Rocky Mountain Magic
There are days that I get a glimpse of the snow covered Rocky Mountains from my living room window and am so grateful that I got a chance to spend some time in them before isolation. The first time I visited the Rockies I was about 5 years old. My dad took me up the side of the mountain to take pictures in the snow...it was also the first time I got to use a camera. It's one of my fondest memories. Many years later, my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Banff National Park, then our 10th Anniversary. Now that we have lived nearby for the past 20 years, we spend many days and nights in the mountains and they never cease to amaze me. I'm so grateful to carry a moleskine with me at all times and so to have some sketches which are inspiring 5 new paintings all measuring 36x36 inches. I'm curious to see where these pieces will head and if I will like this little foray into the landscape. It's not that I haven't painted landscapes, but I don't do it often, especially not on this scale and with a full focus on the mountains and skies. I'm enjoying it.
My daughter and I stumbled onto a beautiful Vogue knitting pattern book at a library in the City sometime ago and we both loved the combination of vintage and contemporary look of this cable knitted bolero designed by Norah Gaughan. I haven't knitted a full project in a number of years due to a shoulder injury, so it was especially nice to get back into it again. This one took me awhile as each pattern was knitted to the next (module knitting) but I am so happy with the outcome, plus it really suits the vintage look of the outfits that my daughter designs and sews (you can see more on her website here: https://funkkatherine.wixsite.com/mysite. Next on the agenda is a pair of socks to replicate the ones I've received from distant family from Germany. Fingers crossed as I've never knitted socks before. Should be fun.
The Grandmothers::Theresa Zolgar
My great-grandmother fled Austria and Germany after World War I immigrated to the United States, went all the way to Washington State and lived in a log cabin, fought off Indian attacks and saw the man land on the moon. And in case you’re wondering why she’s holding a fish it’s because my uncle took her fishing and her fish was bigger than his so it was immortalized!
- Theresa Wells Stifel
COVID-19 impacting Airdrie's artists
COVID-19 has caused disruptions to all segments of society, and Airdrie’s art community has not been an exception. Artists are not a monolithic group, said painter Cindy Zampa, and they are responding to the pandemic in a variety of ways.
Local artist Veronica Funk said creating has become an important way of coping during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has caused disruptions to all segments of society, and Airdrie’s art community has not been an exception.
Artists are not a monolithic group, said painter Cindy Zampa, and they are responding to the pandemic in a variety of ways. Every artist is different and in a different situation, she said, but those in her circles feel overwhelmed, despite having plenty of time stuck at home.
“We are not really creating right now,” she said. “My background as a counselor is telling me that this is our normal crisis response. When you’re in survival mode – the impact of all that we’re seeing in the news and hearing has increased a lot of peoples fear and anxiety and a sense of helplessness.”
Local artist Veronica Funk said another impact on those in the creative fields – resulting from physical distancing measures and restrictions on gatherings – is the closure of galleries and exhibits where artists can display, and more importantly, sell, their work. Funk said she is currently unable to exhibit her work or teach, which creates financial challenges for people that generate income through the arts.
Zampa concurred, noting the cancellation of events that would normally occur at this time of year like Airdrie Regional Arts Society’s annual Spring Show has hit artists in the pocketbook – they are, in a sense, laid off. It has also limited artists’ ability to connect their work with an audience.
“If galleries can’t be open and people can’t actually physically come to see art at a show, it’s going to be really sad,” she said. “That, to me anyways, is where the magic happens – in that face to face,” she said.
For Funk, being at home more has resulted in more time to work on larger projects.
“The other thing that’s been fantastic for me, and I’m sure for a lot of artists, is just to keep creating,” Funk said. “Mental health is such a huge topic of conversation right now – even before COVID-19, but it’s even more important right now to recognize how important it is to take care of ourselves not only physically but mentally. Personally, art certainly is the thing that saves me.”
Zampa echoed those sentiments, saying art has become a therapeutic way to deal with the stress that accompanies the constant news about the coronavirus.
“I’ve done a lot of art, but I’ll tell you, it is not for public consumption,” Zampa said. “It’s about relief and release of anxiety. It’s a way of calming my mind and it’s a way of handling the stress for myself.”
As artists remain physically distant, Funk said Airdrie’s creative community is still able to support each other and collaborate.
“Thank goodness for the internet and social media; we can give each other words of encouragement,” she said. “Just to see what people are creating…people are shipping each other artwork and trying new things, experimenting as artists. It’s really wonderful to see what’s coming out of that.”
This helps combat a sense of isolation that can set in while confined at home, she added.
Funk said the biggest way Airdrie can support its art community, both through and after the current health crisis, is to support them financially. Leaving kind comments or sending an email to your favourite local artist can also inspire them to continue creating, she said.
