Chemainus: small town; big charm

It’s easy to see why this open-air art gallery draws visitors from all over the world. 

This is only a splattering of photos taken with my Samsung phone camera a few days ago.  See story below.

Like many others right now during this pandemic craze, I’m tending to stick closer to home.  Well maybe not always too too close; but close enough.  At the very least I’ve been discovering places in the province where I live that I have either never been to and wanted to visit, or haven’t visited in such a long time, that I can’t even remember when I was there last.

Such was the case a few days ago when I took the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island with my boyfriend Paul and Layla, my sheltie.  The reason I decided to go in the first place was to look at the possibility of getting a companion dog for Layla.  I was very interested in getting another male sheltie who lives on the island. However, without going into detail it sadly was not meant to be, at least for now…so we decided to make a little holiday out of the situation.

We took the ferry boat one way going there and another way coming back with stopovers in some quaint little towns…Ladysmith, Chemainus, Duncan and finally ending up in Victoria to take the ferry back to Vancouver.  The weather for November was excellent and the scenery very picturesque.

And speaking of picturesque…I was aware of an abundance of story-telling murals in Chemainus as I had been there once before, but I had no idea that it is known as Canada’s Mural Capital. And I don’t remember seeing nearly as many as I did this time around.

I was blown away by how this proud seaside community shares its heritage and celebrates its history through art on the sides of stores, restaurants and private homes. The creation of one mural and sculpture after another which began in 1982, has turned this tiny town into Canada’s largest permanent outdoor art gallery.  And might I add… when was the last time you stood in front of a “Subway” sandwich shop or “Canada Post Office” in admiration?.

You can follow the yellow footsteps (like the yellow brick road) on the sidewalks to locate all the murals.  Although we did it by chance and decided to spend the night in a hotel there so we could enjoy the town the next day.

Town History:

When Chemainus was established in 1858, forestry was the principal industry, and it is still central to its life.  The townspeople were concerned about the future of their one-industry town so looked to economic diversification as a way to thrive.  As it has a natural beauty setting to begin with, it made sense to expand as a tourist spot so The Chemainus Murals Program was born. 

The subject from the beginning has been the community’s heritage, reflecting the history of the First Nations people and their life here, and the unfolding story of settlement by the families and individuals who built the community. 

World renowned Vancouver Island artist Emily Carr’s legacy is depicted in a special Emily Carr Mural Series.  It’s really beautiful.

The name Chemainus is believed to have come from a legendary First Nations shaman and prophet who survived a massive wound in his chest to become a powerful chief.  Tsa-meeun-is (Broken Chest).

If you’re looking for The Mural of the Story…

Going by the official mural guide I can look through and tell you by number what each mural means, however I think it best you go there and discover for yourself… if only because it really is worthwhile.

ART/Film Reviews

MY REMBRANDT and MARCEL DUCHAMP: the Art of the Possible – part of Vancouver International Film Festival’s (VIFF) Music/Art/Design series.

MY REMBRANDT

This documentary lets us in on how the materially privileged, despite possible pretenses to the contrary, lust over rare “objets d’art.”   Does their material desire to possess rare works of art amount to little more than the fleeting privilege of being able to flaunt their worldly status and/or smarts to others, or is it for national  glorification?  Perhaps both.

It successfully parts the privacy curtain and offers us a peek behind it into the lives of Europeans with old wealth, an American with new wealth and big state-sponsored art gallery curators in Holland and France and elsewhere.

The idea is simply that the documentary isn’t just an art film about Rembrandt paintings aimed at the art crowd. It’s a documentary that not only offers insight into the ruthlessness that can play out in the high stakes international art world when it comes to finding and buying masterpieces; it also offers insight into Europe’s first selfies, in that only the wealthy could afford to commission artists to render their portraits for posterity.

From the VIFF Catalogue:

One of the “old masters,” Rembrandt van Rijn is considered one of the greatest painters of all time, and in the elite world of art collectors, his work is – almost – priceless. Oeke Hoogendijk’s captivating and elegant doc is both an enchanting glimpse behind the curtain of this privileged universe, and also a deep dive into an art mystery that rocked Rembrandt fans across the globe.

