Fun in the Snow and the Theatre

We have been so busy with the Buddy Holly production that I’ve only been able to make it to Miep’s painting studio once in the last little while. I’m working on a mixed media painting inspired by the northern landscape; here’s a work-in-progress picture of it. The studio is on the outskirts of Fort St John, near Charlie Lake, in beautiful countryside – here’s a photo of the road along the way.

It has been cold, snowy and sometimes icy almost consistently since the end of September, very early for here according to locals.

The above photo was taken from the highway just outside Taylor, a small town about 20 or so kilometers from FSJ on the way to Dawson Creek. We passed through it on the way to Dawson to buy me a snow suit; while FSJ has a lot of outdoor clothing outfitters, they only cater to men. We could not find a woman’s snowsuit in the city.

The snowy landscape is beautiful when the sun comes out.

Here are a few photos from one of our regular walks on the northern edge of the city.

Our friend Marsha gave me the advice to “Look up!” at the big sky – it is great. No tall buildings to block out the expanse of blue and the rolling clouds.

Kathryn had asked us to make her a snowman, so I obliged by adding a head to this big body already made.

I saw hoar frost for the first time, too – stunning first thing in the morning on a sunny day.

These trees are just a few blocks down the road from our place.

Eliza, an artist friend up here and a keen walker and hiker, took me out for a snowy walk in the woods.

Beavers live here in the Fish Creek; you can see evidence of them everywhere in the forest here.

We came upon two old 1940s vehicles abandoned among the trees, driven up here when the Alaska Highway was built – not sure why they’ve been left here but it was very cool to come across them.

Ty and I went to the big annual fundraising art auction for the North Peace Gallery at the Pomeroy Hotel near our place. It was a masquerade affair, so everyone wore masks.

I had never been to a live auction before and the fellow calling had a bit of difficulty with some of the “art terms”; possibly he was more used to auctioning off cattle …

It was lots of fun; we bid on and purchased two artist handpainted masks, one of which Ty’s wearing here.

We have been working on the Buddy Holly story now for about two months and it opened this weekend to thunderous applause. But, wow, what an enormous amount of work about 50 people have put into getting this show together, all the way from building and painting the sets, transporting them in multiple vehicles to the theatre, dissassembling and reassembling the sets to get them in the door, and setting everything up again inside.

Below is Director Blair Scott and Music Director Mike O in action, directing Buddy and the Big Bopper in the Clear Lake concert scene.

Ty and I worked hours trying to get our screens and projections to work, encountering quite a few issues beyond our control, such as problematic computer ports and projector signals. Below Ty is setting the screen, rolling it up to the rafters and putting the quick release, a chopstick attached to mason cord run along the pipes and down through half a pop bottle to the computer, in place.

Here Ty is working booting one of the Buddy videos up.

Sound man Jim looks on from backstage at the Apollo theatre scene.

I was asked to be Jim’s assistant, helping him take on and off the various microphones needed for the musicians – a very complex set up that he looked after admirably, flying around the set plugging and unplugging cords and adjusting amps.

Here you see all three screens deployed and all three videos working – this was a major accomplishment.

Below is my two computer set-up, roped off with ribbons and “Do Not Touch Under Pain of Death and Destruction” sign. Our contribution to the play, a Buddy Around the World video that takes place on the big back screen in the first act, and three videos on three screens of Buddy, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens, at the very end, after their death in a plane crash has been announced, was quite a complex undertaking and has caused me an enormous amount of stress to put together. At the appropriate moment, after the deaths of the three artists is announced, Ty and I each pull the rip cord to dislodge the chop stick and unfurl the side screens, then hit the play button on the videos. But, when it finally worked, it was a beautiful thing.

The show has played four days last week and will have its final four days this week.

Here are some photos taken at one of the performances by Show Case Photo, a local photographer.

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Here is a video I took from backstage at Saturday night’s performance, a fantastic show in which everything came together; the audience went wild with thunderous applause and a standing O for all these very talented folks.

When this play closes, I will sleep for a month! See more photos here.

