Wednesday, July 15, 2009

48th Annual Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2009

As always doing the Toronto Outdoor Art Show is always an adventure, and a highly social event. Many people come back year after year and seek an artist/craftsperson out to see what's new. This is a view of the back wall of my display, which are predominantly the 'art pieces'. The sides of the booth are where I have scarves and shawls for sale. For the most part the weather was mostly cooperative except for the occasional gusts of wind, and a torrential downpour before the show opened at 10:30 on Saturday morning. I was greatful I arrived just as it was happening because pools of water can make the canopy very heavy and cause it to break, and then torrents of water come cascading in your booth. The challenges of nature!

Some people in the art world are critical of doing these kinds of shows, but I feel its important to get the work 'out there' to the general public, maybe even the public who may never attend a gallery. I feel it's important to make art accessible to everyone. One should question the assumptions we might make about others, what they do, and why they do it. You'll likely be surprised to discover that what one has assumed is completely incorrect! I'm discovering this all the time. Another reason I like doing a show like this is that I find it generates a lot of new ideas, and lots of inspiration. However, it is also very humbling, because there are many talented and gifted people participating and sometimes I find it hard to muster up my confidence.
A friend whose work I greatly admire is Judith Fielder and I cherish her friendship. She is an inspiration to many of us. A few other OCAD people went by me in a blur - William Hodge, Robert Wylie, Barb Hilts....

Jane Miliciewicz, an avid weaver and volunteer at the Museum for Textiles also visits me regularly at these shows. She's an opera buff and often does 'opera trips' in Europe. Way to live Jane!

Khadija Chatar for L'Express newspaper, a French paper in Toronto, came by to take photos and a stament so to speak.

Emily Bruusgaard, who once worked at the Textile Musuem of Canada, and who now continues her research in textiles, also stopped by for a visit.

Other friends, like Kathleen Boyle Hatcher, come by to say hello and chat a bit.

Miriam Grasby, the first person to buy one of my tapestries at the TOAE also stopped by. It was delightful to see her after 8 years I think!

The studio always is in chaos, laundry undone, house cleaning fallen to the wayside, before each show. Now its back to try to get order back in my life. The big priority is cleaning the studio and organizing it the way I want. After each show, it changes more and more to suit what I feel my needs are, but mostly within what I can afford, which isn't spectacular! All the same, I just feel lucky that I have room to work, that I enjoy being in my studio, and look forward to it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

To paint or to weave tapestries?

I've sometimes thought that I would rather just paint, and for the last few weeks that is what I have been doing. Why? Because there is so much more room for spontaneity than in weaving, tapestry or otherwise. It's so gratifying - one mark makes a world of difference, one colour can make you go wow. Tapestry is such a slow process that I get impatient to create my other ideas and so I think of faster alternatives, like painting. And though we all need immediate gratification every so often, and certainly, more healthier varieties, as I start putting things away I realize I have another reason why I also love the tapestry and the weaving of it.

First, there is no clean up, using tons and tons of water to cleanse the pigments away as we do for painting. As I watch the pigments go down the sink, I have a sick pit in my stomach, apologizing profusely to the planet for the harm I am doing to it. I am not the only painter on the planet so I imagine thousands of people doing the same thing and I am horrified. In tapestry weaving, one is not required to use harmful chemicals and one can make really good environmental choices as to the materials that go into weaving a tapestry. One can use biodgradable materials for instance like wool, cotton and other natural fibres. One can weave with recycled and reclaimed materials to keep them from going into landfill. Little by little my practice tries to include and consider these things.