My Grandma was born in the USA on June 6, 1905 and came to Canada as a child. When she grew up she became a school teacher and always loved educating and being around children.
Once she married (Hugh) she was a house wife and loving mother to 3 children, 2 two sons (Jim and Don) and 1 daughter (my mother Marjorie). Through the years Florence would tutor students from the local school. One boy specifically attributes his success to her, as he was unable to read well until he received the help she offered him. The boys joined the military and while Marjorie was in high school grandma started a Kindergarten in the basement of her Devon home, in central Alberta. This was in the 1950's when Kindergartens didn't exist yet. The school principal thought this was a great idea and would sneak her supplies.
Grandma widowed young at 54. Just a few months before her youngest was married. It would prove to be the start of a new life for this loving and giving woman. She was always so full of life, and this would just be a new step in hers.
In the 1960's Florence moved to BC and worked in an orphanage. What better place for her to spread her love, compassion and knowledge to so many that could use it at a difficult time in their lives. Later on she met a nurse (Mari-Helene), and she became a nanny for her family, and this developed into a life long friendship with them. Mari-Helene became like a second daughter, caring for my grandmother when she got older, welcoming our family when we came to visit and we accepted her as well.
My grandmother was one of those souls that touched everyone she came into contact with. She had a light about her that you could never forget and it shined bright right until she passed at the age 89 in Edmonton.
~ Charlotte Blackwell
After a lovely few days away in the mountains I feel refreshed and inspired. I have a few ideas tumbling around in my mind and now that I think I have my new university course under my belt a bit (math is not my strong suit) I am planning something new for the next month. Actually two new little projects. One is to work on a few small prints since I haven't been teaching and I would like to use my printmaking supplies while they're still fresh. Plus, I have prepared a dozen 7x14 inch canvases to begin a little side project. Lately I have spent quite a bit of time reading so that has spawned a couple of different but related ideas. I'm interested to see where this leads.
I've been planning a little series of authors, I'm leaning towards Canadian females, though my favourite author of all time is Canadian author Thomas King. After going through some of my earlier portraits from the 52 WEEKS::Heroes series, I've been drawn to painting on 7x14 inch canvases and incorporating inspirational quotes again. I'm also thinking of creating some small portrait prints as I haven't taught in months and have printmaking supplies to utilize. I do love the planning stage of creative projects and sometimes they stay at the planning stage. We'll see where this all leads.
My daughter Kailynne asked me to tell you about when she played volleyball and Reihei Grandma (what my kids called her) came to watch and after she was done Reihei Grandma told her that she got that from her. Apparently when she was younger and worked at the leprosy hospital her and the other girls would play volleyball in their spare time. I don’t think many people know that she played volleyball.
~ Bev Neufeld
I live in a community that is very supportive of the arts and local artists. Currently we are celebrating Alberta Arts & Culture Days with two weeks of ARTember and, so, on Saturday I did a demo at The Store Upstairs. This was my first real time in public since COVID-19 hit and it was good. I always appreciate how The Store Upstairs supports the arts and enjoyed my little spot in the bay window. There was plenty of of space for social distancing while still being able to share what I do with our community. My favourite are always the children as they get so excited around art supplies. It was a good day.
Last summer I was going through old family photographs after my dad passed away and began to ask questions about the women in my family history. I found out that my great-grandmother, though she lived in Paraguay, South America, delivered the most babies safely in the history of her community. She was one of the first people to incorporate sterilization through the use of alcohol, hot water and soap on everything that came into contact with women during delivery, including boiling the clothing worn by her and her assistants. I began to think about how so many women paved the way for us today. Even though women still have so far to go towards equality, there are so many women that have come before us and accomplished amazing things in spite of the challenges.
In October I put out a call on social media asking for photographs and stories of other grandmothers as I wanted to honour them by painting a portrait of each and sharing their photographs and stories online and, once the project is complete at the end of the year, hopefully with an exhibit and a book. The project was started at the beginning of January with a painting a week that will last until the end of December. After gathering the information needed, I have since heard of other amazing women and am not certain how I will stop at 52 grandmothers.
Reading the stories of each of these women touches me deeply. I weep and I laugh at their strength and courage. When one of the grandmothers, Maria Gomes, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and ended up in hospital for quite some time her family kept sharing the paintings and stories with her, which helped in her recovery. A real testament to the beauty of art.
I’ve been painting these portraits on gallery-depth 8x10 inch canvases and utilize layers of acrylic paint to add pattern and colour. The tools I use include brushes, brayers (rollers for printmaking) and an airbrush along with stencils to create a vibrant background for the portraits. Apparently CBC radio northern Ontario (French broadcast) discussed the project in August with one of the contributors and talked about the combination of a modern twist with vintage images in the pattern and colour usage.
I think what I’d like to share with people is how important it is to recognize what our elders have and still do contribute in our world, particularly during this pandemic. It’s important for us to remember that as we navigate these challenging times.
Vintage group shot with her in the bottom right in a white hat, one photo circa 1970s with me in her arms. Here is what I had written about her:
Here is one of me and my paternal grandma, taken in the 1970s. I love how little me is reaching out of the frame while my grandma holds me in her open arms, relaxed but protective. She was an Ontario farm girl and my memories of her are steady and grounded, wholesome and fun loving. I love how I’m dressed in something she or one of her brood probably knit, pink, girly, useful and cheerful. I miss her.
~ Gabrielle Clarke
I found a wonderful website that features Calgary's history (calgaryeritage.ca) and stumbled upon an interesting story about female police officers in the city. I also found an interesting article in the Calgary Herald published December 1, 1962 titled 'Four Lassies Patrol Calgary Beat'. While I was painting this officer, a friend of my daughter's shared a story of her aunt who was also one of the original female police officers in Calgary. Unfortunately she left due to mistreatment as she was a strong feminist and activist. I'm amazed by all of these women that came before us...what they had to endure and how they began to pave the way.
Here's the story of the first women on the force:
On February 22, 1947 Officer Margaret Sadler was directing traffic at the intersection adjacent to the Louise Bridge when a driver came down the wrong side of the road and narrowly missed her. He was charged with dangerous driving, and in court a week later fined $20.
This was the first reference in the Calgary Herald to Sadler, one of the city’s first female officers.In September 1954, with women in the force still a bit of a novelty, the Calgary Herald ran a feature on two of the four women working for the Calgary Police. Sadler and Isa Buccini were shown dressed in their official uniforms, and also dressed for a party – apparently to show that the two were just “normal girls.” The pair, who both served during the Second World War, worked out of the detective’s office. The story noted that female officers have the same powers of arrest as their male counterparts.
When Sadler retired in 1961, she was replaced by Yvonne Johnson. A photo to commemorate the newest police officer appear on April 12, 1961.
But it wasn’t until 1973 that women were allowed to drive police cars. The Herald reported on May 18, 1973 that Const. Sandee Robinson was one of four women assigned to regular patrol car duty, becoming the first women to be regular patrol officers in Canada.Well, it was almost regular duty. The item stated that Robinson and partner Const. Chuck Willoughby would be sent to every type of investigation, except ones where there is continuing shooting. Robinson was one of six female officers in the city at the time.
Photos: Credit Calgary Herald/Glenbow Archives
In dress uniforms: Standing and seated Margaret Sadler (left) Isa Buccini (right)
In party dresses: Sadler (left) Buccini (right)Detective Sargeant Howard Leary welcomes new recruit Yvonne Johnson to the force (April 12, 1961)
Isa Buccini (on the telephone) and Yvonne Johnson (at the typewriter) for another Herald story on police women (December 1, 1962).
My husband has been taking photographs of interesting buildings in Calgary for my 'CityScapes' paintings on his lunch hour walks at work which is wonderful as I've been working from home over the past 6 months. Some of these buildings I've seen in the past myself, but occasionally he brings me something I haven't seen before, like the Anderson Estates apartments (image on the left). I have come to realize that painting something I haven't seen myself can have its challenges, but can also be quite freeing as, once I've drawn it into my sketchbook, I don't refer to the photograph again. This gives me the opportunity to open my mind to new creative ideas without locking me in to replicating the exact image (not that I would in any case). I really like that kind of artistic freedom.
The CityScape on the top (Anderson Estates II) can be seen at The Store Upstairs in Airdrie until September 30 part of the pop-up gallery in this year's ARTember and Alberta's Arts Days.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +