Discover Their Stories (Women’s History Month)

Today I wanted to write about some cool cats I know. Well not personally, but nonetheless, individuals who make great art and inspire all of us to be better human beings.

Memes aside, a moment for all of the ladies who make art despite facing incredible challenges every day, is not nearly enough.

I’m doing this in acknowledgement and praise of Women’s History Month. Which is a pretty big deal if you stop to think about it.

This is not going to be a post where I pretend to know the details of women’s history, because quite frankly, I’m not an expert on any kind of history, save maybe art history, and even then I’m not actively thinking about it often enough to claim mastery. No, this is a post for me in which I get to share with you some artists which I think need more attention and why I like them. Not “like” like them, just like them as professionals. Some of them are more known than others, but regardless of stature, these creatives are important and make great art.

Now I should address some hesitations my Canadian readers will likely have first. Yes I live in Canada, and technically that means I should be celebrating this event in October with the rest of my ilk, but quite frankly, I needed something to share this week and we share a border with Americans. And in case you didn’t know they’ve been running this event nationally since 1987, whereas we only picked it up in 1992. Shocking I know.

Insert Privilege Here

It’s a privilege for me to be able to write about these women, primarily because of the internet and a post-secondary education which taught me better. And that is a sad sad thing, so my hope is that you read these little snippets and take some time yourself to learn about these artists.


Marilyn Minter is an American artist who has been active since the 1980s. Her work often features sexuality and erotic imagery. Working in both photography and painting, Minter looks at the various roles of feminism, fashion and celebrity as they relate to idealizations of identity. Having published works in major American magazines and television she is known for being controversial and never loyal to one brand, medium or group. Minter has had exhibitions all over the world including Les Rencontres d’Arles festival in France, shows in Spain and Germany, being showcased in MoMa frequently. She teaches at the MFA department at the School of Visual Arts in New York and recently had a retrospective of her work in 2015. http://www.marilynminter.net/

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard were musical re-pioneers of what was a defunct form of music now popular once more – folk. The genre was given a boost back in the 1950s, and the duo of Dickens & Gerrard were at the forefront making friends and breaking hearts. Dickens, focused on bluegrass and acted as double bass, while Gerrard, also a singer, played both banjo and guitar, making them rather successful as both solo recording artists and as a pair. Their varied singing styles made use of both Dicken’s high-pitch and Gerrard’s love for crooning and shouting. The pair performed late into their lives but Dickens passed on in April of 2011.

 

 

Julie Taymor is an American director of theater, opera and film. She is definitely best known for directing the stage, as she has been responsible for The Lion King musical, which netted her two Tony Awards, a first for a woman at the time. She has also directed broadway musicals for Spider-man and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Taymore has an Emmy Award, a Drama Desk Award and an Oscar nomination, which is how I got to know her work. Directing films like Titus, Frida, and Across The Universe, Taymor has a natural aptitude for theatre which has spread throughout the performance arts.  Taymors work on Frida was substantial and got the film two Academy Awards – one for makeup and the other for costume design.

 

 

This might seem like a small sampling of professional women to showcase for this post dear readers, but my hope here is to demonstrate that women permeate throughout the arts, and that this is merely a drop in the bucket of talented creatives out there. And these are some of my personal favourite artists too, I could’ve listed off Tracy Emin, Cindy Sherman, Sofia Coppola, Sarah Polley, Debra Granik, Taylor Swift, Ellie Goulding, Leslie Fiest, La Roux, Adele, and tons of others, but then I would just be making lists, and this is about celebrating women.

A privilege in and of itself.

theories Summarized

So where’s the wisdom you ask?  Well, I’ll leave you with this quote by Susan B. Anthony and see if you can glean something from it. And I hope for damn sure that it’s absorption rate is quick, thorough and positively altering, and not a wasted theory.

It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens, nor yet we, the male citizens, but we, the whole people, who formed this Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people — women as well as men.
Susan B. Anthony
We’re only telling half a story in many cases, but a half does not make us whole.
Tim!

Just Let It Gel (Facebook How-To… Page)

When laying down a canvas, I think it’s important to set the foundation first, usually with white gesso, but sometimes simply with some soft gel. Almost every visual artist will tell you same, unless they are painting on paper, mylar, or some other strong gripping surface. Then again, said artist might not even want to create an archival work OR rather the degradation of the work is key to the process. Whatever the case we understand the basic of what to start with.

