Sunday, May 02, 2010

warm nests, dark flights...

"In life, change and forgetfulness may give the impression
that relationships are temporary and conditioned by the
events of time, but to the soul, remembrance and
eternal connectedness are more important."
-thomas moore

"The family and the family beyond family"
The family into which we were born leaves an indelible claim
upon us. The gravity of kinship carries and inevitable weight.
Asking the question, who are my brothers and sisters? opens
up the possibility of a family beyond the genealogical family.
A spiritual family, a universal family.
The mystical unity of humankind."

Those words above written by my beautiful friend
Ron Atkinson

"I never saw the morning 'til l stayed up all night
I never saw the sunshine 'til you turned out the light
I never saw my hometown until l stayed away too long
I never heard the melody, until l needed a song"
-tom waits

I remember my first friends, or rather that feeling of friendship.
That warmth and excitement of wanting to see someone.
Grade four, Port McNeil and we lived in a trailer down some
dusty logging road. They lived close by, two sisters, and l
remember them being tall, giants, they were like vikings.
We ran and played, it was like scenes from "the sound of
music", running through tall grass fields, if only we had sung.
We played games, re-enactments of "Gunsmoke" and once we
tried to smoke some hollow dried grass shoots, it didn't go so
well. I favoured one sister, the blond one, she had the longest
silkiest hair, and to me at that age, she was a goddess.

"Sing a song of sixpence, pocket full of rye
Hush-a bye my baby, no need to be crying.
You can burn the midnight oil with me as long as you will
Stare out at the moon upon the windowsill, and dream..."
-tom waits

I've spent many years talking, meeting people on the street,
but it took a long time before l learned of "the family"
on the street.

I met these three one night, down a alley, behind a building,
two men, one boy, one dog, one cat.

Luminosa Obscura, they were sitting, resting, talking,
laughing, smoking, drinking, huddled together around a
invisible fire, the dog at the hearth, the cat nestled into the
boy's tummy. It was a family, it was a sense of belonging.
I came away feeling the glow and warmth of their shared fire.

At the risk of sounding like l'm still in grade seven. Well,
Mike is my best friend. I've known him since college, over
twenty years now. Mike and l spent alot of time together over
the years. He was a year ahead of me in college, and every
friday we would go to the pub up on 16th ave in calgary, drink
beer with jimmy and some of the instructors, play pool, darts.
After college l convinced Mike to move to the island with me.
We raced to the island, him in his red rx7 and me in my yellow
Volkswagen bug. He didn't stay long that first time, but l
convinced him again years later to come back, l got him a
part time job where l worked and when l was fired, he ended
up taking my place. He was so much better at it. We did
alot of bike rides, most of vancouver island and then one
summer spent 13 days riding to calgary, well high river
actually, did you know there are four mountain ranges in
between vancouver and calgary.
The good, the bad, and the ugly, l could tell mike any of it
and he would never judge, never scorn, it was his presence,
his friendship, his love.
He was there helping my old friend mike labrie when he died,
and he sat with huey when he died.
He sat with his mom this year when she died.

I hope that when l am dieing, Mike will come and sit with me...

Sunday, February 28, 2010


"I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do,
that was one of my favorite things about it,
and when l first did it,
l felt very perverse"
-diane arbus

Do you remember when your friend became your friend?

I have been thinking of friendship, and wanted to tell a
story of friendship, of love but l will have to wait till
l return. I am off to Singapore.

I have been busy the last couple of months, made three little men.
The one above is the Belgian.

...and this is the Berliner.

and here is the Quiet One

...he carry's a sword made from silver plated copper.

I have also made a couple pieces for a valentines show,
some more embroidery and a mosaic using old floor lino.

if you want to see you will have to go to my website but
it is somewhat mature content.


This work of a child never,
fails to make appeal, to claim us,
because it is always honest and sincere,
always imbued with that magic certitude
born of direct, spontaneous approach.
-henry miller

So l have been invited to Singapore for two weeks to do a little
art project with many young children. I will be helping
them make little paper dolls from newspaper, and l will
decorate a wall with stencils and other debris.

The interesting thing is the process, trying to come up with
something that is pleasing and something that young
children will wade through.

This is newspaper and l used linseed oil to push the ink around.
It sort of reinforces my echoing thoughts, that you don't
really need anything to make art, it is all at hand.
It brings out the bricoleur in me.


l will leave you with another gem that l found at the thrift store,
Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane, released in February 1967.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

this land...

"Now as l was yound and easy
under the apple boughs.
About the lilting house and happy
as the grass was green."
-dylan thomas

I built a fort...
We moved coast to coast a few months ago, Port Alberni, bc
to Bear River East, ns. When l arrived l built a fort.

Choppity chop goes the axe in the woods
You gotta meet me by the fall down tree
-tom waits

As a kid l built forts, l loved it, a home away from home,
a shelter, a place to sit, a place to imagine. Grade six
was my most prolific year. Maybe it was because of
the neighbor's kids, a brother and sister, Kerry and
Holly. A sacred trio, we explored the forest together, we
explored each other. Sometimes Holly and l would lay
together, flesh to flesh on the forest floor, our pants down
around our knees, lay there silent while Kerry chopped
trees in the background When our little bums got cold we
would get up and continue our fort building.

There are unknown forces in nature;
when we give ourselves wholly to her
without reserve, she lends them to us;
she shows us these forms, which our
watching eyes do not see, which our
intelligence does not understand or suspect.

