Sunday, December 8, 2013

Flying Solo at the Moncton Public Library Gallery

Invitation to the show at the Moncton Public Library Gallery

October flew by this fall as I finished up my pieces for my exhibition at the Moncton Public Library Gallery and squeezed in a trip to Alberta to visit my daughter and her family. Once the show was underway early in November, the days again evaporated due to the busy work of participating in various local Christmas shows and fairs. December is now upon us and Christmas is almost here - a season I love for many reasons. Best of all is the wonderful week between Christmas and New Years day that I take for myself to regroup, ignore the clock and work on my 'bucket list' for the new year. 

The show at the Moncton Public Library Gallery was entitled "Shared Solitude" and there I invited viewers to
     Come walk with me among the paths
       that make up the labyrinths of our lives - where
       Our stories blend and in the telling,
I hear your story in mine.
We all have 'Once upon a times' where we thought we were alone
Only to find out by watching, listening, waiting - that no matter
Where we are, our solitudes are shared.
Our stories spring from time spent along our solitary paths
- no matter where we are.
P.Winans, 2013

Here are a few photos of some of the pieces in the show. Some are all fibre, some are mixed media - where I incorporated pieces of found rusted metal, glass, shell or wire with the fibre.

Set up at Moncton Public Library Gallery
A Bird's Eye View

Waiting II (Grand Manan)        

Wandering III (Uluru)
Exploring I (Great Barrier Reef)
Women's Gatherings (Alice Springs)
Sharing (Christchurch)
Waiting I (Bouctouche Bay)
Always remember that "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have (Maya Angelou)".

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Day with Danielle Oulette - and A Day at the Grand Lake Stream Folk Art Festival

This week's project in progress!

Summer time brings lots of opportunities to travel a bit and take in outdoor activities. For me that usually includes something to do with textile art - such as visiting a farm to take pictures of the animals who donate their fleece to the cause, or going to a fair or festival.

This summer in nearby Shediac I took part in what I call "a day with Danielle". Danielle Oulette is a local artist who creates in many mediums and she has a web site showing her very original ideas - just Google her name and the site will appear for you. She is a wonderful facilitator and mentor and for the first part of the day we worked on developing designs using collages that we made by tearing random pieces of paper from magazines and gluing them on a paper base. Sounds like a simple exercise, however, it can certainly get the creative thoughts flowing. The whole process gives you an original design of shapes and colours and for me, what I ended up with, is nothing that I could have purposely envisioned at the start. In the afternoon we changed gears a little and practiced using a fine punch needle to spontaneously create an abstract pattern. It was lots of fun to do this in a group and to see how individual we all are!

The activity was held at the Pascal Poirier House Provincial Historic Site (built c.1820) which is a heritage property that has been preserved as a museum/art gallery. During the summer, various art exhibitions are featured there as well as activities that support the local arts community. The house is the birthplace of Pascal Poirier who was a prominent Acadian leader and author who became the first Acadian appointed Canadian senator. It was a fine day for our workshops so we were able to set up outside on the large veranda.

Pascal Poirier House Provincial Historic Site, Shediac, NB

Another adventure took my daughter and I to St. Andrew's, NB and then over the border into Maine. Browsing in a used book store in Calais we stumbled over a little poster advertising a wonderful time to be had at the Grand Lake Stream Folk Art Festival. Assured by the lady in the book store that it was only a short drive from Calais, off we went. Deeper and deeper we went into the Maine woods - no signs in sight - and only armed with the scant directions of the storekeeper. After about forty-minutes we came into the tiny village of Grand Lake Stream which boasts of one general store, a school and the churches.

We followed the music and came upon the festival grounds in the center of town. Over 50 artisans were set up in booths under large tents. Off to one side was the music tent where you could sit and rest your feet while listening to a continuous string of groups playing all genres of music. In the lunch tent, the ladies from the local church served a most delicious and generous lobster roll - which really made the day!

Visitors, exhibitors and musicians come from all parts of New England to take part in the annual festival. One of the exhibits at the festival was a custom made Grand Lake canoe which was designed with a square stern. This canoe design was developed over 100 years ago when the water route of local lakes was the only way to transport goods and travelers into the area. Since the mid 1800's Grand Lake Stream has been a haven for bird and large game hunters and salmon and bass fishers. At first they lived with their guides in tents along the shores of the many lakes. Now there are lodges and cabins that cater to them - all offering expert guides - as well as accommodations for family vacations.

