NEW YEAR, NEW WORK
The New Year is a perfect time to think about my goals for the year. Many of my goals remain the same. Maintain my website, blog, studio, facebook Page, flickr, Instagram and host monthly art critique meetings. I must keep updating my inventory, my mailchimp newsletter contacts and submit to artist's calls and galleries and Open Studios on First Saturdays.
My studio work decsions are often spontaneous depending on my mood and resources but as I start this new year I have decided to focus on creating small works on panels. I have taken inspiration from my Instagram postings. Although they are small works, they are highly detailed and therefore, time consuming to produce. I want to share 3 of these works with you here.
Another group of paintings I am working on are collages using acrylic paint, printed papers, and fabric netting. At the moment I have chosen to work in black, white and gray. Here are some examples.
The 20th anniversary Culture Crawl was a huge success this year. 25,000 people visited the studios of Parker Street. Thanks to all who came by studio 108. Although it is a very intense weekend for artists, it is also a wonderful to sell my work and get positive feedback on my paintings. I enjoy the conversations with all visitors and I love sharing my techniques and inspirations with all who stop and wonder about these things. I also have fun on the Culture Crawl weekend by having a contest open to all who are on Facebook. I offer up an opportunity to win one of my Cultue Crows in exchange for "likes" on my Facebook Artist's Page. This year the lucky winner was Melisa Goodwin. Congratulations Melissa!
Now that Culture Crawl is over I am excited to start new work. I am always inspired. I never have any trouble being inspired and so, I am jumping into a new process with interesting materials. Hopefully, it will be successful and perhaps it might just become a new series or body of work for me. The day after the Crawl, even though I was super tired, I made an effort to get to the studio to "normalize" it again after sprucing it up for visitors. My new work is underway and I am currently solving problems which is the work of an artist. Standby for future developments.
DANCING IN THE SHADOWS
I create what delights me and a feather's delicate, fragile beauty draws me into its spell. For me, feathers do not represent a bird nor is it a symbol of flight. The feather is a punctuation mark on the end of a flexible wire which is how I draw. Each feather has its own unique gesture and its own expressive moment, voice and movement. Each feather's cast shadow creates a structure of repetition which echoes its twin. Cast shadows against the white wall surface are flat and the silhouette I see is my drawing. I give form to the feathes but ultimately, I leave them to express meaning in their own way.
INTERLACINGS: A GENERATIONAL TRIBUTE
Recently I inherited several of my mother's lace tablecloths. I was given several more lace table cloths when my sister downsized to a small apartment. As I already had two beautiful hand-made cloths that I treasured and with no need to own more tablecloths, I made a decision to use some of them in an artwork. I deconstructed some of the cloths by cutting out some circular medallion motifs with the intent to reassemble parts of the cloths to make a statement about generational bonds women have over domestic treasures that are passed along. It wasn't easy to cut up a tablecloth and make it useless. I treid photocopying and rubbings of the textured patterns as an alternative but it did not satisfy. Working with lace made me think about how lace making has survived over centuries and how the hand crafted woman's work has evolved and replaced by machine built products. Hand crafted or machine built, the lace tablecloths are special. This work is a tribute to my mother and sister.
The Receiving Line installed at The Charles Clark Gallery, Vancouver.
Inspiration for The Receiving Line came from multiple sources. Most often my ideas flow out of a previous work. This is true of The Receiving Line as it was inspired by my project My Fragile Bio-Degradable H’Art installed last spring in Cottonwood Community Gardens. The paper sculptures I created for My Fragile Bio-Degradable H’Art project were created from recycled paper table cloths which I painted, manipulated and collaged in interesting ways to communicate my ideas. The Receiving Line sculptures also use paper table cloths but this time without any embellishment other than the “cinch” which alludes to arms. The torsos are simple and painted with a coat of acrylic.
Another component to my inspiration dates from 1983 when I visited the porcelain factory outlet of Villeroy & Boch in Luxembourg. I walked into a showcase room to see a plain white dining room table setting for 12. In the ceiling above the white plates were projection machines shining images down on the plates of Villeroy & Boch’s latest china designs. The projectors cycled through all the designs so the customers had no trouble imagining what their table would look like set with each design. That gave me the idea of cycling images through a projector onto a white surface.
The third component of inspiration was an exhibition I saw in London of David Hockney’s paintings done on an i-phone or tablet. They were enlarged and printed on paper. I was impressed with his painterly abilities that took him from a tiny scale to a grand scale. For me, Hockney legitamized digital painting using a stylus. Hockney used an
i-phone app where he could choose a pen or brush. He could determine the thickness of line, choose and blend colours. I use a Samsung Note 2 which has a great camera and found later by accident that there is a built-in note function I could use to paint with. I started making Doodle Designs in my spare time while travelling and started taking it on sketch trips.
I think about my small studio and wonder if the future will see me creating on a small scale and using projections to share my ideas. Hmmm! I love the process of creating where I get to manipulate materials and I need to have dirty fingernails. The Receiving Line is my first adventure into working digitally and using a projector. There is a possibility that I will be inspired by this installation to want to try other ideas.
If you would like to see more of my Doodle Designs they are posted on
GETTING READY FOR THE EASTSIDE CULTURE CRAWL
A weekend of Open Studio is something I really have to prepare for. Hundreds of people flock through Parker Street Studios and I consider it one of the biggest art happenings in the city. I am happy to be a part of this awesome annual event. There are many looky-loos trying hard to see it all. There are eager buyers hoping to get a great deal on a great piece of work. There are children and families coming to be inspired. I am prepared to meet them all, talk to them and explain my inspirations and process and answer all maner of questions. This interaction is very important for artists as well as the viewers. There is often a mystique surrouding artists and Open Studio dispells those attitudes. So talk, talk, talk....often repeating myself till I begin to wonder if I still make sense by the end of the day. It is my job to try to give others insights into my work and in doing so, I start to build up fans who sign up to my email list or become my friend on Facebook or follow me on Instagram.
