Summer Writing Workshop in the Okanagan

photograph, filters, dropped in background, metallic paint

photograph, filters, dropped in background, metallic paint

I just received an email from the coordinator for Continuing Studies suggesting that there be an outdoor workshop writing poetry. What a beautiful thought. Today it is -18 with fresh snow. The heater is sounding like a ship’s engine taking us through the rough water of winter. To contemplate sitting outside in the sunshine and writing poetry seems to be like a dream.

After a conference call with Jean-Francois and Matthias I went right to work sizing image jpgs for the new art gallery web site and occasionally stopping to contact people about upcoming exhibitions. Running to the bus station to pick up work that has come back from the Kohl Gallery in Toronto ( he has shut his doors) and getting the work out of the hallway and display cases at the Rotary Centre for the Arts had landed me at almost 6 pm. What a blurr of a day.

Tonight my husband Cameron plays at the Capri hotel with the group Small Change and I am going because we rarely go out together these days. I am sore everywhere and could just sleep now until morning. But who knows what opportunities await. People are out there to meet. And I get to hear really fine music.

I will sleep later. And then I can dream about writing poetry in the sun.

Blue neon treated weave with weave in background

Blue neon treated weave with weave in background

How can one tend the garden?

wallpaper design Blue ferns

wallpaper design Blue ferns

blizzard, snow, wind tearing across the surface left the road looking like sand dunes along the coast of Oregon. Only these snow dunes were on our street. I am preparing work for the Okanagan Erotic Art Show and images for Tuesday nights Central Okanagan Photographers Society presentation. The Artist’s Eye in Europe is a challenge because I have close to 5,000 images and I need to select out those that stand up to scrutiny. Many of the images taken with my inexpensive Elf had to be taken in only excellent conditions. Night time shots are not effective and shots with something in the foreground when the intended subject was in the background are problematic.

Yesterday we totally cleaned out the pantry which is considered the “health” area for fung shui. If that is health, I don’t know why we weren’t both in an iron lung like they had in the 50’s. My goodness, gracious.

By evening we had the pantry clean, had thrown out all of the pans and appliances that we no longer use and had the kitchen cleaned up. The last two days we have returned to meditation practice and it is helping. Tonight we will go to the gym. Trying to keep the mind focussed on what really needs to be done is difficult.

This is a fun image. It has hedge hog fur on a star

This is a fun image. It has hedge hog fur on a star

If I gardened the way I live, I would have flowers all over the property. I would begin beds of lavendar, lilac, panties, roses, beans all at once. I would not weed or water. It would be the activity of gardening rather than the planning and tending that would be important. Chaos and fertility would produce a tangle of plants.

My poor daffodils and crocus were beginning and now they are under the snow. But we do have sun. Today we have sun.

pink yellow damask design

pink yellow damask design

Today I will tend to my submissions garden and get the bed planted and watered. And then I can walk away and think about the next task. Multi-tasking is the recipe for cake soup or coleslaw tuna casserole with popcorn. It just doesn’t make sense.

This was an open source original Victorian

victorian aluminum foil image

I will tend my garden one bed at a time, circling back to weed occasionally. Maybe, today I will even take time to look at what seeds I have sown in my life.

What constitutes a luxurious lifestyle?

original photo of 1950's wall paper

original photo of 1950

Almost a vacation day, I got eight hours sleep. Then after the morning drink we sat mediation. Answering mail, loading up facebook with images and finishing the graphics for the CD cover left me with time to do the laundry, do the dishes and clean the kitchen floor. Yahoo!

I can move on to cleaning the pantry and getting work done for the Erotic Art show. For me erotic is chocolate, flowers, lace and hands. I am a true Victorian in my appreciation of the glimpse as opposed to the surgical thrust of sexuality. Having a view of anatomical parts is not particularly erotic. Seeing skin in beautiful life, the texture across the petal of a flower, smelling fresh sea air these are things that stir the sense of passion and sense of being fully alive and present.

If one postulates that erotic is only that which causes alarm or shock in others, one does not “hold ground”. This person is moving from place to place to confront imagined enemies. That is why so often an adolescent will do something shocking just to be different. Being different on purpose means being different from yourself. Actions flow from who you are. There is no “other”. There is no “audience”. There is only interior voice singing its song to you.

Today is almost a day off and I have slowed down to hear the singing.