From a Scottish duke’s personal affection for a coveted portrait, to an American couple who have tried to get their hands on as many of the artist’s paintings as possible, Hoogendijk reveals what “my” Rembrandt means to each – nostalgia, heritage, beauty, obsession and, for many, the satisfaction of exclusive ownership. My Rembrandt also details the heated legal battles that proprietorship can entail. The film follows the youngest Jan Six (whose forefather Rembrandt painted), an art dealer convinced that he has found two previously undiscovered Rembrandts – a bold claim that, like everything in the art world, doesn’t come without a price.

Marcel Duchamp: The Art of the Possible

What makes a work of art “art”? Good question. Should it not be in the eye of the beholder?

Marcel Duchamp, who was regarded as “the godfather of modern conceptual art”, challenges this question. You might say he pushed the limitations of the definition of art by focusing on the observer of the art.

Born in the late 1800s in a small town in Normandy, Duchamp would go on to almost single-handedly revolutionize the art world with his fascination with the “fourth dimension” and developments in science, technology and mathematics.  His unusual works were initially shunned and misunderstood by the mainstream, but later incorporated into pioneering movements like Cubism and abstract expressionism.

From the VIFF Catalogue:

The Art of the Possible is a mesmerising account of Duchamp’s life and work, showing how his radical rejection of 19th century ideals paved the way for innovation in dance, literature, music and the visual arts. An impressive array of experts and researchers bring Duchamp’s legacy to the fore, as archival footage reveals a charismatic – at times cheeky – visionary who was light years ahead of his time.

Marina Abramovic and Jeff Koons are among the artists and experts celebrating his life and work.

Presented by The Audain Foundation

Of these two documentaries, I much preferred “My Rembrandt”

Until October 7th you can order tickets to stream online with VIFF Connect:

https://viff.org/

 

Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 (VIFF) Online

VIFF 2020 starts tomorrow

This film festival is something I look forward to attending and blogging about every year.  The lineup has always been excellent and it’s nice to sit with and bump into the same familiar faces. No doubt this time is going to be different.  The familiarity of sharing a cinematic experience with a crowd is on hold for now and we’ll all be happy when things return to normal and we’re able to sit together again.  So until then…

British Columbia’s biggest annual celebration of cinema is just around the corner.

From Noon on September 24 to October 7th, film lovers province-wide will enjoy over 100 feature films and events showcasing exciting, groundbreaking and provocative cinema and creators from around the globe.

You’ll be able to watch this year’s stellar line-up from the comfort of your home via VIFF Connect, VIFF’s new online streaming platform. For the first time, audiences across BC can watch VIFF curated cinema and viewers around the world can tune into our Talks and Conferences.

Stay in the Loop

SIGN UP FOR VIFF NEWS  

Check out the amazing films/documentaries/talks:

viff.org

 

Art + Accomodation

I love the idea behind a brand new boutique getaway in Palm Springs aptly named the

ART Hotel

Photo: d. king

I say “getaway” instead of “hotel” because it’s the kind of place you will want to stay and linger for longer than a weekend.  Maybe a month or more? It’s easy to get inspired in a place like this.  It’s bright and bold so not for the faint of heart, or at least color.  A perfect place for artists.  The owner is in fact an artist, designer, author among other notable achievements.

Photo: d. King

Photo: d. king

Bookings for the Art Hotel will begin in January 2020. In addition to rentals, Turco also wants to use the space to host hybrid art exhibits/pool parties that will raise money for public arts projects.

Photo: d. king

Tracy with my Layla at Animal Samaritans Yappy Hour at the Riviera Hotel.  Tracy designed the dress she’s wearing.  Stunning – both she and the dress!   Photo: d. king

Coming soon: the Tiki hotel – another Turco project.

Take a peek inside here:

https://www.desertsun.com/story/money/business/2019/10/25/take-peek-inside-tracy-turcos-new-art-hotel-palm-springs/2452045001/

Questions + Answers with Tracy here:

http://www.avenuemagazine.com/space-and-places-a-qa-with-interior-designer-tracy-stern/

Mural in the Making – painting a story

Let me introduce you to extremely talented Canadian visual artist Kris Friesen.  Everybody has a story.  He can paint yours.

