Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stave Falls Artist Group

Stave Falls Artist Group

The November Back Room show features work by twelve members of the Fraser Valley's Stave Falls Artist Group (SFAG). With one exception, a pen and ink sketch of Monet's House by Maria Daley, the twenty-eight other works are framed oil paintings ranging in price from $200 to closer to $2000. The subject matter sweeps from bucolic landscapes, some identified with West Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and Chilcotin place names, to beach and boating scenes, garden, pond hockey, and urban street scenes, still lifes, and figures -- window shoppers, boaters, lady, ballet dancer, bride. The level of skill is universally high and the choices of subject matter, although exhibiting great variety, are also universally appealing to this viewer. If I were forced to pick a favourite, it would probably be the bride portrait, but for no other reason than purely personal--the goddess allusion that for me all bride images evoke. The paintings are all beautiful and attractive, especially the way they play with light and colour; all celebrate our place and our lifestyles.

In an effort to make one useful observation, I felt several times that the frames, although beautiful, seem too heavy for the paintings they feature and have the negative effect of distracting the viewer from the work. But in the end, giving them all sufficient time, in the tug-of-war between beauty and security, between focus and frame, art wins.

The artists with works on display include: Bev Beresh, Bobbie Mac, Lynne Zimmerman, Shannon Coates, Janis Eaglesham, Linda Bishop, Stephen Dobson, Melanie Jane, Maria Daley, Gina Rubin, and Ron Hedrick. Jessica Hedrick is listed as an honorary member. Along with information about the history of the SFAG and its founder, boxed sets of Christmas Cards are on display, available for sale. The SFAG works are in the Back Room, Hope Arts Gallery, Hope, BC, from November 1 to 28, 2008.
The artist whose beautiful landscape is used on the poster is Melanie Jane. The group's website is: http://www.stavefallsartistgroup.com/ Check it out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bronze Sculpture

Bronze Sculpture

For the month of October, 2008, the Back Room showcases the work of Hope sculptor Henry Weaver. A plaster Neptune, dolphins, and a brass Vladimir greet you. In the Back Room, of the variety of pieces in bronze and plaster, the horses with mounted riders (Britiannicus/King Arthur, Andalusian) seem to catch the viewer's attention first. Perhaps it is the animal forms, the draught-horse detail, or the audacity, the very idea of imagining the mythic Brit as a real man in the costume of a specific era. Two boxers eye each other in the pause before the punch. A Greek and Persian warrior tableau evokes recovered bronzes of lost civilizations, yet the story is right out of a Hollywood epic. There is a commemorative plaque, a balletic Victory, and finally, three interesting portrait heads which make you want to linger, to circle, to nod, to breathe, Yes! Beautiful.

The very presence of bronze statuary seems somewhat intimidating (before any reference to price). There is so much more to creating the art object beyond the concept, original sketches, revised drafts, and artist's completed 3D model in clay or plaster. A formal manufacturing process involves sending the work out to a foundry where, before or after, the sculpture is adjusted for scale and goes through several stages involving armatures, rubber molds, wax positives, lost wax, chasing, investing, pouring, devesting, welding, more chasing, patina. (See http://www.modernsculpture.com/bronze.htm ) It is an alchemy thousands of years old. This fact too inspires awe--here in a small town in British Columbia in the twenty-first century artists are making objects in the same way artists have from the bronze age forward. This is a continuity which says something about both art and the human condition.

