Saturday, 3 March 2012

Artwalk 2012

Today I signed up for the Edmonton Artwalk 2012, sponsored by the fine people at the Paint Spot. I'm pretty excited. It is so inspiring, encouraging and energizing to be surrounded by so many talented, creative, innovative people. The area virtually hums with artistic vision and energy with so many artists in one place.

If you need paint supplies, visit the Paint Spot. The people who work there are lovely, helpful, kind, and  enthusiastic. They want you to love creating and to be successful at it. They are wonderful resources. 

Signing up means there will be a lot more art appearing in this blog as I hunker down in my artist bunker and sketch, paint, cut, glue, spray, and colour away. Feedback is always welcome!

Speaking of art, I was driving down Saskatchewan drive today, past the University of Alberta and noticed hundreds of red dresses hanging in the trees that line the drive. Delightful, but do any of my fellow Edmontonians know what this is all about?

  And more art news:

The fine folk at the Art House Co-op have many fascinating projects, including this one:
The 4X4 Art Exchange2

"Another worldwide community art swap
There’s no better feeling here at Art House HQ than the arrival of the mail — each day brings us a slew of inspiring artwork from all over the map. The 4 x 6 Exchange is designed to share that thrill by creating an art swap on a global scale. Sign up for the project and mail us a 4” x 6” artwork and a USPS self-addressed, stamped envelope. We’ll exchange your work with another artist’s submission and surprise both of you with the results! Keep your eyes on your mailbox..."

Sign up by March 10/12

And this one:
The Self Portrait Project: 4X4

The many faces of the Art House Co-op community
What does our creative community look like? How do you see yourself when you close your eyes? The Self-Portrait Project is an opportunity to introduce yourself to the world — one canvas at a time. Whether you feel challenged to depict yourself in photographic detail or to abstract your personality in visual form, this project will bring together the many faces of the Art House community in our storefront project space. Each participating artist will receive an empty 4" x 4" canvas with the same mission: Show us who you are. The resulting wall of portraits will open thousands of windows into our community, sharing something about ourselves for the entire world to see.

Sign up by April 14/12- anybody game for this one?

 After a play date, registration for Artwalk and dinner with the family, that's all I got today.

xo Jo

Literary Musings: Pedro Juan Gutierrez

In a few weeks, I'm going to Cuba- part holiday, part work. I'm looking forward to both. We're staying at an all-inclusive resort. I never dreamed that I'd ever go on one of these sorts of holidays. It always seemed like a distasteful way to travel. But now, traveling with a 2.5 year old and 4 month old baby, it seems quite appealing. I'm going to balance out the pedestrian aspects of this sort of holiday with a bit of academic work and serious photography while I'm there. Phew. Now I feel better about all of those free drinks at the swim up bar!

I'm in the process of setting up an interview with the Cuban author Pedro Juan Gutierrez, author of The Dirty Havana Trilogy, and The Insatiable Spiderman. Why would you not want to read a book that has been described as "lewd, impious and brilliant"?


He's a very interesting fellow. So far in emails he is warm, personable, approachable. He's also a visual artist in addition to being a "cult writer" as the Times Literary Supplement hailed him as. What exactly makes a cult favourite? What are the essential qualities of a cult classic? Is it because it is "in your face," because it goes against the grain and depicts a world that is generally denied by the status quo? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

The most striking aspect of Gutierrez's work is its unapologetic look at poverty. It doesn't linger on the financial aspect of poverty but rather on the way that financial strife impoverishes humanity, pushes people in certain directions, debases, how it eats away at every facet of existence. It looks at what happens when people lack not only the basic necessities of living, but also, and more importantly the way in which poverty's position vis a vis wealth robs them of their dignity, but asserts another sort of dignity, a dirtier, grittier dignity. Gutierrez's work examines this tension. Poverty produces both decadence-- excess-- and decay. The graphic aspect of his novels examines and depicts this process. His novels are love letters to the people who have been subsumed by poverty's greedy destruction.

I am interested in Gutierrez's experience with being a novelist who writes in a controversial manner in a communist/socialist country. He is often compared to Charles Bukowski and I'm wondering how such a bohemian spirit copes within the rigid confines of restrictive social politics. How does an author who has been hailed in various ways as a literary genius cope with having most of his work banned in his own, beloved country? What happens when one is faced with disillusionment with the very thing, or ideal that one loves the most? How does a brilliant mind cope when things fall apart? 

I'm interviewing him because I'm going on holidays to Cuba, and I'm currently writing a Latin American Literature course, and I'm including one of these novels (not sure which one yet) in the course. Having an interview available for the students would be a great asset to the course and the course experience for them.

xo Jo