She Paints (Edmonton Valley Zoo)

Zoos are controversial, apparently.

Some people think that we shouldn’t cage animals, like at all. Because of a few different reasons of course.

And they just might be right.

  1. Captivity can make animals unstable. Zoochosis is a condition where some animals pace back and forth, others injure themselves, and the rest seem to move their heads from side to side or back and forth frequently.
  2. Zoos are profitable businesses. This means that baby animals are traffic drivers but older animals are not, and are often sold off.
  3. Endangered species don’t live in zoos. Lots of zoos claim to care for rare animals and breed them for longevity of the species, but not for preservation.
  4. Limited education opportunities. Signage out front of animal displays only cover the basics, animals don’t exhibit normative behaviours, and people spend little time at each display.
  5. Enclosures are dangerous. For animals anyway. They eat thrown away trash, sometimes face negligence, and are a secondary consideration in the event of natural disasters, like floods and wildfires.

Walk With The Animals

But I wanted to visit the Edmonton Valley Zoo for myself this weekend. It reminds me of my youth, its located in the heart of the river valley, and it’s open every day of the year except for Christmas day. Owned and operated by the City of Edmonton, this zoo has by accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

I know it’s weird for me to write about a zoo, which has little to do with the arts, except I’ve known an artist activist or two in my lifetime, and there is an elephant there who likes to paint sometimes. If that’s a thing, and not training.

It’s a big part of Edmonton history, just like Fort Edmonton Park. Founded back in 1959, replacing the Borden Park Zoo which was on the property that currently serves as Northlands, it was called Storyland Valley Zoo up until 2010, when it went under some major renovations. Why Storyland? Because a big section of the park featured nursery rhyme characters.

The zoo is also home to over 350 animals (both exotic and local, including hundreds of squirrels) and it houses over 100 different species.

Edmonton Valley Zoo regularly hosts events and raises funds through conservation efforts – the Makira Conservation Fund, Red Panda Network, and the Species Survival Plan to restore endangered animal populations to the wild. And things like letting children take on the role of a veterinarian of an animal hospital to see what zoo veterinarians do. After Edmonton City Council decided to inject $50 million into the zoo, we’ve seen the property expand to one and a half times its previous size. The Arctic Shores exhibit and The Wander Trail being key elements in the facelift.

Additionally the zoo is home to the Inner Zoo (formerly Storyland Valley Zoo), Makira Outpost, Carnivore Alley, Elephant House and Exhibit, Saito Center, African Veldt, Back Paddocks, and the Birds of Prey area.

So there are two sides to this story of whether captive animals are happy or not.

But let’s talk about Lucy for a minute.


Lucy is the elephant which lives in the Elephant House and Exhibit – at over 4000 kg and forty two years young.

Something of a charmer, and called a peoples elephant by her adoptive herd, she visits with the public at least few times a day and supposedly loves to spend time with her zoo family. Many people have come from all over the world to see Lucy, and we’ve seen our share of protestors ready to come and rescue her from the zoo, including Bob Barker of Price Is Right fame. Lucy was orphaned in Sri Lanka and was brought to the Edmonton Valley Zoo through partnership with the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage and Colombo Zoo when she was two years old.

theories Summarized

Do I think zoos are inherently evil? No. Do I think they are awesome? No to that too.

People have been domesticating animals since we’ve been able to, and the same can be said for eating them. I generally hold the opinion that eating meat is an acceptable way to go, but I’m not overly stoked at the prospect of it. That said, the zoo is a place to go and see beautiful creatures, living and breathing. As a visual artist, I firmly believe that seeing something in person is far better for your creative eye then on film, but I’ll let you battle that out in the comments. Theories and all.

I’m off to the zoo this weekend? How about you?


Sweetheart Swing (Sugar Swing Ballroom)

Did you know that one of my very first posts (read: the fourth one) was about dancing, dear readers?

Just over two years ago, and hot off the heels of New Years Eve, I wrote a cute little post about a social night. A night at what was then called Sugar Swing Dance Club.

Dancing With Myself

Some of my learnings from that night were clear to me and still ring very true – I wanted to be healthier, have more social intelligence, and feel inspired to make visual art by whatever creative experience I exposed myself to. Well, those of you that have been there from the start of timotheories definitely would remember that post. I mean, it’s only been about 330 posts ago, so of course you’d remember, right?

It’s back when we were young and beautiful.


Other things I learned that night quickly disappeared from my memory – the names of my fellow dance lesson participants, what songs played, what I wore, and most importantly, the dance moves I learned.

Definitely the dance moves were forgotten.

Hey Ya!

But you see, a lot has happened since then, I went on some dates, changed jobs no less then three times, moved, bought a lot of movies and albums, and made a ton of new friends while I learned how to edit videos. I even reconciled a broken bridge with one of my oldest friends. And now I’m in a newish relationship, one that is going rather swimmingly and which makes my heart pitter patter.