The header today is the finished mural at the Greek restaurant Koutouki in the 124 Street neighborhood of Edmonton. It depicts a colorful streetscape of busy life in restaurants and cafes in Athens.  By Kris Friesen.

I love painting split scenes that show wildlife above and below a water line. From left to right in this river mural are: a coyote, tiger salamander, Canadian toad, mallard ducks, silver redhorse, river shiner and beaver – Kris Friesen.

A smiling drummer in traditional African clothing performs in the foreground of this mural, celebrating the Kaleido festival in Edmonton – Kris Friesen.

This group portrait painting depicts four generations Canadian military service with five members of the Scott family, from the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War 1 to Combat Engineers in Afghanistan. Where the oldest generation did not meet the youngest, and a photograph would be impossible, all are painted shoulder to shoulder in this portrait – Kris Friesen.

I first met Kris about 15 years ago when my husband and I commissioned him to paint a wall on part of our outdoor courtyard after seeing his work on the outside of a gelato shop on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.

Jia Jia lying by the first mural flanked by real rocks, shells & wood flowers.  Photo: d. king

Our friend Jackie was anxious to take us to this new place for the best gelato in the city, but as good as it was we were more mesmerized by the lifelike Italian scene depicted on one whole side of the building.  The attention to detail was amazing. Actually, it was the best mural we’d seen to date and it got us thinking about how we could incorporate something personal to our own outdoor space.  So I got in touch with the shop owner who let Kris know we were interested.  Unfortunately the shop along with the mural is no longer there.

We had some ideas, Kris painted a story board and voila, our idea came to life.  A bit Santa Fe, a bit Wine Country and some water and mountains off to the distance.  And of course, an expanse of sky.  When we sat out there we felt like we had a special view of everything we like.  And it was after that that we wondered why on earth we hadn’t asked him to paint another wall.  We pondered that idea for several years.  Then we decided to move on it.

However by then Kris had unfortunately for us, moved to Edmonton and we dressed up the blank wall with a wall hanging and later on a mirror with plants in front.  We felt it needed something.   Fast forward to this past summer when I found Kris’s website and sent him an e-mail not even sure he’d remember me. Surprisingly he did.  By this time he had moved to Duncan, B.C. – at least it was a lot closer.  I told him my husband had passed away and that we had been talking for years about wanting to get him back to do some more art.  Luckily for me, Kris was Vancouver bound for several days just recently so we discussed the wall.  I thought Spring would be a perfect time to start however Kris was going traveling for a while and not sure exactly when he’d be back.  Since the weather was good and considering how well the other mural held up over the years, I decided to go ahead.

I wanted the older mural to be extended around the corner and a few other things added to the much smaller blank wall area; which would have not been in the original plan.

The work in progress:

Always start with a blank canvas

Draw it out for a rough draft

Get started.  Looks a bit sketchy.

Starting to take life

Just about finished.  I have to leave a little bit to the imagination.  There’s a few missing little details.  Group of photos: d. king

Mural Mural on the Wall – I’m very happy with the finished result.  He even put another protective coating on the first mural which had held up very well and re-painted a few things on the upstairs deck.  Oh yeah; he also painted some rocks, sagebrush, flowers, gekkos and butterflies on the upstairs deck.  Looks great.

Here’s a small sampling of his other diverse original works of art.  Kris not only paints murals. He started with that, however now he paints on canvas and panels mostly.

This painting of a Chinese flute player that has been called a fairy or spirit by some members of Edmonton’s Chinatown – Kris Friesen.

This Asian elephant moves forward into a stream of water while throwing up an airborne stream of dust. As much as I like the contrast between air and water my understanding of elephants suggests they might like it more, as their trunks can provide a unique medium between the two – Kris Friesen.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge saw Canadians advancing uphill against Germans defending their hardened positions. The mural depicts some of the terrible conditions Canadian troops would have experienced as they gutted out their rolling barrage. To emphasize the challenges soldiers faced I made the direction of the mural up and to the left, the most uneasy direction to look if viewed by a westerner, as we read left to right and downwards – Kris Friesen.

