I am happy to offer MENTORING for Emerging Artists through @LevellingUp, a global artist community launched by Canadian artist @julie.deboer.art.
By artists, for artists!
🚩 Join me! Learn more @levellingup.
Our mentorship group STARTS SOON!
Together you, me, and a small group of up to just 7 other artists will meet online for 2 hours every month. Between sessions you'll work on homework alongside your group members.
We’ll tackle the hurdles and struggles you face as an Emerging Artist, like how to:
🔺 Create & sustain a THRIVING business as an artist, one you can actually live off of
🔺 Build your BRAND & MARKET yourself
🔺 Go SOLO online or approach GALLERIES for representation
🔺 Manage your time for max PRODUCTION
🔺 And how best to achieve YOUR goals
I’d love to see YOU there!
👉 Join the community at levellingup.ca.
First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.
“There’s a part of me that feels like the life of Station Eleven was something like being struck by lightning or winning the lottery,” says author Emily St. John Mandel, reflecting on the success of the novel that served as the focus for this year’s NEA Big Read.
Adam Byko: You got your start in dance before moving into writing. Did you feel you transitioned skills or a mentality from one artform to the other, or were they two totally different things in your mind?
Emily St. John Mandel: I mean, mostly they’re totally different things. But I think dance is really good for developing this kind of fire and self-discipline, which I don’t think is applicable just to the arts. I think if you’re a dancer first, you might go on to become a more disciplined attorney or anything else you do in your life. But it definitely helps with writing. So much of writing is just forcing yourself to sit at your desk and write a novel. So, you know, discipline’s important. In that sense, one’s probably related to the other.
AB: Speaking of discipline, I am so curious about your process for writing. Both the books I’ve read of yours have really interesting structures. With Station Eleven there’s a graphic novel, theater, paparazzi, and on top of that a whole post-apocalyptic wasteland. How does this all make the leap from your head to the page? Do you start with one plot and then things spiral, or are you juggling multiple plots right from the get-go?
ESJM: I start with one thing usually. With all of my books, it’s just been one thing. Sometimes it’s just kinda a wisp of a premise… For Station Eleven, my original idea was partly just to write something really different from my previous three books. I felt like I was drifting in the direction of crime fiction. And that’s kind of a delicate point because I really like crime fiction — I have such respect for what crime writers do. But you can get trapped in these marketing categories and it’s hard to ever break out as a writer. So I wanted to do something a bit different. And my starting point with Station Eleven… I guess it was that Shakespeare performance [of King Lear] that opens the book. Even before I knew the book was going to be post-apocalyptic, it was always going to start with that actor dying of a heart attack.
AB: So in the original conception of the book, there was no mass epidemic?
ESJM: Yeah, it was going to be set completely in the present day. I was going to write this — in retrospect — somewhat precious book about the importance of art in our lives. Which it still is, but it was going to be just about the lives of actors in a travelling company. The trials and tribulations of this underfunded Shakespearean troupe. And it wasn’t until I started writing that that I added the post-apocalyptic element. It seems like a bit of a leap, but I wanted to write about our technology, and I thought an interesting way to do that would be to contemplate its absence.
AB: A major theme of the book is summed up in the quote “Survival is Insufficient” [from Star Trek], especially in regards to the arts. Your book came out in 2014, and the world has continued to change since then. As someone making art in this world, does that phrase mean more to you now or has it had a continuous influence?
ESJM: I would say it’s been continuous. There are definitely things about the world in 2019 that trouble me deeply, that weren’t even on the horizon in 2014. Like consensual reality? That’s something I really miss. [Laughs]. When we all used to have one set of facts from which we drew different conclusions. That was a nice thing that I took for granted in retrospect. So you can make an argument that the world’s become more bleak, but I feel like we always think we’re living at the end of the world. You know, when have we ever felt like it wasn’t going to be catastrophic? So there’s some comfort in that.
AB: I want to go back to the structure question and how you braided so many narratives together. I’m so curious about the order. When did each element manifest in the draft as you were editing the novel?
ESJM: Right, so I know the first element was Arthur dying on stage. I always knew it was going to be a nonlinear narrative because that’s the only way I know how to write novels if I’m being honest here. I knew I could kill him off on page three and we could still get a lot about his life.
