Thursday, March 31, 2011

Creativity in the City of Guelph

I attended an exciting event last night at the Guelph Youth Music Centre. Our mayor, Karen Farbridge, a vivacious woman with a vision that includes a city as a creative, vibrant community with a rich cultural life, talked about one of her initiatives, “Guelph Creates.” She convened a group of people to talk about creativity in the city.

One of the projects in the city is “1mile2,” or one square mile, launched last night. This is the first phase of what the Musagetes Foundation ( is calling the “Guelph Café,” which is “a program of artistic practices and a weeklong series of conversations and immersions in the city.” 1mile2 is a series of events this year from April to November, and the Café will take place in 2013.

To quote again from the program for last night’s event, “The artists who comprise the 1mile2 program will penetrate our urban spaces, connect backyard agriculture and rural ecology, study our watersheds and the people who live on them, design tools for artistic interventions, and possibly even build new habitats for our endangered urban species.” The project includes artists from Guelph, Waterloo, Toronto, Montreal, Mexico City, Rotterdam, Geneva, London (UK) and Ljubljana.

Mary Mattingly, a New York artist (, gave an illustrated lecture about her work, which takes art out of a traditional framework into the big wide world. She created a liveable sculpture, the Waterpod, a large barge on which she with helpers created a complete living system that included gardens and lovely, healthy chickens.
Mattingly is giving two workshops in the month of April in Guelph.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Last evening at the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) launched the new boxed set of Joyce Wieland's films. This was a welcome event, giving some well-deserved recognition to this multi-talented artist who died in 1998. Guest speakers who introduced the films were: Betty Ferguson, Su Rynard, Allyson Mitchell, Izabella Prska-Oldenhof and Leila Sujir.

The DVDs of Wieland films is of interest not only to film makers, but also to anyone who recognizes the importance of the contribution to Canadian art made by Joyce Wieland.

The CFMDC was gracious in having me at their table with my "Joyce Wieland: Writings and Drawings 1952-1971" to sell copies and sign them.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughts Today on my Sister

Today would be my sister Esther’s eightieth birthday. She died of breast cancer on 6 December 1991 when she was sixty. I spent the last week of her life with her in a hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, was with her when she died, and with my brother took charge of her funeral as she had requested.

Until then, I had not thought much about the truth that being human means sometime we will all leave this beautiful earth. I remember after I came home from that week in Atlanta, I went for an early morning walk though our twelve-acre field surrounded by the light of a brilliant sunrise, and I felt in every cell of my body my human-ness, how that when the end comes no one can do my dying for me. I learned that from Esther. You can be surrounded by people who love you, but it’s still up to you to take your last breath, something no one else can help you with. This was a new realization for me. Sure, I knew I’d die sometime, but that was very different from what I now knew on a gut level.

As Esther was dying, I watched her gather together the tiny bit of energy she had left, and watched her focus on doing her own dying. Her last words were “Stand back.” I think she did not want me or any of her four children hovering over her and distracting her at that important moment of her life.

I still miss her, but I am grateful for what she taught me about living and dying.