First Nations peoples utilized Alberta resources long before Europeans arrived, like this painting of a spring fishing camp, where walleye and pike are caught and prepared with stone tools at a northern stream. Fish that are not cooked or smoked are placed on wood racks to dry in the sun, while nearby two people seal a birch bark canoe with spruce pitch and bitumen – Kris Friesen.

Website:

http://krisfriesen.com/

 

Hidden treasures

where Art meets Fashion…

Here’s a story about a most remarkable renovation/restoration

This is something else I’ve been meaning to post because not only is it highly unusual, it’s extraordinary.

The 17th-century oil painting discovered behind a wall during construction of the Oscar de la Renta boutique in Paris. Credit: Julien Mignot for The New York Times

A new Oscar de la Renta boutique in New York was undergoing renovations three months ago when something unusual was discovered on the second floor. When workers were clearing out garbage and debris at the end of the space on that floor, something seemed definitely amiss.  As they were clearing and resurfacing, something else resurfaced.

Something had been hidden behind a wall, and it wasn’t asbestos. It was a 10-by-20-foot oil painting of an elaborately coiffed and dressed 17th-century marquis and assorted courtiers entering the city of Jerusalem.

The restoration is expected to be done by May. Credit: Julien Mignot for The New York Times

Teams of restorers swab away some of the varnish to allow colors to come through. Credit: Julien Mignot for The New York Times

Full Story here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/21/fashion/the-treasure-behind-the-wall.html

 

 

Tammy’s Wall Art

I’m inspired by other people’s choices of home décor including artwork.  Art tells a lot about a persons personality.

Artist: Michael Poitier from Montreal

My friend Tammy (who obviously has a penchant for champagne, dogs & Palm Springs) has invited me over for several really scrumptious dinners including the one where I first met Daniel (the artist) and his partner Karl.  In fact, this dynamic duo was responsible for re-designing Tammy and her husband David’s beautiful condo which is also situated on the same golf course.  There’s something tranquil about facing a golf course.  Tammy and David reside in Palm Springs for the winter preferring to escape the rainy (and now snowy) Vancouver landscape.

For this post I wanted to feature some of their artwork

by Gary Dorothy; Imageville Gallery  (this is in their hallway)

Will Alistair in the living room.

Pamela Masik original.  If you look closely you can find images of people + animals.

Artist: Connie Townsend

Artish: Connie Townsend.  Bichon pets Timbit & Lily Bella in a car that used to belong to Tammy. fyi: they weren’t really driving.

Tracy Verdugo

How about you? Are you inspired by other people’s artwork?

 

 

Monday Mood: MODERNISM

It’s that time of year again….Palm Springs hosts it’s 14th annual signature event featuring midcentury modern architecture, interior, and landscape design, art and vintage culture from February 14-24, 2019.

Photo credit: Bethany Nauert

Join us for modernist tours, talks, shows, exhibits, films, parties, and much much more.

Photo credit: Christopher Kennedy

Grace Home Furnishings

Photo credit: Lance Gerber

Tickets still available:

https://www.modernismweek.com/

I’m telling you folks….if you’ve never been….it’s something not to be missed.

 

 

 

 

Art by Daniel Gutzmann

DANIEL GUTZMANN is a remarkable man of many talents. 

Not only does he create unique works of art, he makes the most delicious peanut butter power bars.  And he has an extensive and beautiful shoe collection.  You might say I’m a little envious. I can go on and on.

I met Daniel and his partner Karl for the first time last year when we were invited to  dinner at a mutual friend’s home in the Palm Springs area.  After dinner they showed me around their incredible home which happens to be situated on a golf course and which they gutted and re-designed themselves. That’s another thing; this power couple is licensed to re-design and re-decorate homes. Yes; there are some people who can do all that. They have excellent taste but they work according to the aesthetic of each individual, so it’s continually different but always discerning. At their place there were so many things to take in because the attention to detail is astounding.  And then there is the ART which obviously caught my eye.  Like anyone could ignore it?  Art created by Daniel .

Recently we had dinner again at the same friend’s house and I asked if I could come photograph some of their paintings for my website. So here are some images taken by me of Daniel’s artwork with a little bio about him.

