Let Go of Fear

Shimputai of anthurium and plum blossoms

Shoka shimputai of anthurium and plum blossoms

My last post entitled Fear generated a fairly lively dialogue, which I thoroughly enjoyed even though, in the end, there was no resolution. Five people favored the juxtaposition of heart and mind while five other readers preferred art and mind. One person remained neutral leaving me with the final decision, therefore, here goes the final version:

fear of failure
paralyses art and mind
o, to be whole again

However, there comes a time when one must let go of fear, and I though I would let one of my friends, Carrie Dayshare her feelings with us on this matter.

The best I can say right now is that I am still working at it.Writing remains a pain, but fortunately, teaching ikebana keeps me in the loop. Both Brenda and I are enjoying our classes, and to see what we are up to these, just visit us at the EJCA Ikebana Club where you will see the work of our students posted after every lesson. Just as I am committed to Harmonia, our church choir at WestwoodI also enjoy creating flower arrangements for our Sunday services such as the one posted at the top of this page, and the two found below. I hope you can enjoy them as well.

Thanks for visiting.

Where have you been?

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Ozias Leduc: Le Jeune étudiant, 1894

In short, all over the map, literally and figuratively. After our November concert with the Edmonton Metro Chorus Brenda and I took a short winter break in Mexico, spending two weeks at the Mayan Palace on the Riviera Maya, half way between Cancun and the Playa Del Carmen. In spite of neigbouring resorts on the Riviera, the place felt fairly isolated; even within the compound one takes public transportation to get from one area to another, including the beach and the pools. What fascinated me was the fact that the property was carved out of a tropical mangrove forest. The place has kilometers of boardwalk meant to keep you dry, but on a rainy day in the tropics you ended up shin high in water pools flooding the walkway. I’ll come back to the Riviera in a bit.

I also spent a lot of time in my head or buried deep in books, reading both fiction and non-fiction where at times it was hard to tell one from the other. The reading does explain the illustration above. The Ozias Leduc painting seems to carry with it two different titles, Le Jeune étudiant used in the caption above, but it is also often referred to as Le Jeune lecteur which happens to be the title that has always stuck in my mind. So yes, I have over the last few months done a lot of reading. But I have also been doing some studying which could also justify the use of that image. I do believe in the adage that one is never too old to learn and, therefore, I have started Japanese classes with the ultimate goal of speaking, reading and writing the language. A very ambitious project indeed, but why not, I’m still alive and well, all should be possible.

Believe it or not, I started this post a month ago promising to return to the Riviera in a bit. It obviously didn’t happen and here I am less than 24 hours from my next trip to Florida and the Caribbean. Silly me. I guess that upon my return I will have to adopt some new writing strategies, perhaps give serious consideration to the 10 minutes a day approach. What I had meant to say about the Riviera was that we had a great time there, enjoying the beach, playing golf a couple of times a week on a wonderful and difficult Jack Nicklaus design, admiring nature and the local wildlife such as coatis, iguanas, and ibis.

 

 

 

“Dance Me To The End Of Love”

When writing, either a blog post or poetry, I often use some form of free association and follow the thread till I reach the story in the labyrinth of my mind. There are always prompts and clues along the way. In my last post I started with Carolyn McDade‘s Come, Sing a Song with Me, which led me to expand on the choral work I am involved with at this time. The song going through my head at that moment was Un canadien errant and I posted a video of Ian and Sylvia Tyson’s rendering of the famous exile song. My colleague Soso of Un pied ici, un pied là-bas, having listened to the Tyson’s version then followed the thread on YouTube, and came upon Leonard Cohen’s interpretation of the same song. Cohen is one of her favorite artists of all time so I was delighted to share with her that at  The Edmonton Metro Chorus we will be performing Cohen’s famous Hallelujah in our November concert.

Soso had attended Cohen’s concert at the Olympia in Paris during his world tour of 2012-2013 and has only fond memories of what she sees as a once in a lifetime experience. Following up on this rave review, I got hold of Leonard Cohen Live in Dublin recorded on September 12, 2013, and promptly watched the 3.5 hours video, 30 songs live, absolutely moving. The audience was captivated, on the edge of their seats, totaly engaged in this man’s sublime performance, delivered with grace and without pretence. This somehow felt like a farewell concert, and it probably was if one considers that the artist was 79 at the time of this recording. Much could be said about many of the songs offered that night, however, I have settled on one, and only one, and the reason will clearly appear in a moment.