I think my next element was actually Miranda. I wasn’t sure for a long time how that character fit into the narrative though I remember all kinds of weird variations. Like at one point she was the executive assistant of Arthur’s sister Claire, who doesn’t exist by draft number three. I just always had a vision of who she was as a character: Graduated art school, practicing her art around the margins of her day job, which, as the graduate of a program in contemporary dance, was something I knew a lot about. So it was Arthur, then it was Miranda, and then I think the next element was the post-apocalyptic stuff, when I started writing about the Travelling Symphony.
Clark was the last element, and kinda the last character who came together. With Clark — and this goes back to what happens to your work when you don’t have an outline — he was originally such a minor character. I was originally thinking, “Well Arthur’s throwing a dinner party. He should really have an old friend.” And I found I just really liked him. He was fascinating to me. He was the only character who I had a really vivid picture of.
During my time at The Rockefeller University, there was a postdoc who I used to see all over campus. I don’t know his name or what lab he worked in. But he had the most fabulous sense of style. He was probably, I don’t know, early thirties. Probably six foot three, very thin, wore these great vintage suits, which, because he was so tall, ended about four inches above the ankle, with bright pink or striped socks and his hair was shaved off on one side and floppy on the other and sometimes pink?
I think it’s fair to say that scientists are not particularly renowned for their sense of style — writers aren’t either [laughs] — but this guy just had an incredible look about him. And for some reason I was picturing him as I was writing the young Clark, and he just took over and became more and more interesting to me. That was the last major element of the story to come together. I was really playing around endlessly with the structure of this book. I remember I was changing the order of entire sections, pretty much right up to the end.
AB: Let’s say we had a Museum of Civilization, and you could put five books in there. What five books would you want to save for those post-apocalyptic future generations?
ESJM: That’s a great question, I don’t think I’ve ever had it framed in quite those terms. I think the first one I would pick would be Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. It’s an incredible novel, and the story behind it is equally amazing.
Nemirovsky was from Russia originally and emigrated to France as a teenager in the 20s. By the time the Second World War broke out she had converted to Catholicism from Judaism, but that didn’t save her. She was arrested and sent to Auschwitz because she was Jewish. She died there. She left behind two young daughters who survived the war. And she also left behind a notebook filled with minuscule handwriting.
The daughters assumed that that was her diary, and it was too painful to even contemplate reading it. They never opened this thing until decades had gone by and they were well into adulthood. They had this moment where they have to come to terms with this and read their mom’s diary. They got out a magnifying glass and started transcribing. It wasn’t a diary. It was a magnificent novel about the Nazi invasion of Paris.
So I think there’s a lot in there. I choose it both because it’s beautiful, but also I suppose it touches on that larger theme of how you maintain or fail to maintain your humanity in a moment where Nazis are invading Paris so to speak, in a moment where things are precarious and everything’s falling apart. So that’s the first book I’d choose…. I don’t know about the other four [laughs]. I’ll have to think about that.
~ Adam Byko, Arts & Culture, UFCToday
I'm thrilled to share that the 'Extraordinary Women' project will be featured in Rachel Notley's 15th Annual Art From The Unknown 2021 gallery from November 4 - 18! You can view the work in the virtual gallery at bit.ly/AFTU2021-gallery and, if you'd like, nominate the work for the People’s Choice award!
We have normalized now the idea of women and people of colour being in senior leadership positions.
Jyoti Gondek's feet may be planted in Calgary, but a piece of her heart will always belong to Manitoba.
Gondek made history on Monday night, when she was elected as the first female mayor of the city.
But the road she followed to Calgary city council has taken her many places — including formative years in southern Manitoba.
Gondek's family immigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom in the 1970s, when she was just four years old. Her parents had moved to the U.K. from the Punjab region in India.
"It's funny — my parents, when we were living in England, felt that we had more opportunity in Canada, so they looked a map and said, 'You know, Winnipeg looks really central,' and it is," Gondek said in an interview with CBC Manitoba following her election victory this week.
"It was really cold, so when we moved there it was a bit of a shock to the system, but let me tell you, it was great times."
The Calgary city councillor turned mayor-elect says she had a typical upbringing in the Prairies, living in and attending schools in Winnipeg, Neepawa, Portage La Prairie and Brandon. Her first job after completing her university studies was as a policy analyst for women's shelters with the Manitoba government.
Gondek moved to Calgary from Manitoba in 1997, after her husband, Todd, accepted a job offer in the Alberta city. She and her husband still have family in Manitoba and have travelled back east to visit.
Loved ones in Manitoba cheered her from afar on election night, she says.
"I have cousins there [in Winnipeg]. They have been texting with my mom and phoning her and cheering me on from the sidelines," she said. "My husband's parents are there. It's just a lot of family that is still back in Manitoba.… It's an incredibly supportive bunch."
