September 30, 2007

From a different perspective

I had a dream the other night about Robert, my friend who died a year and a half ago. In the dream he was warm and friendly and recovering from the horrible disease that killed him, Multiple Sclerosis. In the dream, we hugged and talked about living the rest of our lives together in the country, sitting watching the seasons, the loons, the fog, the clouds go by. It all seemed very real and possible and the dream went on and on all night: I’d wake up and then fall right back into the dream.

Philip Roth’s American Pastoral talks a lot about dreams: dreams of what we think is happening, what is happening, what will happen to our dreams, our fantasies, our expectations. How good is not always rewarded by good, how life can throw a curved ball so unexpectedly and hit the dream. But then you might be able to look back and see why, how it happened. What my mother used to call “twenty-twenty hindsight.”

I was talking to a friend about all this today as we walked in the autumn sun through the park. She's reading books on decluttering your life. Not just on the physical level. Letting go of the past; moving on. One book suggested looking in your closet to find things you haven't used in a year. Then asking two questions: one, would it be worth paying money to store and two, does it make you smile to see it. To look at thoughts and feelings that way: wouldn't that be interesting!

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September 28, 2007

A few pix from the exhibition in Halifax






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September 25, 2007

A perfect party

The opening reception Friday night at the Secord Gallery was great—very crowded, friendly, lots of very appreciative people. The arrangement of the works (by Phil Secord) was perfect. He had mixed Elin’s and my paintings, matched them by size and color tonalities. It worked well.


The exuberance spilled onto the floor, a perfect party.


I need to go back and take photos of the exhibit but right now I’ve been slowed down by a bad head cold. The kind of nuisance that actually feels right—makes me rest a little (although I’m not really resting too much, just thinking I about it!).

P.S. My shoes were a big hit. They are actually bright red--not sure if that shows up in this photo!


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September 21, 2007

Turning the wheel

My exhibit with Elin Neumann at the Secord Gallery opens this evening. (hope you can come, 7 pm!) From my sneak preview yesterday, I must say it looks really good. Phil Secord has hung the works so they compliment each other, hers and mine. The abstract landscapes and the abstract abstracts. I am very pleased to see our work together. I hope to have photos soon so you can see what I mean.

Meanwhile, I spent the day cleaning house (a luxury sometimes) and giving Lila a much needed bath. Also, I’ve been thinking about a blog entry about creativity, or more precisely, about originality. The post (when I tried to find it again, I couldn’t, so sorry!) focuses on the old adage: there is nothing new under the sun. Nothing is unique. There are always references. We are not isolated in our thinking, doing, making. We are always, it seems, reinventing the wheel, with all the possibilities: new rims, decorations, sizes, combinations. But they all (all the wheels) need to function in the same basic manner: they need to make movement. So when someone says “I’ve never seen anything like it” perhaps they just haven’t seen that combination.

Elin’s work may originate from the outer landscape and move to the inner one: mine may move from an inner experience to create something totally outside my personal being. Both approaches end up in paintings. How they relate to history, to what has gone before and what will happen next, is an ongoing experience. It’s movement.

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September 16, 2007

Exhibition at Secord Gallery in Halifax

If you are in the area, do stop by! After spending some lovely days in Denmark with her, I am very happy to be exhibiting with Elin Neumann here in Halifax. Her work is great and it will be interesting to see our paintings together in the same space.

Evelyn - Neumann 2007 -1.jpg
Evelyn - Neumann 2007 -2.jpg
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September 15, 2007

The other side of the rock

One day last week I went for a paddle-boat ride with some friends. I sat in the back and took pictures of what it was like to be on the back end of the boat--an unusual spot for me. The water was sparkling and the loons were friendly. Often they seem very relaxed with people on the lake, sometimes coming very close to shore to greet me when I am on my dock.



The big rock sits out in the lake and seems to guard my house. Sometimes children climb up it and jump off. I would prefer they didn't.


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September 14, 2007

What is a tomato?

As I was walking with Lila this morning I was having an interesting conversation with myself. We were talking about what art is to us, so to speak. I was saying the paintings are not “me”; they have a life of their own. And, thinking about Sue’s comment about not throwing out my old journals (journals that are too embarrassing now to want anyone to read them) my paintings have been way ahead of me in every way: intellectually, emotionally, physically. They have taught me how to be a stronger person. Their insistent boldness is my teacher.

The other day my gallery owner in Toronto said someone had asked how I had named a series of paintings: Tomatoes (or to Tell the Truth). The name comes from a poem I wrote about thirty years ago. It’s a musing on what it feels like to be a Sagittarius. A sign that is always concerned with truth and seeking. I sent her a copy but as I was reading it, I realized how I would have written it differently now. I thought I might have said “sometimes the day to day realities are too boring to record” instead of “petty”. But then I thought, I’m never bored. There is always something around of interest, whether in my mind or in the environment. Maybe I am sometimes restless and impatient, a truly Sagittarius trait, but that doesn’t last long.