Henry Weaver spoke last month at the Philosopher's Cafe. His definitions of art and of the difference between fine art and commercial art help elucidate his Back Room show. Fine art, he said, is a pleasing object created for itself. Commercial art is art created to sell something else. We stopped there (before getting into "graphic", "design", or "craft", an object created for a specific function.) Henry pointed out that what the artist chooses to focus upon communicates what the artist values. Thus, the show in the Back Room suggests to this viewer an interest in history, mythology, heroes and concepts of heroism, leadership, nobility, physical activity, strength, competition, grace, humanity, and human diversity. The objects further evoke feelings in this viewer of Independence and Celebration and arouse questions about What is Beauty? and Why are History and Art Important? For if the work shows what the artist values, does not the artist show us what we and what our culture should value, ideals to which we aspire? Without ever telling anyone what to think or do, without ever using the word "should", art can highlight our best attributes and achievements, as individuals, as nations, as the human race. When it works, when it connects with the viewer, fine art creates a feeling of "identification" between object and viewer, identification in the sense of recognizing in the object or the other something within or desired within yourself. Henry refers to this as "the connection" and suggests that bronze invites viewers to touch, indeed permits touch as a physical response to that psychological connection. Perhaps this idea of identification explains why, for this viewer, the four female figures, Victory and the three heads, are most appealing, because art at the viewer's level is very personal, and gender is part of our personal experience of the world.

This is Henry Weaver's first solo show. Images of some of his sculpture on display in the Back Room can be viewed on the family website: www.johnweaverfinearts.com/

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Joy of Play




The Joy of Play
I am having so much fun playing with old and new photographs on my computer. I've started by trying to save shots I like that were not quite ready for prime time. Here are three: "Lynden Koi," "Notre Dame des Arbres," and "Water Under the Bridge".

All photos on Earthabridge are Copyright jmb; enjoy them, like flowers, and please do not take.

A Brush with Creation

A Brush With Creation

A Brush With Creation features two friends who have exhibited together in the Hope Arts Gallery Back Room for several years--Jenny Wolpert and Shirley Wotherspoon.

The first impression from the threshold of the room is awe, incredulity. So many pieces, so much work, new work, all completed since last year's show. Almost overwhelming. You tell yourself to focus: on this wall, then this wall, then this, and this, and this.

To your right, Shirley has two jewel-toned crazy-quilt inspired stitched fabric landscapes, "Mountain Lake", "Moons Up", with four large acrylic landscapes. Straight ahead, Jenny's two colourful quilted fabric hangings, "Legends of the West" and "Flight to Freedom" are featured, along with digital collage paintings beside oil paintings and encaustic paintings by Shirley. The end wall features a large mixed media painting of Jenny's, "Dancing to the Exit", its yellows repeating Shirley's fall landscape above it. The fourth wall holds a mixture of acrylic paintings and smaller watercolour landscapes by both artists, and a shelf with small paintings and Jenny's pine needle sculptures and decorated gourds. The gourds are trimmed with stitchery and painted with a mysterious hieroglyphics first seen on the hanging featured behind the front desk. This object, some sort of fabric--is it plastic? is it leather?--attracts first by its uniqueness. It is peach-coloured with a grey shadow pattern, over-stitched, scribed with those same turquoise shapes giving an impression of glyphs, as if the shapes contain/conceal/reveal meaning. "Stelae of a Passing Culture: History detectives speculate about the rise and fall of culture. Why did this civilization fail? Will they identify the lowly pine beetle?" Aha, the subtextual pattern is that of the stains in pine-beetle-destroyed wood.

Although their work is very different, there are always surprising connections between these two artists. Exuberant colours. Nature. Explorations of several different media each. Shirley uses acrylic, oil, and watercolour paints as well as encaustic and fabric to portray natural objects, scenes, and settings. One painting shows a cabin on Mt. Ogilvie, another a bear popping out of a bush. The other nineteen pieces show no signs of human habitation beyond a footpath which could just as easily be a deer trail. It is as if she has chosen to focus upon Beauty and Peace, and to explore that beauty in several different media.


Jenny's work--fabric art, acrylic and watercolour paintings, photography, digital collage, pine needle weaving, decorated gourds--tends to feature symbolic and mythic creatures such as coyote, salmon, and eagle in the fabric art, or swans, bears, and butterflies in the collages, dead trucks, and humans moving through a landscape. There are men in meaningful pursuits (walking with briefcase on highway, exploding) or girls (in adolescent glory, rising from a sea shell, dancing with trailing ribbons) in allusive and symbolic poses. Jenny also engages viewers with the written commentary to each work, explaining some of her own observation, inspiration, or interpretation. The comments in many of these captions suggest that Jenny works to transform anger into art, pain into beauty.