Reconnecting in a Confusing World

Neon Waves Design for CD jacket

Neon Waves Design for CD jacket

And the theme for today, ladies and gentlemen, will be reconnecting in a confusing world. This morning I had the opportunity to skype chat with Jean Francois Provost a painter from Quebec who is shown in galleries across Canada. The wonderful, vibrant artist Rian Kerrane sent through to me pictures of her new daughter.

On facebook I have now over 100 former students that I have in my friend’s folder. It is exciting and informing to see what people have made of themselves and what kind of life they have created. To see an adolescence’s face fleshed out and forty is almost magical. The last image I hold of some of these people is when they were 15 or 16. Now with families, responsible jobs and various ways in which they contribute to the community, they own the power that was once only a promise. It is wonderful to have one of them step forward and say, “Hey. It is so good to see you.” I did not expect to have so much emotion and such a feeling of gratitude for the chance I had to spend time with these people and make some kind of impression.

Today I must work two images and finish the graphic design for a CD cover. It will be slowly because I feel very weak, tired and have carried around a migraine for the last three days. My body is calling out for care. I need to reconnect with it and see what I can do to bring some ease into my days. I have pushed myself too far.

Reconnecting with artists who were at the Biennale and beginning the adventure back to Vienna. Reconnecting with more former students and settling into what the day will bring. Gently, gently.

Sunday is meant for sitting.

design your wall wallpaper

design your wall wallpaper

Today we began the day by getting caught up on some of the cleaning and attending to that which had piled up during the week. Piles of laundry, paper, magazines, sandy memories of walking from the street into the house. Once the dishwasher was “BaToosh BaTooshing” I got the laundry going “Ftttlt FttltFttlting” and Cameron was on the vaccume cleaner “whoaaa whoaaa whoaa”.

When the surfaces were oiled the crevices free of grit and the fluff of dust, we sat meditation on impermanance. My mind kept going to the impermanance of clean, the impermanance of  those moments of balance when all seems calm, the impermanance of dirty snow and dead dried plants sticking through the unavailable soil. It all changes. Mist, sound, clouds, breath. Our lives, our nations, our planet swirling from one shape to another.

And then my mind went, inevitably to problem solving. Do.  Do. My mind has me in its grip. I have decided that I can create a video projected as Rian does that morphs images like Matthias’ work into a final image reminiscent of Jean Francois’ work. It was a thought.

Following a plan seems almost impossible for us since we are so project based. Things cycle through our lives so perhaps for us to contemplate impermanance is not such a stretch. A project done is ejected into deep space. Our eyes now alight on another goal.

Depletion of resources is the core difficulty. How does one remain productive, expansive, curious when the body and mind are contracted and still with fatigue? Creativity relies on a certain ease with self. Go back to the well. Find the oasis within. That is the discipline.

Remaining at rest results from knowing that there is no remaining. Interesting….

Is Life about Work?

Heritage Award for preservation of Veteran's houses

Heritage Award for preservation of Veteran

Sunshine is pushing against the two windows in the kitchen. The furnace sounds like the ocean during a storm. Air moving through the space where I am sitting is both cold and warm. Breezes of technology brushing across and under me. I awoke with an incipient migraine and my head full of lists.

As Pema Chondra recommends that we “keep out seat” and stay in a neutral place between manic and depressive, I am aware of the error of my ways. Work…businesses…running out of time. These adrenalized issues are once again playing out in my life.

I awake already two days behind. I have promised myself out to so many people. When I hear that a fellow artist needs publicity or help, I am triggered and attempt to help.

Currently I am finishing a CD jacket which promises to be very lovely and will be reflecting of the beautiful meditative compositions that Vernon multi-talented artist Devon Muhlert has written. But I have difficulty finding time to complete the project. The upcoming show for SOPA gallery called Under 8 is pressing and I have images to paint for that. Tuesday I have to prepare a presentation for the Central Okanagan Photographers’ lecture of Images of Europe.

Images of Europe show coming up Tuesday

Images of Europe show coming up Tuesday

I was attending the Okanagan Institute Board meetings until the projects just started piling up and I didn’t have the time. Artists@Work First Thursday Art Crawl needs to be organized more tightly for upcoming times when the tourists will appear like rescuers from our winter doldrums.