So, since my journals are in the recycle bin, here’s a bit of the past:


Part I

There was a cockroach in the mailbox this morning.
Actually there were two. One was lying on its back
dead, feet up, in apparent bliss. Is peace quiet or
fullness or something else.

Art is the worship of beauty.
As Aristophenes says: Worship god first
and then do was you damn please.

Sometimes the day to day realities seem too petty
even to record. There was a time when I felt I could be
writing masterpieces of poetry and prose if only
I had my typewriter set up.

And my god is beauty and truth.
But I don’t believe in god.
Just the worship.
And I am not afraid tonight.

Help me please to have the patience
to wait for to get to where I am going.
All is upheaving along the way.
One must be prepared.

Part II

I pray for protection and guidance in my search for my sneakers which I left somewhere in my hurry saying later I will attend to their order but now when the urgency of my need to move is upon me and my thoughts are in piles scattered around my life as I pass by, I see that it is faith that keeps my house together. Faith in the ultimate truth that will unveil my shoes if I really need them.

Part III

I am concerned with big, bigness, size, vastness, space, big spaces, big ideas, big moments, monumental art, large parties, big houses. Monumental, oneness, wholeness, vast reaches; impatience: I want it now. And do you ever realize young (old) man (boy, dog, horse) that I am sizing up your being as you stand or walk before me. Yet it was only when confronted with the endless quivering muscles of hind shanks of horses in the Royal Mews of London that I could understand my newly pubescent daughter’s fascination for the animal who only eats and runs,
her citing endless statistics and correctly
picking winners in every race by the sturdiness
of their shanks,
and my knowing that when you touch
me there, I feel the quivering
as if I were
a horse’s thigh.

Part IV

Since the race is over once it is begun, I can grasp and eat the carrot and
worry about the details later.

Details like stars in my hair and mud in my shoes.


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September 11, 2007

A favorable farewell

It's been raining hard most of the day. After a few days of lovely sun, it seems like a necessity. A reminder we are in the Maritimes.

Lila didn't want to go anywhere today. Couldn't get her to leave the house much. So we spent a quiet day at home. I also did a lot of cleaning. It's mostly the papers that pile up. Even cleared out my old journals. They were just gathering dust in the bottom of my closet. Don't even want to read them. Just toss. Didn't realize I had so many (over a dozen) until I bagged them up for the trash!

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September 08, 2007

From Denmark with love

The gallery in Denmark sent me a copy of the review of my exhibit there. It was, of course, in Danish and I didn't have a clue what it said. This week a Danish friend of mine translated it for me. It's a good review. The reviewer obviously looked closely at the work, wasn't just parroting back what I or other people have said about it.


Leya Evelyn’s paintings create resonance with everyone caught in her pictorial world. The abstract paintings reach and move all with an aptitude for aesthetic pleasure. In her paintings, Leya Evelyn is working from inside outwards. Inside, or firstly, she has glued pieces of fabric onto the canvas. Some of these pieces of thin fabric, whose strong colours and patterns are allowed to peek through, are strengthened by the art work’s further colour choices. Other of the collaged fabrics are pieces of thick canvas of various sizes cut into geometric shapes. The pieces are completely covered with paint, but their forms become visually distinct as shadow effects. These fragments are therefore included as important components in the overall composition of the art works. The layers of paint are many, and even if the colours must be said to be primarily strong and expressive, there are, in every coloured surface, an infinite variation of nuances.

These are strong contrasting colours but the result is never garish. Leya Evelyn seems to have an almost intuitive perception of all the colours' ability to interact. The composition of these art works can, in general, be said to have been built up by geometric, angular forms. But these are, at times, softened by circular movements, often in contrasting colours. In reality it is perhaps wrong to comment separately on colour, form and composition in Leya Evelyn’s paintings. It is clear that for her there is a great coherence, and that all parts are mutually dependent on each other. The art works testify to Leya Evelyn’s repeated experimentations with and investigations of relationships between form, colour and composition, and that she, through these, has reached her very own expression and pictorial language. The works are simply wonderful. One can only hope that this is not the last time that paintings will be sent from Leya Evelyn’s Canadian studio to Denmark.

By: Alice Bergholt Nilsson (

At a time like this, when I am busy getting ready for two exhibits, one here September 21 with Elin Neumann and the one in Switzerland, October 26, it's good to feel my work is appreciated. I also spent about a week in front of the computer screen (not fun) preparing photos for perusal and use by the galleries. The hardest part is picking titles. I'm also busy stretching and priming canvases because there is no more room in my studio to paint. I'll be glad when I can ship some paintings out. The freedom not to be teaching has definitely helped my work, not only in amount but quality. So it will be interesting to see what happens when they are on public display.

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September 03, 2007

School again . . .

I woke this morning on the edge of a dream: it was the first day of school and I was giving my class the usual “what we are going to do this semester and how we are going to do it” blurb. Most of the students were attentive but often one or two would start talking amongst themselves and I would have to say “excuse me” in order to quiet them.

It felt so real. With this being the first week of school and, for the first time in twenty years, I am not going back at all, it does indeed feel strange. Teaching is that much a part of my psyche.

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