“Now, more than ever, is when art becomes important,” Zampas noted. “For some people, art can be that form of distraction, art can be that way of connecting with other people. Certainly for me, it’s a way of healing through all of this.”
Ben Sherick, Airdrie City View (AirdrieToday.com)
Follow me on Twitter @BenSherick
Friends & Strangers
I am really happy to share the portrait of my daughter from the 'Nasty Women' project as part of the Spruce Grove Art Gallery's online exhibit titled Friends & Strangers. It's been really wonderful to see both artists and galleries sharing their work in such positive ways at this time and I am grateful to have my work included.
Then there were 16...
This is when a body of work starts feeling like a series as the wall is getting filled with the beautiful faces of grandmothers and I love it! Do I question the quality of my work sometimes? You betcha...that is a daily occurrence. But I also find that I'm less critical of imperfections when I see the work as a collection rather than looking too closely at each painting separately. The first time I completed a 52 WEEKS project I realized that early on, probably the first 7 paintings, I felt very uncomfortable with my skill set but, as the project moved along, and once I hung the work, I started seeing the strength in it. That's what keeps me going each time I begin a project like this. It's also been interesting to see how many pieces end up in several shows - and that helps me to see the beauty in each piece, too. In both my 'Heroes' and 'Nasty Women' projects, I painted images from different perspectives, both close-ups of the subjects and more figurative as well, but this time I have decided just to create a collection of portraits which almost reminds me of a yearbook of sorts. I really like it.
The Grandmothers::June Mcbride Thomas
The picture of her younger, she's probably in her early 50s, I think she's at a flower event, she had her own flower shop for awhile, not sure how many years. This is her with my grandpa. He died from Parkinson's. She was all for women's rights. She loved Monet and Renoir, a little whiskey or wine, she was an elegant lady. Her mother was from Georgia so she had a sweet, southern way about her even though she grew up in the midwest.
(Regarding the portrait of Lisa) I remember this moment so well, although I'm only now, after almost 38 years, seeing this portrait my Grandmother painted of me. I remember visiting her in Florida from Texas when I was around 13 (as pictured here) My mom was at her wits end dealing with me. I was very rebellious at this time. So, she thought maybe some time with Grandma would be good for me, and it was. Grandma June was and had been painting for years already and she asked me to sit for her to sketch me. I remember her house so well in Orlando... Gorgeous swimming pool surrounded by Orange trees, the house smelling like coffee and bacon and eggs every morning. Sometimes cigarettes, because everyone smoked back then. She and Grandpa were great listeners, they loved music and played the organ together every night, and grandma was always sketching or painting. It didn't "fix" me, I continued to get into some fairly serious trouble for a couple more years (juvenile detention kind of trouble. But I'll never forget this time in Florida. Grandma June just passed away at 97 this past September. Some of you will remember my trip to Florida, cleaning out her studio and helping mom get through it. Art really bonded us the last several years of her life. We talked on the phone more regularly, she was still painting as well. She became a great support in my art endeavors, I'm so happy we could share our love of painting. I have a lot of her paintings now, including this one which means so much to me.
- Lisa Concannon
Banff National Park
Though the Three Sisters mountain range sits outside Banff National Park, because it is part of the Rocky Mountains I still consider it part of that beautiful place. Today's gratitude is for the time I recently got to spend with family from Germany and for time in these mountains that reflect my tattoo on my foot (it inspired the tattoos the girls & I received). I am so lucky to live in a beautiful place, with the mountain view in the distance and am looking forward to the day I can return. Until then I will capture them in my studio. I really am a lucky gal.
I can't believe I've already painted 15 grandmothers. With what has been happening in our world, I have been feeling a little like I've been living in the 'olden days' and I am so grateful to have a comfortable home, good food and conversations with my family. Plus, I've been knitting again and so thankful that my frozen shoulder hasn't been an issue for awhile. So much to be grateful for and, yet, also wishing that this time would pass a little more quickly, that everyone could be safe and well. I am thankful for the Easter weekend that just passed, for the delicious meal my youngest daughter, husband and I enjoyed together, that we've been baking and enjoying quiet times together, and that I still get to connect with friends and family online. In spite of the challenges in our world, I know I have so much for which to be grateful.
The Grandmothers::Grandma Pearl
Grandma Pearl was my mom’s mom. She was my favourite grandma. She told crazy stories about taking my grandpa’s car, standing on our heads on telephone poles. She raised Birds, there were cages all over her house with nests. And then she raised Chihuahuas. She and my grandpa had the post office in Harry Hill Alberta. She made me toast fried on the wood stove and coffee with cream and sugar. It was always so much fun to stay with her. She had 23 grandchildren and she would buy the Eaton's special treasure box and give gifts to all of us. She didn’t have much money. Her Christmas tree had angel hair on it and it looked magical. Picture with the feather hat is her wedding picture. The one with the little girl is my mom and her so this would be back in 1925.
~ Connie Pike