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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#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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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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Every Year, December 1

Every year has different elements & configurations, but as of December first each year I look at my calendar in wonder and love my job all over again.  Who gets to do this?  Musicians.

musictoPlay

shorthand:

December 8, 12, 13, 14; Dec 16, 18, Dec 21, Dec 22  (I believe that’s 8 for 19 days?  2 years ago it was 5 for 8 days which was pushing the limits a little…)

Corelli, Popper, Bach, Handel, Mozart, misc Christmas arrangements; Jensen, sereda, Swannel/Young, Ostertag, Cobain, Sting, Eberhardt.  Youth Orchestra, Symphony, Youth Orchestra String Quartet (+ a few more to do Brandenburg 3), Georgian Bay Orchestra (Messiah), Amati at Leith Church the next day.

Rehearsals for all of them, in-between (where the belly-laughs happen).

This is what Christmas is, to me.  It has nothing to do with Malls or stores or wrapping paper – just incredible people, music, laughter and good, honest, hard work.

More to come; think I’ll go practise.

 


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…major dharmic interventions…

It’s become a bit like being in my own reality TV show, this process of getting paintings out the door.  The day has just passed that I’d targeted as my deadline, barring a major dharmic intervention.  I will say that I have made great progress, and these two huge impossibles are very close to being their actual selves.  And out my door.

detail of one of the dharmic interventions

detail, Axe

But there was a major dharmic intervention on Sunday – one that snuck up on me like a viper and bit me so subtly I didn’t realize it until later when I felt myself go into shock.  I kept painting, but in fact I was at full stop.

detail d. intervention 2

detail d. intervention 2

To back up and provide some clarity, I’ve found a description of dharma that fits here,

“Dharma means the intrinsic nature of a thing. Just like the dharma of sugar is sweetness and the dharma of water is wetness. The dharma of the living being is to render service to God….”

(my apologies, this is not sourced properly in the Urban Dictionary where I found it, so I can’t tell you which guru originally said it)

In my world then, a dharmic intervention is an unexpected event that hits you on all levels – emotional, physical, psychological, professional, personal  (insert others of your choice) and shocks you enough that veils you’d never known were there are ripped away to reveal some Home Truths – the difficult ones.  In these instances there’s no avoiding or denying whatever has become crystal clear.  It’s impossible NOT to have a new perspective about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

So to translate:  I thought I was painting about something incredibly deep and wise and well-crafted, from a place of experienced and well-honed detatchment.  Something big and unexpected happened, and because of it I now know the paintings are about something else entirely. In a way, they’ve been painting me.

So, another week will do it, I think.  I begin an intense course of study today, and every evening is also booked with rehearsals.  But I don’t need that much sleep…..


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Youth Orchestras, open windows and spring

I wake into this morning still wrapped in a cocoon of wonder, pour myself into hot coffee and sunshine.

From this computer two lovely pieces of new music emerge, both via my dear friend Kati Gleiser who is some hundreds of miles away but also next to me, as I write.  I listen to Kati’s voice, hear wolves and oceans, and also the phoebe & the white-crowned sparrow through the open windows.  There is no wind.  It’s as though the world I see is paused in a bow of gratitude.  I believe I can hear the plants speaking – chamomile, thyme, mulberry, foxglove…

carpet of trout lillies

carpet of trout lillies

Last night, 19 young cello players from Meaford Owen Sound and Port Elgin played together in a combined orchestra, beside 9 double-basses, an ocean of violins, a full wind & brass section.  There were upwards of 130 of us on stage, with young energy pulsing through the hall like a big Hug of Promise.  Wonderful, wonderful.  All those characters, from bassoon to trumpet to bass and viola – the tribe of celli like a thundering herd of centaurs, playing in time and in key together.

I don't have a pic of last night - wish I did.  But here are some rehearsal celli.  2 Walkes, a Ruppert, and a Bartlett.

I don’t have a pic of last night – wish I did. But here are some rehearsal celli. 2 Walkes, a Ruppert, and a Bartlett.

Huge thanks to everyone who played, to the parents of everyone who played, to Patrick Delaney and Sandy Pedlar for building such thriving music programs in their respective schools, and for Richard Mascall who brought five orchestras and ensembles together into one.

So Flipping Awesome.

I itch to get into the Garden – to tend and dig and coax and listen as everything wakes up and the last of the snow melts.  Tomorrow is tree sale day, so we meet in the 6am ritual line to buy maple, birch, oak and cedar then bring them home to the soil and sun that will sustain them long after we have left our bodies for the next chapter of life.

I think the 10' transplanted oak is going to make it.

I think the 10′ transplanted oak is going to make it…

More Awesomeness.

Happy friday, all.  I’m going to go get muddy.


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January 2013

A fog-laden wind sifts through tree boughs to the northwest.  Into my left ear the presto drip of snowmelt on metal roof is punctuated by a random slide, thunk of heavier stuff pulled to ground.  On my lap, the steady, thundering purr of kitten.

The dark outside is thick with visible air, like stirred winter stew. It feels almost balmy after these minus 29 degree days so I’m tempted to stay out…  but no.   To inside, under thick blankets. To listen, not look.

And here, like a gift, like a soul’s massage, is the heavy rain.

It’s been travel travel for me these past weeks, through the bustling silence of January 2013.  Not what I had expected.  The first month of the year in this place has always had the sensibility of a well-caught breath.  For me it’s always held the promise of a month of stacked, not linear time – so that ‘was’, ‘is’ and ‘will be’ are all in the same moment.  This makes it oh so much easier to find and feel the “Ah.  Yes”  – the insight that will become the engine for the following months and years.

Oddly enough – even amid the schedule and the travel and the deadlines, the all-nighters, the practise and the rehearsals, the cover letters and the interviews, the Wagner, the B&B and the Beethoven, this has still happened.  There is clarity even in this fog of winter stew, and I feel quite deeply certain about a few key things.

KG, I need an axe song – can we talk?  L, I need a couple of songs from you too.  Owen Sound – we need to make good music education available to every kid in this place – and soon.  I’m not kidding about this – in another well-identified post I will gather links and information to illustrate beyond any doubt what is possible here.   To the women of #IdleNoMore – I get it.  Thank you for opening a place where we can all talk and heal together.  G, I get where we’re going, and it’s good.  T, thanks & good luck with the simplification project.  F, L  – courage.  Darlin D – well done.

Oh I feel blessed.