Keirartworks's Blog

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


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Bill Reid, Through and In

My phone is in Kingston, 200 km of driving sleet and transport trucks ago.

I travel through this with my daughter from my aunt to my niece. There’s a rightness to the timing.

Bill Reid's Orca

Bill Reid’s Orca

In the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau I find a plug upstairs after the cafe closes.  There’s a bench with cushions so I cross my legs and balance the laptop as I would find centre and lift my paddle in a canoe. Then I write, staring at horizon.

There’s a curve in the tail of Bill Reid’s Orca that keeps him suspended in the air, impossible and alive.

My paddle-calloused fingers type,

I intend…

2001- a painting from a show called Sea Hear, in which I tried once again to paint music

a photo of  ‘Play’ from a 2001 show Sea Hear, in which I tried with all my heart to paint music. My daughter, at 5, chose all the imagery for this one, especially the orcas.

Weightless I am, suspended in the air like this massive hunter whale.  Out of my element, on purpose:  I intend.

I am above the Ottawa River which looks drugged into surrender by the ritual, annual, comforting January cold, across from the Parliament buildings where Justin son of Pierre sits with renewed and informed vigour as our head of state.

They built the beautiful, flower-shaped, buttressed library on the river side, away from the possibility of attack.  Those Statesmen, their advisors, their Wives.  Some of them in came and chose and made it so in ways I can respect.

Bell1, 2015, 20" x 24", mixed media (acrylic) on canvas.

Bell1, 2015, 20″ x 24″, mixed media (acrylic) on canvas.

I think about my Scots ancestors who fled here two generations & eight generations ago to look for a horizon they could aim for, for once.  I think about now and La Loche and four people dead like lightning, like an arrow to what we need to see and be accountable for.  I think about Idle No More, about Truth and Reconciliation.

I can barely remember the last specific, technical idea I had about music or painting – these old old ideas are far stronger.

'Black'. 2014, 36x36, acrylic on dyed cotton.

‘Black’. 2014, 36×36, acrylic on dyed cotton.

I intend.

To take the next precious decade of my life to examine and build a good answer to these things I wonder and care about, more every day.

My thinking fingers have written this:

We are all a product of our own small community that overlaps in myriad ways with larger ones like the Internet, like a city, a collective, a field, an orchestra, a band, large or small.  I’ve come to believe over this small span of years that each is an ecosystem that thrives according to the strength of it’s connectedness.

I’ve found also that few connectors are stronger than the making of good music. As a painter who also writes and performs regularly as a vocalist/cellist I have experienced this time and time again: visual art and writing connect us more deeply to ourselves but music connects us, through ourselves, to others. One might say that community music is like mycelium – a connective tissue that can convey a supportive ‘nutrient’ through the system to everyone who requires it….

photo by Robbin McGregor, bee-keeper

photo by Robbin McGregor, bee-keeper

The timing is right.  I will get my Master’s degree at Laurier, in Community Music.

Like the impossibly suspended whale, like a Rebel, I will pay for this with the proceeds from my paintings.  They will be on paper and canvas, in watercolour, ink and oil.  They will sing.

Bent_Tree_close

Find a door you like, one that calls change to you.  Then you go through and in.


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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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Who designed this?

The Harness is off.  It’s over there on the floor.

Curious, to see this thing I’ve worn for 30+ years…  Who made it?  Why so tight?  Why the rough rope?  It’s ingenious, actually.  There’s a pull cord I see that will jab thumbtacks into my backside when I’m slowing down, and simultaneously tighten the collar around my neck…  added incentive to get through the last 10% of every project?

I recognize that this harness was designed by me, however unconsciously, from the inherited protestant ethic of Work as Suffering.  Life is work, therefore (inevitably) Life is Suffering.  Extrapolated:  If you don’t suffer, you’re not working hard enough.  This idea can take the joy right out of any task – even if it’s your highest calling.  It can in the extreme lead to the wearing of hair shirts, to self-flagellation, martyrdom/victimhood,  the false rationalization of the need to live like a starving artist …

up next.  Two paintings about how we choose to use our energy - to engage, or not.

up next. Two paintings about how we choose to use our energy – to engage, or not.

To be clear – I’ve had a super-productive, satisfying time since April, when I began work on the #Selfie project.  It’s been an experience full of engagement, surprise, transformation – rich with reward on every level.   I also met my harnessed self full-on several times, too, and recognized someone driven in a way that is not healthy.

With several new projects on the table now – each one full of promise, potential and fascination, I find myself wondering about this.  As I take the breath one takes before diving in, I wonder

Do I really need the thumbtacks?

Does it need to come to suffering and self-denial, this finishing?

Must it be a battle, every time?

 

resist underpainting

resist underpainting

At the very least I need to radically alter the design.  To find and use material that I like – softer, padded. No thumbtacks, no injectors full of anxiety, no neck collar.   Maybe it should be more like a well-crafted tool that will help me to pull a heavier load.

Or maybe the work isn’t heavy, and I don’t need a harness at all.

This is quite a thought.

dance step 2 resist underpainting.  The power is in the space between

dance step 2 resist underpainting. The power is in the space between

Maybe I just need to change my mind.

This is exciting.  So is 2014-2015.  So many neato, challenging collaborative and solo projects ahead.  So many Incredibles to work and play with.  Without suffering for any of it.

So, Honoured Protestant Ancestors.  What you lived and suffered in protest to is no longer life-threatening; the ethic no longer applies in any way that’s healthy and life-affirming.  Sleep in peace, with big smiles.  Grins, even.

 

“If you bring forth the genius within you it will free you. If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you.”

– Jesus, gnostic Gospel of Thomas (which didn’t make it into the bible.  Too bad.)

 

 


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Name the moment

Not sure I can do it justice tonight.  There’s a cool change I’m trying to put my finger on….

Vichert's Mackie, Katie's recommended Tascam, the shrouded MK4.  windhorse prayerflags for mom....

Vichert’s Mackie, Katie’s recommended Tascam, the shrouded MK4. windhorse prayerflags for mom….

and a river rock I got in Manhattan in 2009….

back of my cello case...

back of my cello case…

I’m not really verbal.  What’s rich for me resides in the resonance and richness of what is visual and tactile and aural – so these blogs (and any writing task) are a challenge – to bring what is into what can be broadcast to more than what I see & get.  But every so often something happens – an internal agreement to stretch the moment I’m in,  when I think I should try to, I don’t know – share?

I’ve been working on some art pieces about what we now call ‘selfies’.  Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing, all this time?  trying to articulate something I … know about what I am?

beside and behind me, to my right. Like a speaking horn

beside and behind me, to my right. Like a speaking horn

I don’t seek them, but I see them – the selfies on the internet are vulnerable, mostly.  Open to … something.

What is that?  Do we all crave this, but only some (increasingly more) publish it?

And even after all this I’ve not come close to describing for you the real moment I’m in.  Perhaps this is my vulnerability, and this post is a selfie.  Open, and honest and incomplete and full of imperfections.  Begging for criticism… or acceptance.

hand with fish

hand with fish

I know people who cannot talk from who they are.  People who are so divided and hurt that nothing comes out straight, and mostly what comes out is painful, distorted and destructive.  I’ve been in that place too – or my own version.

From this simple but rich rich place I am in, I send you my best, imperfect love.  All of it.  Always.

I think about you all the time.

I think about you all the time.

We turn into Spring together.


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Things to do with the Christmas Flu

There was an impossible amount of STUFF going on in my family when I was a kid.  It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve realized my then-body had figured out a strategy to remove myself from the obligation to participate in the stress:  I got sick.  There were lots of options, some slightly life-threatening – severe allergies to things like dust, wool, potatoes (though I’d have liked to add buckwheat to the list, I could not); chronic Bronchial-Athsma; severe strep throat; mumps…  Whatever was prevailing, I would assume – but these ailments together were enough to take me out of the mainstream and into a place, far from the madding crowd, where I could get serious about playing…

I've played solitaire since I was at least seven, so has my mom.  I had the choice of 2 NHL decks - Habs or Leafs.  Without much thinking I chose Habs because I wanted to improve my chances of winning... (sorry Dad)

I’ve played solitaire since I was at least seven, so has my mom. I had the choice of 2 NHL decks – Habs or Leafs. Without much thinking I chose Habs because I wanted to improve my chances of winning… (sorry Dad)

So now that the Christmas ‘flu has arrived (& I was due), I’m in my happy place despite the raw nose, stuffed head, aching joints and dodgy stomach.  The little things are calling me….

...what would happen if I layered three cello lines and a simple heartbeat percussion.  maybe voice, maybe...

…what would happen if I layered three cello lines and a simple heartbeat percussion. maybe voice, maybe…

And this ongoing game from Virginia Eichorn, our intrepid Chief Curator and Director at the Tom Thomson Gallery:

13 hours ago....

13 hours ago….

an hour ago, still spreading....

an hour ago, still spreading….

or a long, ambling poetry/image surf where the most resonant discoveries end up glued in an actual book…

Poetry&StuffJournal

The Poem shown on the bottom of the page is by Liz Zetlin, from “The Thing with Feathers”.

DomScarf2013

knit a few rows, write a few lines, doodle on the scrap paper.  Sort out the D-ring Snaffle Bit painting a bit; sew rocks and beads in not-so-random patterns onto the fabric pieces.  Eat Cherries and Broccoli.  Sleep.  Dream about listening.  improvise ways to install speaker/receivers into the backs of paintings.  Wake & drink coffee.  Read Theories of Modern Art some more.  Check in with The Art Game.  Eat carrots, drink tea and honey.  Play with cat, sleep…

I’m open like a clam with it’s biggest warmest smile.  Can’t think of a better way to bring in 2014.

Love to all,
K

 

 

 

 


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Inside Winter

It’s the kind of snow there’s a constant More of.  The plows and trucks and blowers, out all night long are still going strong at 10am.  Cars slide gently sideways to stop signs. Kids and grown-ups both are thoroughly snow-suited, booted, winter-gloved and touqued as they kick & trudge through piled white, falling white, blowing  – white everywhere.  Dogs leap and dive in it; parked cars have long since disappeared, save for a stripe of colour along their sides.

Third-floor roof of the studio building.  Looking Southwest across the harbour

Third-floor roof of the studio building. Looking Southwest across the harbour

The coffee tastes better.  The blankets are warmer.  The books are more intriguing; the art more tantalizing now that there’s time to look deeply.  The music has such clean white space around it,  it’s almost visible.

PicnicTable_Dec2013

I’ve dug out my knitting projects.  I find myself puttering,  replacing buttons, fixing collars, darning holes in old sweaters.

Just heard the opening phrase of a new song:  3 cello voices, descending, one rising, to A minor; hold.  Then vocals…

Roof_doorDec2013

I’ve said this before, but it’s true enough to say twice:  I love what winter does to me.

 


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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.