From Acrylic Painting to Ephesus


Monday’s art activities included “breaking the rules”, fauvist still lives a la turca. Eljay broke out the kits of bright acrylic colours and everyone proceeded to revel in the sun and the glory of unadulterated colour. Several people made more than one painting; it was very enjoyable to spend the sunny day in the garden painting.




Tuesday morning dawned grey and not too hot, a perfect day for experiencing the large ruin site of Ephesus, the crown jewel of Turkish ancient cities, billed as the best-preserved site in the Eastern Mediterranean. I have been here on a couple of previous occasions; this time the somewhat poor weather meant a more pleasant visit, with fewer visitors and less discomfort from the heat and blazing sun of previous years. We boarded the bus at eight am and hit the road heading north, with a stop in a Guvercinlik village harbour tea shop for tea and pastries.


After a drive of about two and a half hours we arrived at Ephesus and spent a further two and a half hours wandering through the ruins, spending some time atop the highest rung of seats in the bouleterion and the great theatre. I saw a few more areas of the site this time, including the inscription museum section. Barb and I also spent a bit of time in the Church of Mary, where the octagonal adult baptismal font fascinated me. It was a keyhole shaped pool with stairs at either end, allowing the person being baptised to immerse herself in water up to about neck depth. Surprisingly, Lidia and I both ran into Mete, our guide from a previous visit to Turkey, now based in Kusadasi and leading day trips to Ephesus.










Our ruin visit concluded, we drove to Selcuk for lunch, scarfing down a huge pile of pide, kofte, and tea while watching a beautiful and large van cat, white with one blue and one green eye, watch us. After lunch shopping was necessary for most of the group, including purchases of jewellery and green leather boots. Overhead we could see gigantic storks winging their way around the city. Selcuk is known for its storks; the huge birds roost on almost every tall post, including light standards and mosque minarets.




Spring Art

Just hanging out in the ol’ trailer park, waiting for the show. Here we are at the back parking lot of the Italian Cultural Centre, where several trailers have been installed for the It’s a Zoo production of Killer Joe, a black comedy about a Texas murder for hire gone terribly wrong.

Here Ty is lined up at the refreshment trailer, manned by Co-Artistic Director Chelsea Haberlin, which had hot dogs and beverages for sale, just the right kind of snacks for the trailer park action.

The play is staged in an old, beat up 40 foot long live-aboard trailer, whose entrance is seen here, the home of the play’s protagonists, the Smiths, giving a claustrophic, fly-on-the-wall ambience. Inside the trailer, the scene is set, with its old, dirty furnishings and fittings and appropriately retro touches, such as the big troll doll,

the macrame wall hanging of an eagle, cigarette butts in overflowing ashtrays, and a stove used for storing beer cans.

Each performance can only accommodate 37 people, those with red tickets (us) in chairs lined up against one wall, and the rest seated against the back of the trailer.

Our seats gave us unparalleled close proximity to the action and an intimate view of all the actors’ body parts on display.

The poster for the show warns that this production contains Smoke, Violence, Nudity, Coarse Language, and Simulated Sex – and it did, including jiggling full-frontal male nudity about 10 inches from my face. Although the play can be criticized for its extremely unflattering portrayal of the poor, and has been critiqued as “porn”, I did enjoy it.

Killer Joe runs until May 4th; for more info, click here.

Friday saw us up at the UBC Printmedia Research Centre, a newly-opened facility at the Audain Art Centre on campus, for the inaugural presentation of the Marijke Nap Award for Printmaking. This new print facility is fantastic, huge, full of light, and with lots of great and updated equipment, quite a change from the old days in the second world war era wooden huts that constituted the program’s home when I went there back in the ancient day.

It was nice to see some old printmaking friends, such as Milos and Tim from Langara, and Wayne from Capilano, there to lend support and check out the facility.

The Audain Centre also contains a gallery and the permanent print collection, in which I have a piece (not the one I’m touching but a large collograph made while I was a grad student there).

