Posted on Leave a comment

To Locate

I resist the obviousness of GPS as a tool to locate, navigate, identify.  Most interesting to me is when GPS is wrong, as in the case this spring when a K-W woman, travelling in deep fog at the tip of the Brice Peninsula, drove her car into Georgian Bay instead of the Hotel parking lot.

bucketwater8
tap water filling the bucket I used to water my garden every day, in this dry dry summer we had

There are so many other ways to identify that have more meaning, make more sense. They pull from deeper source data to inform us about identity.  Navigation there is not by straight, measurable lines.

very simple shore cabin where I spend several summer weekends this year. This is Georgian Bay, at the mouth of the "sound" that leads to Owen Sound, where I live and work
This is Georgian Bay, at the mouth of the “sound” that leads to Owen Sound, where I live and work.

I live in a place surrounded by water.  It rains and snows more here than any other place in Ontario.  Travel by car in any direction and you’ll find a river (likely with a waterfall), a lake Great or small, a creek or stream – in less than fifteen minutes.

Jones Falls, Owen Sound
Jones Falls, Owen Sound

My mother’s family has lived here for six generations before me.  The (scots) paternal side of her family was famous for their foundry, where they made enormous propellers for lake and ocean-going ships “At one time, [Kennedy’s] supplied propellers for about ninety-five percent of marine traffic on the Great Lakes” (Grey Roots Museum and Archives).  Water people.  Industrialists.

a brass replica of a Kennedy Propeller pattern. I'm using this as reference for a series of paintings.
a brass replica of a Kennedy Propeller pattern. I’m using this as reference for a series of paintings.

Mom’s Maternal side (Pennsylvania Deutch – descendants from German refugees of the 100 years war) not so famously made ladies’ hoisery, employing 200 women at a time when women were organizing to get the vote. A great great great uncle of mine fought for the North in the American civil war; we are making a book of his letters home at the moment.  Dependable people. Steady.

It is in that factory building, on the third floor NE corner, where I have kept a painting/music studio these past eight years.

studio a couple of years ago

My parents are retired (and excellent) Highschool English teachers saturated by music, literature and art (Mom – ARCT Piano, Toronto Conservatory; Dad a painter of landscapes and literary references).  My daughter is now twenty, mostly fluent in Japanese, studying modern languages and international studies at U of Ottawa.

img_0847

I had a mentor and teacher as a young music student who was fierce like a grandfather to me.  As a young man he used to play violin like Fritz Kreisler in my Great Grandmother Kennedy’s parlour for the WCTU ladies. He later played at my parent’s wedding and made both of my cellos, the first of which was just returned to me last summer after 14 years. (link to that blog if you click on the picture I believe)

oldcellotuners

Instead of studying cello at Laurier at age seventeen I chose to study Visual Art at York University.  Somehow I felt that the formal study of music would ruin my love for the pure joy of playing it.  I will never know if I was right, but I’ve also never regretted the decision.  I’ve been able to do both in my life and love them equally. Each practise informs the other I’ve found, so I teach musicians how to draw and it makes them better players.

1_hipcelloheader

It is this very thing that has led me to a Masters in Community Music – at Laurier, where I chose NOT to study music performance 35 years ago.  I love the way life travels us back to ourselves.

Posted on Leave a comment

humbled and human

I want to write.

There is much change filtering through the waters of late January, and I find myself at odds with the urge to name, record, describe.  The feeling is that if I narrow my focus I will miss something crucial on the periphery of my vision.  Because of this, my urge to articulate today feels like swimming through murky water at a vague shiny thing.

Nevertheless, I want to write.  So I’ll tell about Zoo.

fish2

For the first time ever in years of paying close attention there it was the fish who seemed to notice and respond.

air breather from the murky streams of Malaysia.  Very curious about me...
air breather native to the murky streams of Malaysia. Very curious about me…

I was conscious of the differences between us- the slow grace of his movement through water, me heavy and percussive in the greater gravity of air.  The sheer size and odd shape of him had me fascinated, which must have been mutual – he approached me the way one does a timid creature, cautiously and sideways, until we were mere inches apart.  I could have stayed there for an hour, talking.

FishBighead2

We walked the Zoo for five hours, witnessing the multi-species there, connected by the collection of themselves, busy with being where and who they are, sentient.  As we progressed I found myself meditating most on Human Nature. We are unique in this rich cultural place; we so desperately need to name, classify, study. We need to collect specimens of ‘not-us’ and display them.

Piranha

As visitors, we bang on the glass and yell our demand to be entertained if nothing moves on the other side.  How utterly embarrasing, that behavour.  Why?  Good God, why?

Before I stopped taking pictures this lady came running from far away and sat with us for a long long time.
this lady came running from far away and sat with us for a long long time.

I loved the visit – was overjoyed to play with the Canadian river otter, met eye-to eye with some primates like this baboon and a teenage gorilla that I shall never forget.

But always, at the zoo, I am conflicted by the fact-  of zoo.

Posted on Leave a comment

…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…..