Sunday, 28 April 2013

Darkness Cannot Drive out Darkness!

 Darkness and Light Meet!

I've been meditating on "light," thinking about it's meanings and consequently the implications that might have in the life I live. Uuhhhh, deep eh? It is a very good word and my manual of life and living...also has a lot to say about it. 

The other reason for this line of thinking is that I am creating a representation of King Saul, who if you characterize his life would be one who resisted the "light". He was one who resisted "wisdom" and "order" and "justice", these all being good things that "light" would represent. When David came along, he being a young man who welcomed and appreciated all these good things including integrity faithfulness, love, patience, kindness and so on, was very quickly confronted with this darkness that Saul emanated and lived by. Saul, being of the dark side, began using dark methods to eliminate this light of David. For, it was showing him up for who he was! Like water and oil, these two things do not mix.

Just for interest sake I googled images for "light and darkness". What showed up but immediate references to good (light) and evil (darkness). For example, images of white light angels against the black obviously evil angels, representing the unending battle against good and evil in our world. 

Here is Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel artwork depicting God creating light. Interesting that one of the first things God created was light.

It's obvious, this throne then represents the kingdom of darkness.

David's response to Saul was such that it became clear his heart was a heart ruled by "light". His obedience to Saul, despite the faact things were not always fair. Like for example, one of the promised rewards for killing Goliath was one of the kings daughters as wife. First, Saul hesitated and did not go through with it. Finally when he did, he was already so angry with what David represented he gave him an added condition. He demanded that he had to kill 100 Philistines for her. Saul's thinking of course was to give him this dangerous assignment so he would be killed in the process and in this way he'd get rid of this upstart who was embarrassing him with his accomplishments and popularity. The dark side doing it's dark side scheming!

David's response was not normal. Would we not have gone to someone and complained of the unfairness of this? This was not part of the original conditions and so not acceptable. Where is the complaint department? We should get all the staff together and protest. Write letters to the press. We could get into being upset by the unfairness of it all. 

David did not become angry and protest or balk at this new condition. He was glad to become the king's son-in-law, even if it meant risking his life and putting himself in harms way to accomplish the new condition. He simply got up, got his men organized and went out to do the job. When he came back and presented himself before King Saul, (who needed evidence) he counted out his foreskin proofs amounting to an amazing 200 kills instead of the 100 as requested. Kind of gross that was I'd say!

After this, Saul was afraid of David! 

Even at this young age David had an understanding of the way of the Kingdom of Light. That self sacrifice, humility, respect and self-effacement was the way to go. Letting go and letting the "Light" lead and control.

"He (John the Baptist) was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light which gives light to every man..."            John 1:8-9


Friday, 26 April 2013

In the Beginning..."He had good understanding!"

The king of swords begins.

When I was young there was a joke, actually a pun, having to do with, let's say someones huge feet. The standard comment was, "He sure has good understanding!" Followed by groans and much rolling of the eyes. 

It is very important when beginning a human figure, that the basic proportions be correct. Unless this basic aspect is correct one will run into problems later. It is very disheartening to have to make adjustments or even abandon the work and start over because the proportions where off. Often, artists will just carry on and try to hide the fault in some way. If your lucky, it can also be a good surprise as you find it's actually fitting for what you are trying to say with the piece. It certainly is true we do pass on messages with our art that we are not always aware of, and something being unconsciously disproportionate can be just such an experience. 

Sometimes it's actually a reasonable and required part of the piece, especially if, for example, your working in a cartoon, or science fiction style then you can more easily get away with your proportions being off. 

Talking about proportions being off, lets consider Barbie as an example. What would it look like for a human to have Barbie's proportions? Have a look at the graphic below. I'm not sure, but I wonder how this affects some young girls who want to be like Barbie in a physical sense. Quite impossible and very disappointing for the youngster I'm sure. 

Yet, the creators of Barbie have gotten away with it. That also includes many hero type cartoon figures such as superman for example, who's proportions are completely distorted to create the illusion of being a super-human human.

This illustration demonstrates a system I like to use for working with human figures.  

Right now, I just have to make sure the king of swords will have "good understanding" right from the beginning, so he won't look out of proportion.

"And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body."                1 Corinthians 12:16

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A Choices Must be Made!

And so the moment has arrived. The throne of swords is done and though throughout I have been thinking (careful now, really it's true I have been thinking) about the person to place on the throne. The person who inspired the creation of the throne, is for those who have been reading these blogs, the Biblical King Saul. 

The question now is, how to represent what I'm trying to communicate in my own mind. Not in the mind of the viewer, but my mind. If I'm true to my intentions the rest will take care of itself.

So, do I make him "small" compared to the huge throne? That has a huge message, lack of control, feeling small in the world of choices of how to live and so on. "It's not my fault my life has gone crappers, look how small I am...! Maybe, small and in the fetal position on the seat of the chair! More messages being communicated. 

Do I make him "realistically," a king with a crown sitting on his throne. The correct size to match this chair? Well, seems boring to me, but it is a real consideration for sure and still has a message. 

What about a clown? Wow, this actually makes sense to me would you believe it. The real king Saul was actually "clown-ish" if there is such a word. OK, let me just go with this for a bit. He was chosen by the people for his outward appearance  They, the people ignored his inner "un-spiritual" reality. There are no references at all to any relationship he might have had to the religious belief system of the Israelite nation. They chose a person who looked good, had money, and was head and shoulders taller than the crowd. That was the basis on which they chose him to be their king. A recipe for disaster in any situation. Of course, since he did not participate in the regular feasts, Sabbaths or the regular schedule of the temple and the Jewish faith, either inwardly or outwardly, he had no regular reminders of who God is or inner moral guidance for that matter. With no real moral compass it is no surprise that his life just spiraled out of control. Once envy, anger and the fruits of un-forgiveness took control, his life became a total freak show. He was an embarrassment as a king. A clown really, ha! Bustling about, "looking kingly", but always in the background making bad decisions, like offering a sacrifice when he was told to wait, making crazy oaths and willing to have his own son Jonathan, who was unaware of the oath he'd declared, killed for not obeying it. Just to mention a few! Interestingly Johnathan was the one member of his family who actually "believed" and had the Spirit of God in him! Amazing. You can see how Saul actually became a tool of the "dark side!"

How do you make a king look like a clown? 

I could also add a few things like, having some sheep's wool lying around. (Wolf in sheep's clothing?) Maybe he should have a large dog sitting at his feet. How about a small "lap dog" on his lap growling, bearing it's teeth? Hey, I like that!  

This has been good, writing about the possibilities, very helpful, thank you for your indulgence.

I have some decisions to make.

"...Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine;...they stumble when rendering decisions."    Isaiah 28:7


Saturday, 20 April 2013

Tough but Good!

Mark Edward Grant in Court

This was a tough week! 

Ever since the trial ended in February of 2011 we knew this weird unknown thing called "the appeal" was going to happen sometime in the future. Yet, no one could tell us when. The defense had very quickly given notice that there were 18 items they wished to contest regarding problems with the trial. That seemed like a lot of stuff so we were all on edge, wondering what, when and how this would happen.

Well, this week it all came into being, beginning Tuesday at 9:30am and ending Wed. at noon. An additional concern, there was apparently going to be a motion for the acceptance of "new evidence". For that reason the appeal would be a two day affair, rather than the one day usually allocated for appeals. This of course brought in a new level of uncertainty  What exactly was this new evidence and what affect would it have on the results of the appeal? 

Needles to say, it was hard to concentrate, yet this was the very week my business took a turn where I had to really bear down, dealing with staff issues.  I had to introduce and train new staff to clean one of my accounts, replacing a staffer that had resigned for a full time job. The first day of cleaning would be Monday night. Then, just to make things a little more interesting, this account was having their bosses from Toronto in on Wed. morning and had made it clear to me that by that day the building had to shine! Nothing like placing pressure on new cleaning staff!

So, Monday night I toured them through the building. Then suggested a plan for how to tackle the task, and away we went. Well, they were very confused. It is a complicated building and they could not tell North from East and were confused where they were in the building all evening. I was concerned. There was only one more night of cleaning before Wed.