The General Store in Grand Lake Stream           

A beautiful day at the lake

Square stern Grand Lake canoe

A hot jazz group in the music tent

Yarn solar dyed in seawater by SEACOLORS © of Maine

Betsey Leslie carding fleece donated by her Border Leicster sheep
One of Theo McDonough's dolls taking a bath next door in a tub of Betsey's fleece!
The Bunny Lady - Karen Cornell - spinning fur from her English angora rabbits
And there were quilts (a whole tent full!) and jewellery, and wooden items, and, and ......!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Going around the Gaspé - Going out to play with the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers

My watercolor of Blue Poppies at Reford Gardens, Métis, Québec. 
How sweet it is when you get an invitation to go out and play - something that we did as kids and tend to forget about once we get older. For me, life's motto is carpe diem - and if I don't have a really good reason not to go with you when you ask, you can count me in! 

 A few weeks ago I had the chance to say 'yes' when asked if I would like to tag along on a road trip with Ivan and Vivian Hicks and the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers and Friends. The Sussex Avenue Fiddlers is a group of very talented musicians who all play the fiddle of course, as well as many, many other instruments (from the bagpipes to the spoons). Some sing, step-dance and yodel. Besides the old favourites, they also write their own fiddle music and sing their own songs. Over the years many have belonged and if you are big enough to hold a fiddle and can play a tune, you are welcome. When on tour, the musicians perform all of this under the direction of Ivan Hicks who first organized the group over thirty-five years ago in his Sussex Avenue home in Riverview, NB.

When the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers go on tour, fiddler and musician 'friends' are invited to join in. If there is a spare seat on the bus, others like me are also invited and we make up the on-board cheering section. This year the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers are celebrating their 35th anniversary and the Gaspé tour marked the occasion.

Our first stop was in Janeville, NB. Here the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers and Friends put on a concert at the local elementary school as a fund-raiser for a local project. Local musicians and artists joined them on stage and they played to a 'standing-room only' audience.

On Stage at the Janeville Elementary School

  As we began to wend our way up and around the Gaspé coast, sightseeing and evening 'jam' sessions (as well as impromptu entertainment on the bus) kept the music flowing. 
Coming around the last curve in the highway before the town of Percé, I had my first sight of the magnificent Percé rock that looms out of the water just off-shore.

Percé, Québec
 Next stop was another evening concert in Douglastown where local musicians again joined in to entertain the crowd. The concert was held in the Holy Name Hall which was completed in 1938. Originally built as a concert hall and cinema, Holy Name Hall is still complete with the original furnishings and technical equipment. No longer used as a cinema since the 1960's, the hall continues to be used for various community gatherings and concerts. Renovations and up-dates have been on-going since the 1950's and one of the current projects is to raise the funds to replace the original seats that have welcomed guests over the years.

Inside the historic Holy Name Hall in Douglastown

 During the afternoon before a concert there is always a sound check to make sure that everything is ready for the show. Before getting together as a group in Douglastown, the fiddlers scattered around the hall outdoors to practice their parts.
Working out the tricky parts!

Sounds OK!
I've got it!

A quiet place to practice

 Further along the road the next day we made an unscheduled stop near the village of Petite-Vallée at the Théâtre de la Vielle Forge. Since 1983 a local committee has held a summer song festival with various music camps in the village and at the theatre. The festivities were soon to start and we were curious to see what might be going on. As it turned out, we were a week early so the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers got out their instruments and put on an impromptu concert in the theatre café. Like magic, other musicians from the community began to arrive with their instruments and joined in the fun. 

The origin of Le Festival en chanson de Petite-Vallée begins with the tragic story of the deaths of two sons of a local blacksmith who was also a well-known fiddler and singer. The boys were musicians like their father and after their sudden deaths, music was no longer a part of the family or the community. Even the sound of the rhythm of the waves was unwanted but it couldn't be shut out. In time music came back to the village when the blacksmith's home became a hotel and people began to gather there and to make music. Le Festival is a major cultural event on the Gaspé coast.

