Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm?


2 Comments

Research methods

This spring term has been spine-cracking difficult, not just because of the workload but because of what it’s transforming in me – a requirement of fulfilling what has been assigned:  Read the following ten books by next week; comment and engage in discussion online re same; define a research question and complete a lit review by the week after; build two presentations for the same two weeks 1. about narrative research 2. synopsis and discussion of a major thesis paper related to your subject….

…write a final Research Study Paper Proposal (35%) and hand it in by the end of June; change your mind about your own capacities for this work, now; imagine yourself as a much larger and more efficient person, now; sort out your philosophical and methodological tendencies; ask if you have any questions…

I come up for air to tuck into a quick poster design for a show at Leith Church in July. I realize as I make a poster using these photos that in July I get to rehearse, trade stories, laugh and cry with the persons in the photos.  Then we perform together. Who gets this in their life?!?!

poster draft, missing photo credits, and ticket information. Here is the former: Tom Thomson (Canadian 1877 – 1917), Soft Maple in Autumn, 1914. oil on plywood, 25.5 x 17.8 cm Collection of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario, gift of Louise (Thomson) Henry, sister of Tom Thomson, 1967, Photo credit: Michelle Wilson. Ann Michaels photo is ©2009 Marzena Pogrozaly; david sereda photo is © John Fearnall @ GoodNoise Photography. Also, you should come to this if you can. It will be more than magical.

I come up for air to meet my incredible lifelong friends at Summit Place retirement lodge where my dad is, and stumble through some challenging but lovely music. Little Fugue, Brandenburg III, Danny Boy.  Dad cries, as he always has when I play for him.  Another resident tells me afterwards that listening to us play blew the dust off his soul.

porcupine teenager, retreating after I asked him firmly to stop eating the plywood at the shore bothy. They kept coming for hours, until I firmly shooed his mama (HUGE) with a few stones, and brought all plywood inside, at 3am.

I come up for air and find myself waking at the shore, staring at an endless infinity of my friend, the Bay, who is so much a part of who I am

I come up for air and find myself playing Sibelius and the Bach Double in the midst of a high school orchestra in Meaford

I come up for air, blink my astonishment at the world, then dive back in to a deeper understanding of how much I don’t know, dive again for pearls of transformation.  Find my gills, drink humility again and again, knowing it is elixir.

 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Coming to

I’m in my socks on a quiet street in the old section of town, pulling goutweed out of the garden.  It’s early on an idyllic spring morning, full of bees and growth, flowers and a gentle cool breeze.  A starling, harsh and insistent, comments on my weeding.  I explain that in the ecosystem of my tiny garden many things grow, and that the manifest destiny that is Goutweed’s nature would change all of it into a monoculture. This is why I must, however reluctantly (I’m not feeling reluctant at all, not even shocked that this is so), do my best to kill or maim Goutweed.  I tell him I prefer his sweet starling voice to this rasp.

my lawn.

my lawn.

Muttering about invasive plants and the more tender, solitary ones I seek to protect, I feel myself ease into the beginning of this three-day inner working space.

The mornings early articles were about artists – Kahlo, O’Keefe, Yayoi Kusama – specifically, their struggle to give artistic voice to the particular forms of madness they’d discovered in themselves.  Our relationship with others; our relationship with our own minds – maybe the greatest challenge in being human?

I found myself writing about strict ordering of colour, the music and the muscle of line, the often oppressive heaviness of form.  This was somehow inside of thoughts about the utter sanctity of solitude, the necessity of it.  It’s here I build fortitude, here where I can examine and own my relationship with crow-darkness; my internal, eternal desires (lust even?); my old, creakingly reliable rigidity.

Scratching the surface, but then this is day one of three.

LawnMeadow1

The goutweed surrenders to my will, stem by stem, and as I stoop mutter pull I hear the sound a badly injured animal would make if I were in the bush.  It’s coming from a largish man in spring coat and backpack. He’s standing at the end of the street, not five houses away.

He and I are the only ones visible. I instinctively give him space, content in my goutweed campaign, not looking, but listening. He moans again.  Mutters (to himself),  You shouldn’t have done that.  It wasn’t right and it’s not okay.  You’re not okay, you need help.  You need to get some help.

I know he knows I’m listening.  In fact, he called me to listen, with his moans.

I think to myself that this is a shared moment of something unnameable but infinite.  I think that every human everywhere works this way, all the time, every day.  We do our best to make friends with our madness.

LawnMeadow2

My talkative neighbour has seen me – as I hear the creak of his side door I hear myself too, muttering not now not now…  But there he is, coffee in hand, ready to chat.

Startled by the interruption we run with our minds, the largish man and I, to seek solitude again, where the fragile thought-threads can be followed, observed, even understood a little.

You just missed me!  I say to coffee-cup-neighbor.  Too bad!  I need to go in now and get back to my work.  He says ya sure that’s ok. Inside, I can feel the door as I close it.