Tuesday, after sitting through the appeal, I had to eat supper early by myself, say goodbye to my family, (who were going to have a quiet evening at home) and go clean for the evening. I sat the new staff group down and placed the challenge before them. This was their cleaning test. Have a building they are not familiar with, sparkling clean by the end of the evening. I gave them their assignments and away we went. It was much better, they at least were not quite as lost as they had been on the first day. 

While they cleaned, I spot cleaned some carpets and did detail work. When they finished I released them and I stayed till midnight, doing more detailing, moving furniture and chairs, vacuuming behind them, just being alone with the building, giving it some TLC. 

I knew the boss was nervous so I made it a point to be back at the building early in the morning to meet him and explain what we'd done for him. 

Wed. night, we'd planned a special family supper with close friends as a closure. I had to be there. That meant the new staff would be dealing with the security system and cleaning on their own for the first time. They did very well. After everyone had left, I went out to check the building to see how they and done, it looked great! 

Due to the immediate pressure, these new staff and I have bonded very quickly! 

Above is a sketch I did of the accused, Mark Edward Grant, during the appeal proceedings. He looks much better than he did at the trial. He's lost weight. Obviously they make sure he gets and takes his meds. Looks like he's exercising too. Also, he did not leer at us like he used to do at the trial. I think he's in a better space. Good for him! 

What were the results of the appeal? They have reserved their decision till a later date. We were told by our crown, it could take up to a year before they would make a decision. Next year, it will be 30 years since it happened. What's another year!

Yes, it was tough, but now that it's done, it was very good too!

"Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things? A person's wisdom brightens their face and changes it's hard appearance." Ecclesiastes 8:1

PS. Then on Thursday night, would you believe, we had scheduled a potluck with our Young Adults group. Wow! By the way, that turned out to be a great night too. Did a circle on the question; "What is justice.?" These kids are very smart!


Sunday, 14 April 2013

A Shocking Introduction to a Unique Gallery

Wednesday-ing2012​video loop, 11:50 (colour, silent)A group of women hold a quilting bee in which they build a spider web.
An "Ace Art" photo from Chantel Mierau's video

On the “Art Walk/Art Talk” evening I wrote about earlier, we went to a very unique art gallery called “Aceart”, literally ”Ace Art Inc”. The artwork advertised was by artist Chantel Mierau, showing videos of what Wilma and I immediately recognized had to do with our own origins, the Mennonites. Wow.

When we got over the shock, we began looking a little more seriously at the “video shows” running simultaneously. One had a group of women rolling out dough on a wooden floor, making bread. Another, a group of women working together to make a spider web. (Photo above)

But the most impacting for me and many of us in the group was a video of a person, completely wrapped in a sack, I mean, head, arms, feet, the whole person, encased in a gunny sack, trying to do a task, and failing miserably, yet continuing to try. The scene taking place alongside an old broken down building in the tall weeds. In the distance, traffic running back and forth on a highway. It was so sad to see the figure, stumbling, tripping, getting up, working at the task, moving towards and back, away from the scene of the highway traffic in the distance (freedom) and then back again to the task at hand. The weeds flattened into a trail by her painful multiple  trips of hope and disappointment, back and forth, towards the highway and back again. I was saddened and felt sorry for this person in such a “trapped” and “hopeless” situation. How is it that a culture can do this to a person? Unfortunately, thinking of my own past, I could identify a little too much! I wistfully and as a distraction, commented to a group member beside me, of the hope that this individual had in the end gotten counseling! It looked to me like a recipe for depression and possibly suicide!

Chantel, and I’m quoting from her bio, “is an artist whose interest in repetition and cycles (especially domestic work cycles) has led her into complimentary practices in textiles and video. She grew up in a primarily Mennonite community in rural Saskatchewan, Canada then studied at two Mennonite education institutions. She later studied at the University of Manitoba, graduating with a BFA in 2011.”

Subsequent to this visit I've done some investigation into Ace Art and I like what I see a lot. 

Key aspects of their stated purpose that interest me are: “…a commitment to emerging artists and recognizes it’s role in placing contemporary artists in a larger cultural context. …dedicated to cultural diversity in it’s programming…encourages applications from all contemporary artists and curators…”

In their objectives they include a comment about their space, “…for the public where exploration of the ideas and materials of contemporary art are facilitated through exhibition, events, critical writing and dialogue.”

There are “events”, “workshops”, and “opportunities”. There’s “critical distance essays”, “artist talks” and “books”. There’s a “project room” where artists can work. Even “wiki", a project on the web to encourage communication between artists and related subjects relating to art.

It is almost too good to be true. Here it seems, if you have an idea, do any kind of art, or have a passion, even a dream, there is an opportunity at Ace Art to get into it, explore it and express it. What more can an artist ask?

Let’s see, there is the “contact us” heading…”click”…

"Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things..." 
Psalm 98:1


Easter at Our House, Simeon and Charlie Take Center Stage

This is Larry and Odia's new family member, 
also teething 
like Simeon!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Throne of Swords is Done!

One side done....

 One by one the swords covered the uneven sides of the throne. My feelings revving up with the placement of each one. Knowing that with each sword I was one more closer to the completion of the chair. 

I have heard how sometimes the anticipation of the thing is more exciting than the completion of it. Like planning everything for the vacation, and then when you get there it can be anti-climactic! 

"An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality, our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing."   Samuel Smiles 1812 - 1904

It is quite true that I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this piece. One day I will calculate the hours it actually took for me to create it. Then also, one day I will take the time to count the actual number of swords I've placed on the thing. The problem for me lay in the vast number of similar boring actions I had to do for this project, constructing and placing sword after sword after sword.

It wasn't like I didn't know what the chair looked like. It's just that initial intense anticipation that clouds the judgement. Like loading to much food onto your plate. It looks so good and your anticipation simply leads you astray. And in the end your decision rewards you with the pain of a stomach ache. 

Right now the celebration of finishing the chair is muted by the fact that there are a few crucial things that still need to happen. So as yet, though it is pleasing to say "I done it!" it still has to go through the test of fire. There are a lot of overlapping swords here, meaning that there are probably quite a few little openings and gaps among-st all those strips if clay. Yes, I do have to say, I think I'll wait until I actually open the kiln to see what happened before I get too excited. 

Below is the photo of the other side of the completed chair. 

You probably noticed that I have swords crossing on each side. No, they are not only for decoration, though that certainly works and is a good second reason for them. If you look back two blogs. you will see the gap I had to cover. Over this gap the swords do not have any backing and so this is a weak spot for them. So, to strengthen them and prevent them from breaking at that spot I placed these crossed swords over that particular vulnerable area. 

Also below the chair photo are photo's of the new poster announcing our Clifton Studio Open House and Sale coming up in May. We have timed it so you can come on over and purchase your Mother's Day gift which comes up the following weekend after the sale. I would like to invite you over to see what all our artists are doing and also then, we can have a little "art chat" while your there.

 The other side of the completed throne.


"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. won't you first sit down and estimate the cost...?"            Luke 14:28

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Art Talk/Art Walk

Tom Lovatt/Viscious Left (Wanderlie Silva) Oil on canvas
Showing at Gurevich Fine Art
April 5, 2013 openning.

Last night, Wilma and I had a one of those exquisite nights where so much came together for each of us. It was a night where we were introduced to another world. A world both of us are interested in, a world we are needing to become much more a part of if either of us intends to show/sell any of our own creative work in the future. It is the world of creative art.

The evening was planned by “The Carlton Breakfast Club,” of which Wilma is a member. These are the mover and shakers of the Winnipeg community. They meet every Friday morning for breakfast to hear a local “person” from the Winnipeg community presenting on whatever it is they are doing in the city. This could include business, the arts, medical, architecture, sport, music, whatever. These folk have therefore become very informed on all aspects of the community.

The Carlton Club arranged this evening for all members and their spouses to participate. So, I was invited!

In the summer of 2012 someone hatched an idea. The idea was to introduce Winnipeggers to some of the cities artistic movers and shakers and give them some insight into the creative process the goes into creating art of whatever kind. Participants, would have a great dinner, hear a lecture on the topic chosen for that month, and then do a walking tour of art galleries or studios in the local downtown area.

