March 31, 2005

Oh, deer!

I almost ran into a deer tonight on the road near my house, on my way home from Pilates classes. It was a big buck, a beautiful animal, but not one I would want to hit. Now that the snow has cleared revealing the juicy new leaves on the bushes, I will have to be more vigilant to protect my plants from hungry animals.

Posted by leya at 08:40 PM

Weather Report

We definitely have had some wicked weather here in the last couple of years! When I first moved to Nova Scotia twenty some years ago, I hadn't seen so much snow in my entire life. I certainly didn't know how to drive on snow and ice. Went off the road a couple of times that first year. Then the weather calmed down for a while. But not now. And I hear it is only going to get worse. After only a couple of warm sunny days last weekend, we have had intense rains along with strong winds. The rain has stopped for a while but not the wind. There are just a few patches of very tired snow left on the ground. Meanwhile it has been fascinating watching the ice break up on my lake. It is almost gone now, just a few pieces floating around. The lion of March hasn't calmed down yet.

Posted by leya at 08:35 AM

March 28, 2005

Katie again

I went to Point Pleasant Park yesterday. It was a gloriously warm day (a few degrees above freezing is a blessing after the long cold winter) and the sun was causing everyone to smile. I hadn�t been to the park since Hurricane Juan passed through and took thousands of trees with him. And it was just as hard as I expected it to be. Not just that the place looked like the end of the world had come, such painful devastation. No more the heavily wooded park where it was easy to get lost amongst the trees. There were not enough trees left to hide the paths. But what was most hard for me was not having my dog Katie with me. During the four years we lived in Halifax, Katie and me, we would go there several times a week for long walks. Katie, being so frisky, would often wander way ahead of me. Once I thought I had lost her forever and was hoarse from calling for her. But she came back eventually, with that silly grin saying �Fooled ya!�

Yesterday I saw her ghost everywhere. I kept thinking �Katie and I were here,� noting various paths she particularly enjoyed, remembering her antics, where we would stop to admire the scenery. I�ve taken many drawing classes to the park during the summer semesters. One group wanted to draw a moving object so I brought Katie. Then they complained: �Doesn�t she ever stay still!� When she slept, yes!

Katie died four years ago on March 1. After sixteen eventful years with her, it is still a painful anniversary. Maybe it�s time to get another dog. I certainly think about it a lot. But I know I am not ready. I still miss Katie. I�ll just keep borrowing other peoples� dogs.

Posted by leya at 12:55 PM | Comments (3)

March 26, 2005

Getting it all together

Andrew Sean Greers novel The Confessions of Max Tivoli was another one of those books that, when I started reading, I didnt expect to enjoy as much as I did. It has a very unusual premise: a man, victim of a rare disease, is born old and grows young, now in his late fifties, tells the story of his life, including all the intimate feelings that come with loving and being always out of sync in time and place and most important, body. At any point in his life, his actual chronological age and his apparent age always add up to seventy so that in his mid thirties, he is what he seems to be. And it is at that point that he is able to marry the same girl whom falls in love with in his teens when he appears to be an old man, and for a brief time, imagine himself to be "normal."

It is a heartbreaking love story, one in which love is always elusive. Greer begins the book with a quote: Everyone is always the love of someones life. And here the unrequited love is inspected, turned inside out, examined and washed clean with confession.

The book is also a painful examination of growing old, of learning too late. An exaggeration of the familiar phrase youth is wasted on the young. The book is a beautiful, meloncholy play with time and the ever present yearning for love.

Posted by leya at 02:14 PM

March 24, 2005

Pictures after the exhibition

In Edmonton I stayed at a lovely B & B, the Glenora Inn. On Monday morning I had to get up early to catch an 8 am plane home. Looking out my window, the view was eery in the early morning light, a few cars and some snow:


Then I pulled the curtain back to get a better view:


Can you guess what this is? It's a view of part of a chair that was in the gallery. Reminds me of the Ellsworth Kelly paintings that I love so much:


Posted by leya at 09:01 AM

March 23, 2005

Back from Edmonton

And it is great to be home, even though I was very jet-lagged yesterday, had a hard time concentrating. It is a good thing I have such an enthusiastic group of students Tuesday mornings! I don't have to work too hard to fire them up. They do it all by themselves.

It was a good trip, good show, good people, lots of fun. The gallery owners are wonderful people, met me at the airport, took us out to dinner to a great Thai restaurant (this was a three person exhibit, Wayne Boucher and Susan Feindel as well as myself), went to a party afterwards, etc. On Sunday I went to the studio of an ex-Haligonian and saw lots of other Edmontonian artists' work (in the same building) and then we went to the Edmonton Art Gallery. Fun & Games.