Two different artists. One great show, in the Back Room at the Hope Arts Gallery, Hope, British Columbia, until September 28, 2008.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Four Corners





Four Corners



The Back Room Show for August (2008) features four artists in at least as many different media. They have not exactly each claimed a corner, but each artist has definitely staked out her own territory. The beauty of the world, the "richness of our surroundings" inspires each artist.



Lona Munck's gentle watercolour, oil, and acrylic landscapes set a serene mood in the natural world. The delicate touch and calm muted colours are very appealing. The local, upper Fraser Valley, Agassiz/Harrison Lake scenes, including varied landscapes such as alpine, waterfalls, forest, glacier, river, fireweed, help celebrate the local. "My goal is to share with you, my joy in color, line, form, shape, and design." she says on her website www.freewebs.con/lonasviews



Diane MacKenzie's paintings are, for the most part, larger, which helps them capture viewer attention in an eclectic collection. The feature pastoral of contented dairy cows under a shady tree carries on the celebration of the local. A photograph from the 1950's of two "rebels without a cause", complete with cigarettes, undershirts, blue jeans, and old car, almost presents a lesson in creating art from life. The artist has transformed the photograph into a graphite wash sketch and into an enlarged sepia-toned watercolour, both very effective. Other subjects lean more towards farmyard and garden. Her roses are so convincing you feel as if you can smell them.



Anna Johnstad-Moller's photographs offer another way of looking. Two large iconic images, one of a Swedish thatch-roofed house, another of a white-painted church, emphasize how important is choice of subject to a photographer's goals. And an interesting collection of beach shots, from fly fisherman to close-ups of kelp and bubbles of vegetation, reminds us of how the camera both directs us and helps us to see. AJ-M also displays pine needle baskets and woven sage incense, and some beautiful postcards of her photographs.



Finally, Diane Ferguson's raku is breath-taking. Occupying the corner opposite the entrance, it sucks you right in, down on your knees, to look. Too slow, when I went back to photograph the large Chihuly-inspired bowls, they were already gone. One was dark with royal blue interior; the second was the iridescent copper I associate more with raku. Together they forced the viewer into a dilemma--how can one possibly choose one over the other? The large swimming fish sculptures are also very appealing, colourful, humourous, oozing character, personality. My flash only helped heighten the subtlety of colour and texture.



Any one of these artists could shoulder a show of her own. Together, they offer an almost over-whelming potpourri of beautiful creations which inhabit the Back Room at the Hope Arts Gallery in Hope, BC until August 29, 2008.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Canyons of Glass

the purple cow i never saw
wandered concrete canyons of glass
gazed at Landscape Spirits in awe
gave the boulder pool a pass







In rivers the water you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes. So with time present. -- Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rural Life

Rural Life

As Ian Tyson says of Charlie Russell, "get her all down before she goes . . . you gotta get her all down cause she's bound to go." A similar sense of urgency underlies Linda Bishop's two dozen paintings in the new Back Room Show. The Rural Life--A Collection of Original Oils Depicting Life in the Country focuses on the creatures with which we live--chickens, sheep, cattle, and horses. There are no barns or factory farms for these animals. They live in a green world where you can see the swish of a long graceful tail, hear the bawl of a protesting cow, the scratch of chickens dancing, the jangle of harness. The cattle portraits especially, groups in a pasture or jostling for winter feed, individuals scratching on a favourite tree or resting in the shade, capture "personality", a "knowing" intelligence, curiosity, the uniqueness of individuals, the way in which they watch us as carefully as we watch them. One Bossie stretches into a welcome scratch behind the ears from a trusted friend who is the only human figure in the show. There are also several landscapes--waterlilies on a creek, a slough, a rippled stream in spring edged with red osier, a mauve sunset. And there is one grouping of still lifes, various arrangements of pieces from a gold-trimmed Blue Mikado-pattern tea set--cups and saucers, creamer, sugar tray and tongs, tea pot, a crumpled table cloth, warm sunlight.

What is the link between an antique tea service, an object not necessarily limited to rural settings, and the cattle, horses, sheep, and chickens in Bishop's countryside? Perhaps it is the celebration of a fragile threatened existence. The joy in hard work and simple pleasures. Taking notice and taking care. Enjoying the beauty in nature and man-made objects. Nurturing. Humour. Respect for each other and for the animate world in which we are set. Respect for tradition. For traditions we inherit. Traditions, like the tea set, like the passion for country living. Values which we inherit from earlier generations, which we choose to inform our lives, when we choose to move to the country, to remain rural, in spite of encroaching development, the houses, golf courses, people crowding agricultural land. These paintings portray things we return to again and again as an antidote to the rush and noise of modern life. Things which give meaning to existence, purpose beyond our self-centred anxieties.

Linda Bishop's paintings of rural beauty inspire thoughts and feelings; they will be in the Back Room of the Hope Arts Gallery until the end of July (2008). Catch them before they go.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Purple Cow


The Purple Cow

My project for this first summery weekend -- transforming the old cow. The blotchy lighting hides wrinkles and peeling underpaint. Co-Bossy greets visitors and subtly encourages them to use the handrails. She is an homage to a rural heritage, and an allusion to my first favourite poem--Gelett Burgess' "The Purple Cow": "I never saw a purple cow, / I never hope to see one. / But this I will say anyhow / I'd rather see than be one."


Monday, June 9, 2008

Earth Chi Show


Earth Chi

Earth Chi -- Photographer's Vision

In photography, as in life, I try to focus on what is here and not to fuss about what is not. The content of my images is all-important --subject, composition, colour, line, light, space, relationships, pattern, repetition, icons, process, concept, emotion, evocation. The camera is a simple tool helping me see; I haven't yet moved into the technology of lens or f-stops or computer tweaking. The art, I hope, is in the seeing. Every shot aims to celebrate the beauty in which we live, the beauty that is the CHI, the life force, coming and going. In the everyday, in natural abstractions, Chi assumes many forms and reveals itself in many ways. Rumi says: "The beauty you craved in things was always my glimmer seen through a veil. Turn around and see where beauty comes from!"
IN those in-between spaces, places where one realm--earth, water, fire, air--meets another, Chi is the link, the connection. Where elements meet and mix, Chi is the hovering fog, emerging mist, rushing water, swirling cloud.
Vancouver Reveal
Yellowstone Pool
Kettle River Snag
IN rock abraded, canyons carved by water, Chi is Dylan Thomas' "force that drives the water through the rocks"; it is Neil Young's " . . . ancient river bending / Down the timeless gorge of changes."
Coquihalla Canyon
Coquihalla Wall - Turquoise Water
IN the soft curve of lines--valleys "the moon could roll in", roadbeds copying the contours, ripple marks scribing the ebb and flow--Chi is the movement, the spiral, the gyre of the life force traced on the Earth's skin.
English Bay Ripple Marks
Anarchist Lookout
IN the lines marking growth, Chi manifests as energy transformed into matter. As the Elders say, "Everything on the Earth is of the Earth."
Tree Fungus - Up Silver-Skagit Road
IN the beauty of blossoms reaching from Earth's darkness towards the sun, Chi is Dylan Thomas' "force that through the green fuse drives the flower." As Neil Young said of rows, "Just another line / In the field of time."
Wild Bleeding Hearts - Up Silver-Skagit Road
Tree Peony - Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden
Tulip Fields - Seabird Island, Agassiz
IN energy, fire, sun, light, and the colours light shatters into, Chi is. Photography is writing with light, fixing the Chi on to paper.
Red Maples 1 & 2 - Hope Friendship Garden
Blue Plum Bloom
IN the spark of curiosity, interest, intelligence, love, Chi is the life energy, that force flowing through all things seeking to connect.
Quinn
Julie
IN the nominative tags and narrative lines by which we mark our places and tell our stories, Chi is the creative energy, the imagination we use to calm our anxiety, to attach ourselves to the planet.
Salish (Siwash) Rock
Flood Falls
IN the spirit within, which we seek, Chi is the transformer, offering new life in a new form. In Leonard Cohen's words: "There's a blaze of light / In every word / it doesn't matter which you heard / The holy or the broken Hallelujah."
3 Old Churches--Yale Museum, Portage la Prairie Museum, and an Apiary on the Back Road to Bridesville.
IN the beauty of decomposition, the eternal chipping away, in the drying up, the withdrawing of green, the sagging ruins, Chi is the suck as the life force departs.
Cracks with Grass - Cheam Pit
Yellow Leaves - Old Yale Road Dead End
Landstrom Ridge Cabin
Stonehenge
Compositions in Rust 1 & 2 - On the Beach at Yale
IN the dead tree, the rock being eaten, Chi is the suck as new life nurses; "the leaf is mother to the tree".
Nurse Log with Fungus and Fern - Up Silver-Skagit Road
Moss Eating Rock, Cactus Flowering - On the Ranch, Kettle Valley
Lilacs, Family Cemetery - Kettle Valley
IN the blood in our bodies, the oxygen pumped, Chi is the pulse of the Earth.
IN the air in our lungs, in songs that are sung, Chi is the breath of the planet.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