Friday night we checked out the art party Thru the Trapdoor, a multi-media, multi-artist, Paul Wong curated art extravaganza at the former Alderbridge Mini-Storage and Vivo Media Arts on Main. This facility is destined for the wrecking ball in the not-too-distant future and it is going out with a bang. All the art works are installed below ground in the locker spaces of the former storage facility, some of which are very small and others more expansive.

The exhibition reminded me of the Artropolis shows that I loved back in the 1980s, especially the one in a multi-story old stone and brick factory in Yaletown in 1984. Thru the Trapdoor is entered – yes – through a trapdoor down to the lower depths, presided over by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptan’s enormous painting (one of the few paintings on display here) Customs Officer.

Various sound installations are included, one, Acoustics of a Storage Room by Leo Stefansson, set in what looks like a 60s rec room in which the pulsating beats really engage the whole body.

This night two women were beating a grand piano and three DJs played some great tunes at a makeshift bar set up in what looked like a 50s basement, complete with LP record covers on the walls and exposed wooden beams. We really enjoyed sitting here at one of the small high tables watching the crowd, including a gang of painted drummers who breezed through. Tomoyo and I had a little dance, as well.

LocoMotoArt Collective’s PoSSeSSiONz is an interactive video with six layers. A pile of what looks to be discarded junk lies on the floor in front of a projection and people are encouraged to grab a piece and generate changing images by waving it in front of a sensor.

The mirrored room below was a two-part piece, the second of which consisted of a periscope on the floor above, here manipulated by Ty, through which one could watch whoever is reflected in these mirrors below.

Among the works I enjoyed was Dear Emily by Katherine Coe, a room with many pages of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights hanging from the ceiling. Entering the room I was struck by the smell of beeswax, achieved by dipping the text’s pages in melted wax. This is meant to evoke the conditions of the early 19th, in which the novel would have been read at night to the light of beeswax candles.

I was surprised to see some very detailed black and white pencil and charcoal work, including V Jeko Sager’s Underground Kontinent, an immersive charcoal drawing on paper that completely covers the walls of its underground space.

Another was “excerpt from ‘An Abridged History of Death and Taxes’ pgs 29-43”, a “year long meditation on the various representations of death, in dialogue with the writings of Sir Thomas Browne” by Christian Pelech.

One of my favourite rooms, surprisingly, contained David Campion’s Shot, a collection of objects such as a metal refillable propane container, a mannequin, and a cooking pan that were used for target practice. He has photographed these and hung the photos above the objects.

Ruin Road Trip: Sagalassos, Burdur, Karain, Termessos, and Perge – whewww!

Road trip! Tracey and I boarded our small silver bomb early yesterday morning and were off on our ruin road trip by 7. The traffic through Antalya was still quite busy even though it was fairly early Sunday morning and I had to keep alert to navigate us through the city, onto the city centre bypass route and up north towards Burdur. We made one false move in turning off north too soon but caught it quickly and were back on the right track within 10 minutes. Unfortunately, our driving map did not go up high enough and I was navigating according to written instructions obtained from the internet and my memory of the map we’d had in the car the other day. We stopped three times at three different gas stations to see if they sold maps but none of them did. At our second stop five guys debated in Turkish over how to get to Aglasun, the town nearest to the Sagalassos ruin site, our first destination. However, even without the map, and instructions scrawled on the back of a cookie box, we managed to find our way to the correct turnoff some 1.75 hours north of Antalya. We drove through Aglasun following the old weathered Sagalassos signs up 7 kilometers of windy hairpin turn one lane road to the ruin site.

The site occupies a mountain top position and it was slightly overcast and windy when we arrived, cool enough to wear a sweater and scarf. Only one other car and a small midi bus were in the parking lot; a Belgian tour also pulled up just as we disembarked, disgorging a small crowd of visitors, some of whom were using walkers and canes. We were not sure what part of “hill top ruin site” led them to think that they would be able to climb up to the ancient city. At the top of the site, far up the mountain, was the Hellenistic theatre, quite well preserved. We enjoyed the view from the top in almost complete seclusion and the cool breeze whistling through the grass and our hair. Making our way down again, we examined the Neon library and the fountain house, the latter providing a home for lizards, butterflies and crickets, as well as a solitary large worm in a pool of water.

The site has two agorae, the upper with a beautiful Nymphaeum (ornamental fountain), a Heroon (small temple dedicated to a deified human, likely Alexander the Great), and a Doric temple. The heroon has a beautiful frieze of 15 dancing women around the base, the originals of which we later saw in the Burdur museum. The lower agora is where the archeological team is currently working and thus we weren’t able to walk around inside it. It is here, in the bath complex, that the colossal heads of Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Faustina were found last year and the year before. The large crane in the middle of the agora, used by the archeological excavation team, seems oddly out of place in the midst of white stone monuments. When we’d completed our tour of the site, I sampled my favorite beverage, Nescafe, in a tulip shaped cup in the small outdoor café at the entrance.

Read more about the site here and here.

The setting of the ruins is beautiful and we were interested in seeing some of the artifacts excavated so we decided to drive to Burdur, where the museum housing these is located. Rather than retrace our steps, we drove along a 27 kilometer gravel road up hill and down dale through villages to reach Burdur, a medium sized town about 150 km north of Antalya. The museum is small but contains several beautiful sculptures, especially the ones taken from the upper agora’s nymphaeum. The two sculptures of Bacchus and Satyr are standouts here, as is the original frieze of the 15 dancing women from the Heroon. We also saw finds from Kremna, Kibyra, and Karacaoren, all ancient sites in the immediate area. The wealth of ancient ruins in this area is astonishing and we marveled at how the ancients were able to construct their cities in such imposing locations. After an hour or so in the small museum, we hopped back in the car and headed back down towards Antalya and the Karain Cave, the next stop on our agenda, a Paleolithic archaeological site located at Yağca village 27 km northwest of Antalya.

Karain is a prehistoric cave, situated at a height of about 370 m from the sea and about 80 m up the slope, where the Western Taurus calcareous zone borders on the travertine plain. Evidence of human habitation dating back to the early Paleolithic age (150,000-200,000) years has been discovered in this cave. We entered the site through a minimalist museum with four or five small glass cases of artifacts such as stone arrow heads and two rather dusty sets of antlers on the wall. 800 meters up the cliff along a narrow rocky path lies the entrance to the cave itself. The cavern entrance bears vestiges of the archeologists’ excavations. Beyond the entrance are several large rooms with strangely-shaped walls and ceilings, luridly lit by high-powered electric lights. Tracey and I enjoyed the coolness of the interior after the steep, hot climb, both of us having made the mistake of wearing flip-flops rather than our shoes. As we made our way down the slope again, the clouds that had been gathering as we were inside became darker and darker and just as we reached the car, the heavens opened and it began to pour rain and hail. Earlier I had called Suleiman at the Yesil Vadi pension where we were spending the night to let him know we were on our way and he came to pick us up and guide us along the shortcut to the pension through the village of Yağca.

The pension, located 9 km from Termessos on the side of a dry river bed, has 9 rooms and is run by two brothers from the local village. The two of us and a German family of three camping were the only guests. While somewhat Spartan in terms of décor, Yesil Vadi served its purpose of being very convenient for our next stop, the mountain top site of Termessos in the Gulluk Milli Park. Suleiman was also very pleasant and spoke good English. Tracey and I sampled the restaurant’s specialties of meatballs, cigar boregi, macaroni and tomato salad and were in bed by 9, exhausted.

The next morning, although I had wanted to sleep in a bit, I was awake at 6 and we were in the dining room for breakfast by 7:30. The morning was beautiful, sunny with a few drifting clouds, and windy. We headed off down the road, into the park, and up the 7 kilometer windy one lane hairpin turn road to the parking lot halfway up the mountain. From here, we took the left hand path through the forest up towards the site.

