Tag Archives: beauty

Performance Art

img_0680
“Resting in the Beauty” DS

Today, again, it comes to me that facilitating is a form of performance art. It was especially obvious to me last month as local teacher from Emily Carr University; Jeanne Krabbendam enlivened us at the Ferry Building Gallery with her banter. Her accent, so Dutch, alone brings a smile of delight to my eyes. Her inclusion in discussions welcomes participants’ eager responses to her useful material. We had a popcorn critique of two abstract paintings as follows:

The Elements of Art –

Shape

Size

Line

Direction

Texture

Colour

Value

And Principles of Design –

Balance

Harmony

Gradation

Alternation

Contrast

Dominance

Unity

The morning started well for me when we chatted at length as she walked by my chair.  As if I was her peer she shared with me her challenges of the recent art tours she led to her birth land. As a facilitator myself I identified with many aspects of group dynamics to be managed. As I listened with restrained awe to her readiness to offer painting and gallery visits from small boat tours again, I too knew the love of introducing people to the beauty and meaning of making and viewing art.

Her appearance exuded her taste. Short textured dark brown hair with a shock of mahogany above dark green spectacles – contrasting colours, and bright raspberry lipstick below darkened eyes kept the focus on what she was saying. On her tiny frame, a thin-striped black and white tunic topped black leggings and boots. Yet it was her happy playful eyes that attracted others to her pedagogy. She lives what she verbalizes. She lives an art life (as if you could distinguish to the two). Her life and her art flow seamlessly into one another. This is what attracts and keeps her followers: joie de vivre.

Although it is more blessed to give than to receive, there are exceptions. Although I could have led the group discussion myself, it was refreshing to receive a different style of leadership from someone whose platform and practice differs markedly from mine. I was not only receiving her take on how to view paintings but I absorbed and reflected her passion for teaching.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

 Book of Psalms

 

Advertisements

Musings about the New VAG while on Retreat at Rivendell

Weeds or Wildflowers.JPG

“Flowers at Rivendell” DS – Weeds or Wildflowers?

The proposal for the new gallery was not widely accepted. In fact contrary to the enthusiasm of the VAG, civic leaders and architectural critics, a local radio poll, in September last year showed “80% of the respondents voting ‘No’ to the design.”

Should an art gallery be ugly? The title of an article in art guide, Preview magazine, last year by M. De La Giroday was titled “We are Art: a new narrative for the Vancouver Art Gallery.” It read, the architects “aren’t obsessed with winning an architectural beauty contest.” They said, from an artist’s point of view, these would be the best galleries in the world. In fact, artists would want to be revived from the dead to show here…” These are strong words.

The design is of wood – “a nod to Vancouver’s history as a logging town but with modern internal structures. Although not stated in the article, it reminds me of the shape of the First Nations’ Inukshuk, a symbol of welcome.

Behind the scenes (barely), are concerns about the wood being able to stand up to the weather and the ugliness of it rotting over time. Although there are few cities as treed as Vancouver’s province, apparently there are concerns over whether the correct size and type of water repellent wood could be produced here (so much for using local materials and saving the environment). The other worries are of course, how to raise the funds for this expensive venture, but this would be necessary for any design. However, some say it would be better to renew the old gallery and open several new small ones as the funds are raised.

I find myself debating whether it is reasonable for a gallery to be ugly. Is that not an oxymoron? Why would people be attracted to an ugly gallery? Who would want to walk along the street and look at it? Tourist might even come, not to see what will be the tallest wooden structure in the world but the ugliest gallery in the world.

That said, I know that some think Antoni Gaudi’s “Sagrada Familia” church, Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Museum in Spain, and even the ‘new’ ultra modern Scottish Parliament building in old Edinburgh are ugly. I think now not of humankind’s great creations but of God’s – humankind. Let’s face it; all were not created with equal beauty. Not even God’s own Son, Jesus, in essence God himself, is not of any particular ‘comeliness’ as Scripture describes him. I feel confused now, how can that be? Surely God must be the most beautiful of all? It only makes sense. I am going to have to wrestle with this ugliness business a bit more.

Part Two

What must come into my thinking is that there are different kinds of beauty and various perceptions of ugliness. What comes to mind right now is the way that the appreciation of women’s beauty in art has changed over the centuries from the high foreheads of the Renaissance period to Rubenesque figures, to the anorexic look for today’s model for real women to emulate. There is also natural beauty, but that has a continuum of appreciation too.

Ugliness, I guess, can be about the way we value certain looks. We have standards. A gallery must be made of a certain material. A man must be close to a particular height. Even, my favourite: paintings must be of a realistic style to be beautiful.

