Archive for the ‘arts community’ Category

As an artist, you have to be proactive about getting your work out there in the world. Since I belong to a quilt guild, I can count on being able to enter my work in the triennial show we put on. And as a member of a group of fibre artists in my community, I find it’s a struggle to find a suitable venue for our annual group show. But in June, I learned about an unusual call for proposals for art to be hung at a new health and community services centre being planned for the neighbourhood.

When it opens in 2019, the Oakwood-Vaughan Health Clinic will offer “a range of services with a focus on community members who face barriers to health care such as people living in poverty, isolated seniors, non-insured, people with complex mental health issues, those requiring interpretation and living with unstable employment.”

Artists in the surrounding community were encouraged to submit proposals for artwork that will be displayed in the programming space, clinic offices and foyer of the new centre. Themes could focus on community, health and youth, as well as the cultural history of the area. “We hope to promote the creativity that allows all to express and trust themselves. We want artists to show a spirit of inquiry and exploration through their art pieces.

Of course I was thrilled when my proposal was one of the 25 accepted. They called us all together for a “meet and greet” session on July 31. The organizers explained timelines and next steps and also issued $150 honorariums to each of the selected artists.

I had done a great deal of pondering and planning up to this point, but now that I had the green light, it was time to move on to the construction phase!

My concept for this piece is to evoke the new health centre’s intent to reach out to the community.

Here’s my artist statement:

“The arm is not one colour. It is not white, black, beige or brown, but in keeping with the multi-cultural diversity of the Oakwood Vaughan community, and indeed Toronto as a whole, it represents all skin colours. Our skin colour is immaterial. We are all part of this community … we help each other.

From my own collection of pressed leaves, I selected five different species of oak leaves and used their shapes to create fabric ones that “sprout” out of each finger and thumb. This represents healthy growth and renewal, while also supporting the importance of diversity.

Reaching out for strength within. 33″ w x 20″ h

The tree trunk, from which the arm is protruding, portrays the strength, not only of the mighty oak tree, but of our community, when we work in unison.”

picture of health centre exterior with Janet in foreground with her bike

Delivering the artwork

I delivered my completed piece in October, and on November 15, a “sneak peek” event was held to view all the submissions. What an impressive range of artwork has been gathered from community artists!

On October 22, a jury will announce their decision on the top three artworks that will receive significant cash prizes. But I feel that it is rewarding enough to be able to create what I hope is an uplifting piece of art that will be discovered by both staff and visitors at this valuable new centre.

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About six years ago, I was fortunate to discover a small group of women in my community whose interest and obsession with making textile art equals my own. Each year since then we’ve managed to find a place in the neighbourhood to mount a display of our creations.

A few times it was a room in a church, several times a funny little vacant space on the side of a building (called “Side Space Gallery”), once in a café, and this year, in a yoga studio. The expansive white wall that spans the length of the studio was just begging to be lit up with our colourful creations.



We negotiated with the studio owner to have specific hours (around her classes) where people could come and see the exhibit, each weekend throughout the month of November.


A Patch of Stillness

This Saturday, we’ll be holding the opening reception for our show at the Studio for Movement.

A week ago, we met to “hang” the show. None of us knew what each other had created, so it was a bit like Christmas morning when we spread everything out on the floor to get an idea of what the collection looked like. Amazingly, it all came together beautifully. It’s astonishing how some of us, working independently, used similar colour palettes and themes in our work. This made it fairly easy to create groupings that complemented each other.

I worked pretty hard to get two new pieces finished (each participating artist is invited to submit two pieces) and was still stitching on the labels the day we hung the show!

A third piece I had brought along (Open Arms, aka Driven to Abstraction) turned out to be just the right size for one of the walls, so that means I have three pieces in the show!

Getting together with my artist friends to plan and execute these exhibits, on a shoestring, has proven to be a great catalyst for all of us to learn, laugh, experiment and share our art with the community.E_invite_2013

If you’re in the Toronto area, I invite you to come by and be inspired!

