Monthly Archives: September 2018

Aliens and the 80s

douglas curranWhat’s going on here?  When I did my first stroll through the new exhibit The 80s Image at the Winnipeg Art Gallery this week I was drawn to this strange photo. It shows a young man named John Shepherd in 1982. He has converted his grandparents’ home in Michigan into a UFO detecting station. All the equipment you see is stuff he’s put together himself. He is using it to broadcast signals and music into outer space to attract aliens.

in advance of the landing douglas curranThe photo was taken by Douglas Curran a Ontario artist who spent eight years traveling throughout Canada and the United States in a second-hand car photographing and interviewing people who were obsessed with outer space.  John Shepherd’s photo is included in a book Douglas published in 1985 called In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space.  Chris Carter producer of the X Files says he used the book to develop the first six episodes of his television series. Artist Douglas Curran doesn’t believe in UFOS but as he interviewed and photographed folks who did, he was surprised at how their belief in alien life forms was almost spiritual for them and how it gave them hope.  

The people in Curran’s book weren’t alone in their interest in aliens and UFOS in the 1980s.  More than 50 movies were made on the topic during the decade including some very popular ones like ET,  Aliens, Cocoon, The Last Starfighter, Star Man and My Stepmother is an Alien.

Douglas Curran’s photo is only one of many intriguing pieces in The 80s Image exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Come and see for yourself. 

Other posts………

Three Lessons from the Movie Arrivals

A Where Were You Moment

North Watch

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Filed under Art, winnipeg art gallery

90 Years

dad ninetyLast Sunday we celebrated my father’s 90th birthday.  Staging the event was a real collaborative effort.  

dad with his two younger sisters

My Dad with his two youngest sisters. 

One of my father’s younger sisters made a speech about Dad and along with his three other sisters supplied a beautiful flower arrangement to add color to the room where we had the party.  

dad interview

Dad talks about his childhood in an interview

My nephew who is a television news reporter had interviewed my Dad about his life and we played an edited version of the interview for the guests.  

dave and I with dad

My husband Dave and I with Dad.

I had collected some 200 photos of Dad and compiled them into a slide show that ran throughout the afternoon. As you can see my sister-in-law did a great job with the decorations.  

food at birthday

My sister arranged for the party food.

My sister had arranged for the food and cake and one of my brothers sent out all the invitations and kept track of the guest list.  

dad and family

My brother and his family pose with Dad.

My younger brother was the master of ceremonies for the party and gave the toast to Dad.  

dad with bryan and abigail

Even some great-grandchildren were at the party.

We were so grateful to all the people who came out including grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

dad with elbert and loraine

Dad with good friends from Steinbach who drove into Winnipeg for his party

Dad has lots of friends and we were glad quite a number of them whom we’d invited were able to come to the party.  When I asked Dad how he’d felt about the party he told me it had been great but his heart had been beating pretty fast through the whole thing. I think he liked his birthday celebration.  It’s not every day you turn 90.

Other posts…………..

My Dad Is…

My Dad Hasn’t Lost His Green Thumb

My Dad Was Once A Teacher

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Who Should I Vote For in Point Douglas?

Mike Pagtakhan who has represented my home ward of Point Douglas on Winnipeg City Council for the last sixteen years has retired from political life so I need to decide who I will vote for as his replacement.  There are four candidates vying to take Mr. Pagtakhan’s seat. 

Photo from Ms. Santos’ website

Vivian Santos has lots of political experience having worked as Mike Pagtakhan’s assistant and also in the office of mayor Brian Bowman. Before her more recent jobs in city politics she was a legal assistant for two large corporate law firms. According to Ms. Santos’ website she’s been involved in a great many community initiatives and improvement projects as a volunteer. She’s helped build fitness trails, develop programs for seniors, plant new species at an ecological reserve, worked on traffic studies and organized charity events. And she’s a national bronze champion in arm wrestling.  

Photo from Ms. Sjoberg’s candidate Facebook page

Kate Sjoberg has been the executive director of the North Point Douglas Women’s centre and the Spence Neighborhood Association and currently serves as a consultant with the Louis Riel School Division working to improve educational outcomes in neighborhoods impacted by poverty.  She’s on the national board of the John Howard Society which advocates for prison reform. Ms. Sjoberg is also an instructor in urban studies at the University of Winnipeg which means she would bring relevant academic credentials to the role of councilor. Ms. Sjoberg’s website lists her many impressive community involvements which include working to make low-income housing safer, acting as an advocate for more efficient public transportation and trying to get to the bottom of possible lead contamination on land in Point Douglas. 

