“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier
Last week I joined a couple of friends for a visit to view the Vivian Maier photography exhibit at the Glenbow Museum. It was fascinating as she was a nanny living in New York and her work wasn't found until recently. She used a Leica camera to take photos of the people in the streets around her, and used reflections in mirrors and windows to create a number of interesting self-portraits. Some of her photographs were difficult for me to look at as she captured personal moments in people's lives, something that I wasn't comfortable with, though she did document what was happening around her. There were four photographs in particular that felt voyeuristic or intruding...a woman in her bra and girdle in a changing room (she captured all her skin folds which is really a testament to how we change and hide our real bodies), a disfigured man on a public telephone (on the side of his face all you could see was a hole where his ear had been), a man sleeping on a park bench (he was in a suit and coat but looked as though he wasn't in control of his situation) and finally, a woman lying on the ground being tended to by police (I think?) and surrounded by onlookers. These were really personal moments and I felt torn because it is important to document life as it is, but I don't think it should be done without a person's consent.
In any case, I also came across this large painting by Canadian artist Eleanor Bond. I've seen it in the past and it captured my attention then, but I think it captivated me even more so now that I've been working on cityscapes. I also viewed her work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery many years ago, but just made the connection again. I love the idea of creating worlds that combine cities and nature and the massive size of her substrates has always fascinated me. I remember visiting the WAG and being mesmerized by the interesting perspectives and subject matter. I have always dreamed of painting something that large, something that draws the viewer in like her work does. Maybe someday...
Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to art as a business, which I guess makes sense as that is what I do. Fortunately for me, my focus lies on painting and sharing what I'm doing, but that can come at a detriment to my career when I don't give the same attention to the business side of things. For me many things have certainly changed over the past year, but it's not necessarily bad, just different. A few years ago I wrote a small book titled Sacred Vessel: An Artist's Handbook to share some of the challenges I have experience and some of the ways I found success that didn't cost me anything and also fulfilled something in me. The challenges were the things that I found draining while the successes weren't necessarily financial. I wrote the book because it also shares information that I wish I would have had in the beginning of my career.
When I began painting and exhibiting my work, there was no personal computer and internet. When that began there were heavy fees involved in starting a website and a lot of training required to use it. I took coding (which I don't like...this drag and drop system certainly suits me better) and I had to invest in proper lighting and slides to submit proposals to galleries and other venues. It was great experience but I made a lot of costly mistakes along the way. I hope others don't fall into the same trap. There is no one way of becoming successful, and honestly, I have found that this creative life is filled with ups and downs, just like anything else in life.
When thinking of social media, I have found that the imagery that I posted which had the most interaction wasn't necessarily the work that sold. And, often the images that don't seem to engage, often lead to wonderful opportunities in any case. That was a huge realization for me as it made me realize that I need to pay attention to the work that I do and not the public involvement. Not that I don't appreciate the input and support I receive, but I learned that in the whole scheme of things, ,y online presence matters so little. In the many years that I have been painting my has seen its share of public attention followed by silence, and that's okay. It is in those times of silence that I often work through creative problems and blocks.
I believe the best way to be successful is to keep working hard, be polite, and authentically connect with other people. Just like any job and like life in general. But unlike any other job, of which I've had several, it is the most rewarding career I could ever think of and I am so grateful to be able to do this.
My grandmother's name: Claudia Lumina Emma Bergeron (Née DuBois), Born May 19, 1904, Died February 5, 2000. Claudia was born on the family homesteaded farm in the Tarsus community east of Bottineau, North Dakota. She was one of 16 children. She married Leo Francis Bergeron on December 29, 1925. 4 children were born to this union. Her 3rd child a boy died at birth. Claudia taught school in the Toupin School District (Cordelia Township), North Dakota. She drove a team of horses pulling her buggy. When the harsh winters hit, a covered rig was equipped with sled runners and a small stove. She would arrive at school, light the furnace in the school, then sit in the toasty rig correcting papers until the school was warm. Claudia wrote that “the teacher was really a tutor, mother, nurse, coach for the playground games, counselor, and janitor.” Claudia taught school in North Dakota on and off for about 10 years. Education: Rural School in Toupin District( Cordelia Township), ND, Norte Dame academy, Willow City, North Dakota, Normal School, State School of Forestry, Bottineau, North Dakota. Claudia was a leader in her community and her church. She and her husband won the Soil conservation award in 1954.
My grandmother taught in a one room school, was a farm wife and Mother. She raised her family in the homesteaded home built by her father. Although she has been gone many years now, I still remember her with fondness. The more modern picture was taken about 1984. The vintage one about 1924. I have lots of information about my grandmother. She even left a letter to her grandchildren, that she wrote and was given to us at her funeral. She wrote her story in a book “Remember Me by the Words You See” She was loved by many and she returned this love to all.