LawnMeadow3

I feel happiness.

 


Leave a comment

Colour Pages #4: Red like Joan

I hold Red in my mind and thoughts rise like bubbles. They’re not what I expect.

Water2

This decision is rooted in fear.

Windsheild2

I’m stuck in Repeat.

littleshoreWave

I’m bored.

Confined.  categorized, manipulated, abused, constricted, driven, exhausted, worried, overstressed, coping.

Aren’t we all to some extent.  And isn’t this an essential part of the story.

CurbPuddle

Then another thought rises (after a Mozart Requiem rehearsal):

Music changes everything.

Wave1detail

I offer this idea in honour of Joan Watson, master of the french horn and incredible human, who calls to us all from the far-off place where we can be anything and anyone we choose to be.  I was so privileged to meet and know her.

The horn solo at the end of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite is red. Red like freedom.

It will take an hour, so give yourself the time to listen to the entire piece.  Close your eyes and follow the journey until the end.  I weep without restraint, every time.  

WinterRose

Red is alive like fire, compelling and warm and dangerous.

It’s intense like passion and it’s right use requires skill and discernment, its’ expert use true maturity.

I offer that without Red we would have no change, no challenge.

Stillness in fire, thoughts like a river that moves both swift and slow

Without the red that changes everything, without challenge, life fades into monotone.

Joan, such an inspiration to so many, was not beige or grey.

Joan was, and is still, Red.


Leave a comment

Vivaldi at August’s end

Summer grows into Autumn.

In two weeks I play cello for these, and for Gloria and the Oboe Concerto in F (more info here); it’s good to have such a soundtrack to live and work by.  Thank you, Vivaldi, for composing this music 300 years ago.

I listen to II mvt of the Oboe concerto as I take stock of my studio.  It’s in transition –  from the heat-wave quasi-prison it became in preparation for an artisan booth full of functional art pieces these past three weeks to the fully open creative space it will be for the next eleven.   Full production begins tomorrow for the first instalment of a multi-arts & performance show, #Water will ‘sneak peek’ for an evening Saturday November 14 in Massie Ontario.

It’s Clear the Boards time.

A photo taken early July, when I stretched the ten canvases that will make this first leg of the #Water show.

A photo taken early July, when I stretched the ten canvases that will make this first leg of the #Water show.

In these days, a flushing of old ideas and concepts; a quiet but detailed acknowledgement of the impact of events these past ten weeks; a clear light shone again upon the plans I made last spring for this September until June 2016 – in short, I need to allow my mind to change its shape.

To allow room for the grand mistakes that teach me more than any school or schedule ever could.  Room to make these impossibly subtle ideas manifest in paint, music and words.  I want to wrap my audience in soft understanding of the large and tiny things that affect the ecosystem that we are.  I want laughter to be a big part of the performance, in which we entertain each other, and challenge each other a little, so see and hear things slightly differently.

I want elegance out of mess, I want insight into muck, I want a way through to something unimagined.  I’ve some idea that what I can see in my mind is possible, but not really.  I know I’m going in with big blind spots, and this is more than a little terrifying.  I’m going in though, regardless, rich with gratitude and good collaborators.  I’ll tell that story here in the weeks leading to November 14.

What will I do with these paintings that water and gravity have already made play with? I've never worked in this kind of specific collaboration before. hmmmm. What will it be?

What will I do with these paintings that water and gravity have already made play with? I’ve never worked in this kind of specific collaboration before. hmmmm. What will it be?

Gig to play now.  I’ll be back here in eight hours, where the engine now purrs with promise.

and Vivaldi plays on….


Leave a comment

Wonder, wander

Loved that concert on Saturday – what a beautiful piece!.  We are so lucky to have that venue here…

At my annual check-up, my Doctor referred to the  Vivaldi Gloria performance, which to me was five concerts and seven rehearsals ago. Each one of these has been marvelous – food for curiosity, stretch for skills, a jeweled strand of eternal moments …

treeHipCello

Meanwhile at home, we found a night in between all that to put the tree up with care, good humour.  This required a large degree of shared determination – that this WILL happen, no matter what work schedule demands.

The tree fell crashing to the floor the day after it went up…

Oh well, it happens.  We had too many glass decorations anyway…

It’s been that kind of approach to Christmas.

Tree_GlassAngelBall

Tricky time, this season, especially in a year of profound change.  We have not had a death to adjust to – a large pulsing place of Absence – but many of my good friends have lost mothers, dads, kids, grandchildren, friends, brothers.  I can feel the larger community shuddering with the effort of containing these losses with dignity and grace.

Though thankfully not as dire, we face our own new internal tender spots here too.  Death comes in many forms, and it’s name is change – one accepts this & shares this, or does not, choosing denial instead.  Each family is a country with it’s own cultural dances, tales and music, all learned by rote and later either challenged, updated, amended, revised – or not.