Our best fort was a hut, the up turned roots of a giant fallen
tree, it had hallowed the ground and we built a roof, you
had to crawl to get inside, like a igloo. We found old bottles
and jars in the forest, some still had liquids and cremes in
them, we a built a shelf and placed them there like trophies
on the mantel. We had a old rusty canning pot that we put
rusty springs inside and covered with moss.
It was like Robinson Crusoe, like Journey to the Center of the
Earth, like The Lost World, like The Wind in the Willows.
It made me.

A person is so far formed by his surrounding, that
his state of harmony depends entirely on his
harmony with his surroundings.
-the timeless way of building

...his fort was the bush

...i don't know where his fort was, but he was so happy,
he was so nice, l don't think he needed a fort.
He was a fort.

go build a fort...


Because you're mine
I walk the line

I am going to leave you with a little music...
I bought an old record player and l visit a second hand store
to buy records. It's like going to the doctor, such a personal
thing to buy records. Sometime l'm embarrassed by what
l buy, but it's a secret between me and the store owner. But,
l found a treasure, a 1972 tribute to woody guthrie. It has
richie havens, odetta, pete seger, peter fonda and more.


This post never ends.
I have a lovehate relationship with artist trading cards but l
have suggested to the lovely sandra at New Times Arrived
that we exchange artistic post cards.
My friend Dale in victoria collects atc's, he has over two
thousand now, and he also sends out calls for mail art
he's a real nice guy, so send him some art, or if you want to
exchange visual matter with me, my address;
1119 mary jane riley rd, rr#1
bear river east, nova scotia, B0S 1B0
goodbye now

Sunday, November 29, 2009


"I see and taste
no sweat more honest
then the drops you have enjoyed
between your thighs..."
-woody guthrie

did some embroidery, built a fort in the trees,
l am getting settled. Will post soon.

Hope your all enjoying the coming of winter.

"My body's naked now
and it was born naked."
-woody guthrie

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

it always smelled of rain...

"Our mood was gone, a restless night, unfulfilled desires..

morning came clear and brilliant. I will do some heads
of you today Zinnia,. The mexican sun, l thought,
will reveal everything, something of the tragedy of our
present life may be captured. Nothing can be hidden
under this cloudless cruel sky. And so it was that she
leaned against a whitewashed wall, lips quivering nostrils
dilating, eyes heavy with gloom of unspent rainclouds.
I drew close. I whispered something and kissed her.
A tear rolled down her cheek and then l captured forever
the moment.
-edward weston photographing tina modotti 1926

Mexico City...history built on history. I was given a canada council
grant in the nineties, travel to mexico city for two months. They
(Fondo) gave me a home, some money and the rest was up to me.
It's hard to write of my trip there, so much, it's like a thousand souls
entered my body, like the Sahara, sands being whirled about, moving,
changing, coming together.

My home was in the district of Cayoacan and l walked the streets
every day. The green tent, this was my treasure. I discovered a
big green tent on the sidewalk outside of a paper factory, tarps,
couches, tables, a stove, a light. The tent ladies, they had been on
strike for a year, and l visited with them every day.

I brought them goods, baked goods, pop, and a deck of cards.
We played rummy, they would make me hot corn drinks, none of
them spoke english, maybe a few words, "hello, goodbye, love"
But it didn't matter, we communicated through laughter, gesture,
doodles on a note pad, and just plain knowing.
It's like the "dancer in the dirt", when you are honest, sincere,
natural, and just "being", then we hear, we see, we feel.

The tent ladies were always an enigma to me, l didn't understand
everything, like shadows that floated behind me, just catching a
glimpse of them but never able to grasp them.


Jose - l met Jose in an alley, he and his wife lived in a tiny cement
room, a bed, a dresser, and walls filled with photographs, crosses,
and symbols of "the virgin of guadalupe". Jose and l would just chat
in the alley, share smokes, grasped at words that sounded familier.

La pura verdad


I met her in an ice cream shop, and in her stumbling english
she asked if l would teach her english, she would teach me
spanish. Sandra was different than the tent ladies, where
as the tent held a darkness, a sadness, Sandra was light,
joyfull, "Oh ken ken ken" she would say with laughter.

She helped me navigate mexico city, took me places, even to
her home for dinner and to meet her parents. She was more
spanish then mexican. She was so lovely.


Rosa- it was Rosa that l attached myself to at the green tent.
She seemed to be in charge or perhaps just more respected, she
guided me as l guided her. We passed yellow notes back and
forth like kids in grade school. She was a dark chrystal.

...l digress, this is a painting of rosa, of mexico, of my loves back
home, memory, past and present, roaming around in my
body, my soul, painting is always so much more, so many lives
go into a painting, so much history.

"it always smelled of rain"

I would walk Rosa to the subway most nights, around
midnight and in that mile there were so many scents.
...close your eyes and smell what is around you.
It was assaulting, but in such a delicious way. It was like
the earth made love to you.


...silence is how l should sum up my stay in mexico city.
My beautiful friend Ron wrote the following for me and
next to silence it says it all...

"Aquaintance with a great white turkey sums up a wonder l feel.
The ugly beauty of this abused bird speaks to a dark light in me.
This unlikely creature confirms how utterly strange life is.
It is a strangeness which shocks, amuses and comforts.
The white turkey of Cayoacan heals our alienation.

Suddenly, we smile in recognition of a greater belonging.

It is this amused earthy wholeness l would have us remember."


...we are moving
from the shores of the west coast to the shores of the east coast,
close to bear river, nova scotia. I will be driving very soon, with
Cedar and a truck of belongings 6000k's.
I may not post for a couple three months, but l'll return.

I was going to leave you with edith piaf but have chosen this
wonderful video of Small Faces (itchycoo park) as it just seems
like better driving music.