I always find inspiration and a strong work ethic go hand-in-hand...it seems once the muse hits, I tend to be off and running. Except when I'm struggling with the direction to take with a painting. That's when I am thankful to work in series as I can begin something new, sometimes several something new's' which tends to help me problem-solve with the piece I'm finding challenging. Just continuing to work either helps me come up with a new solution or just jump starts my brain to get excited about a new idea or path to take. I find it works wonders for me. When I struggle with work, I just keep working anyway...just on something new so that I don't overwork the piece I'm struggling with in the first place as that is another problem.
As I've been updating things in our home, my creative spaces have grown. Now I have a drawing/yoga/study/sewing room upstairs along with my painting studio down. I know that the painting space needs an update, but for now I'm really happy to have these separate spaces to use in different ways. There's something about moving around that gets my creative juices flowing, and it allows me to physically move when I'm feeling stuck on a project. Exercise like walking and a change of scenery is sometimes really important to recharge my brain a bit so that I can problem-solve. Sometimes it also helps kick start ideas by changing media (pencil to paint) or subject matter (portraits to landscapes). Anyway, it's feeling pretty good.
Communication in Sensation
Cyfathrebu yn Sensation
this is a declaration of love, shamanist
in the lost name of a colour which no longer exists
in the language beyond words to express--
I stand breathless in the doorway
at the hospice, the portal to bardo
between the blurred lines of birth and death
in the place that holds no time
my Grandma, Nain in Welsh
a hundred and one and a half
laughs in the face of her epitaph
and then asks me to join her
on her journey through death, cryfder
I say: absolutely--
the dance of marwolaeth
we do not know the steps
and yet, we dance, we dance
ddaear y gwaed
as we live life Nain and I follow
the lines as they are given
we move forward
dip our toes into the other side
as if to test imaginations crest
like the Holy Head coastline tide
and then, we return to this realm
half glorified, to catch our breath
no time between our stars
we know we do not know where we are going
she reaches her boney hands
into the twilight hour, up, up
tells me: it’s snowing, it’s snowing--
I see her taste frozen light on her tongue
in a language betwixt and between
when I was young,
she taught me to tie my laces,
to tell time, and sound out each letter
now, she shows me how to walk through yn marw
and speaks in the language of soul
we share eyes, surrender control
and then we dance again
dip our feet into the other side
and return, again, fortified
next we go deeper into death
up to our ankles, our shins, our thighs
no time between our stars
until we are magnified Pleiades
we know where we are going
we are waist deep
and then, up to our necks
Nain looks over and into me
with her final breath
and exits in a language of the sea
I know instantly, what she is saying
I don’t want her to leave
I don’t want her to leave me
she tells me mind-to-mind, to mind
it’s time she goes on without me, hedfan fly
music of the unknown wonders cry
ffarwél, as she leaves her spirit with me
I hear a million hynafol voices speaking
in languages lost to my people
weeping, end of oak Celtiberian-ease
and stones, end of wind and bardic poems
crossbones scattered across the earth
in llwch i’r llwch, tones
to the natural world
word, lingua franca of birds heard—pictures
oneiric, names of ways of seeing and being
honeycomb—hieroglyphic pic’s, alphabetic scripts,
all connected to this earth in metaphysics
musica universalis metamorphosis
symbols of symbols of cyphers of signs
coded in code encoded in storylines
love is a dangerous threat
when the last speaker
of a language dies
the last words of Nain
grow distant and pale
almost thin, they grow thin
as the human skin
one hundred years frail
becomes Cain paper
becomes a spider web thread
in the hail
sometimes I am the language
that just lost its last speaker
not misunderstood, erased
deleted by a friend
impossible to comprehend
maybe that is what leads me to poetry
the words of Nain
are distant now
no time between our stars
Poet Laureate, City of Calgary
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
~ Martin Luther King Jr.
As I've been de-cluttering and repainting our home, I've also been slowly working on the 'Cityscapes' paintings. It's been very interesting taking literal photographs of regions around the city of Calgary and translating them to layered images to represent something that evokes history or memories. I also incorporated Speedball white acrylic ink. It was so nice to use in my airbrush, both because of the colour and the application. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing where this leads over the next year.
This is my maternal grandma and great grandma, in one of the last photos taken of them taken together (below), just before my great grandma died of tuberculosis. I think you can see the sadness in her eyes, and the confusion in my grandma’s eyes as they face the camera, and perhaps, in some way, this event together. Photo was taken in my grandma’s native Trinidad, my great grandma emigrated there from Madeira. One vintage shot of her at age 3 with her mother, my maternal great grandmother, who died of TB soon after this photo was taken. Another more recent of her celebrating her 93rd birthday. She is now 94.
~ Gabrielle Clark
I know I say it all the time, but one of my favourite local charities to support is the Airdrie Food Bank. Every year I paint a bowl for auction for the 'Empty Bowls' fundrasier and through the year I donate a painting for Shamrock Shimmy. This foundation is very important to me as 1/3 of the recipients of the Food Bank are children. This painting is titled 'Black Elderberries' which is based on a series of wildflower paintings found in the region and measures 8x10 inches (plus the frame). The event takes place on March 14 and tickets will be available through the Airdrie Food Bank.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +