Sunday, June 28, 2009

In less than a week...

I won't actually have a computer anymore. It's going to be pretty interesting, I admit, and a huge adjustment. I only first got a personal computer about 5 or 6 years ago now, but ever since they've been a really big part of my everyday motions and rumblings in the world.

However scared I am (which says volumes in and of itself) of feeling like I will loose touch with the world and its goings and comings (I don't have any sort of portable phone device to fall back on, either) I must admit that I am very excited about it all, too. I think it's going to be an amazing re-introduction to spending more time *being* in my immediate environment, and noticing the goings and comings of what's around me directly, and not through a computer screen.

And I will still write blogs, I'll just have to do so by hand and then transcribe them once a week in the library or some such. But I think I will start writing more letters, to everyone, again. So check your mailbox soon. I am on my way.

(good)Night Lilacs

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The sound of green and things

I'm self-taught so I am in no way the best piano player, but it's something I find still to be one of the most uplifting things to bite my teeth into. Here's a rather slow version of Dario Marianelli's, The Secret Life of Daydreams. Still in the process of learning it.

View while I work

I never used to be a believer in cut flowers, but I also didn't understand that plants actually like having their bits trimmed every now and again.

Especially plants that are actually right next door, like my neighbour's rosebush, that blush when you give them the attention they deserve by taking a little of them with you. So much nicer to work with greens and reds close at hand.

The definition of the word

For years I have been contemplating, ever-so-subconsciously, the meaning behind the word melancholy, which has been at turns a true friend and an annoying and constant companion, as well as an overused cliche in recent months (or years)...

But the current hypnotist that I am engaged with, Roberto Bolano, has convinced me to revisit my previous attractions to said word and state. The book of his I am currently reading, By Night In Chile, is not only an engrossing and oddly fluid read, but it is packed with brilliant contemplations without seeming like a fowl-stuffed-with-too-much-sauce-and-other-mini-fowls one would find being served at a nervous man's thanksgiving.

In other words, it is ripe with wisdom but offers a somewhat miraculous space in which to breath in. And it is within these open spaces one finds Bolano offering us definitions like the one Friedrich Schelling had of melancholia, that of yearning for the infinite...

From such a perspective, I remember clearly now, a smell from childhood rushing past my nostrils on the crowded end-of-day bus, why melancholy meant so much to me at a certain point, and why it underpins but doesn't overwhelm the lives of so many people I know.

To yearn for the infinte is to feel your cells breathing and the desire to live through their inhales and exhales.

When things grow

Got home tonight after a jaunt to the massive St Jean Baptiste party under that bridge, you know the one, (at least you do if you live in Montreal) and was called by the garden to come spend time before going into the house.

In the dark things grow, double-in-size, and spread their limbs and hopes over and around the sticks we plant to keep them somewhat-in-line, somehow-in-check, loved. The tomatoes are actually hanging low to the ground, their new sizes proving too much for the stakes they were using as training wheels. The coriander is hiding the ever timid sage and dill has appeared from seemingly nowhere.

And I find my hair, which is growing some too, has decided to be curly out of allegiance or spite to the weather, or perhaps both. It has a complacency with the night vegetables that turn and curl into plants I don't recognize, but welcome none-the-less.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Heels for Everyone

Here's my new friend Douglas wearing some pretty large 6-inch+ stilettos at the Mado Outdoor Fringe Performance on Saturday night.

While I love drag more than anything, and think it's great there was a packed audience who were very appreciative of what was going on, I still wish I could see folks of all sorts and types wearing boas and heels and TOO much eyeshadow and glitter all the time, and not just in these uber-sanctioned spaces.

Still, if it's a question of seeing some big burly person doing the splits in sequined pants vs. not seeing it at all, I will take it wherever I can get it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

All Things Grow (in their own time)

This little guy is a chinese grapefruit, who my good friend Yen gave to me about 2.5 years ago as a seed. It took about 3 months to germinate and sprout, has almost died twice, and I even left it behind when I moved apartments last. At the time, I thought it was truly on its way out and said situation made me sad enough that I wanted to avoid dealing with it altogether.

Lo and behold, however, when I went back to my old apartment (about a year and a bit ago) to pick up my last pits and baubles that I don't really need, it had sprouted some more and appeared to be alive and kicking even without my attention. That's when I decided I wasn't going to give up on it and so I brought it with me. And NOW, after all this time and many moons of staying the same size with no sign of wishing to expand, it's taken to summer and growth like a kid does as the birthdays pass. Pretty remarkable.

And within that notion, a thousand metaphors about life and its paths and current positionings....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Making Do and Getting By, or Ode to All Who Embrace the By-Play

I spoke with Paul Warne recently, an artist who works in 3d animation for his bread and butter, and has amazing immersive installations that straddle the line between ultra-slick and plain ole' fashioned awesome. We chewed the fat about his dad and painting christmas tree signs a la main when he was a young thing and how the eminent approach of fatherhood for his own-self has produced a desire to go back to pen, brush and cardboard. That and the fact that his printer just broke down and gave up.