Dance Me To The End Of Love was the first song of the evening and immediately struck a chord. The song was first performed in 1984 on the album entitled Various Positions. In 1995, Stewart, Tabori & Chang published Leonard Cohen’s poem with reproductions of Henri Matisse paintings, the third book in a series entitled Art and Poetry. I have long been interested in the relationship between literature and the visual arts and had made it one of my academic specialties. I also always had a penchant for the work of Henri Matisse and was attracted to the boldness and sensuality of his nudes, I found his work to be an inspiration to me. I had not known of this particular publication until Brenda, my wife and best friend, offered it to me in 1996, with the following inscription: After 10 years you still “Dance Me to the End of Love”. We have since danced our way to the Okanagan then, with à pied-à-terre in Switzerland we danced all over Europe for 4 years, after which we danced our way to Malawi for one year before returning to Canada. Come next March, we will be dancing into our 30th anniversary. And beyond…

I would like to leave you with a poem of my own, largely inspired by Leonard Cohen so, thank you Mr. Cohen for lending me some of your words, and most importantly, your spirit. Thanks also to Mr. Ric Masten for the one line from his hymn Let it be a dance, it just kept creeping in. So be it.

You danced me to your side
with burning desires
You danced me to places
near and far

You danced me to your heart
over land and water too

And when I danced near
the edge of time
You danced me “tenderly”
back into your arms

You danced me “through the good times
and the bad times, too”
You danced me “on and on”
You danced me “very long”

Yes, do “dance me to the end of love”

Dance me

Urban Gardens

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Last Friday, the very same day I wrote my Welcome to the Infinity Dream Award, Brenda and I decided to go out for an “healthy” walk, but before we reached the front door we had already planned an itinerary toward the Duchess Bakery for our first indulgence of the day: a pain au chocolat. On the way there we ran into some irresistible gardens, such as the one featured above, and Brenda started to document them on her phone. That little sign at the far right corner was the “déclencheur” and led to a series of pictures of our excursion.

On the way to Duchess, as well as on the way back home, we entered a couple of art galleries. First stop was the Bearclaw Galleryto have a look at some of  Aaron Paquette paintings. We have long admired his work and would be honoured to feature his work in our artist of the month program at Westwood Unitarian Congregation. After our coffee break we made a stop at The Daffodil Gallery, where I personally discovered the “inspirational art” of  Veronica Funk and  am excited we will be featuring one of her pieces at Westwood in November. More about these artists in future posts. Now back to our neighbourhood urban gardens.

Demonstration at Animethon

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Floral interpretation of fireworks.

The Summer holidays have come and gone and we had an enjoyable time travelling to Creston, British Columbia, to visit with family and friends. We had our granddaughter Ella along for the ride as part of her 11th birthday celebration which is an event often carried over a couple of weeks. At times, some family birthdays were celebrated over a whole month, just ask our grandson Mylan. Enough digression.

I had hoped to write earlier about our flower arrangements, but weeks went by without any being done. We were to attend an ikebana workshop in Saskatoon at the end of July, unfortunately, the event was cancelled at the last minute. Not to despair, we had been invited to do a demonstration during Animethon 22 which took place this past weekend. During this festival, thousands of young people come to Edmonton to celebrate the popular arts of Japan, most notably, the anime, and many come dressed as their favorite character.

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Yesterday, August 9th was the last day of the event, and for the second year, we offered a demonstration of ikebana.  The free style above was one of the arrangements done for the occasion. Other arrangements have been posted on our EJCA Ikebana Club website. To have a clearer picture of that event, please visit our contribution to Animethon 2014.

Et le verbe s’est fait chair

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In a previous post, I discussed at length my interests in the relationship of literature and the visual arts, and mentioned et le verbe s’est fait chair, a livre d’artiste done in collaboration with Francine Gravel. The publication, in 1975, marked the beginning of an ongoing friendship and collaboration. Francine is an accomplished painter, poet and print-maker widely collected in North America and Europe. At one point, in one of the many roles I played in this life, I owned an art gallery, and Francine was the very first artist to have a solo exhibition at Graphica (1976-1983). It was also Francine’s first solo show, so, needless to say, it was for both of us, of momentous importance.

As a livre d’artiste, et le verbe s’est fait chair was published in a limited edition of 25 copies and none of the work ever appeared anywhere else. Both Francine and I have agreed to share with you one of the original poems and a reproduction of the accompanying etching.

Phénix

ma nuit gorgée de givre
fouille la fulgurance de tes yeux
attisant le feu
l’été de vivre

mais le tam-tam de la vie
noue la solitude de nos deux corps
banquise et mort
dessus les cendres et puis l’envie

et l’éclair joue en ma mémoire
fondant le jour la nuit de glace
faisant le vide sur la place
pour te coucher sur mon grimoire

 

 

Phoenix

My frost-filled night
Searching your eyes flash
Stirring the ash
Summer of delight

But the tom-tom of life’s fire
Binds the solitude of our breath
Ice fields and death
Over embers then desire

Lightning plays in my mind
Dissolving in day the glacial night
Discovering absence of light
To lay with you the spells bind

Translation: Brenda Jackson)

 

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