Keirartworks's Blog

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


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Vivaldi at August’s end

Summer grows into Autumn.

In two weeks I play cello for these, and for Gloria and the Oboe Concerto in F (more info here); it’s good to have such a soundtrack to live and work by.  Thank you, Vivaldi, for composing this music 300 years ago.

I listen to II mvt of the Oboe concerto as I take stock of my studio.  It’s in transition –  from the heat-wave quasi-prison it became in preparation for an artisan booth full of functional art pieces these past three weeks to the fully open creative space it will be for the next eleven.   Full production begins tomorrow for the first instalment of a multi-arts & performance show, #Water will ‘sneak peek’ for an evening Saturday November 14 in Massie Ontario.

It’s Clear the Boards time.

A photo taken early July, when I stretched the ten canvases that will make this first leg of the #Water show.

A photo taken early July, when I stretched the ten canvases that will make this first leg of the #Water show.

In these days, a flushing of old ideas and concepts; a quiet but detailed acknowledgement of the impact of events these past ten weeks; a clear light shone again upon the plans I made last spring for this September until June 2016 – in short, I need to allow my mind to change its shape.

To allow room for the grand mistakes that teach me more than any school or schedule ever could.  Room to make these impossibly subtle ideas manifest in paint, music and words.  I want to wrap my audience in soft understanding of the large and tiny things that affect the ecosystem that we are.  I want laughter to be a big part of the performance, in which we entertain each other, and challenge each other a little, so see and hear things slightly differently.

I want elegance out of mess, I want insight into muck, I want a way through to something unimagined.  I’ve some idea that what I can see in my mind is possible, but not really.  I know I’m going in with big blind spots, and this is more than a little terrifying.  I’m going in though, regardless, rich with gratitude and good collaborators.  I’ll tell that story here in the weeks leading to November 14.

What will I do with these paintings that water and gravity have already made play with? I've never worked in this kind of specific collaboration before. hmmmm. What will it be?

What will I do with these paintings that water and gravity have already made play with? I’ve never worked in this kind of specific collaboration before. hmmmm. What will it be?

Gig to play now.  I’ll be back here in eight hours, where the engine now purrs with promise.

and Vivaldi plays on….


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#Water: Surface tension

There are four new paintings living in my studio as of last week.  The experience of watching them come to be was shared by good friends – an artist, a poet, a songwriter, a filmmaker, a composer throughout the day and evening a week ago.

Here’s where they came from – a photo of my painting wall taken a year ago, after the #Selfie paintings were done and hanging in the gallery:

This is a huge canvas that has served as the 'catcher of drips' on my studio wall for the past six years. it will become four huge paintings - each with five years of painting drips embedded

This is a huge canvas that has served as the ‘catcher of drips’ on my studio wall for the past six years. The drips on the right were accumulated in five months, the ones on the left over five years.

The plan six years ago when I treated and hung this dropcloth on the south wall of my studio was always to take it down when it got interesting, cut it up, and stretch it into paintings.  I did this last Tuesday, which was also a revolving door day here, many visitors – SO exciting.  It took some time to find the pieces that fit each stretcher, but I have ten so far that work, with the possibility for one or two more.  Here’s the largest one:

I'm in this so you get an idea of scale.  This puppy is wider than my wingspan.  But it had to be.  I see dragons...

I’m in this so you get an idea of scale. This puppy is wider than my wingspan. But it had to be. I see dragons…

Here’s another, medium-sized one that’s quite different.  I see a moray eel…

Eel_July1

Then there are these two – also mid-sized…

this one is close in size to the previous one.  I see sunset at dusk over the water

this one is close in size to the previous one. I see sunset at dusk over the water

This one now hangs with the red at the top.  It looks like a torrential storm

This one now hangs with the red at the top. It looks like a torrential rain storm

There are six more smaller, more intimate & delicate ones – I’ll  post those as well when they’re stretched.  These are all paintings about water, by water, which found its way and made its mark with the help of gravity and paint.  They’re part of a multi-arts installation/show I plan to launch in October-November (will announce where and when soon when all the details are in place).  My hope is that because these are also music-based pieces, it will tour in medium-sized music venues with or without the performance component, and encourage discussion about and around… water.

Ubiquitous water, with it’s cohesion and adhesion properties.  Essential water which becomes political when big money gets involved.  Reflective water which perhaps tells us more about ourselves than we think.

Water that spiders walk on, that whales swim in, that hangs in the sky as clouds and freezes inside buried pipes.  In the paintings that water has made over five years there are sea dragons, moray eels, thunder and lightning, heavy clouds, peaceful reflection. Chagall came into the studio yesterday and thought these would be wonderful things to work with. I agree.

More to come – look for #Water.


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#Selfie 12: My face belongs to you

As a musician I know this – that I am most effective as a performer when I get my Self out of the way, and simply allow the music to flow through me and out.  People who are listening are then much more able to hear and recognize themselves in what’s being played, and can then respond more deeply.  Who I am matters, of course, and whether I’m grounded, healthy, emotionally honest and stable – but only in the way that a conduit should be strong and wide enough for the greatest amount of energy to travel through it.

cellobelly

In the weeks of working with the ubiquitous #Selfie phenomenon I’ve come to wonder if in fact it works this way with my face, too.  I know my voice is, but my face also?  An instrument?

A strange sensation, looking at this photo of my cello.  It's like looking at my own back.

I feel a strange sensation looking at this photo of my cello. It’s like looking at my own back.