Which got us to talking about the suspension of disbelief and the ability or desire that folks going to see art (whether it be film, theatre, animation, visual art, dance) have to actually hand over the reality-reins to the people imagining something for their senses to take in.

We so often assume, especially in this uber-techno-me-logical age, that this means a seamless show has to be mounted, complete with nothing that would get in the way of tearing down that universe especially created for the viewing audience.

Yet I think something both Paul and I bounced around, ball-of-a-notion, is that people don't actually care, or in fact sometimes want the fray and stray-ness of extra bits and rips woven amidst the technocratic achievements of whatever it is you're doing. Which is why I am all the more excited for him to get back to brush and plank and crack away at the making-do-and-getting-by aesthetic.

And as always, thoughts and sentiments rushing in parallel tag-teams, however dissonant the members making said groups up might at first seem, the introduction of a book I began reading today, Venetian Life by W.D.Howells (yeah, I don't know, just picked it up at the library) perfectly echoes the seedlings of discussion Paul and I shared about all this to-be-or-not-to-be-slick-or-transparent stuff:

One night at the little theatre in Padua, the ticket-seller gave us the stage-box (of which he made great merit), and so we saw the play and the by-play. The prompter, as noted from our point of view, bore a chief part in the drama (as indeed the prompter always does in the Italian theatre), and the scene-shifters appeared as prominent characters. We could not help seeing the virtuous wife, when hotly pursued by the villain of the piece, pause calmly in the wings, before rushing, all tears and desperation, upon the stage; and we were dismayed to behold the injured husband and his abandoned foe playfully scuffling behind the scenes. All the shabbiness of the theatre was perfectly apparent to us; we saw the grossness of the painting and the unreality of the properties.

And yet I cannot say that the play lost one whit of its charm for me, or that the working of the machinery and its inevitable clumsiness disturbed my enjoyment in the least. There was so much truth and beauty in the playing that I did not care for the sham of the ropes and gilding, and presently ceased to take any note of them. The illusion which I had thought an essential in the dramatic spectacle turned out to be a condition of small importance.

That we as creators can boldy behave as such an Italian theatre might, and not worry about showing our inevitably clumsy beauty to the world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

And to whet the dream-appetites, a painting to end the day

I recently took a quiet trip around the Musee des Beaux Arts alone, something I haven't done in a long time. Gabriel Max's fly on this girl's arm was my reward.

The intoxication of some sort of think tank, (with pizza, beer and mucking about optional)

So as one of the co-directors of Art Pop for the second year running, I am finding it both thrilling and inspiring to be challenged into re-conceiving the notions of what it means to be a curator, especially within a communal context.

Tonight we had our second *salon*, where many of the local artists we've chosen to work with this year came to discuss a fundamental and often overlooked element of the "group show", (which is very arguably what we're doing as we are actively attempting to provide an almost anti-group-show sentiment, and cultivate a more communal feel to things) that of the actual physical space itself and how the works will all fit into it.

One of the artists we're working with, Steven Topping, works in media not limited to the realms of sculpture/construction/ecology/socio-politics of space. Yeah. He showed his body of work to the folks who made it out in the thunderstorm tonight and, as always, blew my mind. He went from a bench that acts as a heater for an entire art gallery using 60 100 watt bulbs to discussing the mathematical concepts in Flatland.

I think everyone was pretty awe-struck, or perhaps I am just projecting. However, the presentation also served as a platform for discussing the artists' works and how they will all inhabit the venues together, separately. Steve is actually going to be constructing the structures for the folks to house their works in, which is in and of itself an artwork of creative response and aesthetic consideration on a macro level.

The discussions that arose out of technical and aesthetic concerns within each artwork and how they relate to each other, the space and the rest of the festival activities going on there, was buzzing with a life and cooperation that truly made my heart feel all achy. I found myself in a bit of an excited daze truth be told, although I did only have half a piece of pizza today and did that thing where you try to make yourself pass out a whole bunch. Riiight.....

Anyhow, I began to realize that this concept, or desire, to *build* a deeper sense of community for the show, is happening. There are still important elements to consider in the shaping of this, (one of them being to let go of the need to control or direct it too much) but it was pretty electric. I felt the singe on my fingertips and my hair still smells somewhat from the burn of it all.

Meanwhile, the cat is not interested in the coffee I left on the floor near some books, and the lull in my brain is wishing me silent, so I will comply. But oh how exciting the sound our voices make when they all clammer in various states of undress (ie enthusiasm) with others....

The things you realize far too late (or, simply, later than you thought)...

