A private message arrived through social media: “I am a recent grad from the BFA program at Queen’s. I have just moved to Vancouver after a year travelling and attending a residency in Berlin. I was told by Jan and Otis that you would be a great person for me to contact about getting some information on the art scene in Vancouver. It would be great to meet an established artist who could give me a few pointers on where to start out.” Attached was a link to a clean and concise, create-your-own website showing work from the last two years.
Monthly Archives: March, 2018
In looking at quotes, you have to ask two questions: “Is it true?” and “Is it true for me?” You have to be careful in this quotation game. Take, for example, this quote of Claude Monet from a letter to Gustav Geffroy: “No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.”
My dad had a close friend, a titan in business who also shared a love of art. Even more striking than this friend’s achievements were his understatement, sincerity, fairness and friendship. Everyone he knew felt enriched for knowing him. After quizzing him on his secret, Dad’s friend said merely, “Life is relationships.”
My dad soon passed along a purpose-built advice-nugget to me. “Like life,” he said, “art is loving and connecting with others.”
I’m frequently asked whether it’s best to go back to school or back to work. I’ve been on the board of directors of a prominent art college, and I’ve also been an advocate of do-it-yourself for life — so I’m coming from both sides of the fence. Fact is, even if you attend what you think is the best art school in the world (like I did — Art Center) it doesn’t make you into an artist. You’re the one who has to do that.
An art photographer friend recently revealed she was emerging from a six-month fog. “Clients put my personal work on hiatus. I was in such a creative block I just dove into helping others and forgot about myself,” she said. “I got stuck in fear.” I asked her if she were to put her fears into words, what would be her Top 3? “Me?” she asked. “Okay, here goes:
“Fear of no one caring, or my work being worthless.
The following is part of a letter from an artist to an architect friend: “I asked him for some of the money I need to continue my work. He told me to come around on Monday. I went on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and there was no money. On Friday someone else came to the door and threw me out. I’m discouraged about getting paid for this job.”
Sound familiar? The date on the letter is May 2, 1506. The artist was Michelangelo and the patron was Pope Julius II.
When Guillermo del Toro was growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico in the early 1970s, he started fooling around with his dad’s Super 8 camera, making horrors using his Planet of the Apes action toys and other objects he found around the house. Borrowing from the Magic Realism of his strict Catholic upbringing, Guillermo’s fascination with allegory and fairytales grew into a full-fledged obsession with the power and potential of monsters to tell the forgotten stories of the dispossessed.
For those who might wonder why music plays such a great role in human life and culture, Daniel J. Levitin has written This is Your Brain on Music. The book contains remarkable insights and new information on music, song and dance. Some researchers think music may actually predate speech. Others see it as a wayward deviation that only ends in harmless play. Curiously open-ended and open-minded, there’s something on every page of Levitin’s book that has me asking similar questions about the brain and painting.
Having recently set up a new studio in a new locale, my friends are calling with the same question: “Are you feeling creative in your new space?” Pregnant with myth and mystery, a new room can ignite all the original dreams and fears of even the most seasoned studio-hopper. Without sounding too superstitious, the question can feel a bit blasphemous. While we all may swim in the mystery of creativity’s delicate alignment, and tremble at the juju of a new space, it’s the occupant that determines a studio’s potency. Studio vibes — ineffable, designed, cultivated or summoned — are, in the end, artist vibes. They’re germinated by sweat.