My neighbours Ray and Sarah Lewis have in essence carried the North End Resident’s Association on their already over burdened backs for the past three years, so I have stepped in to serve as the President this coming year. There is much to do.

Three other amazing artists will be part of the group show in Vienna, Austria in May and I have the graphics and conceptual statement to complete for that.

But it is strange how just when I think I am about to go mad with constant work, an opportunity opens up.

After the Central Okanagan Heritage Society presented our block, 500 Okanagan Boulevard, with a heritage award for maintaining the vets houses in such good repair, Cameron and I were dead tired and driving around. “Let’s go pick up food,” I suggested. We ended up doing something we haven’t done in over six months… we went out to dinner. The two of us sat alone at Yamato’s Restaurant under the four foot round string encased lights reminiscent of 60’s decor and the Japanese paper lanterns. We were across from one another at the acid green formica tables and had nothing to do but look at one another. I could feel the rhythm of my body set for scrimmage action: running without protective gear through the barriers of the day. I could see my mind flashing through the lists of things yet undone. I could step back and see how depleted I had become.

And Cameron was across from me. For the first time in months he didn’t have a computer in front of his face. Hey. He has eyes. He has really nice eyes. I think I could love this man. Yep!

So trusting that all will get done is work that I need to do. I even see that as work. Blocking in time to do nothing is important. Taking time to have dinner with my dear friend Lil, last night I got another chance to just sit and get grounded by the presence of another voice. Not just the voice in my head like the overseer of the one man crew of my body. The voice whipping me on to do yet more.

Learning to move from a place of love and security instead of a place of anxiety is what my lesson is. Learning to discipline myself to not spend money or put both my hands in the sugar bowl, figuratively speaking, when I feel anxious is my lesson.

But today. I sit here in my soft yellow bathrobe with my hair sticking up. The sun is knocking at two windows. The air is moving across me and it sounds like the beach. I will begin my projects and they will be completed. I will plan my journey to Vienna, my show for Artscape at the Kelowna Community Theatre, my drawing for the Okanagan Erotic Art Show, my lecture for COPS, my works for Sopa knowing that the universe supports me and that all will go well.

The idea that there will be a stopping point is both real and delusional. Now is the stopping point. The mind says, “When you finish this……” The promising mind entices me into the future. There is a stopping point and it is called death. And now. Pause.

Kelowna artist prepares for international show

fleuron image with jewel tones

fleuron image with jewel tones

Preparing for the show in Vienna is exciting and challenging. First of all there is the difficulty of artists from around the world communicating. The languages we are working through are English, German and French. In addition, there is the issue of the language which we each speak in our art. the Biennale in 2007, Rian from Ireland cut out imprints of roses hung from the ceiling with fish hooks hidden in the swaying piece.

Matthias has images which work with negative space and that are technically adept and skillful. The image is only partially there but the part which is present is meticulous. There is a tension between that which is “spelled out” and that which is left to the viewer. Jean Francois Provost does mixed media pieces that are textured abstracts. This Quebec artist has an impressive bio.:

It fascinates me that I will get the opportunity to meet, learn from and network with a fellow Canadian in Vienna. He also was at the Florence Biennale in 2007; however, I did not actually meet him while I was there.

Preparing ten pieces to fill the two story gallery space will be a challenge and I have to think carefully about how to best select pieces that make a group statement while not breaking our financial back at the same time. Also, the tentative name for the show is Disparate Voices or some spin on that. I have to work that through so that I can compose a concept statement in English. Jean Francois will compose the French and Matthias is in charge of the German rendition.

Cameron will be playing bass at the opening with a local, accomplished guitar player. Perhaps they will have the opportunity to skype in the coming weeks.

So much to do. I have to bring order to the house, pick up art work today for sale at a local gallery, finish my paperwork for the UBC O payroll people and tonight the joyful opportunity to pick up the Heritage Conservation Award from Kelowna’s Heritage Society. My days are full and productive. For information about the heritage society:

And, the magpie next door is working to build his nest. It is officially spring.