After that decision is made, I start applying broad strokes to block in shapes and highlights, carefully choosing colour(s) which will give a tone to the story. Once that step has happened and I’m confident in my decisions, I begin the process of focusing on areas of the painting, slowly laying in or uncovering details and telling stories within the story of my canvas. It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of it all, so I’ll spare you that as best I can.

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This might seem like a common practice, but there really are a lot of different ways to make a painting. Truth be told, no two artists will tackle it the same way, even if we pretend subject matter and material choices are the same. And frankly, I don’t expect marketing to work in a catch-all matter either, even though many people think it’s a simple process.

And given my personal experiences with it, once you set the foundation, just like fine art, marketing comes down to taste, experience and the message to be delivered.

About Face

Way way back in November 2016, which feels like ages ago, I met a beautiful woman and we had our first date. It was wonderful, and she is very special to me, when she reads this post we will have passed our 3 month anniversary, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Right, I promised no more romance.

Well, I’ll just try this one more time.

Way way back in November 2016, I wrote a post about Facebook. Now at the time, I didn’t expect to cover the whole social networking service in one post, so I decided to break it up into several parts, aptly naming the first part, Facebook pt. 1. And like any good franchise, I’m going to immediately deviate from that pattern and set out to call the next set of posts Facebook How-To … (insert topic here).

Clever right? Yeah, I’m usually pretty clever, but it all depends on what I have else I have going on upstairs in that old noggin of mine. Which I think makes perfect sense, and even if it doesn’t immediately make sense for you, you’ll find a workaround I’m sure.

A Face Only A Mother Could Love

 

Let’s talk about Facebook pages my dear, sweet, and wonderful readers. You creative cuties, you.

I’ve said this once before, but Facebook pages are to individual profiles what corporations are to small businesses. This is where you share content with your followers and get them involved in your personal brand. You have to set up your business page if you want to get to the ads step, so do that first. Then focus on lifestyle over product. You also want to be actively involved in comments and service… this can include incentivizing your user base and sharing user content too.

How do you accomplish this you ask? Well with 3 (condensed) tips like this:

  1. Build your community by focusing on your members and how the page provides value – This means using the page as the voice of your brand, but always eluding to insights that are available for people who have purchased your product(s) to make them feel special. You don’t have to treat page likes based on sales, but exclusivity is important. Then focus on followups for customers in PMs and for answer questions when you can.
  2. Discuss current events and promote events too – But I would add that you keep it relevant to your user base at all times. People will get frustrated if you talk about sports when that’s not in your business mantra, for instance.
  3. Communicate with your biggest fans. If you build strong relationships with those who love you, they’ll reach out for you, but it also allows them to network WITH EACH OTHER. Like attracts like as the old adage goes. And if you have team members, it gives them a place to function as ambassadors and stewards of your brand.

The biggest takeaway from all of this is to keep your page active and allow people to participate in a discussion, much like how a Facebook group is forum for it’s user base, the Facebook page is the podium. It allows you to build trust with your fans and become a representation of your brand.

Obviously I’ll spend some more time in the future on success stories, but for now, you have some foundation to set up your canvas. I hope you can keep on rocking in the free world creative cuties, and I’ll be back tomorrow with a story about a concert. It’ll probably be romantic though.

Tim!

Empire State of Mind (Environment)

I have probably played way to much Magic: The Gathering and other fantasy based games growing up my friends, because I always want to equate myself with a particular element of nature and just run in the general direction of that thing to better equip myself for the stresses of life. According to astrology and palmistry fire seems like the natural choice, while other personality tests and chinese zodiac results lead to that of the earth. So I guess that means I’m geared for the life of the country AND the city, but not so much high up or near water.

Whatever that means.

To be honest I think that we should make decisions about our physical environment based upon our interests and what inspires us. So if you need to be out in nature in order to be creative, do so, and what that natural environment looks like to you is also relevant, then seek it out.

Today, we go over the importance of your habitat, climate, scenery, terrain or surroundings.

Your Friendly Neighbourhood

That’s right friends, a new month,  a new post inspired by the OECD index which I was initially led to in the first place by the folks at Post Consumers. But this time dear readers, I have decided to focus on the importance of environment for artists and give you some options to consider in your quest towards health, wealth, and happiness. Because while frugality and conservation of resources are important for the planet, your mental space needs to be taken into account too.

Yes, believe it or not, if you look out for yourself and a lot of other things begin to fall into place.

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But what does that look like, you ask?

Well, like anything in life that depends on what you are about. So why don’t I give you the rundown of some things to consider, via a handy list, and you can decide for yourself if you’re on the right track to health, wealth, and happiness.

