at the Legion, along with other events I couldn’t possibly list.   Last night, a classical concert with Eric Osborne (organ), Sebastian Ostertag, Joachim Ostertag, and Syl McIntosh, and Open mic at The Bleeding Carrot.  This little tiny town is buzzing with arts activity – what we can’t get to will be seen by someone, and photos posted.  Thanks  John Fearnall & Goodnoise; thanks Amber Brown; Richard Mascall; thanks Trev MacKenzie, Tara MacKenzieJim Ansell & the Bleeding Carrot; Kelly Babcock and Andree, Kimmer, Steve Zamin, Mossy,  – these are some of the folks who keep the place spinning at a healthy clip, and hold up a mirror for us to see ourselves. We’re lookin better and better all the time.

Another by John Fearnall of GoodNoise (https://www.facebook.com/GoodNoise). The Choir that Rocks Owen Sound.

Another by John Fearnall of GoodNoise (https://www.facebook.com/GoodNoise). The Choir that Rocks Owen Sound.

 

Today I come home  – to the work I love more than I love myself, as Elizabeth Gilbert would say (go Here for her recent TED talk).  This is like rest.  Away from the madding crowd, the interaction, the sharing of experience and joy, the assertion of identity within the crowd or tribe of people, I can soften my gaze and look inward and outward at the same time.

Hip Cello, from 2008, recently come back to me.  I've missed this one.

Hip Cello, from 2008, recently come back to me. I’ve missed this one.

I see the cup on my desk I shared scotch with in a long yesterday afternoon (lovely time, L & C), and I think of performance and introversion, the sweet fragility of both artist and audience when they come together in music.  I see tulips on my piano, paintings that have returned to the place of their birth, music stands and microphones, and I feel comforted by the rhythm of time.  I see the patches of sun on my floor, and feel my heart beat, steady.

SunPatchonFloorApril2014

#Selfie is requiring due diligence from me.  Early on I knew that my intolerance (see #Selfie 1) could lead nowhere but back to my own insecurities and blind spots – sure enough, it did (see #Selfie 2, then #Selfie 3, in which I confess my internal shock).  Predictably, I reacted to my own shock by going abstract again (#Selfie 4 (I prefer my hands), #Selfie 5 (mirror), #Selfie 6 (Mask)), and then #Selfie 7 (Easter) referred to, but did not describe the quite intense process of self- discovery, self-pruning, self-clearing I’d experienced that weekend – I chickened out, and that will not do.

So – to rectify.

SunPatch2

#selfie 9 will go direct.  See you back here after I’ve done some digging.


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#Selfie 4: inside out

I honestly don’t have a clue what I look like from the outside.  Or- I have clues, from friends (hopefully most honest, but still undeniably subject to mood changes & emotional wellbeing), family (often distorted by… family), men who have been drinking in bars (predictable), random encounters with strangers…  and more recently in my Selfie pilgrimage… mirrors, photographs, & video that’s been initiated and shot of me by me.

Aside from those hints and clues I live my life looking out of this face, so there’s absolutely NO way I can say:  I look like this.

Buzz Aldritch on the moon in 1966 - perhaps the pinnacle of Selfies, brought to my attention be James Keelaghan, singer-songwriter extraordinaire and our insightful & resourceful AD at Summerfolk in Owen Sound (thanks James)

Buzz Aldrin (thanks MV) on the moon in 1966 – perhaps the pinnacle of Selfies, brought to my attention by James Keelaghan, singer-songwriter extraordinaire and our insightful & resourceful AD at Summerfolk in Owen Sound (thanks James)

 

So here’s what I think today:  our visual image is always and only subjective.  It’s Always about where we are, what we are doing, how we feel, what we feel… endless facets, all capable of changing and shaping the configurations of muscles on our face, and the way the light hits them.

So what makes a Selfie a good selfie?  Authenticity?

I think so, Buzz.  I do think so.

A quick shot of my left hand & shoulder from a mirror in Feb.

A quick shot of my left hand & shoulder from a mirror in Feb.

Awkward shot of my Right hand in a mirror for reference, Feb.  Music stands work as a matte black ground...

Awkward shot of my Right hand in a mirror for reference, Feb. Music stands work as a matte black ground…

 

singing, now....

drawing (anatomy mistakes in the RH knuckle – now fixed)

this morning by 9:30am.  Includes a heretical symbol for the wings of enlightenment, used by a printer in the 13th century to signal gnostic pilgrims that the way was safe...

this morning by 9:30am. Includes a heretical symbol for the wings of enlightenment, used by a printer in the 13th century to signal gnostic pilgrims that the way was safe…

3pm today.  It has since transformed again...

3pm today. It has since transformed again…

 

What’s my point?

We create an image of ourselves that is constantly changing; we are constantly changing.  There is no true constant image when viewed from the outside.

Maybe there is from the inside, though.

A working theory.