Hello. I haven’t written anything for a year. I almost forget how. First of all I am thrilled to have finished the first of two paintings for niches at ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church’ Toronto. I was honoured when Fr. Dan Donovan, priest and Toronto art collector since the 1950’s, asked me to come up with something to fit into the two niches at the church. If you know me at all, you will know that I do not normally do commissions. I find it very difficult. However I embraced the challenge and promptly caught mono so I was out of commission in both senses of the phrase for the rest of the summer. I finally finished and installed the first piece a month ago. The frame which I had great fun carving was made by carpenter, Brent Orenstein. The church is open to visitors if anybody would like to see this piece.
And here is a movie I took while the organist was rehearsing during installation. It isn’t great as far as movies go but it’s kind of interesting.
The Trip to Salvation Mountain
Now you might see a bit of a theme here. Something old is new again. Something interesting is brewing. After the commission was done I had the chance to go on a quick trip to Long Beach California. I quickly sourced local Outsider artists’ environments since that seems to be what holds my interest lately. I had the chance to see Watt’s Towers and Salvation Mountain. Now Watt’s Towers was wonderful: I loved it. But Salvation Mountain with its unabashed bible verses and idealism spoke to me in a whole different way. Here’s Watts Towers first.
And Now More Words: Revisiting the Bible
Yes my Easter Show is coming up but before it does, I am taking part in another wonderful event. Actor Ken Welsh is doing a live reading of the entire book of St. Mark at the local Anglican church in Uxbridge. He was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to have a few paintings around the church while he performs. Aside from the cross (seen below) that the church commissioned me to do several years ago, I will have two or three new works as a preview of my Easter show and I am also borrowing back ten or so older biblical paintings from local people. Victoria Joannou, violinist, will also be playing. This is a great opportunity to see Ken live. I saw him do this at Soulpepper theatre in Toronto a couple of years ago and it amazed me. Actually it was a sold-out weekday matinee and I went alone and sat beside a woman I didn’t know. I made conversation by saying I was surprised the theatre was so full on a wednesday afternoon. She looked at me as if I had an IQ of about 37 and said slowly and emphatically “well….. it’s Ken Welsh!” So there you go.
And Finally My Easter Show
This one is called Postcard from Salvation Mountain. What can I say but I hope you will come. Or should I say “wish you were here”? I hope to open my house this year as well as my studio. It is slowly becoming a piece of art in itself. Give me 20 more years….
I know it isn’t summer yet but I am looking forward to it. I started Spring off with my yearly Easter show and coming up very soon will be the Lake Scugog Studio Tour: May 6 and 7.
This is new for me. I am hoping it will give those a chance who missed my Easter show to see my latest work and enjoy spring in Utica.
I will be spending the summer on more boats, angels and the Tree of Life. All here in Utica. There is an exciting commission in the works which might be interesting to document as it progresses. And remind me (whoever you are) to tell you about Billy Parker. I need to write about him ASAP. (Speaking of angels.) Here are a few pics of new work:
Keep your eyes open for my subtle new street number sign when you come by:
I have been working like a maniac and eating sardines like there’s no tomorrow. WHY?
The following is my artist’s statement:
I know the following things laid side by side are responsible for this fleet of boats/altars/windows.
A young man casually pulls out his folding fan on a stifling train ride between Rome and Naples.
Tiny blue fishing boats in earnest blues and gothic arches moored at a Maltese wharf look like altars–windows to another world. Walls of ornate glass boxed reliquaries in a lonely Sicilian monastery contain beautified bits of saints. My own mementos are burned on the bonfire of an ex.
Obviously I was traveling recently. And when traveling, one tends to use whatever material is at hand for art-making and I guess I ate more than my share of canned fish. The tins make wonderful frames and with their allusions to things silvery and densely packed, they have since become natural containers for my art. These boats are packages of valuable stuff saved, compressed; precious and endangered things folded in on themselves and packed like sardines. They allude to survival by migration, physical and spiritual journeys, they can be seen as symbols of the Church, they are scoopfuls of water baled out of a larger boat, they are bottled messages thrown out to sea. They are short prayers, poetic as packed suitcases. They are reliquaries. In a sense they are the result of an artist residency I took part in on that same trip near Naples Italy. When I returned home, I folded the drawings I did during that month into tiny accordions until they fit into sardine cans. Beside them are folded watercolour paintings and linoleum prints, remnants of recipes. The glass boat shape goes on last and encapsulates these strange bedfellows.
It is my pleasure to share this show at the David Kaye Gallery with my good friend, neighbour and extraordinary ceramic artist, Ann Cummings:
ANN CUMMINGS: “This body of new work was inspired by my admiration of an 18th century Derby porcelain that I saw at the Gardiner Museum, Toronto and then subsequently many more pieces at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England. The Derby works, to my mind, are delightfully charming and rather frivolous. I felt a kinship with those works and they proved to be a vehicle for the direction that I was compelled to follow.