Welcome To New York, It’s Been Waiting For You

Before we get too far along, I need to clarify something. While I do think that New York city is a great place to live, and while my subject headings in this post so far are really hinting at NYC as a one stop shop, that’s just not true. And no, I’m not leading you towards Los Angeles either.

Instead I want you to look over some questions and the corresponding key words, and think on what kind of creative professional you need to be. All of these factors will help lead you towards an answer, and lead you towards creating a sustainable lifestyle.

  1. Is it important to you to attend parties? Think street parties, exhibitions, murals, fairs, and citywide events.
  2. What about a structured living situation? This could include open-concept loft apartments, industrial towns, and attending art museums as well as galleries.
  3. Does the place you live in need to be warm all the time? A daily does of street performers, dancing, food eaten outdoors, curbside coffee shops, and urban graffiti go a long way.
  4. Could you experience a wide variety of activities and room for contemplation? Where does live music, onsite food trucks, post-secondary education, libraries or urban sprawl fit in?
  5. Would economic stability be essential? If you like quirky shops, breweries, cheap rent, and post-grad couture.
  6. How organic is your palette? Farm-to-table, organic groceries, yoga, countryside views… Do those terms grab your attention?
  7. Are you inspired by other mediums? If film, audio recording, performance, and site specific works are your thing, consider your location.
  8. Does interacting with your immediate space matter? For when you need to make guerilla art, partake in festivals, induce public art participation, and convert odd spaces.
  9. When do you choose to collaborate? Artist run centres, art collectives, creative clubs, and meet-ups are all options.
  10. Who do you collaborate with? Whether musicians, hippies, hipsters, scensters, hip-hop lovers, electronic record spinners, cowpokes , entrepreneurs, writers, theatre artists, photographers, and techies all have their homes too…

While not comprehensive, these are all great factors to consider in the much larger picture that is the artistic environment which you call home. I can dedicate a lot of time to any number of these aspects, but you need to start somewhere after all.

theories Summarized

Well creative cuties, have you got your terrain locked down yet? I hope you spend some time with this one because we all need to work in spaces which are inspiring, comfortable and accessible. Like so many of these themes that tie into the OECD, environment has value. It may be my theory, but it should be yours too. That’s it for now, I’ll see you tomorrow with a timely update.

Tim!

 

Show Me Yours (Art Gallery of Alberta)

The last time I went to the art gallery, I made the mistake of enjoying myself.

This led me to the belief that I didn’t need to visit a gallery for a while, I mean, I’d done my part and contributed to the bigger picture of supporting the arts. I even posted some photos from my visit for social proof. But if I’m being really self-reflective, I should probably visit a local gallery at least once a week. Not because I want to support the institutionalization of art, God that would tragic. No, because it’s important to be inspired by artists and to be informed of what’s going on in that art world of ours. Also, doughnuts.

Metaphorical doughnuts of course. You see dear readers, the history of doughnuts is storied much like the story of art, all perspective and no objectivity. We accept the gallery system, much like we accept the donut, but no one person is capable of upending the mythos or claiming it’s birthright.

By the by, I’ve never liked the term art world, it’s a catch-all for everyone involved in producing, commissioning, presenting, preserving, promoting, chronicling, criticizing, and selling fine art, but what about the people consuming the art, eh? Eh, Pacha?

It’s important to acknowledge the people who spend the most time with the art, the audience. Fuck, they’re the ones that are going to spend the money to support the continued existence of the building(s).

For instance, I went down to the Art Gallery of Alberta last Sunday, January the 15th with my belle and took in a good mix of exhibitions. This is what we saw –

  • Hannah Doerksen: A Story We Tell Ourselves About Ourselves Part mythology, part conspiracy, part vanity project… Doerksen ripped a page straight out of the 80’s and it’s eerie to view this alien display of ancient artifacts
  • Season to Season, Coast to Coast: A Celebration of the Canadian Landscape showcasing paintings from the 19th century to today, this exhibition features works across Canada and in all seasons. It’s a clever nod to the 150th anniversary of Canada and there are some great paintings there
  • David Altmejd: The Vessel essentially a piece on movement, featuring references to the act of creation, my favourite part about this piece was the accompanying gallery of works by other artists that drew connections between the themes in his work
  • The Edge: The Abstract and the Avant-Garde in Canada yet another exhibit focusing on Canadian paintings, this time the draw was the Avant-Garde and how it unfolded at home

But the gallery at large wasn’t exactly brimming with visitors.

