Thursday, December 23, 2010

For Ryokan -- a solo show at Axis Contemporary Art

Photography by the generous and kind Bill Pitcher: www.williampitcher.ca
A Gentle Wind Beneath A Vast Sky
Last year I discovered a book of poems called One Robe One Bowl.  Brilliantly translated by John Stevens, it is a collection of zen poems written by Ryokan, an 18th century hermit monk living in the mountains of Japan.  Deeply connected to the natural world and completely devoted to Buddha and his teachings, Ryokan wrote poems that displayed an unparalleled level of awareness and honesty combined with a profound sensitivity to the earth and all beings.  While many of his poems are poignant and moving, many more are light-hearted and uplifting in a way that makes the heart smile.  Although unconventional by today's standards, one of Ryokan's endearing qualities was his love of sake.  He was known to sit under cherry trees, stare up at the moon and engage with neighbouring farmers happily under the influence.  I like this particular trait because it removes our societal instinct to relate spirituality with a kind of unachievable, puritanical way of being that leaves little room for actually being human.  This show is a tribute to Ryokan, the tender-hearted man, the monk and the poet.

For Ryokan

Begging Bowl

Mendicant Monk

Aum Mani Padme Aum

Ryokan and the Moon

Hototoguisu and the Green Mountain





For Teishin


Monday, December 20, 2010

i couldn't have done it without you

I owe a mountain of gratitude to this happy man.  Well and truly the most even-tempered human I have ever known, complete with sage advice, earnest pep talks, light-hearted humor, and a kind and generous heart, he makes the creative life possible for me. 

It helps when your best friend is eternally psyched and believes anything is possible.  Note the garbage bags attached to feet with duct tape and the river that requires fording.

Equanimity.  I think if you want to work as an artist or make a living as a creative person it helps to cultivate an equanimous mind, or if that seems like a lot, maybe just wake up smiling. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010


this photo was taken at my cousin dave's house.  he graciously gave me permission to stay the winter while he was doing volunteer work in honduras.  this would be my second studio space, which also happens to be the kitchen table.  packing your things away every time you want to eat a meal isn't ideal, but during this particular creative period groceries were very much appreciated but not always present.  thereby leaving a very clean surface to paint on and inspiring the odd healthy fast.  every cloud has a silver lining.

during my stay at dave's house, many people came by for many different reasons.  some to borrow tools, others dropped by to say hello, one person came to retrieve a turkey they had been storing in the freezer and several charity representatives came by for donations.  it made me realize that dave putt is a kind and generous man, not just to me, but to many people in his community.  

i titled this post progression because these photos document the very beginnings of my creative journey.  i photographed all of my work in dave's backyard, propped up on the corner of an old table saw and leaning against a concrete wall covered in vines.  some of the pieces ended up looking sort of warped whereas others fell solidly into the category of completely warped.
lucky for me and also in keeping with the rest of the family, dave is a  bookworm.  his house is filled with all kinds of books and most of the work i produced during my stay there was from images i found snooping through his extensive, sprawling collection. 

ahem, a slightly warped image.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

a visual of my wee studio

josee st.amour sells spray paint and other beautiful things at her gallery in squamish, bc

i like these old shots of my sweetheart.   he built my studio last fall with the help of chris brazeau, rick seward, russ lybarger and greg romeskie, all friends and carpenters from golden. 

suzanne cooper created this piece from her home studio in the blaeberry

obviously i like this quote since i taped it onto my incredibly powerful sound system (big smile).  andrea wilson sent it to me as a reminder that following your dreams requires bravery, tenacity, hard work and perhaps untold years of barely piecing it together -- oh yeah, i was hoping to avoid that bit. 

rick seward built this incredibly practical storage unit that brings peace to my inner neat freak.  it even has wheels!

i discovered the dalai lama on a trip to nepal when i was a teenager.  i happened upon a copy of his autobiography in a dusty bookstore in katmandu.  i had no idea who he was or how to even pronounce his name.  what luck and what an honor to be introduced to his teachings.
a deep and reverential bow.

if you are an awkward nerd who likes to hermit and starts to sweat and feel anxious in front of a camera then you may have belonged to an indigenous tribe in your past life.  maybe members of that tribe believed cameras could steal your soul.  and maybe that is the reason why no one can ever get a decent picture of you.  well, in this case, an enormous 'hats off' to the ever patient and professional, claire dibble who took all of these photos.  thank you claire!