East to West Travels

East to West Travels: a Review

An abundance of Lora Armbruster paintings in oil and acrylics fill the Back Room at the Hope Arts Gallery. From miniatures a few centimetres in dimension to almost picture-window size (with a price range to match, from $20-something to $1200), these scenes express a passion for travel and a love of Canadian landscape. They move from Annapolis to Niagara Falls, through abandoned prairie homesteads, Alberta Hoo Doos, to fallen rainforest totems and west coast lighthouses, interspersed with scenes at a beach, boat rentals on a lake, a lazy morning river, and colourful flora and fauna--hydrangeas, larkspur, tomatoes, red peony, cow parsnip, orchid, mixed bouquets, a magnificent owl, hens, a herd of powerful buffalo, and watchful antelope alert amongst the hay bales.

Armbruster identifies one of her goals as "using harmonious colour to communicate something to the viewer--feelings, memories, and more." Some of the paintings go beyond representations of nature's beauty, becoming wise commentaries upon the passage of time, the importance of memory and nostalgia. In 'All in Passing" a grandfather and grandson watch an old train slide by a row of elevators. An abandoned house almost disappears into a magnificent sunset in the same way that fallen totems sink into the "Land of Spirits".

At the well-attended opening May 4, Lora was introduced as: "She came to BC for the Commonwealth Games in 1954 and never went home." Audience reactions, ranging from envy to inspiration, is best summarized in another' painter's succinct comment: "Wow!"

East to West Travels stop in the Back Room at the Hope Arts Gallery, Hope, BC, from May 1 to May 28, 2008.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

April--Flora and Fauna


Flora and Fauna

A curvaceous slash of hot pink feathers greets you as you step into the room, the boa in its own way, with colour and natural medium, both separating and uniting the work of two painters, Sharon Blythe and J'nia Fowler, sharing the exhibition space with their Flora and Fauna.

Sharon's bold and exuberant "phat fairies" frolic in a martini glass, lounge in the pink luxury of petals in "Sleepy Afternoon" and "Catching a Few Rays". Her exquisite watercolour flora--lilies, hydrangea, thistle, grapes, as well as the matted paintings of bamboo and exotic birds--are a Canadian fusion, extrapolating upon the single-stroke Chinese brush painting style. Greeting cards of Sharon's work make her art accessible to everyone.

