The Grandmothers::Rosemary Richard
Here is a picture of my Grandmaw, Rosemary Richard. I have a number of fun memories, but I think my favorite is the love she modeled for my grandfather. They walked hand in hand like teenagers in love until the day he died peacefully in a VA hospital in 2010 while I held his hand and she sat by holding the other. Then she crawled into bed with him to cuddle him tightly the last time. It was so beautiful, the rest of the family weekend in silence watching her love him to the other side. About 3 years later she had severe stomach pains and has to be admitted to the hospital herself. She took my grandfather’s picture with her for the stay. When she was told that she unfortunately had an abdomen full of cancer, she picked up his photo and said, “well honey, I guess I’ll see you sooner than we thought.” She went home the next day and ate fried chicken “with the skin on” (which she never did since she was very health conscious), and passed within a week. She modeled loving your partner to the end. :). She was not shy with her love, so I was privilege to know she loved me too.
'The Grandmothers' updates...
I wanted to thank everyone who have already shared photos (seeing grandmothers as young women has been lovely!) along with stories or memories. I am down to the final search for a few grandmothers, so if you are interested and haven't sent anything yet, please send the information to email@example.com. As I have also begun setting up the book for this project, I need images and write-ups as soon as possible.
As several people have asked, I wanted to share how updates on the weekly portraits of 'The Grandmothers' project can be viewed:
1. https://www.veronicafunk.com/the-grandmothers.html - The latest portrait along with photographs and story/memories are posted weely on my website. There is a specific page listed under my portfolio page with all of the portraits with a link on each image to more information.
2. www/instagram.com/veronicafunk - Every Sunday or Monday (whenever a portrait is completed), the image is shared on my Instagram page. There is also a direct link to the post on my website in my bio.
3. https://www.facebook.com/veronicafunkartist/ - I have also created a facebook page which will share the portrait and links to the full website post weekly.
4. https://us5.campaign-archive.com/home/?u=8a40d6cc254728738a437f38d&id=a44f3af17a - Every month I send out an eNewsletter that shares what I'm up to along with updated information on 'The Grandmothers' project.
A couple of articles about the project can be viewed here:
City View: https://www.airdrietoday.com/community/artists-project-honours-grandmothers-2276774
Airdrie Echo: https://www.airdrieecho.com/news/local-news/honouring-the-strong-women-of-our-past
There will be an exhibit of the paintings along with the stories and memories at the end of this weekly project in 2021. Due to our current circumstances, the location and date are yet to be determined but there will be updates on the links listed above.
I hope this helps. Thank you so much for your interest and contribution to this project.
Artist's project honours grandmothers
AIRDRIE CITY VIEW
Airdrie painter Veronica Funk has embarked on a year-long project to paint a grandmother's portrait every week in 2020.
Funk said the 52-week initiative has been a way to learn about other people’s family histories and what their grandmothers accomplished.
"Even though we sometimes hear snippets of family history, it can sometimes be really hard to get the actual information together," she said. "At the same token, I’m hearing from people that they have been talking to their grandmothers, their mothers and other relatives, and they’re getting information and finding all these interesting things about what their grandmothers have overcome."
In devising project, Funk said she started to think of the progress of feminism and the trail-blazers who have brought the women's rights movement to where it is today.
"I am a mother of two young women – my daughters are 20 and 25 – and I started thinking about how far we’ve come," she said. "We still have so far to go for equality, equal rights, equal treatment and respect of women, but I was thinking how far we have come.
"I felt I really wanted to focus on being grateful for the women who came before us."
With those sentiments in mind, Funk put out a request on social media in October 2019, asking her friends for photographs of their grandmothers, along with a brief story or memory.
Since January, she has been painting the portraits two at a time, sharing her completed works on social media and her website.
"It’s been absolutely heart-warming, and especially with what is happening right now [with the virus], it makes me emotional, because we’re losing our seniors," she said. "I felt it means even more today than when I started this project in January."
One of the project’s biggest challenges, she said, has been "doing the women justice."
"For other people, it’s maybe been hard to get photos together, especially now, since we can’t go to grandma’s house or mom’s house to get those images," she said.
Funk has completed 18 portraits so far. When all 52 are complete, she said she aims to compile them in a book that will also include the stories and memories that were submitted.
Funk said she recently received her final photo submission.
"To me, it’s a collaborative project," she said. "Even though I’m in isolation at home, I still get to work very closely with other people on this project through our virtual world. "
To see Funk’s progress, visit veronicafunk.com or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
"I’m so grateful for the people who are willing to share these personal stories and photographs," she said. "It’s nice to be able to keep these stories alive for people."
Funk is no stranger to 52-week projects, having done five or six throughout her artistic career. A few years ago, she completed the Heroes project, in which she painted weekly portraits of famous women throughout history who have inspired her.
Following the United States presidential election in 2016, she completed a 100-day initiative titled Nasty Women – a play on President Donald Trump’s insult of Hillary Clinton. Every day for 100 days, she painted a portrait of a friend, using acrylic paints on stretched canvas.
"I wanted to put a positive spin on a negative thing, so I put a call-out on social media, asking women I knew if they wanted to be a part of my Nasty Women project," she said. "That was a really wonderful experience. It was difficult to paint people I knew, and I was hoping they would feel honoured by my portrayal of them."