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I have a couple (OK, maybe four) projects on the go, so I thought I would share one of my latest obsessions. Wanda Hanson inspires me on many levels, and I identify with her bold colour sense. Ever since I came across her blog,  which has only been a matter of a month or two, I have been following her daily updates. She’s one talented artist, and prolific, to say the least. I don’t know whether she has any “down” time at all.

cobblestones in progress on the design wall

my “cobblestones” in progress on the design wall

Here’s my take on Wanda’s “cobblestones” design, batik style, up on the design wall. I’m not quite finished with the arrangement, but it’s getting there. The process is simple, downright addictive, and for the most part, I am using scraps.

Last weekend, I took my folks for a drive north of the city to a small art gallery in Unionville – the Varley Art Gallery – to see an exhibit titled “Canada on Canvas”.

We discovered a modest exhibit in a rather tiny gallery, but there were a few pieces by relatively famous artists that I hadn’t seen before. In particular, pieces by two Canadian women – Emily Carr and Doris McCarthy – made an impression.

Home, by Doris McCarthy

Home, by Doris McCarthy

Ms McCarthy lived to 100 (1910 – 2010) and she lived and worked for many or most of those years atop the Scarborough bluffs, where I lived for a few years.

I can visualize her “Home” painting interpreted in fabric … inspiration for another day!

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I have finally managed to dedicate some time to writing this blog post, which is long overdue. Life has just been too busy these days (as the fall always is in my “day” job).

Since a about 2007, I’ve been part of a group of fabulous textile artists in my neighbourhood that has been organizing annual exhibits of our work in the community. However, it’s getting harder and harder to find a decent place to show our work. One of our members approached a local cafe, and the next thing we knew, we had wall space for the month of November!

So last weekend, we had our opening reception at Ellington’s Music & Cafe. Shelley’s talented friend, Steafan Hannigan, and his partner performed some lively, eclectic Irish music and kept the place hopping!

I wanted to share a bit of background on the creative process that brought my “houses” quilt to life.

I bought a cute little bundle of delicious shot cottons (fat eighths) at Greenwood Quiltery a few months ago (the one and only time I went there!), and just knew that I wanted to make houses out of them.

Way back in my subconscious, I had stored images of the colourful houses I’d seen in St. John’s, Newfoundland, but in the forefront of my consciousness, I had two current sources of inspiration. #1 – an illustration I’d cut out of the Globe & Mail Report on Business magazine; #2 – an image that I encounter every time I am sitting in a certain meeting room at work (daydreaming, and looking out the window!!).

Inspiration #1

Inspiration #2

#2 isn’t the best quality photo, but you get the idea … the angular shapes within shapes, carrying on almost infinitely. I played around with various ideas on paper, but the design wall became the best source of design inspiration.

Not too Close for Comfort

You have to look closely to see that the blue background fabric is not uniform (click on the image to enlarge). The top part represents a starry sky, whereas the bottom half is tone-on-tone fabric symbolizing earth, vegetation, growth, roots. A lot of the small pieces were random scraps from my scrap stash that I didn’t even trim.

It’s really liberating to follow your intuition and just start throwing things up on the design wall. I highly recommend it!

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… until our fabulous Art for the Body & Soul – Celebration of Quilts! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to soak up a torrent of colour and creativity in textiles! It takes place Friday, Nov. 11 through to Sunday, Nov. 13 at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. See you there!

This show happens only once every 3 years!

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Early warning – it’s only a month away – the most fabulous quilt/art show in Toronto! The dates are Friday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 13 and the venue is the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, 6 Garamond Court, near Don Mills Road and Eglinton Ave.E.

This show & sale is mounted only every 3 years, and  I think that’s a perfect interval. The volunteers from the York Heritage Quilters Guild really put a lot of effort into organizing a fantastic show.

I’ll have two recent works in the show: a bed quilt that I have titled “There are always flowers for those who want to see them”, which is a quote from Henri Matisse and my “Did you see that?” wall quilt inspired by Charley Harper. When I get the binding on the bed quilt, I’ll make sure to get a photo posted.

Did you see that?

But that’s not all! I will be donating a small wall quilt to the silent auction, which is a great fundraiser for Sketch. I blogged about this little quilt on March 28 – Charley Harper’s Gray-crowned Rosy Finch.

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If you’re going to be in Toronto this coming weekend this sounds like a super event. I’m definitely going to check it out! It’s not too often that craft fairs of this calibre are organized here in Toronto, especially in the middle of the summer, so I’m glad I found out about it a while back via Toronto Craft Alert. See you there!

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