Preparations for me include painting my studio walls with fresh white paint and hanging my work paying attention to making my work look its best. I make labels. Title, medium and of course prices. I make my inventory, I clean up my space putting away all superfulous items like unfinished paintings and art supplies. Another part of my preparation is sending out announcements to my contacts, posting information on Facebook Instagram and also my website. I prepare greeting cards and package them after putting my contact labels on them. I try to start preparing as early as possible because I cannot afford to get frantic as the countdown to the weekend begins. I want to be calm, well rested and eager to take on the Crawl.
My time has come to say goodbye to a wonderful job and a great group of co-workers. I started working for the Vancouver Civic Theatres in 1979. I have enjoyed every minute of my work because I got to see some exceptional performances in Ballet, Symphony, Musicals, Modern Dance, Plays, Famous speakers and even rock shows. I have been exlposed to the best of the best and I am so grateful to have had these experiences.
Copper Wire and Cinnamon Sticks. September 2015
Shiny and bright, flexible and strong, copper wire has charmed me into spending time with it. I can’t recall where inspiration came from. I know I just pick up interesting materials and start to play. The copper wire was a gift that I have kept for years and the cinnamon bark came from Chinatown. I purchased it because I loved the smell and the interesting coiled look of the bark. The two materials came together in the same place and before long they were united.
The cinnamon bark has tiny openings or knot holes and this appeals to me as it is perfect place to pass wire through and it becomes integrated immediately.
When I am engaged in art making, I am fully caught up in the medium. I have learned not to think about the product that I will end up with because the time spent engaged in the creative activity is what is most important to me.
A bent wire has an expressive gesture. When photographed from different angles, the sculptures often look like stop action ballet poses. They are lyrical to me and I can imagine music playing as I study these organic shapes in space.
APPLES FOREVER. The idea of using preserving jars as a means to portray a connection to the past has been on my mind many times. Images of preserving jars from the early 1900's are not that different from canning jars used today. Dominion, Bell, Imperial and Crown have been replaced by Mason, however, they all make it possible to enjoy the flavours of the orchard long after the deer have eaten the windfalls of autumn. The painting shows apples being collected in a bed sheet or table cloth from the shaken branches above. The middle ground shows the handy home made apple picker stick with a can attached which we use today to bring carefully to ground the chosen apples. Perserving memories of the past is the reason I paint this series of narratives. I believe the stories are important to tell and my images intend to communicate my respect and appreciation of the life of the farmer and his family.
DEAD BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Finally finished. September 9th, 2015. Among the rusty bits shown in the painting is an apple slicer dated 1898 on Ebay. Also found while digging in the garden was a pair of sheep shears. How many sheep were raised on the Orchard? We found many old medicine bottles while digging in the garden and I wonder what were the ailments? I love how the past and present connect and that I have found evidence that alludes to a time before I was born. The artefacts are clues to understanding the history of the orchard.
July 14th. Heading off to Gambiter Island for a week and taking my paints with me. Over the past 15 years I have produced a series of narrative paintings on the history of our Heritage Orchard on Gambier Island. There are 12 paintings in the series and I thought I was finished with my Orchard Project, but alas, there is still more I need to say. I will paint a composition called Dead But Not Forgotten. This painting will describe how on December 8th 1942 the old farmer died and was buried on the property under the stairs of the old farm house. (Norwegian custom). The water level was high and consequently, the coffin floated in the grave, so the family placed rocks on top of the coffin. Over the years, all sorts of artifacts have made their way to the surface of the earth through natural processes and also random digging of gardens and wells in the area. Some of these artifacts will be documented in the painting: specifically a pair of sheep shearing scissors, vials or medicine bottles and a mysterioius implement that might be an apple slicer or pastry cutter. It is hard to say as it is rusted and covered in earth. I checked the Eaton's 1901 catalogue but could not find a replica of this mysterious shape. Standby. I hope to post my finished painting in a week, unless I spend too much time swiming, kayaking, celebrating birthdays, and weeding the vegetable garden. They are distractions, but hey! it is summertime and the living is suppose to be easy.
July 2015. Today marks a change in our website. ArtForceCollections is now a website designated to the creative actiity of Sherry Cooper without her partner Mary Blaze. Mary is venturing off alone with her own website and brand so please visit her at http://www.blazeworksstudio.com/
May 2015: I attended a weel long Artist's Residency on the Hood Canal on the Kitsap Penninsula, Washington State. I was joined by my artist friends Sheila Page and Mary Blaze on the USA Memorial weekend. We each came with our own agenda and challenges for the week. We visited Tawano State Park and the Wetlands where we could sit and walk for hours to observe the natural environment and wildlife. Sketching and painting and photography kept us all busy. Probably significant to mention was the chance for us to log off all our connections to the web and telephone and enjoy a true retreat.
Artist's Retreat on the Hood Canal.
MyFragile Bio-Degradable H'Art
Before and After
When I left my sculptures after the installation, I silently said “you are on your own now”. There was one sculpture Angst who was visibly distraught. I could identify with the sculpture Angst, with its H’Art emerging or receding from its tightly wrapped and torn shape. What was going to unfold throughout the week?