The art hides a flatscreen TV

Daniel Gutzmann began his career as an artist and designer in 1989. His passion, vision and talent in taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary has allowed him contracts with high end corporate and private clients throughout the years.

He began his career with painting public transit coaches across the country into rolling works of art. These hand painted show stoppers have visually delighted such major clients as Pepsi, Mutual of Omaha, Coca Cola, Sony, Mercury, Elktra Records and Disney. He has painted murals and pieces of art for numerous community foundations, public and private clients which included homes, zoos, museums, schools, churches, public libraries and banks. His brilliant large canvas art is designed for high end clients, especially those with large homes and commercial spaces wanting to display beautiful art. With this, he has earned the prestigious Addy Award for outstanding design. Daniel continues to exceed his client expectations in providing stunning artwork that celebrates the atmosphere in which they are placed. He has participated in Rancho Mirage Art Affaire and has attended numerous art shows throughout the country, Palm Springs and the surrounding areas. Most recently, was awarded “Best of Show”in oil painting at the Indian Wells Arts Festival.

Daniel creates his near photo realistic paintings on canvas wrapped panels utilizing all triple pigmented oils with a flat finish glaze. These pieces of art are created with his vision of taking a beautiful object and painting its most unique aspects which sometimes may be abstract. His 3D multi-media modern works of art are created on wood panels utilizing MDO and Oxboard plywood, pvc & metal pipes, wall papers, venetian plaster, drywall joint compound, oil and acrylic paints.

If you are interested in any of his works please contact Debbie@girlwhowouldbeking.com

dan5.jpg
b+w – mother’s bedroom

Part of their outdoor living

on a wall outside

“Won’t You be my Neighbor?”

Love; or the lack of, is at the Root of all things – Fred Rogers

I never expected to shed a tear watching a documentary about a popular childrens TV show from the past.  But one of the scenes from “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” shown at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) touched a chord. And when I looked around me, it was obvious that I wasn’t the only one crying.  Mr. Rogers Neighborhood hit a common thread in its most simplest form.  It reminded us of our innocence because we all grow up so quickly and the world has changed so much.  But really; we’re still kids at heart.

Our basic needs are the same no matter where we live, our religion, ethnicity, age, economic status or our jobs.  It is to feel safe, loved and worthwhile.  End of story.

Sorry; no skeletons in the closet found anywhere in this feel-good documentary  It’s almost impossible to not uncover even a little dirt on anyone nowadays, specifically the famous.  And you can imagine someone especially as likeable as Mr. Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers).  And by now they would have uncovered something from having interviewed many who knew him. For me, it was a case of not wanting to know any different. Because Fred Rogers was loved by millions of children, even though he was the unlikeliest role model. It is fascinating that he endured for so long.  This doc was a great character study.

We find out Rogers decided to go into television because he hated what he saw on TV.  So he created what can best be described as a landmark in children’s television.

But imagine being that likeable…

The thing is Fred Rogers, along with genuine spirituality…really, really cared.  And that is what is most admirable.  It was not only his persona, it was him.  No big secret.  Kids aren’t stupid; they picked up on his sincerity.  The show was a refuge for kids from all kinds of backgrounds.

Fred Rogers was a tireless children’s activist and advocate, bringing joy into our homes.  Can you think of any program like that now?

We certainly remember Eddie Murphy’s comical take with the spoof “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood on SNL.  It was pretty hilarious.

I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.

Rogers was an ordained minister who studied religion which most likely gave him the tolerance and the tools he used with or without puppets, to teach children about worth, unity, grief, racism, superheroes and…everything else that no other program on TV was offering.  It was a unique and needed niche which only he at the time was able to  recognize.  He even managed to get funding for PBS when they were going to cut programming based on his court appearance about the demand for this kind of educational platform.

There was a conversation afterwards with Director Morgan Neville (Oscar®-winner for Twenty Feet from Stardom).  I was already a fan of his work. This heartfelt portrait  more than does justice to the show’s beloved host. Expect to be surprised by the film’s relevance and deeply moved by its subject.  I know I was.

It’s not so much what we have in this life that matters. It’s what we do with what we have.