Keirartworks's Blog

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


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Day seven, frozen pipes

I’ve had sleepovers in three different friend’s houses now, and one at my studio.  The houses I’ve stayed at in town play constant musical obsessive repetitive drips in counterpoint to their ticking analogue clocks.

Our entire small city shares the consequences of too-shallow water mains and fast-creeping frost. We are either frozen here, or dripping – the latter by decree.  Idly, I wonder if we are beginning to live the consequences of climate change….

looking east from studio

Weather forecasts predict that spring thaw – the deep thaw that will reach our pipes – is still weeks away. The arctic blast that has swung low and stayed over central Canada still snarls through woolens, through layers through mitts and toques – our shoulders are hunched at our necks, our jaws set as we continue to trudge, to shovel to scrape.

We stay inside mostly.

Made into introverts by this enduring, deep cold, we whisper in the slow slow approach of Spring, 2015.


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Topographical lines

It strikes me as I look out at all the curves of white that this winter has changed the shape of us here.

falls2_October2013

October 2013

In places where two months ago I walked on level ground, there are dense mounds of tiny ice crystals waist-high, knee high, shoulder high.  Rooftops end in curves, trees and traffic signs are coated in snow – the town has the look of a David Milne painting.

January 4, 2014

January 4, 2014

What does this do for us here, in the snow belt – this fact that there is no level ground – that we now walk over, through and inside apparently infinite amounts of frozen water?  Views once clear and straight are now obstructed by six-foot walls of snow.  We shovel, push, blow it aside daily, but even those piles encroach now, shrinking the roads, the streets, the parking lots.

Our external topography is changed, and  – this being early February, when 2 weeks of heavy snow is still to come – it will continue to change.

Lyndas_Backyard_April24_2012

I can only speak for myself of course, though I suspect this could be true for many here.  I think all this heavy white landscape calls us to ourselves, and to one another.  It’s not an easy thing –  to be cabin-fevered with your partner, yourself or with young kids who have not been to school for days and days.  To be huddled around block heaters together because the oil truck couldn’t get to your house, or to spend two hours, twice a day shovelling and blowing snow just so you can get to work, to the grocery store.

If ever a time there was when creativity and ingenuity was essential, it would be this winter.  In fact, Winter 2013-2014 could have a subtitle:  “How we learned to become unstuck”.

bocce with frozen balls.  playing and recording YouTube videos in the snow.  tunnels, forts, snow fights, toboggans, skis, snowshoe yoga.

spring's coming, definitely.  But I think we could still use some more winter...

spring’s coming, definitely. But I think we could still use some more winter…

puttering on an old project or two.  noticing that I’m dressing down for a Nirvana Unplugged gig.  checking in with my neighbors – ‘need anything?’.  trying a new thing.  sniffing the wind.

snow2

…feeling my internal topography as it changes; enjoying the new curves.

New Work, 2014

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New work.  From Storm-Stayed first week of January.  What a pleasure.

Here are some of the bits that will go up at the River Cafe – hoping this weekend, if Karen and I can make it so.  Subsequent Gathering tba, stay tuned.

detail from "Manitoulin", which I painted in 2004.  This one's big - approx 7'w x 5'h

detail from “Manitoulin”, which I painted in 2004. This one’s big – approx 7’w x 5’h

 

diptych Shovel/Axe.  29"w x 78"h (x 2)

diptych Shovel/Axe. 29″w x 78″h (x 2)

detail of Snaffle Bit (in progress).  4' square

detail of Snaffle Bit (in progress). 4′ square

…and a few other littler things.

I’m happy.

 

 

This gallery contains 7 photos


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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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green gathers under

The morning is still still and grey weighed down by two feet of spring snow.  Even the sky is heavy.  The birds do their best to lighten things up but we have no warm welcome for them this year after the long flight north.  Just heavy grey, heavy snow, covered in old rabbit tracks.

It is the other end of winter.  Still fine and clean here in the country, but since the weather has stayed cold we are in a kind of stasis, shifting restlessly under the great white blanket that gets heavier and heavier even as it thickens each night with new snowfall.   Like a dancer who has been told to sit still, a singer told to be silent, and just wait……

MarchSnowfall

But Winter is not for waiting…  Winter is for telling stories to each other, to ourselves, is it not?   Winter is for listening.