But to pause the love thoughts, the reason why I forgot the dance moves is because I did it ONE TIME, of course I forgot the moves. And so I decided to get my girlfriend a Sweetheart Swing couples dance package for Christmas, so that I could learn some more moves, she could ease herself back into dancing, and we could do something arts related together.

We had our first lesson at the new Sugar Swing studio last week.

Our instructors are neat, the new building is nice (but still in construction), and the location is ideal. It’s been a good idea so far, and I hope to share my learnings when it’s all said and done (hint: February post).

But now you’re probably wondering the details. This is a timely post after all.

The Sugar Foot Ballroom is now located at 10019 – 80 Ave, Edmonton Alberta, and is open
both Friday and Saturday nights for drop-in lessons and social dances. If you are interested in taking a program of any sort, like the package Mysticque and I are taking, then you should definitely check out the lessons page of the Sugar Swing site! Other than that, I don’t any theories to share. At least until Sunday!


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.



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


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.


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.


To Be That Which Never Was (Sehnsucht Fernweh For Pseudokinds series)

It’s that time again friends!

I want to share something with you. Something special – Specifically to remind you that you don’t really need to shape the aesthetics of your art for anyone other than yourself. You know this already, but it’s always a good reminder when someone who is also making art gives you a hug and let’s you know that everything is going to be okay. That you can make it.

Besides, who doesn’t love a hug?


This theory is something you should always hold onto and know in your heart of hearts. Not the theory of hugs, though that’s super valid, but the theory that you should make art for yourself.

Having written that out, and now that I’ve given you a moment to reflect upon your own awesome skillfulness, I’m going to tell you a not so secret secret dear readers – Sometimes you can find a way to have your cake and eat it too. Sometimes you can make art for the people and art for yourself.

You see, whether you make music for a living, perform in a theatre or make visual art it is completely legitimate to prepare separate bodies of work to keep yourself motivated and allow your mind to wonder from time to time. And let’s be honest, you know I’m willing to list a multitude of creative professions to make the point that art is not only for musicians, actors, and visual artists. But I won’t do that in the essence of time.

Art For The People

A couple of years after I finished university, I had this brilliant idea with my girlfriend at the time. No, not that idea. The idea was that I actually could make artwork that referenced where I came from and what I grew up with, and that fit inside a commercial ideal, without boring myself to tears.

You see creative cuties, there is this silly notion out there that you should paint (insert other appropriate art form) what you know. But as a white, CIS, sapiosexual, heterosexual male who grew up in a big city, but didn’t really follow the typical tropes of hockey, farming, construction or oil fields that are attached to that city, I didn’t really have much ground to work with. Well, at least that’s what I thought.

The thing is, it’s pretty easy to use your ethnic background, childhood, ideologies or any number of personal artefacts to inspire your art. And then it hit me. I know nothing about either of my parents small town upbringings, but much like looking through old family photos and having a sense of nostalgia for that which we never experienced, I could capture that through a series of photos about rural Alberta.

Sehnsucht Fernweh For Pseudokinds

Thus I began to produce a series of work that predominantly features trains – because bitches love trains. And while I do plan to expand the series outward to feature other farming implements and anchors like fields, grain elevators and the like, I’m a man of simple means sometimes, so patience is a virtue with me. You see friends, I have a pretty heavy German background, according to my most recent ancestors, though I suspect it’s a lot more diverse than that.

And yet, somehow that’s an easy identifier.

My goal with this series, as I mentioned, is to put work out there that offers some insight into my own feelings about my imagined sense of identity (a potentially heavy task for those who didn’t go through an academic ringer like I did). You see, though I have no real ties to this story I’m developing, I make work about it, because my chosen art form is a visual language and provides commentary on the subject. I can easily share and sell the work and feel no sense of less, and yet, as I continue to make it, it becomes more of a piece of my identity, much like participating in a family heritage assigns it a part of who you are.

The series is called Sehnsucht Fernweh For Pseudokinds, which loosely translates to “nostalgic longing” of “far off places you haven’t visited” of pseudo “kids.” All taken from the German language, a good reminder of where I’ve never been.

As mentioned already, I’ll continue to expand upon this series over time and share more works with you, but as always my creative cuties, I encourage you to make your own work, find ways to make that which makes you happy. Whether it has a conceptual framework or not.

Of course, one last bit of consideration, if you are interested in commissions, prices of the work I’ve included in today’s post, or if you want more information about the series, please leave some comments below or email me at

And lastly, please follow the blog to get even more awesome content in the future. I’m out of theories for the week, please have an excellent weekend friends, and I’ll see you on Sunday with a preview of this months interview! It’ll be a fun one.