The flora theme repeats in J'nia Fowler's colourful northern landscapes where Van Gogh meets the Group of Seven. In these fifteen new acrylic paintings, she captures stormy skies, snowscapes, light, sunset, but also movement, emotion, mood. Her brush strokes suggest rather than replicate; her trees would make a grapple-hook want to hug instead. As a viewer, you know you want one of these canvases; you just cannot decide which to pick. The rapid development of J'nia's style since her last exhibit has commentators insisting that we will all be saying "I knew her when . . . "

Flora and Fauna inhabits the Backroom of the Hope Arts Gallery, Hope, BC from April 1to April 28, 2008.

March--Recent Works

Recent Works

Delicate and Serene are my 'first impressions' of Lori Motokado's large watercolours on display in the Hope Arts Gallery. An old boat docked in Harrison lures me through the hallway tunnel. In the Backroom, a dozen more familiar scenes. Boats in Nelson and Steveston. A casual display of battered trunks at the Kilby Museum in Harrison Mills suggests travel and a time warp. A toy wagon, a tricycle evoke nostalgia for a childhood of long ago. Another tricycle, stashed in the Kettle Valley Museum in Midway, is a streamlined rocket of the 1930s whose design is so fast and sleek and modern, it was way ahead of cool. The plant portraits—bamboo, an apple branch laden with blossoms, a frilled tulip bud, a blue balloon bursting to pop, all atop the palest suggestion of a wash—are images of transformation, capturing the moment when one thing becomes another.

Artifacts, horticulture, waterfronts are subjects and scenes which could be 'anywhere', yet the artist's graceful captions locate them specifically, while at the same time expanding upon her inspiration—“to make the ordinary extraordinary”. Indeed, as the images capture and hold our attention, we identify with the battered luggage and the abandoned toys which have moved from function to fondly forgotten. We too will cycle through stages, ages, places of storage; we will live in memory, evoke nostalgia. This art helps us feel more fully aware and thus, more fully alive. Everyday objects become iconic; the light and colour, translucent, luminous, numinous. Focusing on the beauty in which we live, these paintings are elegiac in the best sense—a mourning for our lost selves, a celebration of the way we were, a recognition of what is to come, and hope, in the buds of spring.

Lori Motokado lives in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Her recent watercolours hang in the Hope Arts Gallery Back Room from March 1 to 28, 2008.

February--Been There Done That

Been There Done That

Sheila Patzke’s Been There Done That opens the Hope Arts Gallery Backroom Exhibits for 2008. Langley resident Patzke’s vibrant acrylics and watercolours, often simple sketches in bold colours on generous white space, with an emphasis on line and curl, exude energy and enthusiasm. The variety of subject matter--florals, critters, landscapes, seascapes, still life, and people, people, people—are loosely collected around a ‘hurdy-gurdy’ saloon girl theme of follies and fun. With Barbie-long legs and scandalous costumes, the girls of the dance stage and bistro settings evoke both Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas. Patzke has added to the appeal of her show, two dozen paintings ranging from seventy to under five hundred dollars, by offering smaller versions of her works on greeting cards. Attractive portfolio binders provide a retrospective of her career. Her artist’s statement says simply that her creativity is inspired by things she sees. The comments in the guest book confirm that people in the crowd attending the opening were inspired by what they saw. An invocation to spring, a celebration of life lived, of joy, Been There Done That is in the Backroom of the Hope Arts Gallery in Hope, BC, from February 1 to February 28, 2008.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

SYMBOL


Symbol


Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland

One of the good things about belonging to a book club is reading a writer new to me. The prize in this category for last year (2007) goes to Douglas Coupland’s HEY NOSTRADAMUS! It was my first Douglas Coupland, a much-published Vancouver writer and artist. This is the same Douglas Coupland credited with coining the ‘Generation X’ label. His GIRLFRIEND IN A COMA has been waiting in my TO-READ stack for several months, and his JPod is currently a series on CBC. How have I missed Coupland, reading as I have in CanLit for several decades? That fact that he seems somehow to be outside the CanLit sphere is a sad comment on our Left Coast and how disconnected we often feel to life east of the Rockies.


