Friday, February 09, 2007

50 ways to . . . Part 3

I'm doing my best to get back on track with my pursuit of 50 for 50. Drat, but I'd hoped to have my 50 accomplished by the 19th of February (the 50th day of the year), but too much intervened. Still, here's what's been happening around here.

#20 (February 3) Too often, despite good intentions, I miss out on shows at local galleries. This time I made sure to stop in, and yep, I'm glad I did.

A show called Inuit Sculpture Now is on display (until March 11) at the Surrey Art Gallery. Aside from the French/English write-ups on this travelling show (these always feels so useless out here, where the second language should probably be Punjabi or Mandarin), the show suits the high, airless room that is the gallery.

The combination of traditional and contemporary isn't always successful (especially when themes such as alcoholism are interpreted too literally), but the show is worth a look, if only for the blend of materials used in the works. There are traditional materials (antler is used especially effectively in several pieces) and some that left me scratching my head (Brazilian soapstone -- why?). The show ran a while ago at the McMichael Gallery, and their descriptive write-up's still posted.

#21 (same day) Although I couldn't take photos inside the gallery, I did take a photo of the Centre's focal piece, Maurice Van Der Beke's Mandala After Prayer Wheel, which hangs in the foyer. Even though it's big -- about two metres in diameter -- the prayer wheel is designed to spin. Unlike the rest of the art in the Centre (do not touch signs abound), this one's meant to be handled. The wheel turns easily and it's hard to resist spinning off a few prayers.

This time I even read the commemorative information plaque that hangs beside it. The piece was the result of an LIP (Local Initiatives Program) Grant from 1974.

When I searched LIP's, I found that a few places in Ontario still seem to offer these initiatives. What I wonder is, why this is no longer a federal program? I can locate archives and other valuable projects that resulted from the program. It seems a shame that our country's values have shifted away from such pursuits.

#21.5 (still same day) The day was such a fine one, I took a stroll through some of the forest paths and then the garden surrounding the gallery at Bear Creek Park. I'm not quite sure how much I like it as art, but among items in the themed gardens was this piece of sculpture, Cat Woman. Hardly to the standard of the items indoors, still, she looks as though she'll endure.

#22 (Feb 5) A lazier, or shall we just say 'home-based' pursuit, was watching a 1965 video I'd borrowed from the library, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen. There's quite a range of remarks at IMDB's user-comments on the film. The first are the most enthusiastic, though the comparison to the Moody Blues seems a bit of a stretch.)

Besides being useful as part of my ongoing research of the '60s, the film was broken up into different segments that were easy to watch and stop and then come back to. The most fun were the short films built around his poems. I guess I'm going to have to learn to be a filmmaker. I'd like to turn some of my poems into clips for YouTube!

#23 (Feb 8) This one proved to be an exercise in frustration, as the coffee shop hosting the art show was closed the day I went. Indigo Sun Cafe is local, so I'll try again. I just hope their business is going okay and that they haven't been put out of business by their mega-chain competitors. Still, I peeked in the windows and could see most of the work, paintings by Irena Shklover. The work is whimsical and in wildly vibrant colours, bright enough to convince me I'll try to go there for a coffee (and a better look) sometime soon.

#24 (Feb 8) Here's a totally lazy one, but one of my best all week: art while I was lying in bed!

Setting my clock radio, I caught the voice of Eleanor Wachtel on The Arts Tonight. She was saying what for me are magic words: Academy Award.

She was talking with Torill Kove, whose short film The Danish Poet has been nominated for an Oscar. When awards night comes, I'll be rooting (once again!) for the NFB.

Almost halfway to 50, and it's not quite even spring!

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