Understand the world through art

great quote from Vivienne Westwood: “In the pursuit of art, you will discover the genius of the human race and you’ll start to understand the world you live in.”

Fashion Icon Vivienne Westwood

The Art of Change

A friend posted this great article that had a section in it that confirmed what I have believed for a very long time: 

“Future generations will be called to solve some of the most challenging problems ever created and faced by man. Our children must master systems-thinking to envision multiple methods for addressing complex challenges like renewable energy, world hunger, climate change, and ultimately, the design of a better world. They must also possess the compassion to recognize the rising human population and create a world that is inclusive, rather than exclusive.”  http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663416/teaching-kids-design-thinking-so-they-can-solve-the-worlds-biggest-problems

We are living in a new time, full of ways being ushered in, and old ways becoming redundant and unworkable.  Though we are in a time of flux and transition, it is like a snake shedding it’s skin, or like the eagle, that must go through the painful process of separating itself from others for a time and through a long and painful process, pluck out all of it’s own feathers, and then all of it’s talons in waiting for new ones to come, or it will die.

We are moving into a time where ‘team, collaboration, inclusion, compassion, vision’ all must be a major part of our vocabulary.  You see the way youth operate already, and most of them are much more willing to operate in group settings than us older folk do.  In order to walk successfully in those things, competitiveness and clamouring for top dog places will no longer work.  Lone Ranger philosophies will not allow for the future to come forth successfully.  It will be a time when recognition of the individual and their gifts (reminds me of Avatar – “I see you”) and encouraging those gifts to be used for the greater good will be more important than fighting for your own recognition and placement.  Shift is scary, but it is also exciting.

What does this have to do with art you ask?  It has everything to do with the art of transition, with the art of living differently, the art of seeing things differently, the art of recognizing others, with the art of creative living in collaboration with others.  Spring is here, shake off your old dusty, heavy ways, and put on a brand new, lighter, brighter coat for spring to celebrate the coming shift.

Hibernation and Persistence

Youth Project, Oshawa

Discovering new mediums and ways to express yourself

Winter seems to have brought with it a dual response from me these days.  There is days where you wake up to the bright shining sun, ready to conquer the day and full of a desire to discover the beauty outside…white crisp snow, flakes flying through the air, deep breaths bringing in a crisp jolt of extreme freshness…

At the same time as you delight in the picturesque view that lays outside, the cold makes you want to hibernate and huddle under blankets in front of the fireplace with a warm cup of tea…and do absolutely nothing!

Nothing does not exist for me right now however, but I would like to linger in that place some days…

Administration is an interesting part of running a business, I have found myself on the desk side of the art business for a number of months now between starting our charity, writing grant proposals, answering emails, connecting with people, learning how to Tweet, blog and be social, working on upcoming events, emailing contacts, meeting with potential partners to share visions and dreams…it is definitely a large part of business, but it is at times for me, excruciating…I get exhilarated by the conversations and connections, but dislike the desk work.  I’d rather be walking in a forest experiencing creation happening around me.

We just found out we did not get our first grant proposal, so we are in process of writing some more…never quit, just keep on going, but learn to do it better each time…I was very disappointed on one hand, but expected it on the other.  So many people have said, “you never get your first few proposals awarded…” so persistence is key…fortunately I have that if nothing else.

Working with the artists from the Art With A Heart Inc. Youth Project has been great.  It is always inspiring to see the youth have no fear to enter in with new mediums and ideas and create without hesitation…They inspire me to be creative at the very least, to fearlessly try new things.  The inspire me to be willing to fail in the process while opening new pathways of expression.  I hope that the youth begin to see their own value and worth, and how worthwhile it is for us to work with them and challenge them on to believe that they can do anything they set their minds, and hearts to.  If they persist and invest themselves, they will see results.  I had an artist tell me that once – Tim Packer…he said: “artists who stick to it will always find success because someone out there will like their work – the only thing that stops most artists from making it is sticking to it.”  Both my husband and I got a lot from that statement…persist, don’t quit, don’t back down, down allow the let downs do more than slow you down for a moment, then shake off the dust and begin again…

Have been painting some dragon fruit…work still in progress, maybe will finish later today.  Life is a balance between discovery and hibernation I think~

2011 Starts with a Flurry of Action!

Wow, it is only a week into the New Year and so much has happened, it’s like popcorn in a pot.  You wait forever to hear that first pop, then when it starts, they all go!  We have been accepted (Taylor Gundry, Sheri Gundry, Kim Mather and Meagan Mather) to do a group show in April through PRAC at McLean Community Centre in Ajax, Town of Whitby is interested in partnering on a larger scale temporary installation working with the youth for Spring, started the New Year with pieces at Station Gallery, have got back underway working with youth through art in Durham Region…upcoming add on of SASS project of music and art responses is exciting, working on proposal again for property, have paintings brewing that would be good for calendars for fall.  Booked venue for Art With A Heart Inc. special Valentine’s Event, Booked venue and entertainment for AWAH gala in October (woohoo Neil Crone and Kevin Frank doing a comedy show!!!), Sunroom Studio getting underway, still working on website development and programs…

I feel like I can hardly catch my breath…but I have energy in abundance right now, so am going with it…

Would really like to get underway with paintings as I need them out of my head so my head can hold other stuff…have planned to set up a daily schedule so that I walk, paint, work consistently…

So excited for the potential already beginning 2011!

