Sunday, March 31, 2013

celebration of rebirth

It is Easter and a time of rebirth and resurrection. Rebirth has a little different meaning in my household since my son is a Walking Dead fan. For centuries rebirth meant a rising of the phoenix sort of event coming anew all bright and shiny. In my home rebirth has a mangier feel. Zombies are not pretty, and corpses a few days old probably are a bit ripe. Whenever I think of the Christian resurrection story I am grateful that the original tale predates those of zombie apocalypses. Does it say anything about our current culture’s obsession with zombies that rebirth is now translated as undead? Rebirth is spiritual. Undead is rather soulless.

Somewhere along the line, spiritually and in other matters, I became what many describe as a new age person. I suppose it was inevitable. I like granola. I like yogurt. I like the two together mostly. This isn’t terribly shocking since many people like granola and yogurt and do yoga. Yes, I do yoga too.I jumped the invisible barrier when I started doing oil pulls and drinking milk with turmeric to beat down inflammation. Strange that these are considered New Age when they are practices hundreds of years old. I still don’t draw mandalas however, though I have been considering it or meditate very well. I do not burn sweet grass but I do have a singing bowl. I like my singing bowl. Its restful. 

I remember a time when all these things seemed strange and suspect. Like wearing sandals meant for walking. Like, what’s up with that? Putting honey in tea was also considered weird. Tea came pretty much limited to black and maybe contained milk or sugar. Spiritual practices were rather like black tea or Model T Fords which also only came in black. Your choices were Protestant or Catholic and anything else was considered suspect. Buddhism was as exotic as the green tea available only in Chinese restaurants on the outskirts of town.

Thankfully times have changed and my personal and spiritual practices are perhaps a perfect reflection of that change. They are a mish-mash of various cultures and beliefs including a few observations and epiphanies of my own. I am grateful of this variety. I learn from others and with new knowledge gain some wisdom and become reborn. I find this the best way for me to keep from being undead. I've become rather fond of my soul.Joy to all of you who have found your own ways for staying undead. Happy Easter.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

a sunday outing

I try to make it my habit not to look back and once I post my blog for the week I am finished with it. I move on thinking about the next posting. My blog posts are based on whatever the weather, circumstance and creativity presents me. So luckily on Sunday once I posted and done my chores I was able to enjoy some precious sunshine and wrote the following:

My son is currently studying photography in high school. Whenever the weather cooperates we go for walks so he can practice developing his eye. He has come to love my little red camera which he borrows for his class projects. Today we went to a local marsh and bird sanctuary. As we slowly wandered past the cat-tails and bleached rushes, he stopped on a regular basis to take pictures of the dead trees in the marshland and the small birds flitting about. 

Currently seven swans have taken residence in the area so the marsh is a popular spot for photographers. We passed many others with their cameras taking pictures. At one point we saw a man standing close to the water’s edge holding a substantial camera with a large protruding lens. “Think he is over compensating for something?” my son asked. However, only a minute or so later we saw another photographer dressed in camouflage with a camera set up on a tripod. Extending from the camera was the largest lens set up I had ever seen also dressed in camouflage.  

My son placed the little red camera pack into its pouch and gave it a pat. “I don’t want it to have an inferiority complex,” he added with a smile.

Buttertubs Marsh is a lovely spot for a short walk. I like it because it is flat and easy to do. I have Plantar fasciitis in my left foot that makes walking sometimes difficult.The pathways are fairly even,no tree roots or large ruts to circumnavigate, so it is a safe walk to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon.

The area used to be farmland and I remember it as a child. I played nearby in the open fields to fly my kite,do hide and seek with friends and wander aimlessly. Pussy willows grew along a barb wire fence in spring, and the area seemed idyllic to my child’s eyes. The farm has been replaced by bog and scores of birds whose vocalizations can sound anything like a teenager’s voice cracking and breaking to a truck backing up. Luckily this area has been saved since suburban growth has replaced the open fields I used to play on. There no longer is area to fly kites, but at least there is a sanctuary to wander aimlessly.

What better way to recharge the creative spirit?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

a ball story

Two pens, black and silver, sit upon a jewel case. The jewel, in this case, is an ancient game of elves and dwarves fighting to save an ice inhabited planet. Nearby is a large ball of woven elastics. The elastic ball my mother gave me. It contains nearly twenty years of elastic saving. They are so brittle now. They snap at the smallest touch. I am grateful for all these treasures on my desk. The pens allow me to record my world. The game reminds me that life need not be serious and there is room for fantasy. The ball has so many messages: thriftiness has its own beauty, small endeavours over time grow to something of significance and that elasticity must not be taken for granted.

Opening a blog about items on my desk may seem like an odd way to start but there is method to my sanity.

I am learning to hate formatting while learning how to format. That isn’t entirely true. I am learning to hate my lack of competence at formatting. I’m not sure if it is me or some glitch with Blogger. I type in what I want to say, check the font size and type and then view the preview…it appears different.Two weeks ago my post turned out well and last week was a farce in technical mischief. I hope this week turns out better. I try to find out what I’m doing wrong and can’t seem to get a handle on it. I’m sure one day I’ll have it mastered and I’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss is about, but in the mean time I am learning to hate formatting. I shouldn’t say hate, that’s wrong, perhaps intense dislike would be more appropriate.

It is said that you learn more from your mistakes than your successes. I can accept that. I do not like it but I can accept that. What I find hard to accept is that I don’t seem to be getting any farther ahead. Typical of me to expect too much too soon but I am one for instant gratification. I read a Picasso quote somewhere that should be inspiring: I do something I don’t know how to do so that I may know how to do it. Picasso never had to deal with computer programs. Knowing what a short fuse he had and his bouts with depression I’m sure he would have disliked formatting too.