After that I went back to the B & B and watched a couple of movies (The English Patient�had read the book but not seen the movie�and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood�light, fluffy and entertaining enough) and read (The Confessions of Max Tivoli--more about that later, a strange and unusually good book). Very relaxing considering it was such a short trip.

Fortunately I get Friday off from teaching because of Easter. My Friday class is not the best, very good students but unusually quiet. I can never know what they are really thinking. I�ve never had a class this reticent. But they do work hard and that is good.

Right now I am looking forward to some uninterrupted time in my studio. And now that the weather is turning milder, to some long walks in the country where I live.

Here are some pix of my part of the exhibit:






Posted by leya at 04:12 PM | Comments (2)

March 18, 2005

Gotta keep those airlines afloat!

Im off to Edmonton tomorrow morning early. For the opening reception at the Agnes Bugera Gallery. (With the three hour time difference, I leave here on a 7 am flight and arrive there at the airport at 11:15 am, making it possible for me to teach my afternoon class today. Cool!)

If youre around, do stop in: Agnes Bugera Gallery, 12310 Jasper Avenue (phone 780-482-2591), Saturday 2 5 pm. See you there!

Posted by leya at 07:03 PM

March 17, 2005

My ride with Andre

Tamar�s story of staring at a celebrity in the pediatrician�s office reminded me of a time when she was about three years old (we were living in a loft at Broadway and 11th) and I was frequently taking the AA train from the 86th street stop back downtown at the same time each week, in the middle of the day. At that time I had seen Andre Gregory standing on the platform waiting for the same train. I had been to all of his productions (Gregory founded The Manhattan Project in 1968. It was an experimental group which staged, among other works, Samuel Beckett's "Endgame", Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull", Wallace Shawn's "Our Late Night" and an offbeat take on "Alice in Wonderland", which later toured internationally on and off for five years), and I loved his work.

So, being painfully shy at that time, I couldn�t help myself, I just stared at him on the platform until the train came and then when we both went into the same car, sitting across from him, again, being far too shy to say anything but too mesmerized by his beautiful face and enormous talent, I just stared at him, again.

This happened several weeks in a row. Finally, he got up from his seat and went to another car and I never saw him again. I suppose he thought I might follow him. I did in my mind. And I think of him often. And tell people the line in My Dinner with Andre that so eloquently speaks to me about living in Manhattan (and I�m probably misquoting a little because, although I have the manuscript for the movie�Aaron gave it to me once for my birthday because I talk about it so much�I cannot find the book right now�it must be (almost) spring, I�ve been sorting, rearranging and cleaning my house and have taken down bookshelves, moved books, cleaned the dust away and can�t find Andre�s dinner yet, but will give you the gist, anyway): �Have you ever heard a New Yorker say they want to leave the city, but they never do? New York is a concentration camp of the mind. It�s impossible to leave.�

But I did. And I�m not so shy now and would love to see him again.

Posted by leya at 07:06 PM

March 15, 2005

A rose is a rose and the bush has thorns

When in NYC I saw a lot of bad art and a little good art. Being busy with family and friends, I only managed a couple of half days checking things out but was not too happy with what I did see. I went to the newly renovated MoMA. It was so crowded there were lines to get in. That�s good. People lining up to see art. (And paying the $20 admission fee!) I was fortunate in that the friend I was staying with gave me her membership card so I could bypass the lines. I also got in to see a photo exhibit that was opening the next day (a sneak preview for members!). A German man, Robert Denton. He had constructed (mostly interior office) scenes out of colored paper and photographed them, then destroyed his constructions. The photos were very large (like most these days) and very eerie. Everyone in the room was walking around with questioning expressions on their faces. The photos seemed real and not-real at the same time. Intriguing.

The Museum was, besides being very crowded and having an admission fee of $20, not as intimate. Monet�s �Waterlilies� definitely suffered from being in a room too large for it. Previously it had been in a much tighter room which gave (me) the feeling I was in the same space as the pond. It was lost in renovation. As was any welcoming quality that the Museum used to have.

As for the art, except for a few of the (mostly older) pieces, most of the contemporary exhibition seemed to be very heady, intellectual, lacking heart, without passion. To me, very sad. But that is the way most of the art I saw in NY seemed. Went to a few (very disappointing) exhibits in Chelsea as well. They too seemed like intellectual exercises, nothing more.

Then I heard some artists talking here about their work and felt the same lack of passion. When asked why they paint, what influences them, they said things like "other artwork," "the problem solving" aspects of painting, "seeing what paint can do." Yes, these things are important components of making art. But what about the passion that drives great art! Without that, without the feeling of necessity, that this piece of art (or writing, or music, or dance) has to be, has to exist, has to be what it is and nothing else, than it is just another piece of art. And there is plenty of that.