Perhaps real beauty and real ugliness are intrinsic. Then I remember that humanity once created in the image of God has become tarnished and even tattered. Even real beauty can be diminished. The future state of the decaying wood of the gallery must be considered on the one hand yet what seems ugly now could become such a meeting place of meaning for Vancouverites and tourists that it becomes beautiful in its aging patina.

Some say of a baby, it is a face only a mother can love. Others are afraid of the onset of facial wrinkles and grey hair. Yet is any baby truly ugly? Is there real beauty in wrinkles? It comes to me now that picture of a dog with amazing wrinkles. You must have seen images of it somewhere. Many think that type of dog is absolutely adorable. So, is beauty in the eye of the beholder then? We can also gain beauty some say, by surgery, by body sculpting, by dressing a certain way. Are the celebrities caught by the camera without make-up genuinely ugly or if so just temporarily indisposed? What about redemption? Is there really something called a ‘bad seed’ making some people evil from birth? Are ugliness and evil, beauty and goodness correlated?

This may be an ongoing topic for thought. The Preview article ends with: “Art, the pursuit of art, and how we support it is a grand enterprise. In a sense, we are all art, and what is chosen will set the arts environment in Vancouver for the foreseeable future.” Do we find more meaning in beauty or in the reality of history and experiences, of love, of hate? But that is a topic for another day. Still exhausted, I am tiring myself more with trying to figure out both life and art. Which parts of this blog post are beautiful; which ugly? I cannot edit anymore.

After the Rain

After the Rain

“After the Rain” iPad photo DS

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

First Book of Corinthians

 

This morning as my red car climbs the driveway drips from the tall trees twinkled among the branches and fell in turn on the graveled tarmac. It seemed like a new washed world. The plants I had struggled to water with the kinked hose a few days ago came to mind. There was no way I could ever have watered the pink flowering bushes, white roses and purple viola pots the way last night’s rain had.

I watched through the darkening windows of my living room the night before in mild shock that in this week before summer white hail stones were piling up on the brown aggregate patio.

Later in the afternoon, the words, into each life some rain must fall, came into my mind as I thought about driving the short distance to my women’s group earlier. I did a mini-ponder about whether our lives were actually cleaned by the difficult times we go through. There can be harm in extreme events, but mostly the unpleasant pouring rain – like hard times, may not be bad for us. In fact, I mused, we may be helped by them.

I then wondered if a break in a relationship might be like days of pouring rain – that perhaps the sun might shine on that relationship again after events bring things into more clarity. The vivid colours after the harsh rain, might they be like positive qualities of the other person that may be brought forth after not seeing them for a while, I pondered.

Into every life some rain must fall, yes, most rain does not hurt. Some difficulties we can prepare for. I knew yesterday that the hanging fuchsia petunias would not survive the battering of heavy rain. I took them down and put them under the eaves where only the odd splashes of water would reach them.

It must be about contrast, about rest, about change, about arranging our points of view perhaps, I decided. Does the rain that falls in our lives help or hurt – and so we contemplate God’s care and intervention in our lives.

The white roses can escape harm from downpours by their inherent strength. I consider God’s complicated relationship with beauty in creating both the gorgeous intricate world for us to enjoy daily and also the shining angel, Lucifer, who would cause many to fall into ugliness.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Book of Genesis

How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!

Book of Isaiah

Ella Fitzgerald and The Inkspots: Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJ9IaplRrm4

 

The Lesson of the Amaryllis

The older stalk balances the newer.

The older stalk balances the newer.

“Lesson of the Amaryllis” 2014 DS

This amaryllis plant that disappointed by not blooming at Christmas has provided entertainment in January almost as if it was a pet. In fact as someone with dander allergies, I have come to see that the way this houseplant is described in all of its aspects must be equivalent to the discussions of house pets. Comments about its appearance and activity have been numerous. No movement in growth has gone unnoticed. It has required care too. It must be turned toward the light each day so it does not lean too far one day and topple the pot. Watering is a regular delicate decision enacted on the hothouse soil just below the large rising bulb.

A couple of days ago I suggested that the older stalk be pruned. My spouse disagreed and wanted it left as it was. As in these days of much married experience I have finally learned to pick my battles, I left it. While finishing my breakfast I quipped, “You like its fading beauty?” He muttered: “Yes keep it – it adds to the beauty.” After further reflection over oatmeal and coffee I blurted: “Am I like that…?”

If truth be told, I did not want to watch the blooms lose their colour, crinkle and drop off – the messiness of it all I might have to clean up. This morning my husband informed me that the second stalk was getting a third bud. (We had expected a mere two.) Enjoying the pinkness of it all I suddenly realized that as the younger stalk gets its third bloom it needs the balance of the older stalk. Also, only with the old and the new side by side do we enjoy the continuum of growth across the lifespan of this dramatic plant. Birth and death and birth again – that is kingdom living. An amaryllis joins my collection of contemporary parables