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Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Critical Universe

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Finally I understand what bothers me about critics, their use of one criterion for valuing art; it’s worth dependant on its newness relative to the art of its time.

The lament that (Tom) Thomson didn’t live long enough to prove his worth (or not) re: abstract expressionism, that the art (it’s perception at least) must be the Cutting Edge of art contemporary seems a false value.

Few critics appear interested in why artists make the art in the first place. The art then is valued on a system that is rarely employed by the artist making the work; one outside the artist’s frame of reference.

There are many valuable reasons for persuing art activity; newness for its own sake isn’t one of them. That is merely novelty.

Quality is undefinable and unknowable in the ‘collective’ sense. The variation of factors and perceptions are too great for any meaningful consensus. The hierarchy of the perception of values in Pirsig’s book Lila places intellect at the top of the pyramid. But is it that simple?

As an abstract argument it is a workable hypothesis but does it advance far enough? How do we separate intellect from emotion? We continually rationalize and re-interpret experiences using both thought and feeling.

All these observations were written after a showing of my work at Gallery 96. In conversation with a gallery owner he thought my drawings were from the sub-terrarium world, I said “What, pre-history?” and his response was “No, before time!” That remains the biggest compliment my work has ever received.

An artist friend thought I should concentrate on the big sculptures, another said I needed to stay focused on just one thing. These observations are made by linear thinkers, uncomprehending that the installation entitled TURN was the encapsulation of an idea that needed to express itself through many forms and materials for completion.

My thought was to express the finiteness of our existence in space and our infinite existence in time – or should that be the other way around?

I believe this some days and some days I don’t believe both either and or, but when I am working it is not a belief. It is awareness, a certainty with no need for a visible foundation.

Spring Birds

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We put oranges out for the orioles here. In the past is seemed to help them then locate the feeder. Now they sit on the branch in early spring and appear to scold me for tardiness in getting that sugar-water thing up and running.

The past few years the house finches have been eating them, and this year something new, both robins and catbirds have decided they like oranges too!  As I update, the butterflies have added themselves to the mix and chipmunks.

Chester, our no longer dog always made noises of wanting a bit of orange, well last year I actually gave him a piece, but he promptly spit it out. I cannot remember any other food stuff he has actually rejected. I watched him crack a peach pit to eat the meat inside, this after it had overwintered in leaf litter. He would also dig up the Queen’s Anne Lace to eat the root;  it is part of the carrot family (but a bitter part). Was it the texture of the orange he rejected?

To date the list of native birds that have nested  here:

  • Catbirds
  • Cowbirds
  • Kingbirds
  • Meadow Larks
  • Red Wing Black Bird
  • Bobolink
  • Chipping Sparrows
  • Robins
  • Grackles
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Orchard Orioles
  • Mourning Doves
  • Tree Swallows
  • Barn Swallows
  • Cliff Swallows (new last year)
  • Purple Martins
  • Cedar Wax Wings
  • Flickers
  • Crows
  • Vireo
  • Wild Turkey
  • Turkey Vultures
  • House Finch
  • Gold Finch
  • House Wren
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
  • Black Billed Cuckoo
  • Cardinal
  • Kestrel
  • Killdeer
  • Yellow Crowned Kinglet
  • Wood Thrush
  • Ruby Throated Hummingbird
  • Redstarts (new last year)
  • Chickadees
  • Upland Plovers one special year, but never seen again.

Don’t you just love lists? They seem to make the world navigable, but not true of course. Aren’t appearances deceptive?

But perception is just one part of art making, there is also intent, content and context.

There are no answers here only questions. But, isn’t that the most important bit – enquiry, curiosity, experiment?

Do we know what we want until we have ruled out all that we don’t?

Miss Elizabeth Carter: What a woman knows is of little consequence compared with what a woman is…

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Door to the unknown on the Tofino Harbor
photo credit: Coby Loewen

In comparing the state of things in those days with the present restlessness of society, when the facilities of traveling have set all manner of men and women flying about the world as indefatigably and seemingly with as little purpose as motes dancing in the atmosphere, we cannot help wondering how many of these sight-seers are duly qualified for traveling.

From the Memoir of Miss Elizabeth Carter: illustrating the union of learning and piety, pg., 37

Author: Jane Hall, publ. 1844

So, I have been trying to use the web as a learning tool, well what a life that woman lived. She was considered by some to be the most emanate linguist of her time, as well as a very learned mathematician. Translated Epictetus (I wonder just who he is?) from the Greek to English.

She was the author of that beautiful bit of text in one of my blogs,  “And through creation’s vast expanse the last dread thunder’s roll…”

The poetry is by Miss Elizabeth Carter, 1717-1806

Miss Carter is also quoted as saying “what a woman knows is of little consequence compared with what a woman is.”

From the Memoir…Pg. 43


I just read a book on Archimedes, fiction, but now I will have to get an actual book on him as well. Reading on the screen is not very comfortable. But isn’t this all interesting? All of a sudden I might just have to delve into the classics after all, but I don’t suppose life is long enough for all of that. What fun though.