Posted by leya at 08:20 PM

March 13, 2005

Winter is having a hard time letting go

We had (yet another) heavy snow storm yesterday with high winds and icy roads. And my internet acces is down as well (I am at a friend's computer). How I long to see the crocus. At least it is not too cold outside.

Posted by leya at 04:58 PM | Comments (3)

March 10, 2005

Pix from the party




We gave her an illustrated family tree, starting with her parents. She was overwhelmed with emotion when she saw it. One hundred years of family.



And finally, the beautiful legs of a one hundred year old lady:


Posted by leya at 07:59 AM | Comments (1)

March 09, 2005

We should all live to be a hundred

My trip to New York was the best, just too short. Lots of good social encounters with family and friends, not enough time to see good art (saw a lot of bad art!). The highlight of the visit was of course my aunt Marcella�s 100th birthday party. I saw her the day before, in case the party would not give me an opportunity to talk with her. She has some major short term memory loss and is wobbly on her feet, but other than that, she is still very much a spicy lady.

When people ask me the secret for my aunt�s longevity, I usually say: �Piss and vinegar.� She has no hesitation saying what is on her mind, whether it be pleasant or angry or critical. At one hundred years of age, she can still recall with vehemence how her mother preferred one of her older sisters and how terribly cruel that sister was to her. (That sister has been dead for at least twenty years, but that doesn�t seem to matter.) And my aunt Marcella was able to complain (repeatedly) that one of her nephews gave her a stingy (in her mind) present. (I would have been delighted if someone had sent me a box a popcorn for my one hundredth birthday, a delightful, thoughtful gift in my opinion, but not in Marcella�s; but in fact, it turns out, that nephew was sending a present every day until the actual day of her birthday, each present escalating in value, but Marcella would listen to no explanation. Just enjoyed her anger.) So it seems, expressing feelings, thoughts, emotions is not such a bad thing (expect for those who have to hear it�over and over and over).

The party to celebrate her one hundred years was perfect. We were told it would be for two hours; more than that would be too hard on her; she would space out from all the conversations around her. But, in fact, the party lasted for five hours and she was totally present every minute. It was exciting to be together as a family on such a pleasant occasion. I saw cousins I hadn�t seen in many (maybe ten, fifteen) years, since my dad�s death. There were about fifteen people there, not too many, just the right amount to be able to enjoy every one.

Marcella�s 90 year old cousin (my grandmother�s brother�s son) was there. He is a tall, elegant, slender man, at least a foot and a half taller than Marcella. Elliot needed to bend over to talk to his diminutive cousin. So Marcella warned him (vociferously): �Elliot: do me a favor! Don�t slouch! Stand up straight or you�ll get osteoporosis!� She never stops! An EverReady battery.

In the words of my aunt Marcella: �Everyone should live to be a hundred so they can have a party like this!�

Posted by leya at 12:52 PM | Comments (2)

March 02, 2005

Busy here, busy there......

The sun is shining on the snow making beautiful shadows and I�m off to NYC in a few hours. My suitcase is packed, I'm eager to go, but first I have to pack up the paintings to Edmonton and take them to the shipping company. And then I�m off to the airport! I�ll be back late Monday. Much more later, no doubt!

Posted by leya at 09:46 AM

March 01, 2005

Foolery: who's to judge

Recently I put a large painting in a hair salon/caf�/art gallery in Halifax. It is a very beautifully designed space and the artwork is enhanced by the high ceilings, large room and spare d�cor. My painting is a three panel piece, measuring five feet high and seven feet long, a mainly yellow/peach/flesh colored painting. I called it (as part of a series of three paneled pieces) Some Like It Blue, No. 2 and when people ask me about the title, as they inevitably do, I just say �It�s not Blue.�

I have some work there along with a few other artists. One of the other artists is the man who has been copying my paintings for quite a few years. I had spoken to him about it previously and he understood that I found this upsetting. (August 13 and 30, 2004 entries.) He had called me before the exhibit to ask if I was okay with his putting a painting in the same show as mine. I thought it would be a good idea to let people see both together so that they would see the (major) differences. I find his work thinner in every sense of the word, nothing like mine as far as I am concerned, but it seems that people don�t always notice. The painting he put in the exhibit is blue.

Friday night at the opening reception for the Rodin exhibit at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, I had an interesting conversation with a woman I have known for a long time. She was a practicing artist for many years but hasn�t done anything with it in quite a while, maybe even ten years. She mentioned that she had seen my work at Fred�s. And she especially liked my blue painting. At first I thought she was making a pun on the title, but then she said she liked this one better than the other one (of mine), I knew she had been fooled.

That�s what makes horse racing!

Posted by leya at 07:04 PM