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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#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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The deep rain

Even the loud old fridge is drowned out by straight-down-rain.  Not sheets and thunder and driving – but a rain that will drench us for days, soaking the soil, swelling the creeks, rising the shoreline of Georgian Bay above the sad sorry rocks that appeared this spring, covering their nakedness once again.  It is 12 minutes from midnight, and in this place water rules the world.

blurrymorning

After days and days of standing sweat this is the moment we’ve felt was coming. Come it has, all the way from the Rockies and the Purcells.  This same deep rain has fallen down through the foothills of Alberta into the basements of Calgary houses which are now buried in the mud and the death of water, their downstairs dens & offices rendered useless, their keepsakes now garbage-bin bound with the reminder: nothing is forever.

Three vast Canadian Provinces to the east, we are nowhere near a floodplain. Our houses are built on the bones of ancient sea creatures, layer upon layer of them still pushing up through the soil along the northeasterly curve of the Michigan Bowl. Half a mile to the east of this table lies the cold and deep of Georgian Bay, fed by a thousand thousand rivers, swelling now in ever-generous acceptance of more and more and more.  Here, we are nourished by the same deep rain.

This rain comes from God – from a place where the details of human life have no meaning.  This rain, heavy on our metal roof and our gardens is the consistent, inexorable kind of rain that erodes illusion and denial, lays bare the bones inside of a feeling.  What is laid bare becomes an honest offering on the altar of Acceptance:  Ah. I see, now.

Fog_wtoyotakey

I’m almost cross-eyed with tiredness after a long long day of listening to music, tweaking arts business strategies, watching baton twirlers, karaoke tweens, future head boys (also a few who could command world change but opt instead for just pitching in to the school talent show for now until they’re good and ready to save us all) – teach, rehearse, promote, schedule, rehearse, cajole, listen, play, insist, back off, stifle two yawns, spark a few ideas, accept two challenging projects, steer clear of others….  a day in the life of all who work in the vast, unquantifiable ocean of The Arts.  Always satisfying, sometimes enthralling, mostly just a lot of good, clean, decent work.

The idea that diverted me from the sleep I should be in right now hovers around the concept of muscle memory.

In the process of teaching the fingers of my left hand to think differently so that I can play the fast bits of the Faure Elegie,  I’ve learned that my mind has also developed deep muscled habits that no longer serve well.  Several of these were paths laid first in my childhood, and are now like canyons…

Ah.  Yes I see, now.  To change my mind – this will take a great deal of steady steady work.

So, tonight in the deep dark rain I stand before the Altar of Acceptance, and on it I offer my love –  for the terrible, astonishing beauty of Change.


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Wind, unwind

I find it’s most difficult these days to be truly still and resoundingly empty like a huge stone bowl on a plinth.  I’m getting better at it, but it’s taking a considerable amount of focus.

I seek to do this now because it occurred to me many months ago (years, even) that I need more information about several key areas of inquiry:  the education and mentoring of young people; music and the practise of music; energies, their frequencies and the focused direction of them; and the all-encompassing idea of service, which is not necessarily obvious.

further down the trail, same day

The approach I’ve taken thus far into the exploration of these things is the one I learned – from my family full of educators, from my piano and cello teachers, at University  – an idea of ‘study’ which has become nicely embedded,

“I know how to learn.  One does Good Research (source source source!), reads and digests the material one digests, places a clear and concise question inside this newer information and eventually there’s an alchemical moment of aHa.  Then one writes and writes, which leads to know and do and take good action.  If one does this for long enough, inquires for long enough, makes adjustments based on experience and further study, one becomes an expert, a new Source…”

same walk

It’s a decent formula for inquiry.  But there’s no ivory tower anywhere around here – & my studio won’t do for this (Bob Dylan through the wall & a drum kit, my cello waiting right there to work with, those paintings, those prayer flags waiting for the next stage, that sewing machine which needs a tune-up…)

My head can only hold so much ‘live’ data, can only maintain its focus on that academic alchemical process for so long before I need to shut it down and buy groceries, schedule printers, figure out my part in the Stanford, pick up my kid in time for her appointment, and deliver the car to the mechanic’s.

Big hibiscus flower in my studio, the day after that walk. I’ve had this plant for three years, and it’s never done this before.

It’s more than okay to be busy at 49, and a mom of a (great) teenager, and to have many gigs, lots of rehearsals & several students to prepare for, to be in the last stages of building a house with my husband, to spend time (though never enough) with a family I love, etc etc.  I’m having a great time with all of it.

But I would very much like to learn & grow into a higher understanding of things, as a teacher, as a friend, a daughter, sister mom wife musician artist mentor.  To hone myself, and so better serve.

closer in

So I’m intuitively working at what seems counter-intuitive:  emptiness & stillness.  How can I hope to find the unknown thing I’m looking for if I’m busy stuffing myself with information?

This came to me one day while I was practising – I was working away, working away at a difficult passage, thinking ‘this is crazy – I should absoLUtely be able to do this!  What’s blocking me?’.  As I thought this my shoulder, neck, arm and finger muscles became more and more tense and stiff, and my energy plummeted into something like despair (close to ‘I can’t’).  So I put the cello down, and watered my plants.  Then I worked a little at my paintings.  Then I puttered and played with a textile art idea and got pulled into fascination with colour.  Then without knowing it I was back at the cello, carrying no tension, playing a piece I know well – still thinking about colour.  The notes I was playing had colours, the piece a big long skein of coloured threads flowing each into the next, weaving into fabric….

closer

After what seemed like an hour of this bliss, I came back to the place of my old obstacle.  In my mind I changed the colour of what I was trying to do, and it was wonderfully, measurably easier.

Amazing, what a little colour change can do.

Empty of stuff I don’t need, to make room for what I do.

Still, so I can appreciate it.

Happy Wednesday, all.

K – hey neat – I just found this:

” Experience teaches only the teachable ”
Aldous Huxley

…wonder if he’d agree …