There were maybe fifty people in the whole 85,000 sq ft space. I have this theory that part of the problem is parking, another is that ZINC, the on-site restaurant is over-priced and open at weird times, but mostly I think the largest problem is the $10 price tag for each entrance. If the art gallery were free to the public, like the EPL, then attendance would jump from 100 people a day to 300 people or more – and when the EPL was struggling with attendance people were hesitant to pay an annual $12 for a library card.

Overall I enjoyed my recent experience, and it reminded me to keep making art, because I can make better stuff than what it being touted there. And thus I set the stakes for competition.

But you might not be interested in viewing the gallery for the same reasons. Instead, you should set your own expectations and head over at your discretion. Located in the heart of downtown (2 Sir Winston Churchill Square), the AGA is open Tuesdays 11-5, Wednesday & Thursday 11-8, Friday 11-5, and Saturday & Sunday 10-5. The gallery is closed on Mondays and some holidays, but well worth the visit.

Tim!

 

Chick Chickadee, Chick Chickadee, Chick Chick Cheree (The Family Tree series)

Sharing is caring.

At least that’s what the old adage says.

It’s an indication that you are choosing to share something, whether physical or otherwise. But recognizing that you care about the person enough to volunteer something to them, to willingly give without hoping of receiving anything back in return, but knowing that when that feeling is reciprocated, it is all the sweeter of a bond.

That’s probably why my mom pushes us so hard to participate in the family Secret Santa gift exchange we hold each Christmas eve. The intention of the exchange is to draw a name and then make something for another family member on a limited budget. I think the reason she enjoys it so much is that it’s important to her that we do something special for each other, its how she shows love and also the way she feels the most love from others.

It took me a lot of years to realize that fact about her.

Commercial VS Personal

Which is why today I’m going to share one of my most dearly held theories with you.

The theory that there are only really two kinds of art to be made out in the wilderness.

Art that is primarily focused on it’s message or which comes direct from the author, and sometimes  is known as fine art.

The alternative, and this is not a bad thing… is art that is primarily focused on realizing another’s vision and which is paid for by another party upfront, also known as a commission or commercial art.

You see dear readers, you can either make art with the intention of getting paid first or about making a statement first, but you cannot do both. And it is possible for both components to be satisfied, but whatever path you choose will determine the pace of which each component is nurtured first and most. In other words, you can be a successful artist which path you choose, but it takes time to grow that tree.

Kickstart My He(art)

Which is why I made the choice long, long ago, that all of my art would have intention first and be about making a sale second. That was my decision to make, and mine alone, but every creative thing I have made since that decision has been far more rewarding for me and has led to some fantastic opportunities in other areas of my life.

It’s where I came up with the phrase “start with heart, then you’ll make art”

And now the tie-in.

I started this post writing about our family Secret Santa tradition because in 2016 I finally got an opportunity to fulfill a wish for my mom. To build a tree which would support her chickadee drawings that I made for her over six years ago. My mom loves chickadees and the last time I drew her name for Secret Santa, I made a group of them to represent our family.

So over the course of a few weeks this past December, and with a little luck, I was able to sneak into my parents house, borrow her chickadee drawings and determine how best to construct a tree for them.20161213_194924

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After I measured everything, I quickly determined that this project wasn’t going to be done in time no matter what I did. You see dear readers, by deciding what to do with the tree, I had effectively created a theme and an artist statement to go along with it, which made the project incomplete no matter how I resolved it.

The Family Tree

As I later wrote down in a handwritten card to my mother, this tree now represents her and the chickadees on it are her immediate family.

My dad, my two brothers, my sister, myself, and now my brother’s fiancee. So the project may be complete, and yet, it isn’t. As each of the children grow and potentially come into relationships, we’ll add more chickadees to the tree for her to support and love. And as grandchildren show up, there will be even more chickadees to fill that tree. A testament to her strong roots and protective branches, nurturing us with the leaves and berries that grow up and outward.

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So as you can clearly see, and as I have already mentioned, this is a project that while now completed, really has no end in sight, but the intention makes it all the more meaningful. And on top of that, as you are beginning to see, all of my artwork is related to conceptions of identity self-imposed, self-reflective, self-directed, etc.

I hope that this post has inspired you for yet another week out there in the wilderness, creative cuties. I’m out of theories for now. I’ll see you on Sunday with an interview preview, featuring a friend of mine named Byron.

Tim!