I came out of the gate of life like a racehorse. At the age of 17 I was attending university where I earned a B.A in arts and a B.Ed. in secondary education from Western Washington University in Bellingham. I minored in Philosophy, Modern Dance and Art. I began studies for an M.FA in creative writing and stopped just short of a full degree. Moving to Vancouver, B.C. I completed a M.A. in Contemporary Poetry under the well-known Warren Tallman. I taught as a T.A. at both Western Washington and at UBC.
Now, after over twenty years as an English high school teacher and as a Acting teacher, I am a working visual artist and writer.
My background connects me to all forms of art in the Okanagan for the 30 plus years I have lived here. I was a founding member of the Vernon Dance School, the City of Kelowna Arts Foundation, the Okanagan Film Festival Society. I wrote, produced and directed plays and was on the executive of Theatre Kelowna. As a columnist for B.C. Musician Magazine I wrote the jazz column for over three years. My husband, Cameron, is an accomplished jazz musician in the valley. So my roots in the art community run deep and wide. Visual art, poetry, non-fiction writing, theatre, dance, and jazz have all enriched my life. My goal is to help other artists in Kelowna to bring joy to the public. I will happily give publicity to any artist with no prejudice…as long as “no animals are hurt in the production.” Tell me about it and I will spread the good news.

Show I was in in Ferrar Italy

Show I was in in Ferrar Italy

What words are best to describe art?

I am often at a loss as to which words to use to describe my art. Because I begin with a digital photography, it is photography. But it isn’t photography. I load the image into my computer and work it with many filters. So it is computer art. But it isn’t. The normal terms digital art and computer art do not at all apply to the finished result of my work. It is not video, anime, tattoo looking, fantasy art, air spray art of any of the more common types. After the giclee is printed, then I go into the image with India ink, glass bead, tar gel, acrylic paint, metallic pens, metallic foil and sometimes string or paper. So it is mixed media.

But it isn’t like the type of mixed media that I have seen elsewhere. It is not dark, reminiscent of magazine advertising, layered with pictures, words or visual references. It is not flat, laying nicely in the planes of foreground, middle ground and background. The colors are not muted, soft, earthy or flowing. The pull on the eyes and the challenge to the brain to interpret the work is part of the energetic presence of my art works. The shifting of planes, the interchange of bold colors seem to contradict one another as a statement. It is subtle and moving yet it is loud and challenging.

It is very difficult for me to explain, or describe my work. The best I can do is to just understand it. Sometimes words… well they are just words.

Kelowna’s North End Block 500 wins Heritage Conservation Award

Several days ago we in the 500 block of Okanagan Boulevard learned that we had earned this year’s heritage conservation award from the Heritage Society. Our homes were built between the years 1946 and 1955 and are a Cape Cod bungalow style. Four major templates were used to create these homes for returning veterans. The criteria for the homes which were $4000 to mortgage was that firstly the veteran had a family or that he was at least married without children. Those with families were the first to be selected for the small homes that had an earthen floor laundry room and wood heat stoves.

The 500 block of Okanagan Boulevard has seem some incursions into the look and feel of the beautiful neighbourhood lined with fifty year old trees. One builder came in and built large carriage houses in what is a relatively small back yard area. The carriage houses, or mother-in-law houses are taller than the surrounding buildings and can be seen looming over yard three or four properties away. Many young renters would come in to share out the rent and they would turn the “garage” area into just another bedroom. Finally, when a drug addict on house arrest ended up having a screaming brawl with an imaginary enemy at 4 am still wearing his anklet care of the police, we began to work at changing the by-laws so that the carriage houses would be more for their intended purpose. With new building codes in place the secondary houses because secondary houses.

One more carriage house has been built in our block and many of the houses which were once owned and cared for have been rented out without close supervision. The resultant lack of paint, dead lawns and pit bull pets have not been good news for the neighbours. We do, however, have many homes that are sweet, well landscaped and loved structures. We do have the ability to lean over our fences and admire a new plant or a blossoming rose bush. We have small gestures that have built this neighbourhood and kept it a place to be grounded. They are as simple as sharing seeds, going for walks together, bringing a straying dog back home, watering the lawn when the neighbour is away in the summer, loaning books or even just stopping to ask how another person is getting on. This is what makes a place one owns or rent a true home. It is about liveability which is every bit as important as sustainability.

And this is why our neighbourhood so appreciates and deserves the heritage award which will be given out Thursday, February 19th at 7 pm at 2279 Benvolin Road at the Benvolin Church.

Our heritage is for the men and women who fought for a way of life, for the builders who created a way of life and for those of us who have maintained a way of life called a neighbourhood.