Jamming in the café at Le Théâtre de La Vielle Forge de Petit-Vallée
A fiddler's welcome to Petite-Vallée

Sunday morning service at the hotel in Rimouski

Blue Poppies at Reford Gardens

The next day our adventure was a trip to the Reford Gardens in Métis. This is where I was able to photograph and then paint my picture of their beautiful blue poppies. Also on site are the installations of the 14th International Garden Festival - which is an opportunity for international garden designers to present their innovative creations within a garden setting. Some, like Smart Small, are interactive and you're invited enter the garden and move the pieces around (which I gleefully did!).

Smart Small by Ecoid (Yongkyu Kim and Jonghyun Baek), United States
Another interesting piece was Buoyant. Balloons that are trapped between layers of net change in size and shape as the temperature changes and are moved about, depending on the wind.

Buoyant by Laura B. Garófalo, United States
For three days we enjoyed a wonderful time in Québec City, visited the Sainte-Anne-de Beaupré Shrine and found some lovely braided rugs at Marie's Oven - as well as delicious homemade bread topped with maple butter!

Mosaics at Sainte-Anne de Beapré Shrine
Braided rugs for sale at Marie's Oven

Now I'm home again - and wondering -  where are we off to next time?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Inspiration and Visual Listening in Baltimore

Over the past winter I was looking for a pattern for a knitted shawl and came across an article where the writer suggested that I didn't need a pattern, that a shawl could be "knitted intuitively". Not trusting myself as to how to 'knit intuitively', I kept searching for a pattern.

It wasn't until I made my way to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD that the light bulb went on. There it was, in the info on their web site (, a comment about their holdings and their shows being "self-taught intuitive artistry". Of course, as with all artists, isn't that what we are all about -  and constantly being challenged to "find the confidence in your creativity"?

The American Visionary Art Museum or AVAM opened in 1995 and fills three, renovated, historic buildings close to Baltimore's downtown. Founder and Director Rebecca Hoffberger had a vision - to honor visionary art and define it as "art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself" (Mission Statement - AVAM) .

Since last September, the theme of the on-going exhibits is "The Art of Storytelling: Lies, Enchantment, Humor, Truth". The concept of 'visual listening' is what it is all about and it all flows like a ribbon from P. Nosa's work to Esther Krintz's embroideries which tell her tale or experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Mrs. Krintz's daughter was on site to lead us in a conversation about her mother's hangings - bringing the stories to life.

Another wonderful exhibit was the works of Gretchen Feldman - "Love Letters to Earth" - which showed some of her watercolours - as well as telling her story as a woman and an artist. 

There are no staff curators at AVAM. For each exhibition, guest curators who have an interest in a specific theme are invited to participate and to draw on all of their resources to pull the show together. 

From the outside, you can't miss the building! It is covered with mirror and glass mosaics that were created and installed in 2000 by members of AVAM's "Youth at Risk" mosaic apprenticeship program. A small bus, also covered with mosaics, sits in the courtyard to greet visitors.  

Detail on the hood of the bus

Outside wall of AVAM
Sculptures in the Garden at AVAM
Sculpture in the Inner Courtyard at AVAM
 After spending most of the day at AVAM trying to absorb all that my eyes could see, time was moving on so I took the next day to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA).

Located in the sunlit atrium of the BMA are the Antioch mosaics. Included are twenty-eight mosaic pavements that were excavated from the ruins of ancient Antioch, now known as the city of Antakya in south-eastern Turkey. Between 1932 and 1939, staff from the BMA participated in the excavations. The mosaics date from between the 2nd and 6th centuries A.D. and are part of the permanent collection at the museum.

For a fibre artist (like me), the geometric designs and the possibilities for inspiration were everywhere.
Antioch Mosaics Border Patterns

I loved this one! 
 As a city, Baltimore is a wonderful, colourful place to be. Near the Baltimore Museum of Art, the whole neighbourhood gets in the spirit of painting up the town.

 Colour, colour everywhere!

More colour! My half is brown, yours is yellow!

One of my latest pieces of inspired visionary art!
"Lu Lu"        © Patricia Winans