Termesssos was a Psidian city built at an altitude of more than 1000 meters at the south-west side of the mountain Solymos (modern day Güllük Dagi) in the Taurus Mountains. Unlike Sagalassos, the wealthy first city of Pamphylia which was conquered by Alexander the Great in 333, Termessos was left alone by the Macedonian conqueror. Legend has it that Termessos’ location and fierce inhabitants repelled Alexander but other modern accounts say that he simply didn’t bother to take it, possibly because it was not worth his while. Termessos is an unrestored site, concealed by a multitude of wild plants and bounded by dense pine forests, and has many tumbled-down blocks of stone and parts of columns over which a visitor must climb to ascend. We reached the theatre, located right near the top of the mountain, and was it ever fabulous. What a location! The view from there over the valley and mountains beyond was gorgeous. From there we walked through the gymnasium, the agora, of which nothing much is left except piles of stones, the benefactor’s house – ditto – and along a path with five very deep cisterns. We spent some time walking in circles around here looking for the agora before we realized that there was nothing much of it to see. Very few people were at the site; the steepness of the terrain keeps most away but we saw a few, including one British couple, the woman wearing leather dress shoes, a white skirt and carrying a white parasol – unusual dress choices for this particular venue … We then made our way back down again to the baths and took the right hand path leading down to the parking lot, the steeper and more difficult way past rock-cut cliffside tombs and sarcophagi. Near the bottom we saw Hadrian’s Gate amidst another big pile of stony rubble. Upon asking one of the ticket takers where the lion’s tomb was, he proceeded to take us on a whirlwind tour of the north east necropolis – no “yavash, yavash (slowly, slowly)” for us. The guy sped us through that necropolis as if he were being chased by wild boars. We did see the lion tomb, with relief carvings of two lions on the side of the sarcophagus, the monumental tomb, and several others with quite well-preserved relief sculptures, some of angels. The two necropolis on the site contain in total about 1,200 sarcophagi. Many of the ones we saw were completely overgrown with moss, ferns and other plants, tumbled here and there, hither and thither in the forest. My old favorites the korek were also growing here; however, while the korek in Gumusluk had been fully grown and dying off, those here were just beginning to grow. Butterflies fluttered around our heads and crickets and grasshoppers skipped across the ground as we walked; one small beast attached himself to our car windshield and had to be brushed off into the weeds before we left.

Read more about Termessos here.

After having spent about 3 hours at this wonderful hilltop site, we headed back down the road to Antalya, through the big city and got stuck in terrible traffic about 2 kilometers before the turnoff to Perge, our next stop. A construction project has closed down half the highway here and we crawled along for what seemed like hours as cars and trucks and tractors and motorbikes tried to jockey for position on the crowded tarmac in the heat. Finally, we reached the Perge turnoff and 2 kilometers from the highway, the site itself. A notable historical figure who twice visited Perge was St. Paul the Apostle and his companion St. Barnabas, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13:13-14 and 14:25), during their first missionary journey, where they “preached the word” (Acts 14:25) before heading for and sailing from Attalia (modern-day Antalya city), 15 km to the southwest, to Antioch.

Perge is enormous, a ruin from the Roman imperial period, and has several long colonnaded streets that are very impressive. But the most impressive part of these ruins for us was the bath complex, an enormous, opulently constructed series of buildings that must have been amazing back in the day. I was quite tired and hot and we did not have much water so our progress through the site was slow and we didn’t have the energy to see it all. We did make our way through an unmarked field and torn down fence out to see the theatre, only to find that it was “closed for restoration” – ha! It looked as though no-one had been in there for at least 25 years and did not at all look as though any restoration project was happening – it is just locked up behind a tall metal fence – damn. It would have been helpful if the ticket taker had told us that the theatre was closed. And also, after paying 15 lira, more than any other site, it was disappointing that we did not even get a brochure in English. Perge would be best visited early in the morning when one is fresh – it is definitely not a heat of the day endeavour …

Once back on the highway and in the ridiculous traffic, we crawled along for another painful 2 kilometers before being able to get some speed up on our return journey. Feeling hot and tired, we pulled over at one of the many roadside gozleme (Turkish crepe) stands and feasted on gozleme cooked by granny and tomatoes and cucumber picked fresh from the garden – yummm. We arrived back at the ranch by 5:30 or so, glad to put the silver crap car to rest.

See pictures here and here.