2010 Reflections…

Finishing things started, waiting for new things…

2010 was not a year where I did a lot of artwork…I did a lot of administration, sorting, cleaning, purging, managing construction projects…but artistically I did not get to do anything with a paintbrush (other than face/body art) until the late fall. 

It seems strange that every year seems to take on an overall tone when you reflect back on it.  Hindsight is always so much clearer and easier to see what was going on in those days when it seemed clouded and fuzzy…

I am excited for new projects this year, moved in many new directions in 2010 with the type of work I was doing, establishing a charity, putting an addition onto the house, meeting new people in the art world…a year of establishing and foundations…small scale concepts of big ideas yet to come.

Though there is a bit more renovation left over for 2011, I am hoping to see the year ahead be a time of resting, planning, strategizing, releasing of pent up art pieces in my head and heart, finishing up of OLD THINGS in preparation for the NEW THINGS to be embarked on…

I have been blessed to have many people that are like a collection of treasures surround me this year…I feel as though we are being brought together, placed, and positioned to be installed into a crown of something beautiful…each new person that enters onto the scene is precious in his/her own way…

I know I dream big, but I believe in my dreams and believe that big things are on the horizon that many of us can’t even imagine…we see dimly right now as if in a mirror, but when the full is revealed, it will be so much more than we thought…God is good though, those dreams have been planted for a purpose, and the manifestation of those dreams will be glorious.

Looking forward to a year of deep intimacy with the Creative Spirit and a release and flow of things to come!

See you all in 2011!

Your friendly neighbourhood

Inaugural event at The Sunroom Studio last night

The Sunroom Studio

Wow, what a night last night was!  Dale Russell (formerly from The Guess Who) who is one of the founding directors of SASS (School Alliance of Student Songwriters) and his founding partner Artemis Chartier came by with David Millar, Director from DFCC  to begin our work on a joint project with all of the above and Art With A Heart Inc. 

Artemis was our Producer and Artistic Director as we undertook to film a live work of art created by myself (Sheri Gundry from Art With A Heart Inc.) with Dale as musical muse…We worked collaboratively to respond in the moment to both the music and the art being created  in order to get a teaser up on You Tube to encourage young people to undertake similar projects.  We are doing this exact thing with students in the Durham Region, having some respond to music through art, and others to create songs in response to artwork. 

We are hoping the project will be completed in March 2011 including the release of a CD with booklet including artwork and songs from this experience, perhaps with a CD release and small show at a local gallery like the RMG.

We know the synergy produced by working together and the exciting things that can emerge from it, we saw a bit of it happen last night as we created art together.  I have posted  the art piece taken with my little point and press today, but there will be some You Tube finished hopefully next week.  Both SASS and DFCC/AWAH have students already at work on their parts of the project, and we look forward in  seeing the results from their collaborative response to each other.  With the creative spirit at work and flowing between them, I am sure it will be nothing short of amazing!

Great news!  Here is the You Tube clip for you to see – The Art of Synergy

Looking Forward…Looking Back

Coin depicting mythological Roman god Janus

Was inspired recently with the theme of an upcoming exhibition at Station Gallery when I stumbled upon a great bit of information about the Roman God Janus and an art installation done in Boston a number of years ago…

The Roman God Janus was a two faced God that was known for “looking forward and looking back” at the same time…it is where we get January from and it could possibly explain why we have New Years resolutions and a reflection of the year behind and the year to come.  He is known as the god of New Beginnings, of gates, and of doorways, bridges, as well as endings in time.