I can’t tell what I look like when I’m in conversation with other people.  I suspect, because of the wide gamut of responses I get, that I look differently to close friends than I do to colleagues, differently again to family than to strangers.  A good and longtime friend remarked some months ago that he’d never seen my face look so open.  In response I immediately closed it, and said, with some gruffness, “Nobody sees my face this open”.  Certainly not I.

the latest #Selfie painting - 5 feet wide by 6 feet tall - about the way negative and positive are both required to describe an object, an idea, a person.  Who one is, and also who one is not.

the latest #Selfie painting – 5 feet wide by 6 feet tall – about the way negative and positive are both required to describe an object, an idea, a person. Who one is, and also who one is not.

At this point I believe that my face is like a sketchbook for use by whomever I engage with.  I wear it in public knowing that it’s up to me to keep it clear of furrowed brow or clenched jaw, since if that is written there I will most likely encounter anxiety, repressed anger, rigidity and emotional blocks in the people I meet.

There are at least ten thousand songs written about this.

I suspect that this painting will be mostly finished by tomorrow morning.  Art factory, here...

I suspect that this painting will be mostly finished by tomorrow morning. Art factory, here…

It’s also up to me to keep my cello in tune and my bow tightened, with good rosin on the horsehair.   In between painting tasks I habitually run through finger exercises, dissect and practise tricky solos to ensure that I’ll present well at the concert tomorrow.

There is personal expression, yes.  But I would say that it’s an exchange of sensibilities, awareness, perception and empathies between me and you.  A live improvisation, if you will.  In a good conversation we reflect all of this for each other by changing the shape of our mouths, foreheads, moving our eyebrows, opening or closing our eyes, shifting our gaze away then back from each other.

My face is more familiar to you than it is to me, when all is said and done.  You can tell, often before I can, whether something is wrong or right in my internal world….

a posed #Selfie.  Always less comfortable, since I'm looking at a camera through my face that I don't know.

a posed #Selfie. Always less comfortable, since I’m looking at a camera through my face that I don’t know.

I have the same odd feeling looking at this photo as I do with the back of my cello.  Is THAT what I look like?  It resembles me, but no, it’s only one of many possibles.  I suspect I look quite different when I’m with people.

But then we need all parts – including the shadow – to describe the whole.

 

I have a PS.

Anyone in the area who loves smart, engaged young people should come to this concert at Meaford Hall tomorrow (Monday May 26).  The GBSYO is an incredible team of folks with great energy and skill.  They’ll be joined by more excellent string players from the Georgian Bay Secondary School in a massive string orchestra.  I’m very excited and honoured to be part of it.  Do come – I know you’ll love it.

GBSYO_May2014_finalB


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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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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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Wednesday Morning

Ahhh.  I’m coming back to earth after these weeks of rehearse practise teach perform travel teach record rehearse.  It’s barely seven in the morning, and there’s enough daylight outside to watch the fine fine fall of snow.  I find it comforting.  It’s as if each snowflake is a simple thought that has been sifted into being out of a great massive complicated roar of striving, driven, collective Think, somewhere far up in the atmosphere.

Now almost weightless, each simple flake follows gravity to the ground, where it joins others and others to make a deep white blanket.

Ahhh.

So Thanks Sarah Slean, thanks Marc Pierre Toth and Richard Mascall, the GBSYO and Beethoven, Mendelsohnn, Samantha Orr, Sandra Swannell and Sweet Patootie, the Meaford Kids, and the incredible Women who curled at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.  I am enriched, at peace, and ready to go again.  Right after I finish this coffee….

FirstSnowWQuarry


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Vigil, crack, restore

It’s a mighty fine tunnel we’ve just got through.

A storm on Saturn in 2011.  This already happened, and now we see it.  Why do I find that comforting?
A storm on Saturn in 2011. This already happened, and now we see it. Why do I find that comforting?

I am later in the day after the day of find my head get to town rehearse find-a-piano rehearse perform rehearse perform perform so-grateful-for-good-friends enriched pleased cold-outside walk to pizza drive home bed and I now <breathe> find myself finished with ordering, tallying, pitching and filing hundreds of string quartet parts in binders and accordion folder.

After six weeks of paper piled on every flat surface in this studio I have my work tables back …

… and I feel nothing but a sudden and violent urge to write doggerel.

 as in – cleverly rhymed, cliche-ish rhythmic poems that describe with finely-honed, irony-tinted compassion the minutae of everyday life – very very difficult to do well & definitely beyond my capacity in this moment…

This for me is a reliable indication that I need a good solid dose of absurdity.   If there were an audio track I could publish on this blog, it would be the laughter that goes with a John Cleese silly-walk.

Toulouse is definitely concerned.  Ready, bless him, to help in any way he can...
Toulouse is definitely concerned. Ready, bless him, to help in any way he can…

I know – Ah! – I’ll go to watch Daniel Craig and Judi Dench fortify the Bond Franchise.

Shovel

When Christmas is over I get to paint and paint and write and record and dig deep into these pieces I want so badly to learn.  No little Drummer Boys, no Silver Bells, no Tannenbaums or Herold’s Angels.
Ahh, like a clean bath in a spring-fed lake.

That said, I must, for my own sake and in honour of the storm on Saturn be careful and clear:

I love all of this.  I especially love playing music with dear dear friends who also ride the roller-coaster of rehearse-perform-teach-promote & Say-What-You-Are, no matter what.  It makes me a better painter, a better musician, and a better human being, every time.

More mighty fine tunnels a-comin & I’m in, with (silver) bells on.

Happy December 2012, everyone.

K