Our first snowfall happened October 25, almost a month later than last year, with a record-breaking 55 centimeter dump on FSJ. 55 cm!! That’s a lot of snow and it caused havoc, as you might imagine. I just barely got out of our garage; none of the side streets were plowed and the main drags of 100th and 100th had only a single lane each way. Arriving at the Cultural Centre for work, there was nowhere to park, since the lot was not plowed. I did manage to drive the car into the lot but then got stuck in the middle of it, along with every other car and truck that attempted to come in. Below is Oliver, the Operations Manager of the Cultural Centre, digging out one patron who got stuck.
After an hour’s work of shoveling, I managed to free the car from the snow enough to get it into a parking space. And then I was praying that the temperature wouldn’t drop before I left and freeze the car into place!
Since then it has been snow, sub-zero temperatures, freezing rain – in other words, full-on winter. The balcony chairs and table, and the BBQ, have acquired mushroom tops that get progressively bigger.
Of necessity, I have learned how to drive in snow and ice and the proper tires are an absolute must – you might remember that one of the first things we did when arriving up here was get new snow tires!
After a snowfall the city plows and trucks are out in force; first, the roads are plowed such that the snow is piled in the centre of the roads. Then, one truck scoops up these piles and dumps them into a gigantic dump truck which then hauls it away somewhere.
But in public parking lots the snow is simply pushed into big piles in the corner. These gigantic piles remind me of the tall snow drifts when I was a kid in North Vancouver; they could be up to 8 or 10 feet tall and reach up to the eaves troughs of the house.
I continue to go out to Miep’s studio at Charlie Lake when I can. Lately I have been working on a small series of black and white woodcuts of body parts: so far I have a heart, pelvis and skull.
Mary was working on a series of small woodcuts as demo pieces for the class she was teaching through the gallery.
Diana is experimenting with monoprints and collagraphs.
Ken, a former biology teacher and highschool principal, took up wood and stone carving when he retired. He creates wildlife pieces; this one is an eagle in alabaster. In fact, most of these folks are or have been teachers.
Sandy is a retired elementary school teacher who took up painting in earnest when she retired; she is a master of the peace area landscape.
Mary was kind enough to show a couple of us the technique of cyanotype printing, a form of art-making that was originally developed for making blue-prints (cyanotypes are literally blue in colour). You can use photonegatives, drawings, paintings, or photocopies on mylar and actual organic material, such as plants. Below you can see all these materials deployed. Once the material is arranged on paper to your satisfaction, you then place all of it, as is, into a light box for six minutes, then dip the paper (after removing all that material) into a couple of chemical baths to be developed.
Here are some of the materials that I was working with to create mine.
I made several prints but was only happy with one – this one:
I played around with the colour in photoshop a bit.
Mary and Charlie have gotten a beautiful miniature schnauzer pup named Buddy, who accompanies them to the studio. A very sweet little guy, he reminds me of Brubin when he was young.
In addition to her 8 husky sled dogs, Miep has three pet dogs (2 of which are brown retriever puppies) and a couple of pet birds, including this fancy chicken.
I’m enjoying working at the Gallery and curating a few exhibitions there before we head south. Our most recent show, entitled Varieties of Abstraction, featured five artists who shared their individual views of the world around them in works that appealed to both the eye and the brain, giving us alternative views of the natural and human landscapes. I was really happy with how it looked and everyone who saw it thought it was great.
Below is the poster I designed for the show.
The opening was great, with music by the Intermezzo Quartet and Ty manning the bar table.
Here’s a link to an interview I did about the show with local TV media Shaw Cable.
We had another Book Launch in October, featuring Pat Ferris, a local writer and cycling enthusiast, presenting his latest, a thriller set in the not-too-distant future entitled His Disciples Watch. Along with Pat, the evening included a special musical guest, local singer-songwriter Lorissa Scriven.
The Gallery Artist-in-Residence program I started continues to showcase the creative process of local artists, such as painter Laurie Yates,
painter, photographer, and textile artist Eliza Stanford, working on rug hooking,
Natalie Brekkaas doing pottery,
Ken Forest working on his wood relief carving of two Canada geese,
and Alex Neilson spinning art yarn to make bracelets.
Fort St John has an annual Christmas Parade – I have never seen it because the book club meets the same evening but these photos by Darcy Shawchek give you an idea of what it looks like. This evening was a cold -20 or so.
The photos below, by Norman Siemens, are of Centennial Park all dressed up in lights for the season.
For the past two weeks I have volunteered my teaching services for my friend Lorna’s alternative school in Baldonnel, called Freedom Thinkers. The school is located on the property of the couple who run it and consists of several buildings that used to house a horse stable. Many rabbits cruise around the place.
Freedom Thinkers is small, about 60 students in grades 4-9; last Monday I taught the older students about Modern Art and we did some hands on exercises in Cubist drawing and a Surrealist game entitled the Exquisite Corpse.
For three players, Exquisite Corpse, also known as exquisite cadaver (from the original French term cadavre exquis) or rotating corpse, is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed. The name is derived from a phrase that resulted when Surrealists first played the game, “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” (“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”) In this version of the Exquisite Corpse game portions of a person are drawn or collaged by three different participants successively, without being able to see what has been done before.
The kids really enjoyed the game and the results were great – we pinned all the drawings on the walls and they spent quite a bit of time looking at and discussing then.
I haven’t had much of a chance to hike this Fall; on one of the excursions that I missed the group came upon this evidence of a grizzly bear in the vicinity.
I did get out a couple of weeks back for a hike through the snowshoe trails of Beatton Park with Sharla and Sandra and a few others.
I felt quite out of shape in the company of these amazing women who never seem to slow down – by the end of our hour and a half slog through the snow I was panting pretty hard.
Sandra continues to amaze me with her stamina and strength; one of her grand-daughters came with us, a seven year old who got a bit tired towards the end so Sandra carried her the rest of the way back to the car.
After the hike we headed back to Gail’s place for a lovely brunch of Austrian pastries. I was fascinated with all the birds that make their home in the trees in her front yard, including three beautiful blue jays.
On Ty’s last set of days off we headed out to the Fish Creek forest for a walk through the winter wonderland, having not been there since the summer.
We no longer venture down to the bottom of some of the trails; the slide areas are large and we don’t know how stable those fallen trees are. And who knows if those trails will ever be open again; it would be a massive job to clear out all that log debris.
Ty is a happy man with the anticipation of winter sun coming his way in the not-too-distant future. Here he is in full winter gear, with his orange parka and fleece, good to -40 apparently! I continue to hope that we will not see -40 again this year.
And finally, for now, I’m happy to announce that my experimental short The Vanishing has been selected for the inaugural Short Film Festival of Biodiversity in Porto Real, Portugal. The main purpose of the Short Film Festival of Biodiversity is the “promotion and diffusion of natural ecosystems and biological heritage through cinematographic and audio-visual works selected according to quality criteria.”
(And lo and below, we are right now in the middle of a snowfall warning, with 20 more centimeters expected by 9 pm tonight …)