Keirartworks's Blog

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


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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The Bells that still can ring

This 2015 Canadian election.

I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve spent online trying to write through and responding to ‘stick with the brand’ thinking, or the conversations that possibly should have been more focused on personal issues.

Ring the bells that still can ring,

Ring the bells that still can ring…

At the beginning of each day I tear myself from Guardian articles and online debates about the pros and cons of strategic voting and move on to more immediate and practical things, like building the integrity and health of my meagre artist’s income:  details about rehearsals and performances, venues and instruments, music part distribution, class schedules and coaching in schools, cello practise and pedagogical research about teaching; the development of a new art course about Line, Light and Colour in time for folks to make Christmas gifts; the development and manifestation of new functional art for the November Studio Tour; at home, gathering up fall bounty and cooking/freezing soups, stews, stock for the winter, putting Summer into the back shed…

...forget your perfect offering...

…forget your perfect offering…

To not attend to these things would be to exhibit a total lack of self respect.  But I’m aware that the current reward at the end of each day is permission to engage wholeheartedly in the process of this election, which grows more and more like a comic book each day.

The personal is political.  In this 2015 National Election Canada struggles to reclaim, rebuild and then manifest our Self Respect, while the world watches.

...there's a crack - a crack in everything...

…there’s a crack – a crack in everything…

I fully intended to use these days in my studio to work on the #Water project, but this election has changed my mind.

The Massie Hall #Water show has been postponed until April 2016, when the ice cracks and the streams flow again after our long long freeze.

Instead of a Massie Hall show in November, I’m opening my studio to show new work, inspired by the election, by Canada, the state of the world, and by Leonard Cohen.  That will be on November 28, we’re thinking (several artists will be involved), and you’ll hear more details from me soon.

...that's how the light gets in. L.Cohen, 'Anthem'

…that’s how the light gets in.                                       L.Cohen, ‘Anthem’

I’m alarmed that we have come to this, in Canada, in my beautiful riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.  I want to be represented regionally by a states-woman, who can articulate my concern to Ottawa, about Truth and Reconciliation with First Nations people, about the toxic distortion of human governance that is Bill C-51, about climate change and the development of clean energy sources, about access to our own locally grown food, about poverty and dignity and full support for the arts in this country.  Our Beloved CBC under threat via TPP.  Our Beloved lakes, streams and waterways sold to China through FIPA.

I’m painting ships bells that call all hands on deck.  They will be hung at The Bean Cellar in Owen Sound the week after my studio tour, on December 4.  I’ll be posting them here in process until then.

Please Canada.  Election day is tomorrow.

Please vote for Self-Respect.


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#Water: Tears, tears

I’ve just read a paragraph in an alternative american news source I trust, in reference to an incident of ‘personal is political’ in Asheville, North Carolina:

The misogynist (woman-hating) viewpoint is currently embodied in this thing we’re all just hearing about for the first time, called Red Pill culture. Simply put, this is a social environment where men are encouraged to view women negatively, primarily as sex objects, who must be kept in their place.

Windsheild

I dug just a little deeper and I wish I hadn’t.  I feel so very very sad, and shamed, because this is the culture I’ve been taught to fear, and therefore perpetuate, in my life.

 

You don’t need to know more than this – Red Pill is a subculture that has gained momentum via the internet that offers support to men who’ve been raised to feel small no matter how big they are physically.  Because the social media site that maintains space for it wants members (it also allows photographs of live animals being ripped apart), Red Pill is a place that encourages small and brutal and mean.

If you are looking for something to read that proves we are not small, go here.

Windsheild2

 

Everyone on the planet now understands the social environment Eric Francis refers to.  Please resist the urge to dig deeper, since you will just get angry, and you’ve been angry about this before.  Anger just feeds the issue, and we all have more humanity than that.

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I think about all the true things I haven’t said, because I knew it would hurt or enrage a man (or a woman) I was close to.  About all the actions and statements I’ve absorbed without comment or left unchallenged because I knew it would rock the foundations of someone I cared for  – powerful, brilliant people who were raised to feel small and inadequate.

I get that feeling, I’ve lived with that feeling, but I don’t accept it.  We are better than that, all of us.