~ Scott Strasser, AirdrieToday.com
Honouring the strong women of our past
My favourite line in this article that was beautifully written by journalist Kelsey Yates is, "A local artist is working on a unique project to honour the legacy of 52 wise and wonderful women." I really love that as these women really are wise and wonderful. To read the complete article, please visit the Airdrie Echo: https://www.airdrieecho.com/news/local-news/honouring-the-strong-women-of-our-past
I have been planning a fundraiser for the FOODBANK for some time and, for now, have decided that I will begin with a STUDIO SALE with half the proceeds being donated. These 5 lilies which have been painted on 8x8 inch cradled wood panels are now available for $50 each and will include free delivery in and around Calgary (otherwise shipping will be an additional $20). Please email with your selection and address (clockwise from top left: Lily1-forest; Lily2-navy; Lily3-pumpkin; Lily4-lime; Lily5-magenta). Payment can be made via eTransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
The Grandmothers::Marie Elva Desimone
My Grandma, Marie Elva Desimone (nee Bergeron), was born in October 3rd, 1924 and left us at 83 years on October 18th, 2007 after a yearlong battle with cancer. I was quite close with my Grandma and miss many things about her every day. She was a vivacious and strong-willed woman, who lived through many events in her lifetime and still came out smiling with her hearty laugh. One of my most favourite stories about her, and a testament to how strong she was, is when she was working during WWII in Vancouver. In 1943 when she was 18, she left her home in Edson AB, and travelled by train to Vancouver. She started working in the North Vancouver Burrard Dry Dock and was a “catcher” for construction and repairs on ships that would be stationed at the docks. The “catcher” was the person who would catch white-hot rivets that had been tossed to her by the “heater”, and then would pass them to the “bucker”. From there the “bucker” would place the rivet into the hole in the metal plate or whatever part there were working on, and the “riveter” from the other side would seal the rivet in place. This was extremely time sensitive and delicate work, but also required a lot of strength to catch the heavy rivets in a smooth motion and pass along quickly. Hardened and strong from growing up and working on the farm, she was more than capable of performing this work. Within 6 months, she was also given the job of heating the rivets, which even less women were given the chance to do during that time. Marie worked there until 1945, and then returned home to help again on the farm. Sometime during this work, a photographer and reporter came through the docks wanting to document the female workers at the Burrard Dry Docks. My favourite portrait of her was taken then and has recently been permanently displayed at the Crane & Iron Worker facility at SAIT.
After the war, she went on to have a very full life. Six children and many grandchildren. She was an exceptional person, and went at life with the same strength and humility. Balanced with an incredible sense of self, and a no BS attitude, at least as long as I knew her – a trait I also picked up. She was sharp-witted, and had a wicked sense of humor you’d catch her sometimes pulling someone’s leg with a mischievous smile but you’d never get anything past her. Dance, cards, family gatherings, cooking to name a few were all loves that she was amazing at. And believe me she could double skunk you at crib without a blink of an eye, but lord help you if you skunked her!
She faced cancer with the same no BS attitude. It was something that was happening, nothing that could be done about it, something to be learned from it and inevitable. Rather than face aggressive chemo and radiation that would have only paused the outcome slightly, she chose to be closer to her family and friends. Visiting with people, sharing laughs and stories. Eventually relocating to a care facility in Calgary to be closer to family here she was making fond memories right until the end.
And was still able to kick my butt at crib.
~ Amanda Benner
Following the Muse
Being house bound these days has meant that I've been able to focus solely on my studies and on my artwork. It also means that I've been able to follow the muse wherever it leads. Since I have a few 8x10 standard canvases left in my stock I've begun painting a few wildflowers again (as part of the 52 WEEKS::Wildflowers series) and since I've been seeing the crocuses pop up I decided one should be a crocus (almost done). Also, I have a few 7x14 inch canvases left from the 52 WEEKS::Heroes series so I've been painting portraits that my daughter requested a few years ago. This along with The Grandmothers series, the Rocky Mountains and the CityScapes have kept me quite busy. Switching back and forth is great as it helps me solve composition and pattern problems as they arise. There's definitely never a dull moment.
I think of all of the portrait series that I've completed to date, this one is my favourite for several reasons. Not only do I love looking at old photographs, but I absolutely love listening to the stories. Every single week I am amazed by these women and by their families as they are willingly sharing these images and memories with me. I'm certain that I've been much more reflective during this time in our world, but I have loved history as long as I can remember, and painting the portraits and learning the history of these women is like being in my own little museum every day. I feel so honoured. P.S. My wool vest/dress was designed and sewn by my daughter Katherine Funk :)
The Grandmothers::Elizabeth Hardie
I wanted to take the time to do this right to honour my only Grandparent I knew in my entire life. Her name was Elizabeth MacGregor Hardie Feb 13, 1927 to Oct 1, 2019, 92 yrs of age when she passed. Military widow, loving mother to 4 children, 8 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren. She spent her life as a Registered Nurse in NFLD,raising her children after her husband passed; was a avid member of Eastern Star, and a lay reader in her local Anglican Church. She loved scrabble, puzzles, back scratches, bridge, knitting, and spending time with her grandbabies.
~ Stephanie de Souza
Last year I had painted a portrait of Saoirse Ronan playing Agatha from Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel as part of my 'Wunderland' series (see image here). Because I had been painting a portrait a day for 30 days as part of that project, I had to hurry the painting a bit which created a rough image, but I really liked it. Now, I decided to re-create that portrait for myself, giving myself more time to layer colours and I have to admit that I absolutely love this one. I'm so glad I re-visited this painting.