The next day there were four sculptures on the ground. I had made some poor hardware choices. I put them back into the tree. Later in the day, the rains came and the wind blew hard. Several sculptures had started to disintegrate and I had to pick up the pieces that were scattered around the garden. I hauled away three sculptures which were soaking wet and lying on the ground. I scooped them up in my arms tenderly as if they had drowned. The sadness I felt at the time passed away when I decided that their beautiful papers would be re-configured for future projects. The care and attention given to creating the sculptures was no longer obvious and that brought me sadness when I thought about visitors to the garden who did not see their initial splendor. None-the- less, most of the sculptures were strong and finished out the week of exhibition with most of their parts intact. I took numerous photos of the pieces blowing in the wind and realized that this airy freedom was what I envisioned for them. On the last day of the week, I lowered the remaining sculptures and felt like a mother who was tired of picking up after her kids. The papers will live again in future projects.
Sherry Contemplating the sad sight of her paper sculptures lying in the grass. Heavy winds and rains have played their part in transforming the sculptures.
Part of Tassel-Wrap that came apart in the wind and rain.
Innovation, Transformation, Contemplation
While other materials are chosen for their permanence, paper is often chosen for its fragility and temporary look which is missing in other media. Paper expresses vulnerability. I have chosen to work in paper because I make art for now, not for all time.
Unlike canvas which is traditionally been seen as permanent, art on paper is vulnerable and protected under glass. Today, paper is used for its’ self, its temporary quality is widely accepted.
I have controlled the surface of my paper sculptures by creasing, folding and scrunching exactly where I need it. I have chosen to mingle transparent and opaque papers over each other until an integration results which articulates the panorama of natural light. Light and air move freely around each piece and this movement and energy is exactly what I am looking for.
By choosing to hang my paper sculptures outside I consciously incorporate time and the environment to mingle with the decorative elements and produce visible distress. I am celebrating the impermanence of my creations by allowing the crows of wind and rain to peck away at my creations. Whereas regular paintings are expected to be permanent and last hundreds of years, I have determined that these works of art would be temporary and have a short life and their existence will only live on in photographs, After a week of rain, sun and wind storms, the evidence of their journey: the passing of time and the struggle with the elements have had their hand. I am feeling the loss.
Resurrection: As I take away distressed parts and pieces of paper, I appreciate their beauty and long to give them new life. As a mixed media collage artist, it is easy for me to see these remnants as new beginnings.
Sherry Cooper & Rick Cooper rigging up the sculptures in the Locust tree in Cottonwood Community Garden
ARTforceCollections: ART/icles: timely articles on the visual arts and artists, exhibitions and profound thoughts, and many not so . . . . Stay tuned for breaking news.
Vol 3 ART/icle 3, 1 April, 2014:
CREATIVE SPACES: The fourth in a Series of ART/icles posted by Mary Blaze of ARTforceCollections.com
Number four in my series of ART/icles enquiring into home based art studios, takes me to Marney-Rose Edge's New Westminster home and studio on a lovely, sunny, spring afternoon. Marney-Rose tours me around her extensive garden awakening with summer promise, before re-introducing me to her centrally located main floor studio. I had first seen it during her city's 2013 Cultural Crawl.
Edge has the unique experience of working from her creative space at home over the recent five years, and also from an outside studio over two of those years, ending in the autumn of 2013.
Working at home saves her time, money and wear and tear on herself and her car, although having two studios necessarily means duplication of materials and supplies. She finds it easier to access reference materials at home and can spread her work out into the living room for a different perspective on composition, for example, and to see how the work looks under different lighting.
There are however, distractions and she finds more negatives against the home studio than positives for, and states, "I am now determined to have an outside studio again," adding that she will retain her home space where her maximum workable canvas width is forty-eight inches. She meets with clients wherever/whenever at their
convenience, and opens her studio for the annual New Westminster Cultural Crawl.
Marney-Rose's works are about beauty, tenderness, love, romance and whimsy, all akin to her own warmth of personality and sense of fun and all imaginatively expressed on paper and canvas in the traditional manner of drawing, water colour, oil or acrylic paintings. She calls on photographic and electronic technologies as and when needed.
Her response to my question regarding the impact of family on her art practice and vice versa, becomes more philosophical. One takes into consideration the traditional roles of women, ie. cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc., and the expectations of family as different from the hopes and aspirations of modern women and their self-actualization.
In spite of the 21st Century husband's/partner's acceptance of shared domestic responsibilities, the old attitudes of 9:00 - 5:00 employment with bi-weekly remuneration persist and invalidate the home studio pursuits of creative women: "Now you are home, you can do the laundry," or, if the woman has also had part-time outside supplemental work, "Now you have to find another job." Such are anathema to the muse.
The conclusion is that in practical terms, the determined woman artist who manages her creative space at home, must acknowledge those challenges and be committed enough to establish that, "Supper will not be on the table when you arrive home from work!"
There is much food for thought, with some sense of irony, as I return home to Vancouver's North Shore, just in time to prepare our evening meal.
778 875 0258
Vol 3, ART/icle 2, 1 March, 2014:
CREATIVE SPACES: The third in a Series of ART/icles posted by Mary Blaze of ARTforceCollections.com
For number three in my series on creative spaces at home, I visit Vancouver's Joy Hanser, full time commercial and studio artist.
Joy herself, her home and her studio speak of the storied artistic personality, one that thrives under sky lights in sloped ceilings, negotiates nooks and crannies housing unique objects, and flourishes amidst walls displaying varied artistic expressions.
She is undaunted that her creative space adjacent to her kitchen, boasts a washing machine, shower and a Jacuzzi tub. While others may call it a sizable laundry/bath room where she also paints, for Hanser, it is first and foremost "my studio," where she simply moves paintings to access any of its facilities, and has done so for twelve years.