Windsheild3

In english the word for ‘tear’ on my cheek is spelled the same way as ‘tear’ it off.

I’m going to sit with this for a while, in the context of Red Pill.


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#Water: These Changing Seas

Do we all have a natural buoyancy?  I wonder.  Some call themselves ‘sinkers’, and describe the great effort required to stay afloat.  This is subjective, of course. Effort, to some, is a thing to be minimized if not avoided altogether.  To others effort is a joy,  a ‘coming to meet’, a solid, positive investment in something of value.

The ground for the largest of the #Water series paintings (so far). It's a 7'x6' piece of the backdrop canvas that caught the 'runoff' from six years of painting on the south wall of my studio. I'm working on pulling an image out of it - a collaboration with history, in a way. I've overlaid an adult floating figure in it to see if I can suggest a feeling of immersion

The ground for the largest of the #Water series paintings (so far). It’s a 7’x6′ piece of the backdrop canvas that caught the ‘runoff’ from six years of painting on the south wall of my studio. I’m working on pulling an image out of it – a collaboration with history, in a way. I’ve overlaid an adult floating figure in it to see if I can suggest a feeling of immersion.  Not quite what I want, but close…

For others effort is an expression of desperation – a wild reaching for anything that might keep them afloat.  What they grab and use is of no value to them other than a means to rise to the surface.  Even at the surface there is no rest from anxiety, just more effort, more grabbing for fear of sinking again.

Wave1detail

Out of your element.  A fundamental lack of trust in the place you find yourself, a fear that you will become lost to it. Or perhaps you’ve convinced yourself that you are meant for greater things, and as years go by and your greatness still eludes you, you feel yourself caught in the powerful undertow of mediocrity.  Similar effect: your sense of value becomes distorted in the effort to get out. You feel compelled to climb upon and over people you consider mediocre in order to rise and claim your entitlement. In the endless urge to betterment, who has not felt chained at times?

MillDam3

I prefer surrender to a strong, focused curiosity – the kind that reveals great value where it might not be immediately apparent. A buoyancy I can admire comes from a sense of ‘rightness’ of purpose that is in equal part intuitive and practical, and never rigidly self-serving. I prefer a kind of faith with eyes open.  A trust generously laced with discernment, Havel’s ‘deep and powerful’ hope,

Vaclav Havel, from “Disturbing the Peace (1986)”,

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.

littleshoreWave

Havel has long been one of the strong voices that puts wind in my sails and floats my boat.  If the word ‘meek’ means strength under control (as many say it did when the Matthew 5:5 was written), then to me that describes the Czech playwright & politician who gave us a chart for humble human courage and dignity – even and especially in absurdly turbulent waters.

Appropriate to a recent experience of mine is this,

Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.

In my experience, humility and good humour do not sink.


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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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Frozen Pipes semi-resolved, Day 20

The morning raising of the bedroom window blind reveals a bright blue pipeline stretching east-west across the backyards of our neighborhood block, turning north at my forsythia bush. I look out the front of the house onto our street and it’s filled with orange trudging men.

It’s raining water and corn snow as I ask one of them if he’s tired, because I know they’ve been at it non-stop.

“Getting there, ya.”  but he’s smiling

2015-03-14 12.27.09

Some of us gathered a while later to talk with Denis about what it’s been like – how the experience has raised questions about water as a human right (it is); how it should never every become a commodity for sale only to people who can afford it; little we know about the system that brings it to our taps (and want to know more); how good it feels to understand just exactly what 30 litres can do; how this is such a first-world problem but nevertheless bathing in our own homes will feel like heaven…

the street. They brought the men dressed in orange and the blue pipes sometime in the early early morning

the street. They brought the men dressed in orange and the blue pipes sometime in the early early morning.  Brent next door left coffee out for them.

And then I came to work to write music for Liz’ film and develop my water paintings concept a little further.  I didn’t stop on the way to load up with 30 more litres, though I did consider it.

At 7:30 my daughter texted this:

“WAAAAAATERRRRR”

this is a picture of happy.

this is a picture of happy.

So never mind work.  I’m going home to my bathtub and my washing machine now.

Can you hear the angels singing?