Proving once again that I don't always have my COMPLETE attention on the task at hand or song in air, I just realized that "Mercy Mercy Me" by one of my biggest heroes, Marvin Gaye, is about the environment.

Even though its full title is, "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)".....yeah. Hmmmm. At any rate, regardless of my ability to clue in at the appropriate time, this simply makes me love him all the more. What a visionary, to sing a song with such a message in 1971.

The full lyrics (although truth be told, without his voice singing them, they are far less powerful):

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Where did all the blue sky go?
Poison is the wind that blows
From the north, east, south, and sea
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
No, no
Radiation in the ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying
Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain't what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land?
How much more abuse from man can you stand?
My sweet Lord
My sweet Lord
My sweet Lord

I love this man so much, even though I never met him. But just look at that face. Sometimes you can just tell.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ode to a lack of clarity

When the going gets blurry, the results can still be beautiful.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Mystery of Certain Things That are Just Hot.

I'm not object sexual, (well, maybe I am....I dunno....I REALLY like some inanimate things out there) but what's up with second-hand auto dealerships at night? Those lightbulbs! The ambiance! The little shiny flags! Hot, hot, hot. That is all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blood makes noise, it's the ringing in my ears.

I have had tinnitus for about 5 years perhaps, maybe less, maybe more. Funny that something that was so initially traumatizing has now had its corners sanded down, and the memory of exactly when is forgotten.

Recalling the where is far easier, as I do have vivid pictures of myself on the floor in my kitchen, after reading page after page online about how depressing and difficult it is to live with. It took about 2 weeks to learn how to live with the rush in the head and the realization that I was never to have true *silence* again.

As time wore on, however, I began to see, or hear, rather, my situation in a new way. I decided to think of the sound less as a nuisance, curse, or other annoyance, and more as a reminder of being alive. Blood makes noise, after all. It became a solace and I recall when I went into my old workplace (years ago), I would often go into the washroom just to hear it and remind myself of what was important. It was like god lived in my ears.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night to a particularly hard situation - the tinnitus seemed to be quite a bit worse and the waves had morphed into something much more like a ring. It was almost possible for me to pick out the actual note of the sound.

Ironic, after having read and fully appreciated this article by Pico Iver I found myself alone, in the dark-turning-to-glorious-glorious-sunrise, and in a spot where I was really forced to let go and leave what may be, be.

All this to say that people go through so much more than I can ever possibly know, and I myself am so absolutely unbelievably blessed and that the closer I can get to the beauty contained within each movement of each moment, the better I will be able to live a full and enriched life. To embrace the ringing in the ears, at various volumes and pitches, and to raise arms up in thanks.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In the oddest of places, one finds the most beautiful things...

Rest oh weary heart that trudges through this land of strip-mall and bbq townhouse, and know that even amidst the strangeness that is to be found in a place where those who appreciate coors light and labatt blue congregate, wonder can be unearthed.

One of my favourite paintings on this fair earth, hanging in a dimly lit and noisy sprawl of a bar, of which the artist (to me, at any rate) remains a mystery. But I'd highly suggest going in to say hello to it if you pass by this city or Rue St.Denis near Berri Metro sometime or any time. Well worth wrestling with the rest of the ambiance surrounding it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Through Space and Time

certain images bring more than just the memory of a place or person back, it would seem.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

2 photo projects that prove being an obsessive documenter isn't always a bad thing at all, in the end....

I find as an artist or just someone concerned with notions of memory and time, that I am constantly grappling with the urges I have to document everything and the push I have to just let it all be.

I am in favour of both manners and ways of being, really, and there are occasionally examples I bump into that reinforce both the idea of creating a path to your life and work that others can follow, and of never looking back to see if things have grown over said chemin or not.

That said, I have been led lately to 2 amazing photo projects that show just why an extended and obsessive documentation of life in all its terrible glory can be so enriching to oneself and others, later on.

The first, a polaroid project that filmmaker and musician Jamie Livingston embarked on for decades beginning in the spring of 1979. A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of his work through this blog entry on the mental floss blog.

His work, (the polaroid above was taken on the day I turned 1) both haunting and beautiful, is well worth spending a few hours absorbed in. As his project went on, he became sick with cancer, and the polaroids continue through to show the final expressions of someone living their life to the fullest amidst certain and likely death (he married just a short time before he did succumb to cancer, by the looks of it)

The second project is no less intimate even though it captures the hearts of more than an immediate circle around one person. This time, the person is replaced by an entire town, and is called the Oxford Project. It documents the same inhabitants of a small town in the states in 1984, and then 20 years later, in 2005.

Many of the people stayed in the town, and the photo essays are an array of sad and hopeful tales of everyday life. Really potent stuff, and both a reminder and a meditation on how human it is to do what you do and make-do-and-get-by, and how beautiful and poignant all the little bits and pieces are when looked at with a bit of thought and care.