He symbolized both concreate and abstract thinking about the beginnings of the world, god, human life, the historical ages, and also economical undertakings.  I also found it interesting that he was the god of change and transitions where the past progressed into the future, a condition to another or a vision to another…the transition of youth growing up etc.  We often talk about hindesight being 20/20 and this is the god that represented being able to see the past and the future with his two faces…he was worshipped at harvests and plantings, at weddings and funerals, and even where rural places became cities…

It seems so culturally relevant and fitting to have such an interesting character somewhat represent the times we are in, even in my own personal life, the youth that I work with in trying to encourage them into a productive and creative path, a young friend presently travelling in Italy who is so fascinated by gates and doorways and at that transition point in her life from youth to adult, transitions in our economies from industrialized centres to more creative centres…even for Station Gallery who is reflecting on the past 40 years and looking forward to the next…

In finding the project that had been done in larger scale, I am still excitetd to consider undertaking a temporary art installation that could be done on New Year’s Eve in Whitby and displayed later with a “statue” of sorts of a type of Janus and the opportunity to have it as an interactive art piece for others to sign on New Year’s Eve with their reflections and resolutions…I can’t wait to see if the Town agrees that it is a great idea and could be much fun…

History, art, creativity, and making a mark today…all so much fun and so inspiring…

Art and Healing…


Just came across an article about a woman who connected with a painting that she saw at an Oncology clinic during a surgery…it reminded me of a connection I made a few years ago with a woman going through treatments for breast cancer.

A few friends and myself had been dropping food off for this woman and her family and I felt prompted to give or “loan” a painting to her.  I brought it with me and offered it, and it led to a much deeper conversation.  The woman hung it on her wall at the end of her bed, and she said every morning she would look at it and it would help her to meditate or pray about her situation and it brought her comfort.  I offered her to keep the painting, or when it was all over, to take another painting in its place instead, knowing that there could be many negative feelings attached to it.  She agreed at the end of the process that she would rather get another piece in its place. 

She said that painting gave her hope every time she looked at it and knew that others were lifting her up and carrying her through this very difficult time. 

Sometimes we create for ourselves, sometimes we just create…sometimes what we create changes the lives of others and we don’t even know it.

Reading Painters Eleven after seeing some pieces at RMG in Oshawa

Am loving the beautiful book I treated myself too, nothing like the feel of a new hardcover book in your hands with shiny pages and huge plates of artwork by the Painters Eleven!  Such a rich heritage we have in Canada.  Art With A Heart Inc.’s youth from their Youth Project are going on a field trip to see some of the works of these painters at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in a week.  It is an incredible show.  We sat amongst it at the Artscapes Workshop which we were at recently.  The work is huge and breathtaking in such a great space.  Thank you to the RMG for putting on such great shows with such importance.  I know a number of permanent pieces by this group are in the gallery’s ownership.

The Preface by Nowell in the book has some fabulous quotes and quotes another writer:  Denise Leclerc who is the author of The Crisis of Abstraction in Canada;the 1950′s.

I have to put them somewhere, so I am blogging them here…

In speaking about the Painters Eleven, Denise Leclerc concisely states that the personalities and quirks of each of the artists and “How they lived their lives…was their art.” (Preface xxxv)

“…even a modest understanding of an artist as a person illuminates that artist’s work.” (Preface xxxvi) showing us that the life, character,  and personality of the artist is as important to understand as just seeing their work, and without it, we likely loose a piece of what we would gain by having some insight into the way they looked at life in general.

“Yet abstract art, infinitely more than mere shapes and colours, is an amalgam of energy, power and rhythm, the components that fire this art’s ineffable energy.” (Preface xxxvi)  This was what we were trying to teach the youth this week past, how important it is to see beyond shapes, but to grasp the energy and spirit of a piece, the mood it creates, the response that it draws from your own person.

“…appreciating Abstract Expressionist Art begins with surrender, by allowing a painting to possess you. (I assume this means your senses) Once this occurs, you stop looking for symbols or messages or meanings and experience instead, rhythm, energy, power, grace.” (Preface xxxvi)

Can’t wait to read more and find out about these characters and creative wonders!

Diversity of Talent necessary in our communities

Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability…at the heart of the challenges, is to reconstitute our sense of ability and intelligence…” Sir Ken Robinson

This statement resonated with me instantly…and I agree that at times, education interferes and stifles our natural creativity.  I am reminded of that song by Harry Chapin.  Some teachers really are “real” teachers, where others are not, and this is an example.  Education has to be at it’s best, beneficial to the individual and help them flourish.  I have friends who were raised in a house of artists, and their work is so great and so flowing, I believe they were also home schooled…and it made all the difference in the world.

Flowers are Red
by Harry Chapin

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man
I’m paintin’ flowers he said
She said… It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only oneAnd she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seenBut the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every oneWell the teacher said.. You’re sassy
There’s ways that things should be
And you’ll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me…..And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seenBut the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every oneThe teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It’s for your own good..
And you won’t come out ’til you get it right
And are responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he saidFlowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seenTime went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin’
She said…Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let’s use every oneBut that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he saidFlowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.Layout, design, images, and user-contributed text are © Copyright 1996-2009 HarryChapin.com: The Harry Chapin Archive.
“Oh, if a man tried to take his time on earth and prove before he died what one man’s life