Although you would not guess as much from the title, HEY NOSTRADAMUS! is set very particularly in Canada, specifically in North Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. What is even better is the way Coupland uses place for purposes of plot, character development, and theme. His setting is the “Bible belt” and one of his themes seems to be the connection between religion and evil events in society (in this case, a school shooting in North Van and its effects on the four point-of-view characters). The shooting which initiates the action of the novel reminds us of Columbine but is certainly also alluding to similar shootings in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta. This strikes me as a comment upon how the American-media filter through which we view pop culture and current events distances and separates us from our own Canadian reality.

The crucial role religion plays in the emotional and physical violence of HEY NOSTRADAMUS! is a brave theme for any writer. The title, linking us to a sixteenth century European visionary, forces us to confront the puzzle which many cultures ponder--whether we control our own destiny or whether everything is pre-ordained. The way Coupland has integrated the Sasquatch myth is also masterful. Sasquatch, the local Halkomelem name for the creature known elsewhere as Bigfoot, is part of the culture of the First People of this place and seems to represent, as it does in Eden Robinson’s MONKEY BEACH, the survival of Spirit / Magic / Wonder in a non-believing world.

Reading this book, enjoying it as much as I did, makes me wonder: Why isn’t Douglas Coupland even more celebrated? I did see him once, at a function at the Vancouver Museum, and realized as I listened in on a private conversation that it was the first time I had ever heard him speak. More recently, because of JPod and a new novel release, THE GUN THIEF, I’ve heard him interviewed on Sounds Like Canada and The Hour. It’s about time; we need more of this. We need our own Canadian Charlie Rose, someone not ashamed of “talking heads”, who will invite creative people (more than celebrities), cultural builders, eccentrics, and engage them in intelligent conversation upon which the rest of us can eavesdrop. Hey, Canada!

Check out Amazon.com for a list of titles and Coupland.com for a reveal of what the cover image represents.

Oops! 500 words

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

AVERAGE

AVERAGE

The prompt for this first filing of 2008 is “average”. Aspiring to be average. It comes from that feeling of being somehow different, labeled the dreaded “eccentric”, somewhere between “off” (off centre) and “crazy”.

I was reading in a Globe & Mail at the coffee shop that the average Canadian reader read 34 books last year, 2007. That makes me almost “average”! The 36 books I read in 2007 means that my list is down by more than a dozen; my usual annual page-turning achievement hovers around 50. Why was this last year so “down” for me? Too busy? Too much TV? Both of the above, plus more days away from home than usual, and more days home but otherwise engaged. With the gift of guests. With joining the artists guild and all that goes with it--preparing photos to frame and hang, making cards to sell, prep for workshops and craft sale, attending meetings and openings. The second half of my year included a fascinating writing project, and, a new experience for me, hosting an international student here in Canada to learn English. Excuses. Excuses. But what they all have in common is “too busy living” to read about other people living. Resolve #1: this new year, I will make the time to read more.

I’ve been averaging, in previous postings, over 1000 words per blog. Perhaps length is one reason why sitting down to blog seems intimidating. Perhaps my average needs adjusting. Yet the most depressing thing I heard last year is that a blog should be 200 words long, 250 max. 200 words? You can not be serious. No, I mean, how can one be serious in 200 words. Not enough time to think; not enough space to develop a thought. 200 words is an ad. Amusing perhaps, manipulative, targeted, with one point. OK. Better than 2000 words with no point. Resolve #2: I will write 200 words. I will continue to protect the Eartha persona, and to honour the anonymity and dignity of family, friends, clients, and acquaintances. Resolve #3: I will post weekly.

Eccentric Quote: “Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.” – John Stuart Mill (79 words)