My works are imagined landscapes. They represent both my joy and delight in nature and also my sorrow, grief and fear for the ongoing destruction of our environment. These are assemblages of chaos and a warning to take care of the land. My sculptural works are also an homage to my dearly departed husband and ultimately to the landscape that we found together where we loved and lived.
I feel there is a strange beauty all around me and yet conversely there is uncertainty and a disarray of the natural landscape with the possibility of its demise. This dichotomy of nature and my surrounding landscape are two opposing sides of beauty and wonder, as well as fear and destruction, that all makes for strange bedfellows.”
Oh my goodness, what a trip! I spent this summer making art at an artist residency in Italy and looking at art and architecture in London, Malta, Sicily and Naples. I am currently in a two-person show in Toronto in which I begin to process everything. My part of the show is called “taking wing”. Below are some of my images from the show, in invitation and my artist statement. The opening is this Thursday November 10, 2016. Join us!
TAKING WINGI did take wing recently. Most of the small work here is the initial unpacking of my summer’s trip to southern Italy and Malta (bracketed coming and going by the Sainsbury wing in London’s National Gallery).I was awestruck, of course by the ‘angels in the architecture’: an intimate polychromed sculpture of San Michele the Archangel in a private chapel in San Potito; Caravaggio’s pigeon-winged angels in Naples; the cherubim and seraphim holding up the corners of the cathedral in Monreale. There were marvellous and exquisite wings everywhere–sometimes real ones. In some windy towns like Caltagirone, white feathers flew constantly like snow. I don’t know why.I call my winged pieces ‘traveling mercies’. That phrase is stolen and only slightly misused. Thirty years ago in the local Baptist church, men in terrible brown suits bellowed prayers thanking special speakers for coming and asking God to grant them ‘traveling mercies’ (protection on their journey home). It was an eye-roller even then and I like to reimagine ‘traveling mercies’ as actual creatures: guardian angels on the road. I certainly met some and am thankful.Another way of taking wing is by boat. I was taken by a series of little blue docked fishing boats in Malta. Looking from the boardwalk above they were dreamy altars or shuttered windows as well as boats obviously (Dghajsa in Maltese). They inspired my sardine can boats, packed accordion style with important art, mysterious messages and other supplies. More than you’ll ever need. More than you can ask or imagine.
Lynne McIlvride: Storm Seller
After re-reading my artist’s statement, I am reminded that there is so much more to process that deeply moved me and inspired me… I’ve barely scratched the surface. Aside from the wondrous beauty I found in the art and architecture, there were very wonderful and helpful people in each part of my journey. These meetings and their significance will slowly seep into my artwork. Regine in Malta, Phyllis in Palermo, Angelica & Gilda in Caltagirone, Anna in San Potito. There are many more and unless they read this, only I know their significance. Anyway, Here are some random wonders.
An amazing Maltese fireworks video!
There are many more images and explanations on my Facebook page.
I don’t have very many markers of time. One of the few is my yearly solo show in my studio on whatever weekend Easter happens to fall. This year it is March 25,26, and 27.
This show started as a way of coping (and perhaps avoiding) difficult family gatherings. More importantly, it has always been a quiet way to celebrate my faith in a way that includes my art. Especially appropriate to Easter, I am training to serve the chalice in the Anglican Church I go to. John, the priest was naming all of the components and for the first time I learned about the piscina, which is a little plate in the corner where any leftover consecrated wine and bread are put and then thrown outside where the wine can soak into the earth and the birds can eat the bread. The part about the birds moved me: the innocence of sparrows snacking on holy communion crumbs. Such small bits of hope.
I hope you come to my show. It’s an offering of sorts. There will be small constructed paintings of lively flocks and striped cats, tornado sculptures, linoprints and etchings. Most of these things are for sale: the show itself is a gift. 1-5 each day or email to make an appointment if you would rather do that. This show is in my studio in the tiny village of Utica: 14260 Marsh Hill Road.
I am astonished there is only one week left to see my show. Although it was great to see the response at the opening, I am touched by those who visited in quieter times and wrote to me of being uplifted. How appropriate, in a show about tornados! I might arrange to be there sometime during the final weekend. I will post information if that is the case. If anyone has any interest in my work, I hope they will see the show. Although many of the paintings and constructions can be seen in my studio at the Uxbridge Studio Tour or my annual “Easter Show”, there is a narrative in this show–a configuration and order that is also part of the creative process. These pieces will never be seen in exactly the same way again. For one thing, I had to borrow a few back from present owners! Show ends Sunday, June 21st at 4:00 PM, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, downstairs in Gallery A.
(I call it the root cellar.)