Joy enthusiastically describes her studio's benefits as: "Numerous! I couldn't consider working in a studio outside my home. If I am cooking, I can stop for a fresh look at my current work. If I am not happy with progress, I can close the door on it. I can come and go anytime."
"All my art references are at home: books, photos, computer, objects, for access at will. Also, as I go about my home and find incidentals that trigger a potential for incorporation into my visual language, I can just tuck it into one of my storage bins."
Joy's location is beyond range for The Drift, the Vancouver East Culture Crawl, likewise Artists in Your Midst, but she is a member of ARTforce Collective, with whom she has exhibited and is considering showing with a group of her work-colleagues. She takes part in Artful Sundays at Britannia Community Centre, other community exhibiting opportunities and submits proposals to published calls for artists, so she makes only one space adaptation, that of meeting her clients at convenient locations for sales and discussions.
The commercial aspect of Hanser's works include faux finshes, murals, movie set painting, decorative painting and commissions, but her studio work is her passion, where she primarily uses acrylics, and oil pastels to achieve her tactile surfaces on canvas. She also draws in both pencil and ink, does portraiture in soft pastels and paints into her collages. She started work on her In Transit series of paintings in 2008, where superficially, she talks about the environmental aspect of taking public transit instead of driving her car. More, "This theme has depth and teases me into exploring the transitory moment, the sense of quickly passing time."
Broadly, Joy's studio works vary in size from very small to thirty by forty inches, and she plans a thirty-six by forty-eight inch piece, that can be easily managed in her space.
As to whether there is family impact on her practice, Joy chuckles, saying, "There are many artists in my family. My father was a draftrsman, my mother was a potter, one sister is a practicing artist and my daughter is a graphic designer, so it is support for, not impact on my practice."
I find myself relating to Joy's enthusiasm and her described situations. I see that it is more the attitude of the artist towards the work space, rather than the fact of size or dedication of space, that makes the difference in whether a home studio works or not. Joy's does, indeed.
Vol 3, ART/icle 1, 1 February, 2014:
CREATIVE SPACES: The second in a Series of ART/icles posted by Mary Blaze of ARTforceCollections.com
It is some time since I visited Heather McAlpine in her North Vancouver home, which she and her husband are gradually renovating, so we have a lot to catch up on over tea, but my focus is on her work space and how it works for her.
Her studio encompasses about two-thirds of her home's entry level, and boasts large, southern exposure windows that welcome in the light, along with her outdoor view. It is spacious and has north access to her patio and garden beyond. Although proud of her own creative space, McAlpine finds herself referring to it as her home studio, maintained over fifteen years in two locations, and seeing that it tends to bias against her being taken seriously as an artist: "Oh, you aren't working;" "You aren't earning."
Convenience and cost savings are factors in her decision to work at home, and as with many other home-based artrists, she would like a studio remote from her domestic scene. Amongst her studio's advantages are however, her uninterrupted privacy and the privilege of enjoying her own choice of music to work by, without compromise.
Clients are invited in to view her works, and her location is included in the North Shore Art Crawl, with annually increasing numbers of visitors. She says that maps are important and to that end, she has a reciprocal arrangement with an artist colleague wherein they each give out maps to the other's studio.
Heather is a materials and process oriented artist, working two dimensionally in acrylics on paper and canvas, using colours found in the natural world, as she abstracts her personal vision into plumbing the depths of the universal.
Technically, she uses fluid brush work, dry brushing, and such tools as a squeegee, a print roller and a spackle spatula, each at her fingertips on her two foot by three foot, wheeled trolley. Although eight inch square works reside on her studio wall, comfortable working sizes for her include twelve to fourteen inch squares and on up to her large standard size of fifty-four inches by seventy-two. Her most recent piece measures fifty-four inches by seventy-two inches.
Family life has considerable impact on Heather's art practice. There are always family things to do, so she is necessarily well self-disciplined.
On the other hand, while her studio space takes up what might have been a recreatrion room with amenities for her girls and their friends, there have always been endless supplies for her children to do arts and crafts, summed up by her perplexed younger daughter on returning home from a project at a friend's home, saying, "Mom, they didn't have any cardboard at their house!"
My visit is a rewarding one in terms of friendship, and in seeing Heather's reno progress, as well as in gaining insight into how others perceive their home working spaces, cope with their challenges and balance their creative selves with family responsibilities.
Heather McAlpine's paintings may be viewed at www.mcalpineart.com
Upstairs, paintings are stacked against a wall adjacent to her painting area, a bank of computers rests along another wall, a laptop is on the floor, her drawing table is in the middle of another section, with shafts of low, late-autumn sunlight partitioning the whole; such is my intro to her studio.
I ask her the benefits of having a home studio. Unhesitatingly, her answer is, "it is handy, it is immediately accessible and it's near a food source!" - and it has been so for twenty-five years.
I am told on my enquiry about family impact on her practice, that when her grandchildren were young, they would bring their friends in to play as she worked on a painting, and "even when I was 'into it,' they would leave me alone." Now she complements all her family on offering meaningful critiques.
In defining her art practice, Margaret says, "I am a maker. I love to make things with my hands, to create little worlds," and goes on to tell me that she paints with acrylics, sculpts with clay sometimes, draws, creates hand made books and manipulates images on her computer.
I consider it a privilege to be given a window into Margaret's personal creativity within her space. I see that it is not necessarily the physical dimensions, although her space is large enough to work on a five foot by four foot painting without limitations, but the motivation to "make things," any things, in a wide variety of media.