This is why I posted the story of the elastic ball on my desk to my blog. The story is a reminder that small endeavours over time will eventually improve skills overall. The ball story is also a reminder to take care of myself so I don’t snap. Learning is hard work, but necessary for personal growth.

investing in my personal property
I’ve never talked about the artwork that tops my blog. I call it “investing in my personal property.” The two portraits are of me now and myself at age two. I worked on the painting for several weeks and then stopped. I didn’t feel the artwork was finished but also didn’t know where else to take it. Maybe it is because my personal journey isn’t over yet. Anyways when I started this blog it seemed like an appropriate image for a wet coast dilettante so it has remained unfinished and in a position of importance on this blog. I like the contrast between the promotional image of calm sea and lighthouse and the rocky, rough sea that is usually navigated in making personal investments. The only way to progress is to scan the horizon ahead, rudder the present course and look above one’s past.

Someday I may know how to do it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

stone's throw

I tossed a pebble in a pond
It did not cause much of a ripple

But I wondered
After it fell

Did it stir up much muck?

And when it touched bottom

Was it the lone stone
Among grains of sand
Or did it join others

To become a spawning ground.

The really, really good thing about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is that it introduces you to new ideas.  Since you’re not looking for new ideas, busy doing other things, they hit you over the head like a beer can at an open air concert. (Not that I'm an expert on open air concerts or beer cans but it seemed like a good analogy.) Pushing me out of my comfy space last week by posting on a possible festival event led to some new creative endeavors. For the post I felt I needed to add some sketches of possible hat ideas. I must admit they weren’t very good but they were the best I could come up with at the time.I wish I had come up with the following one last week:
This so much more captures the mood I was going for.
As a result I got away from doing doodles and shifted more towards sketching.If the following look like they came from a National Geographic magazine well that's because they did.

At first I was going to add colour to them but I found I rather like them as they are. I planned to do one a day but plans change. Instead I wrote more. The poem at the top is a reflection on putting the festival idea out there and the little haiku below is an observance of Spring. When I think about it they both deal with growth. The growth one can see and the growth that is hidden but a stone’s throw away.

bare branch fingers stretch
dead lightning through ashen skies
small spring buds catch light

Sunday, March 3, 2013

victoria and albert street festival

mask blank
A while back artist friend Rodney Corraini posted on Facebook that he was frustrated by the demise of the Cumberland art kart derby. He mentioned that he and a few people considered the same idea for Fitzwilliam St. I liked the idea and saw potential for the event but thought the idea may be better adapted to Albert or Victoria rd. Fitzwilliam already had a few annual events that were gaining momentum and the area just beyond the china steps was still struggling for an identity.

For those of you not familiar with the Cumberland art karts here are some You Tube videos:
Cumberland Art Karts 2011
Cumberland Art Karts 2012

The problem is that the art karts on their own are not enough of a draw and not affordable or doable by everyone. I know I do not have the room to create an art kart. I don’t even have the room to decorate a bicycle. However I do have a room to do a hat. I started to think about the tall elaborate hats of the carnival and the masks of masquerade and suddenly the idea for a street festival started to form; a street festival that would be inclusive to large sectors of the population, affordable and fun.

doodling hat ideas
How wonderful would it be, I thought, if the street sections along Albert and Victoria Crescent were shut down to vehicles and opened to pedestrians for a day. The event could begin in the afternoon with mask making or hat making for families, people parading their more thought out home-made endeavors and then the festival become more adult oriented in the evening. Allow for music, dancing, costumes—Art karts and skateboarding during the day and burlesque at night. 

The more I thought about the idea the more it appealed to me. The area was already home to the Queens and the Cambie. Theatres are just around the corner and there are hills aplenty for art karts. The whole concept seemed to suit the vibe of the place. I became even more convinced when I went downtown to take pictures of the various hill slopes. 
The hill on Victoria Rd. offers a good slope, plenty of viewing space and a parking area for Karts before the run.

The street is full of little unique cafes. Providing food to the celebrants would be no problem. Kiosks could be set up outside of existing restaurants to provide street food fair and diners needing escape from the sun could retreat inside.

What I really liked about the idea and thought would also appeal to the business community is that the event could start small and expand as experience, exposure and finances improve. Mask making does not have to cost a lot. The hat I plan to make for myself would consist of mostly recycled materials using an old bicycle helmet as a support. There are a number of artists and artisans in the Nanaimo and Gabriola area with hat making, mask making and puppetry expertise. They are an untapped resource to making an event such as this come alive.

For the business community looking for a logo and an image to use for marketing they need look no further than the name of the streets: Victoria and Albert. “Bertie,” the husband and consort of Queen Victoria was a great promoter of science and the arts. The success of the Great exhibition in 1851 in England was due in large part to his promotion and enthusiasm. Albert would make an ideal mascot to the event and a great deal of gentle fun could be had with his image. The couple make a great tie-in to the history of Nanaimo.
Good space to display Karts, bicycles or set up a mask making station.

After taking photos of the downtown area, I sat for a while at the Vault restaurant with a coffee and a burger to peer out the window at the street. I tried to imagine it without cars but filled with people dancing, meandering, eating and just plain enjoying themselves. It really was not hard to do. The area is a lovely copper coin with Victoria’s image stamped on it awaiting some spit and polish to make it shine.

Imagine a summer afternoon, no cars and people dancing in the street.