I am glad of it this March of 2013, as we approach Easter next weekend.  I have gone deep this winter, deep deep into the ideas of legacy and inheritance, gifts and projections.  Into the effects of choice.  My work with these paintings and the music I’m writing has naturally taken me there, (amazing to me, what hand tools have inspired)  but other encounters and events in these months have resonated – some most alarmingly.

I’m almost, but not…  quite…  finished….  this process…. like a whale returning from the bottom of the ocean I need this extra time to find the surface again…

When I do emerge, it will feel very very good to speak to real people instead of paintings and recording devices, computer screens and cello strings.  It will feel so deeply rewarding to take my own garden shovel and just dig with it, rather than painting the idea, then the deeper idea, then another layered idea… of shovel.  (I’ll post the painting here so that you can see – a ridiculous layering of images, just to try to present these ideas about legacy and choice – ack, me.)

I can feel my feet tingling in anticipation of the soft cold mud that will receive them in my first barefoot walk outside.

Until then I work to finish.  This is also a fine, fine thing.

Tonight, the Georgian Bay Symphony and the Georgian Bay Concert Choir (some 180+ incredibles!!) will play a program composed entirely by Schubert.  Along with many many dear friends, my Mom is in the choir.  I will be in the cello section.  Mom & I haven’t played together in a big concert like this since Carnival of the Animals when I was 16.  What a joy.

HA!  As I wrote that last paragraph, the spring sun emerged through the grey.  Suddenly, it’s quite a different world out there – full of life and warmth, though appropriately (for me), still covered with a thick coat of white.

 

 


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Through the gate, I think.

I look forward to this shift to Schedule every year – a good time to set clear intentions.

Here goes 2012-2013, Part 1:

1. I will learn the Brahms by March.

2. I will learn the Faure by December, tape a performance and send it down to Guelph, for application as a Suzuki teacher up to Book 8.  Then I will take the courses which will enable me to really help teach all these kids here who need to play.

3. I will finish five paintings by December (shovel, axe, hammer, teacup 1, teacup 2).

4. I will send in my October 15 Integrated Grant App to OAC.

5. I will wash the floor every week (Studio and home).

6. I will learn how to use this blessedly complicated digital 4-track BOSS thing so I can record this music I have floating in my head.  (this may be a winter project).

7. I will write here every three days at the least, and never if what I’ve got is dull and repetitive.

8. I WILL plant lots and lots of garlic in October.

9. I will visit our beautiful new Y every other day (at least) for an hour of pure physical exuberance.

10. I will write one letter every month, with a pen, onto paper.  AND I will put each one of these in the mail.

11. I will apply to at least 5 venues for an art installation/ performance exhibit, by February 1.  Also some good jury shows.

12. I will get out in the kayak at least two more times before the snow flies.

13. I will put in the time required to finish the final bits of this house, so we can move our bed into our bedroom, clear the upstairs for house concerts, and have a PARTY in November.

14. I will have a Great Deal of Fun.

Ahhh, yes.  It’s going to be a good year.

I’m goin’ in.

The way through.

 


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studio re-volution

inspired inspired by all the input these past few days – New Zealand, Ukraine & the Balkans (via Toronto), Russia, Romania, Rwanda, Scotland – folks from all these places gathered here to talk, play and sing about change & re-volution.  All of it a huge call to collectively change the way we think.  Well, I’m in.

My shovel now has a larger context:  add guardrail and heavy truck from a 410 drive down to hot hot Toronto this summer, and I feel I’ve managed to pull a story into this painting.

Here’s the rough underpainting before adding images – it’s in greyscale because the composition is easier to see.

Grant’s grandmother, on her return from Poland in 2008 told me that she’d seen a long long line of road workers building a road with only shovels as tools.  They simply do not have heavy trucks to work with, so they do it the old way – with backs and legs and shoulders and arms and …shovels.

…and with the HWY 410 images added in photoshop as a sketch – also in B&W so I can see. I have them drawn onto the canvas now – very exciting.

If I do my job well, questions should arise out of the contrasting images:  how did we get to be so disengaged from physical work?  In the context of the entire show, the question of sustainability should arise, along with a re-valuing for simple, old, beautifully made hand tools.  I’m hoping to inspire folks to reconnect with the ground, with simple tools, with physical labour in a more personal way.
More coming.  We shall see what happens!