I understand that a studio at home can allow spontaneity, being a venue for unrestricted artistic expression, and I am encouraged as I make my way home to my own "creative space."
Margaret Witzsche is a member of Nimbus Two, an art collective
profiled on the NorthVancouver Community Arts Council's web site:
Mary Blaze: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Vol 2, ART/icle 1, January, 2013:
"Mixing It Up: Mixed Media, Acrylic Paintings" by Sandrine Pelissier.
8 January - 4 February, 2012, Foyer Gallery of the Squamish Public Library,
37907 Second Avenue, Squamish, B.C.
Cohesive Coherence versus Randomness:
". . . the only way to be [successful as an artist] is if you have a cohesive coherent grip on what you are doing, why you are doing it, and where you are going . . . " 1
"I might have a period when I will focus more on flowers, and then it could be landscapes or a series of portraits in watercolours, or life drawings. I always end up with a consistent series of one style but you might think different persons were the artists if you look at different series of my work. I think working this way has helped me becoming better skilled and not repeating myself. Something I learn with watercolours might help me in a mixed media piece and vice versa, there is a connection between all the media and the styles."2
These two variant working philosophies occupy my thoughts as I return to Vancouver's North Shore from reviewing Sandrine Pelissier's Mixing It Up, curated by Toby Jaxon of www.tobyjaxon.com for the District of Squamish.
This exhibition of eighteen, realistic paintings represents managed diversity of styles and subjects. Its mounting finds niche locales for unique works, while subjects similar in nature are grouped on the main walls, where entering the Foyer Gallery is like walking into a vibrancy of summer reds and greens, with secondary whites and blues.
To quote Jaxon's description: "This confident and diverse collection of paintings portrays stylistic landscapes, 'people-scape' illustrations, as well as still life, all harmonized by size, format and colour."3 I add that brush strokes, though modified for effect in some instances, remain consistent in their free, joie de vivre application throughout. The scale of the works at mostly two feet square, with a couple at two and a half feet and one at three feet square, is comfortable, given the intimate feel of the gallery as a whole.
In his quoted article above, Bamberger says that one of the most common problems he sees with artists is that they make art at random. Is making art at random necessarily a problem, I ask? He continues: "the better you understand your creative process, the more direction you can apply to your art . . . ." There is no disputing that assertion, and, indeed, in Pelissier's case, she explains that whatever choices of materials and imagery she makes, she grows artistically from experimentation, and, that "there is connection between all the media and the styles," i.e. continuity.
In the end, Bamburger seems to respond to his own text with, "Even if your art is about randomness, it is random for a reason; you decide it is random, and that is [therefore] not random!"
In theoretical terms then, my question is answered and "Mixing It Up" is legitimnized both to the viewers and Pelissier herself, as cohesive coherence through randomness.
Nice job, Sandrine.
2. Pelissier, Sandrine. http://squamish.bc.ca/services-programs/foyer-gallery, Toby Jaxon.
Further to this exhibition, Shelby Miller showcases her custom designed jewellery incorporating a continuum of texture, colour and materials exploiting common West Coast elements, as paraphrased from Toby Jaxon.
It is not without disappointment that I did not have time to view and enjoy Miller's exhibition - something to do with another meaning of our West Coast elements with a full-on snow storm blowing outside! I direct interest to her "Natural Elements," as I urge those of the Sea to Sky corridor, including North and West Vancouver and beyond, to visit the Foyer Gallery in The Squamish Public Library during this exhibition, showing until 4 February, 2013.
With appreciation to the Library staff for the courtesies extended to me, also to Toby Jaxon for sharing her descriptive words in her "This Month at the Foyer Gallery." Thank you.
Mary Blaze, BFA,
Vol 1, ART/icle 2, November, 2012:
"Celebration:" New Westminster Arts Council's Exhibition: 30 October - 24 November, 2012:
There is much to celebrate in Marney-Rose Edge's solo exhibition of water colour works at the New Westminster Arts Council Gallery in Queens Park, New Westminster, B.C., from 30 October - 24 November, 2012.
The iconic rose is Edge's subject matter for representing at once, sentiments, relationships and a sense of intimacy. Her seven more formal paintings of the collection are luminously expressed in glorious layers of transparent pinks, reds, and yellows against deep, dark washes of blue/purple/aqua grounds.
"Jubilation," for example, measuring 48" x 31," is a family of roses that entices the viewer to step more closely to investigate the subtleties of difference between individual roses within the grouping, while sensing the fragrance of the whole.
"Sisters," of similar size spreading horizontally, offers the sensation of warmth and tenderness in family bonding.
"Renewal," as one of her twelve smaller pieces at 16" x 20," acting as counter balance to her more densely painted works, demonstrates Edge's multi-level skills and vision. Her open, airy, and deftly drawn graphite images combine with splashes of water colour into intriguing, insightful pastiches, taking her sense of family into the sentiments of life's passages, in this case, the comforting, social custom of tea time.
Elaborating each work is a vignette of personal experience or relationship and in many instances the name of the individual rose is presented. For some, the parentage is identified, indicating the artist's sound knowledge of the botanical elements of her choices of imagery. As well, these notes create a seque into her own family members, her birth place of New Zealand and to New Westminster as her chosen home, all found amongst her informative supplementary writings.
As one viewer commented, "What a miserable day; what a wonderful uplifting 'summer moment' to see Marney-Rose's wonderful roses. Exquisite!"
The curator and committee of New Westminster Arts Council is to be "celebrated" for bringing this poignantly beautiful exhibition of Marney-Rose Edge water colour paintings to the viewing public. For further information, go to www.artscouncilnewwest.org, or to
www.marneyroseedge.com, or directly to 778 875 0258
All rights reserved. Reprint with permission: Mary Blaze, at www.artforcecollections.com
Vol 1, ART/icle 1, January, 2012:
Port Moody Arts Centre's Exhibition: 5 January - 19 February, 2012
The works in the Port Moody Arts Centre's current exhibition give both concrete and conceptual expressions to the words: fragmented, amorphous, impermanence, temporary, transience and ephemeral.
In Good Night Good Luck, Maegan Elise's unsettling landscapes of misplaced, fragmented elements, as loosely related to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami of Japan, and echoed by her choice of such fugitive materials as water colour, ink, charcoal, and pencil on paper, invite contemplation of fragility and impermanence.
Chris Mackenzie's Stones, Chestnuts and Snow installation provides photographic documentation of the temporary, ephemeral and isolated nature of his land art, as in his alpine, snow-shoed spiral. All that remain are his digital images, as capricious as his mountain shadows, yet beckoning consideration of all that is fleeting.
The randomness of the patterns and shapes of ink blots and coloured pencil on paper, informed by fractals, sound waves and Rorschach psychoanalysis, conspires to create the visual language of Rosemary Burden's idiom, Breeding Ground, and inspires transcendence into the metaphysical space between science and art.
The Gallery's "Cabinet of Curiosity" becomes an idea/l repository for, as well as an adjunct to, Ants Gone Wild, the disquieting transience of Angela Gooliaff's emotional dilemma between comfort and discomfort, here equated to white ants busily circulating and intersecting as imaged onto the interior of the cabinet's glass, that fully engages viewer response.
The Port Moody Arts Centre's Susan Jessop has brought together an inviting, enticing and inspiring exhibition of the works of these four artists:
Maegan Elise, Chris Mackenzie, Rosemary Burden, and Angela Gooliaff.
It deserves to be seen. The exhibition continues through to 19th of February at
Port Moody Arts Centre, 2425 St. Johns St., Port Moody, B.C.
Published with permission of Susan Jessop, Port Moody Arts Centre.
All rights reserved. Reprint with permission: Mary Blaze, at www.artforcecollections.com
ARTFORCE COLLECTIONS: ART/icles: timely comments on the visual arts and artists, exhibitions, profound thoughts and many not so . . . . Stay tuned for breaking news.
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Vol. 1, ART/icle 6, September, 2011: Oracular Co-encounters:
There I was on the 17th July, 2011, making oracular utterances that, according to Wikipedia, in extended use, make me an oracle1. I now review and reflect on my experience.
The locale is the Strathcona Art Gallery (STAG) in East Vancouver, B.C., Canada, www.thestrathconaartgallery.tumblr.com, during the ten day artist's residency of Barbara Bickel, visual and performance artist, researcher, and educator, Assistant Professor in Art Education and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, USA. www.barbarabickel.com.
To quote in part from Barbara's Artist's Statement for the project:
The STAG residency with its mandate for freeing art is an opportunity to complete an installation of spontaneous artworkings that respond to the commercialized phallic driven world of contemporary art. With intense physical gestures, I draw and move within the trauma of the art world's edges, tracing and retracing the rectangular form of the mail-in subscription card found within the art magazine.
On removal from five magazines, each of these inserts detaches into two parts to become five pairs of substrates, one oblong 9 x 3.5" and the other 3 x 3.5", on which Bickel obliterates the texts with black and blue, red, pink, green, purple and yellow oil pastels.
The longer card of each pair is then stitched vertically onto a five and one quarter foot (63 inches) length of white, non-fusible interfacing, referencing "women's work," with the smaller being stitched horizontally directly below, creating a dramatic patch of scribbled colour against a delicate white ground. Several dualities exist here:
- The firmer, less flexible card stock / the drape that breathes according to gentle drafts.
- The striking colours / the virginal white.
- The violence of the obliterating marks / the tenderness of the fabric.
- The patriarchal (phallic) dominance / the matrixial response.
Given the verticality, this whole may be interpreted as a token crucifixion of the visual art establishment, but this is not enough.
Bickel adds a second layer of meaning, both physically and metaphorically, to her expression, by hanging another length of intertfacing, nine inches in front of the first, this time with a vertical aperture, replicating the space and positioning of the distressed magazine excerpts behind. Now, not only scribbled, obscured, erased and distressed, but isolated only to be voyeuristically peered at through the aperture, just as the patron peers from behind the bushes, up the petticoats of Fragonard's The Girl on the Swing, late 18th Century.
With the cultural norms now reversed, Bickel scores her coupe de grace with her oracular soundings concept. This is where I and four other co-creators enter independently into her matrixial world, as video evidenced in performance.
Feeling the need for props, I gather a few rocks and stones as pieces of the natural world within my grasp, and to cradle, as I become the classical oracle of antiquity, as wise counsel of prophetic opinion,2 able to whistle, whine and click my utterances through the aperture, directly at the scribbled patriarchal representations. Meanwhile, I release my rocks and stones one by one, into a resonant wooden bowl, creating an intonation as if inspired by the gods.
While apprehensive at the outset, I engage fully without self-consciousness, deliberately at times forcing my soundings onto the fabric for its movement, in the spirit of mystical undercurrents.
I question whether these acts make me a legitimate performance artist and welcome responses from my readers, however, through my faithfulness to Barbara's concept, I do ease my art practice into performance art, take my place amongst a team of respected artists, enjoy the companionship of collaboration and add my voice to ever louder utterances for a gender-balanced society. I am grateful to Barbara for this journey towards that destination.
1. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/oracle: . . . oracle may also refer to the site of the oracle, and to the oracular utterances themselves . . . .
All rights reserved. Reprint with permission: Mary Blaze: www.artforcecollections.com's Contact Us page.
Reprint permission is herewith granted to Barbara Bickel for inclusion in her forthcoming catalogue entitled Oracular Co-encounters. Watch www.artforcecollections.com's Events page for the announcement of its publication.
Volume 1, ART/icle 5, June, 2011: Rhythm, Blues and Burnt Sienna:
661 East 15th Ave., Vancouver, B.C., becomes a crossroads on a warm spring "First Friday" evening, for friends, associates and well wishers to interact within a gallery venture that includes a sculptor, a potter, a painter and two Rhythm and Blues musicians.
Sculptor, Beth Marshall, established herself in the locale six years ago but it is within the last year that her passion for clay prompted her to transform her work space into the Clay Zone Ceramics Gallery. Here, she and Noelle Nicole instruct students ranging in ages from four through teens to adults, in clay arts.
Each month Beth features the works of a local potter and June sees Sue Griese's richly glazed functional pottery pieces on display. Of eye catching note are her bright, spring-green glazed bowls that lend a contemporary note to her earth toned collection.
Complementing the display of ceramics and the gallery itself, are artist/instructor, Joy Hanser's nineteen acrylic paintings, mixed media and soft pastel works, that reach from 8" x 10" to 24" x 36." Her land and seascape subject choices, urban and rural sights, harmonize with her palette of variations on blue and sienna, to deftly express the mood of a gathering storm, as in "Open Your Heart," providing an easy segue into the Rhythm and Blues stylings of the harmonica and guitar duo of Leonard Huggard and Double D, respectively.
The assembly of diverse interests and experiences during this two hour gallery opening is both thought provoking and reflective, as one savours the interactions at this junction of time and place, all because Beth Marshall decided to open her Clay Zone Ceramics Gallery, whose web site at www.clayzoneceramics.blogspot.com gives a more detailed overview along with options to entice a dabble in ceramics.
All rights reserved. Reprint with permission: Mary Blaze, on www.artforcecollections.com 's Contact Us page.
Volume 1, ART/icle 4, June 2011: Friendly Web Site Reviews: Karen Begemann:
While Karen Begemann's "Work Matters Consulting" four page web site is not about art, it does demonstrate the beauty of design and the mood it can create.
Throughout the pages that introduce her career coaching practice, there is an informed gentleness. Karen has chosen light grey grounds, where she situates a business card style logo in the freshness of aqua, spring green and dark grey, upper right, as her header, with the green being reflected in her block capital links, each given its own space, separated by fine grey vertical lines, upper left.
All her page content is in clear, Arial, mid-grey text in document style, portrait format. Her "Welcome" page locates her practice and includes a "welcome" and a "thank you" to her readers, with much of her text as tidy bulleted lists. Her closing line quotes Tom Thiss: "Having a purpose is the difference between making a living and making a life."
The footer of each page copyrights Work Matters Consulting, identifies WordPress and notes the site developer as Romak Design.
On the "Services" page, one finds her services more closely defined, again utilizing bulleted lists amongst the text. Here, Karen invites fee enquiries.
The "About" page is where she establishes her credentials, spells out consultative options and provides the focus of her practice, bounded by an engaging photograph of herself, upper right of the text.
For anyone lost and confused in career planning, www.workmatters.com 's design establishes a serenity that invites prospective clients to take in a deep breath and relax, while Karen extends her hand in guidance.
All rights reserved. Reprint with permission: Mary Blaze, on www.artforcecollections.com 's Contact Us page.
Volume 1, ART/icle 3, May, 2011: Friendly Web Site Reviews: Alannah Anderson:
Alannah's four page site is simple, uncluttered and straight forward, making its content immediately accessible.
She has used a white, document style of presentation against light ochre, canvas-textured fields throughout, with consistent headers stating "Art by Alannah Anderson."
Her home page is in scrollable, portrait format and includes five elements: topmost is her navigation links bar, then directly below and across the page are three images, each representing one of her gallery pages and each conveniently linking directly to the viewer's gallery of choice.
Mid-page and in a broken-line box, Anderson states her location and invites studio visits by appointment, with her contact numbers, and clearly states her pricing range.
Her concise biography follows with her childhood art experiences, her scholarship, her post-secondary education and professional life, all interwoven with her passion for art, as she eased into retirement. These latter notes are bounded on the lower right by her self-portrait.
Beneath it all reads the footer: www.gingermedia.ca
Each gallery page, Water, Earth and Sky; Figures and Faces; Flowers and Fruit, is configured in landscape format. On the left is a two row, vertical side-bar, displaying ten thumbnail images, with a larger, eleventh painting on the right, interchangeable by a click on a thumbnail.
Simplicity, ease of navigation, and easily viewed images are this site's charm and worth spending some art browsing time on: www.alannahanderson.ca
All rights reserved. Reprint with permission: Mary Blaze, on www.artforcecollections.com 's Contact Us page.
Volume 1, ART/icle 2, March, 2011:
A Review of "Taking Note," an Exhibition of Oil Paintings by Katherine Surridge at the Baron Gallery, 293 Columbia Street, Gastown, Vancouver, B.C.
It is an over-cast afternoon in Vancouver, and the predominantly yellow image in the window of the Baron Gallery beckons like a shaft of sunlight.