Winnipeg realtor Gurpreet Kaur says Gondek's election win in Calgary is a big step not only for women, but also for the Sikh and Punjab communities. Kaur says she's proud to see someone who represents her community become the leader of a major Canadian city. "It's gonna be a big, huge step for other women as well. They can also see themselves in her shoes one day, and it's giving them … another boost."
Jasmine Brar, who has political aspirations of her own — which included a run for the Progressive Conservatives in Burrows during the 2019 provincial election — says this is a proud moment for many immigrants who came to Canada for new opportunities.
"I also truly feel like we are more than capable to take a seat at the leadership level," Brar said. "We are very proud of her.… A woman like Jyoti is an inspiration."
Gondek says her win, and the mayoral win in Edmonton for Amarjeet Sohi — a Sikh immigrant from India — have been a long time coming, and that Canada can build from the momentum of the historic victories.
"We have normalized now the idea of women and people of colour being in senior leadership positions," she said. "I am happy that the population sees itself reflected in its local government."
~ Marjorie Dowhos, CBC News
Last week I had a great chat and little tour of my studio on Instagram with artist Theresa Eisenbarth. If you're interested in viewing it, the video is still accessible through her Instagram TV link at @artist_theresa_eisenbarth.
We will be starting a new group with LevellingUp on Thursday, November 18, 5-7pm (MST). These monthly meetings have been incredible...it's so good to see artists begin their careers, develop their style and start a creative life. I feel so fortunate to be able to share what I've learned in over 20 years as an exhibiting artist and, a huge bonus, it's wonderful to see the groups connect online and in-person outside of our monthly meetings. There are so many incredible opportunities linked to LevellingUp, like watching artists' demos, hearing them talk about the challenges of this creative life and how they have overcome them, and how they connect with galleries and others artists. If you are interested in learning more or registering, please visit here.
Anything to ease the collective angst of people, and to bring us together in a time when needed most.
Jenn Grant was born on Prince Edward Island, the smallest province of Canada's maritimes. She's an award winning songwriter and performer, a painter and a producer.
The 3 time Juno nominee's music has been described by Australia's 'The Age' as that of 'dreamy, harp-and woodwinds folk, and the work of a painter born in paradise'.
She resides in Nova Scotia, where she is raising her two young sons alongside award winning producer, husband and long time touring partner and collaborator, Daniel Ledwell. Beyond the borders of city life, art and music are being born everyday.
Jenn Grant has spent a decade plus releasing records and touring extensively across Canada, Europe, Australia and The United States.
During this historical global moment in time, Grant has been honing her skills as a producer and videographer while releasing a slew of 'Classic Canadian Covers', building a body of abstract paintings, and in the midst of releasing her own variety show 'Jenny Town' which is premiering now, most thursday nights, on YouTube. 'A pocket sized hit of joy' and 'retro fabulous fun' says Halifax's art and culture paper 'The Coast'- delivering comical segments of 'How to' (or 'how not to') bake, 'take a vacation', and other imaginative moments with her sometimes co - star 'bird'; an adorable mini labradoodle with a diva complex- the show features performances and cyber visits from a cross section of talented folks and celebrity guests from Jenn's long-standing touring career. Jenny Town promises to deliver a cast of diverse and talented artists and friends from across the globe.
Grant continues to deliver comic relief and joy through this new platform, while keeping her music fans in the palm of her hands with fresh and emotional sonic recordings delivered on the regular. Of this bouquet of offerings Grant says "Anything to ease the collective angst of people, and to bring us together in a time when needed most.'
It's been awhile and a lot of work but on the weekend we finally finished my new studio. I love the wall colour...it's a grey-green which was a mix of several leftover cans of paint colours through the years, and the waterproof composite flooring is amazing! My mantle, the green velvet chair and a third chipped paint vintage kitchen chair (not in photo) are pieces I have gathered through the years from neighbors and I feel so good about them as they are all so beautiful and I've kept them out of the landfill. The area rug was one that was used in our daughters' playroom once upon a time and then landed in our livingroom last year. It's interesting how things can be repurposed. My daughter also helped me decorate the 'fireplace' and I love it, too. Of course, the best thing about this space is being able to hang my 'Extraordinary Women' once again. At 2.30pm MST today I will be sharing a little studio tour on Theresa Eisenbarth's Instagram feed and soon I'll share another on youtube. I feel very lucky.