The holly and the ivy - a gift from family this year

The holly and the ivy – a gift from family this year

Our larger family is spread thinly – glue that has been there in years past has let go in places.  In the rituals that remain though there is deeper value felt, because of this.

I have answered a call in these past two days to slow myself down.  An instinctive urge to consider and observe what I love, right now, to recall what I admire and respect in people who are dear to me.  I have made some time to wander these things, name them in wonder, and make gifts of them.

Happy Christmas, all.


Leave a comment

Topographical lines

It strikes me as I look out at all the curves of white that this winter has changed the shape of us here.

falls2_October2013

October 2013

In places where two months ago I walked on level ground, there are dense mounds of tiny ice crystals waist-high, knee high, shoulder high.  Rooftops end in curves, trees and traffic signs are coated in snow – the town has the look of a David Milne painting.

January 4, 2014

January 4, 2014

What does this do for us here, in the snow belt – this fact that there is no level ground – that we now walk over, through and inside apparently infinite amounts of frozen water?  Views once clear and straight are now obstructed by six-foot walls of snow.  We shovel, push, blow it aside daily, but even those piles encroach now, shrinking the roads, the streets, the parking lots.

Our external topography is changed, and  – this being early February, when 2 weeks of heavy snow is still to come – it will continue to change.

Lyndas_Backyard_April24_2012

I can only speak for myself of course, though I suspect this could be true for many here.  I think all this heavy white landscape calls us to ourselves, and to one another.  It’s not an easy thing –  to be cabin-fevered with your partner, yourself or with young kids who have not been to school for days and days.  To be huddled around block heaters together because the oil truck couldn’t get to your house, or to spend two hours, twice a day shovelling and blowing snow just so you can get to work, to the grocery store.

If ever a time there was when creativity and ingenuity was essential, it would be this winter.  In fact, Winter 2013-2014 could have a subtitle:  “How we learned to become unstuck”.

bocce with frozen balls.  playing and recording YouTube videos in the snow.  tunnels, forts, snow fights, toboggans, skis, snowshoe yoga.

spring's coming, definitely.  But I think we could still use some more winter...

spring’s coming, definitely. But I think we could still use some more winter…

puttering on an old project or two.  noticing that I’m dressing down for a Nirvana Unplugged gig.  checking in with my neighbors – ‘need anything?’.  trying a new thing.  sniffing the wind.

snow2

…feeling my internal topography as it changes; enjoying the new curves.


1 Comment

What I get to do

Last Friday, I was part of a packed house at Georgian Shores United Church, listening to the Concert Choir sing Mozart’s Requiem.  This mass is one of my favourites – I’ve spent long long hours painting to my recording of it over and over again.  It’s a difficult piece, by any standards, but especially challenging for an amateur choir.  But This Choir, conducted brilliantly by Regan MacNay, sang it with dignity, joy, and good honest grit.  I was so moved I cried through the entire performance. I was glad to be there.

Last night I rehearsed with another musical family – I’ve been playing with them since I was 13, initially because Edouard Bartlett insisted that it be so.  Of course he was right – over the years I’ve been able to learn and perform beautiful, challenging works by Mahler, Beethoven, Strauss, Dvorak, Brahms, Bruch, and countless of other composers both classical and contemporary.  My playing has stretched and grown with the musical direction of GBS conductors – most recently my dear friend John Barnum.  The other players in the orchestra are like a family to me – deeply loved, eagerly met each time I’m able to join them.  I’m a lucky girl.

This April 28 (in 2 weeks and 2 days!!) is our 40th anniversary concert for the Georgian Bay Symphony:  Manitoulin  (Premiere), by Richard Mascall; Piano Concerto No.3, by Sergei Prokofiev – with our own brilliant Kati Gleiser; Symphony No.5, by Dmitri Shostakovich.  We’ve never tackled such tough music – but at rehearsals we’re doing well & sounding good.

I do encourage everyone who can to come – Kati is worth seeing and hearing WHENEVER you get the chance – I’m eager to hear her performance of the Prokoffieff.  Richard’s Manitoulin is big and fun and OURS – it’s not often you get to play a premiere of this stature.  The Shostakovitch is complex and brilliant – I recommend the pre-concert talks so you can hear it in context.

I also work with the GBS Youth Orchestra every Monday.  We are playing movements from Beethoven I, VII and IX (all at breakneck speed); Faure Pavane; The Death of Ase;  the Bruch Violin Concerto and the Rachmaninoff Piano concerto – all very difficult, all very fast.  This orchestra takes every corner on 2 wheels – they’re extremely exciting to play with.  Come and see us – May 30 @ Georgian Shores United (used to be called Division Street Church) in Owen Sound.

This is what I get to play this spring.  I also travel to see Yo Yo Ma and the TSO play (late May), and to Mississauga for John Barnum’s final concert with the Mississauga Symphony on May 5th.

What an incredible music season!