Stepping inside, there is a greeting from Rosemary Baron Swingle, the gallery's proprietor, whose space reflects her personal warmth. The sanded wooden floor, finished in a warm luster, together with the central wooden post, a remnant of the building's previous life, and the presence of an old etching press, lend a comforting ambience to the viewing experience.
Artist Katherine Surridge's "Taking Note" exhibition of recent, multi-layered oil paintings on canvas, seems perfectly at home in this space. Twenty pieces, ranging in size from 60" x 72" down to a collection of the smallest at 6" x 6," display an even, unified, subtle and engaging whole, each named "Note . . . ," with a numeric identifier.
Notes are personal graphics and these specific visual symbols are a challenge to categorize. There is a liminality about them as they emerge and retreat in their games with the viewer. They at once take one into their depths, therein to reveal their genesis in terms of nuances of colour and subtleties of mark-making, and lay dormant on the surface, blanched; they meander their scribbled darkness, horizon-like, against their tender hued environs in the space between note and landscape, where the viewer listens for the note of bird's song amongst spring landscapes. Surridge has a firm grasp on that space and in her own words, uses Words, numbers, landscapes, swamps, bogs, figures, and layers . . . drawing in and taking out . . .. One wishes to lift those layers in search of origins to define representational versus abstract, or somewhere in between.
The twenty, 6" x 6" pieces on a more secluded wall, are a change of pace, more textural and speak of strata, as if they are the artist's own notes, giving impetus to the archaeological context of the larger pieces.
In conjunction with "Taking Note," continuing to 29 April, 2011, the gallery and the artist are mounting special events on 12, 18, 26 March, and 1 April.
The Baron Gallery at 293 Columbia Street, Gastown, Vancouver, B.C. and Katherine Surridge's "Taking Note," are indeed worthy of note, at this in between space of winter to spring. www.barongallery.ca and www.katherinesurridge.ca.
All rights reserved. Reprint with Permission: Mary Blaze on www.artforcecollections.com 's Contact Us page.
Volume 1, ART/icle 1, January, 2011:
Undercurrents Flow in . . .
. . . Coastal Lives, a curated, Summertime 2010, art exhbition in the intimate spaces of Gibson's Public Art Gallery, on beautiful British Columbia's Sunshine Coast.
Sherry Cooper and Sheila Page present representational paintings in the narrative genre, with Page's having a hint of the surreal. Both artists use acrylics and collage with Cooper employing various techniques to create textures, and Page adding her photo transfers.
The twelve Cooper paintings are the larger of the two collections, at 32" x 24", 60" x 16", with one variant at 16" x 20." Nine are framed. One can stand back to catch the over-all poignancy of these specific Coastal Lives, whose mood is caught by the use of subdued coastal grey-blues, that may well have been augmented by their more liberal use, as in The Daughter-in-Law's Story.
All but one of the fourteen Page images are 16" x 16" and 12" x 12," inviting an intimate viewer engagement. Lost, a framed 37" x 29" piece, is the central work in the mounting. The one small distraction to the presentation's over-all continuity is the artist's decision to paint the wrapped edges of one work.
Historical perspectives overlap within the context of Coastal Lives, with Cooper's falling into the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth, and Page's echoing the early to mid-twentieth.
In the painting of these stories, the two artists skillfully use absurdity to capture the viewer's interest, before the undercurrents deliver their powerful flow responses. Examples are: the refined woman standing in utter distaste of the pig sty, amongst Cooper's visions, and again in Page's, the invitation to Please Come In with its denial of the imminnt.
With the stage set, Cooper speaks of displacement from a professional life, clearly designated as that of a Norwegian judge, to the hardships of remote island living, as in Pre-emption . . . and disillusionment, seen in Anna's Reflections. To Market reads of determination against the overwhelming burden of bare survival. Ultimately, loneliness and broken dreams as well as relationships, are portrayed in Remembering Springtime.
The invited close readings of the Page paintings suggest impending disaster, as in Desk Job, and doom, with her off-balanced Whale Rider. Loss is seen in the empty Lifeboat, while Ties to the Past takes us in the direction of the innocence of childhood. Throughout this collection, Page's visual language includes threatening waves and sinister octopi, inferring that these particular Coastal Lives, see life as a risky business.
The two images at the "crossroads" of the gallery, Semaphore and Love Me Tender, the one of a little boy earnestly pointing into "his" territory, and now himself as a teenaged young man, respectively, situated behind the gallery desk, tend to be the fulcrum of the exhibition as a whole, and holds the viewer within its grasp of lives lived.
Supplementary to Cooper's exhibit is a basket of apples in the corner on the gallery floor, referring to her own lived experience of the storied apple orchard. Her peeling, flaking paint of the original home window frames surrounding her images, add authenticity to her concept.
Page employs her own historical seafaring props: six mismatched oars, a wooden rudder and a rusted anchor in support of her theme as well as her supplementary notes entitled, "A Family at Sea," retaining an established sense of foreboding.
All the foregoing describes the reviewer's challenging and rewarding jaunt to the Gibson's Public Art Gallery, http://www.gibsonspublicartgallery.ca/ worthy of bouquets for mounting this exhibition, too important to be allowed to fade.
Ferry schedule time constraints preclude an in-depth review of Michaela Cochran's Keepsake Boxes, comfortably complementary to the two dimensional works. No slight is intended.
Sherry Cooper's art may be seen http://ow.ly/3BzRB and www.artforcecollections.com; Sheila Page's works may be seen at www.sheilapageart.com and Michaela Cochran's may be found on Google under Coastal Lives, still up at this writing, and SCAC Gallery Shows archive.
All rights reserved: Reprint with Permission: Mary Blaze, on www.artforcecollections.com 's Contact Us page.