The dinner took place at the “Winnipeg Free Press News Café” located in the downtown exchange district. I had salmon with pineapple and rice! It was awesome! This was followed up by a power point lecture on the topic at hand. The topic for this  evening was on, would you believe it…”The Naked and the Nude”! No wonder the café was so full! Ha!

After the meal there was an informative lecture by a local artist giving us a very short history of nude art, then also spoke about the sexuality, power and vulnerability of the nude body in art. In addition, two local artist who specialize in this were interviewed. Questions were also taken from the audience. It was interesting to learn the “why” of painting nudes, and some of the “how” they exactly they do it. (Use of models, photos, their own bodies etc.) Then, off to the tour.

Our guide took us to four locations, one artist’s studio and three galleries. One of which was having the opening for a new show.

I will mention one of the sites visited today. Our visit to the Gurevich Fine Art Gallery. It was the opening night of their show so lots of people were there. One of the artists featured was Tom Lovatt, who’s work you see above. A whole room of sketches plus large paintings like this one, of the “extreme fighting” world. Interestingly, of the whole art gallery’s many rooms and types of art being shown, this room was packed with viewers! There was a lot of excitement about this work. Also, looking over the crowd, males were most prominent! The paintings were in the $4000 range.

I’ve always been thinking of doing a series of the biblical David grappling with the enemy on the battlefield. This certainly encouraged me in pursuing that, as it seems, according to this  experience, that the interest in the battling male is certainly there. Also, these I could sell and not break up the “story” my other pieces are there to tell. The difference probably would be that my pieces of this nature would not represent “sport” but a life and death struggle. A different sense of reality. David had to win. When his “fights” were over there were no embraces and fist touching opportunities! Victory meant it was over for someone. It was final! Food for thought.

We just loved the evening. Met some amazing people, good food, art and conversation. It was so fun.

“So God created man in his own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”    Geneses 1:27

If you are interested Google “Art Talk/Art Walk” and you will find the details for the next monthly event.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Finally, a Problem, Yipeeee!

 Throne of Swords R. Side.

Last week I was ranting about how difficult the work was on this throne of swords. Well, now that the end is in sight, where just the two side edges need to be finished up, I am relieved to report that 
I am feeling much more rejuvenated and eager to get-er done.

As you can see the back is now covered with swords. Also, as you can see the side of the chair is not totally covered with swords. This part, not covered with swords is the added "depth" I had to add to the chair to bring more strength and balance to the high back of the piece. Also, since the upper part of the "back" was bending so much further back, I needed this extra width to create balance for the whole structure. With the upper part leaning so far back knew it would be placing a lot of stress on the dry clay before it went into the kiln.

You can also see that the upper back is jutting out, and is wider than the seat area and so this gap so to speak, needed to be dealt with. Also the original swords on the side now look quite incomplete and mutilated. They now needed to be incorporated into the new dynamic of the side and edge work.

After all that "routine" work adding swords, I suddenly had issues and problems to solve again, finally a little challenge and excitement! 

I guess there are a lot of people who have exactly that problem with life! So bored their looking for trouble to get excited and involved in life again. A recipe for trouble I'd say!

Here you can see the results of another few hours of work. I have taken the liberty to bend and adjust those "metal" swords to make the transition work in a more modulated and smooth way down the side. You can see the hilts are on these new swords and the handles will be placed later. Suddenly, the chair just looks a lot better!

What if we looked at all problems this way? That they are really a gift and it is all about perspective. That each "problem" has a gift in it for us to find. A gem. That once all is said and done, things will actually be better than they were before!

This Easter, we as a family sat around the food laden table, where each family member updated us on their lives. Conclusion, we all agreed life was just fantastic. Everyone was in a good place. 

Now, for those of you knowing our story and experience, you might be wondering, how is that possible? We also asked that question, how is this possible? We realized a lot of folk would never understand the conversation we were just having! 

If this can be the result of problems, shouldn't we be waiting with impatience, knowing that there will be something in it that we can learn, grow from, grow in character and strength plus be reworded for taking it on with the right attitude. 

We should then maybe even be jealous of other's peoples problems!  We should actually be wriggling with excitement, like a puppy for food, looking forward to our next problem and the huge beneficial gem we will find in it that's just for us!

"...count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it's perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."    James 1:2-4