Photo from Mr. Koshelanyk’s candidate Facebook page

Dean Koshelanyk has such a wide variety of work experience. He’s had jobs in farming, construction, forestry, commercial cleaning, the restaurant business, school photography and technology.  He has been a Winnipeg School Division trustee and has volunteered in the community for more than 7000 hours although on his nominee profile he doesn’t get specific about what kind of volunteering he’s done.  Mr. Koshelanyk has lived in the Point Douglas ward for almost 20 years.  He hasn’t got a website but he does have a Facebook page   where he states the three cornerstones of his campaign are common sense, financial prudence and safety.

Photo by Ligia Braidotti from the Winnipeg Free Press

Filippo Palmisani is the owner of Centurion Enterprises a plumbing and heating business.  It is a little hard to find information about Mr. Palmisani’s platform or background because he appears to have no official website or Facebook page.  I did find a Free Press article written about him at the time he announced his candidacy. He wants to institute a city sales tax to replace property taxes and be more aggressive in attracting businesses that offer high paying jobs to Winnipeg. 

I have to say that right now from what I can find out about the candidates online Ms. Sjoberg is at the top of the list for receiving my vote.  Perhaps I will get more information before the election to change my mind.  I’m certainly open to that. I appreciate the fact that four civic minded people are willing to take the time and make the effort to run for office to represent Point Douglas on city council.   

Other points………..

Pop Up Toilet

Getting Involved At the Nelson Mandela Exhibit

A Woonerf in My Back Lane




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Exercise is a Celebration

Cycling with family in Germany last year

Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you eat.

The other day that quote was on the white board at the gym where I work out.  It is so true.  I have been following the blog of Dr. Yoni Freedhoff for several years now.  He makes it clear in blog posts like this one   and this one that exercise does not make you lose weight, only good food choices can do that. But as Dr. Freedhoff likes to emphasize exercise is the single best thing you can do to have a healthy body. 

Golfing with family in Leamington, Ontario

Exercise can help you sleep better, make you less anxious and more positive, improve the appearance of your skin, strengthen the density of your bones so you are less likely to break them, give you more energy, enhance brain function and memory, reduce chronic pain and boost your sex drive. 

Wilderness hiking with my students in Hong Kong.

For much of my life I did look at exercise as a punishment for what I ate and I have to say that learning from Dr. Freedhoff that food and exercise aren’t connected actually has made me enjoy exercise a whole lot more.  

Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do. 

Other posts…….

Food Rules

Sitting is the New Smoking

Healthy Environments- Not Arenas and Gyms



Filed under Health

From the Archives

One of the neat things about keeping a blog is the ability it gives you to look back in time and see what you were doing in past years.  Here’s what I was writing about on each September 26 during the seven years I’ve been keeping this blog. 

selkirk settlers

Selkirk Settlers by Gerald Laing

September 26, 2011-I wrote about a statue of the Selkirk Settlers at the end of my street. 

charlene diehl thin air

Thin Air’s mastermind Charlene Diehl introducing authors at The Forks on Sunday night

September 26, 2012- I was  maintaining a second blog called Destination Winnipeg and there I wrote about attending the Thin Air writing festival. 

dave and dannySeptember 26, 2013- A friend we had taught with in Hong Kong and later visited in Cambodia was in Winnipeg and paid us an unexpected visit. 

chicken soup reboot your life

I have a story in this book

September 26, 2014  -I was announcing my second appearance in a Chicken Soup Book, this time in an anthology called Reboot Your Life where I wrote about our 2003 move to Hong Kong.  construction on rorie street 2015

September 26, 2015- This post certainly remains timely because it is about all the construction going on in our neighbourhood, repairing streets and infrastructure.  That is still happening. 

manitoba-by-joe-fafard-1975September 26, 2016–  I wrote about a statue called Manitoba and why artist Joe Fafard had chosen a Metis man to represent our province. rainbow in my mouth

September 26, 2017-Last year at this time we were in Iceland and I did a post about how my husband made me pose for a photo with a rainbow in my mouth. 

I wonder what I will be writing about next year on September 26th?

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Power of Print

diversity posterYesterday the guides who work in school programs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery met to learn about a new art activity we will be doing with children called The Power of Print.  Students will use printer ink, paint, stencils and their own creativity to create posters that send a message about an issue that is important to them.  As I was working on my poster about diversity I thought how just a few years ago I would have been so intimidated about creating art I wouldn’t have enjoyed an activity like this at all.  Now I can.  

Art professor and popular author Lynda Barry says so many of us never start creating art or we stop, because we think we are supposed to show mastery of the craft. But she says it is perfectly valid and in fact very important for everyone to feel they can use art as a way to explore their feelings, voice their opinions,  document their experiences or just  have fun and relax. 

Other posts……..

Oh To Be A Kid At The Fringe Festival

Story Sticks

Sunday Afternoon at the WAG


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Filed under Art, Education, winnipeg art gallery

At the Gates Again

four friendsIn July of 2012 the group of friends and former colleagues I meet with on a regular basis enjoyed a lovely lunch at The Gates on Roblin on a beautiful sunny day.  t-4's at the gatesLast Saturday we were back there again. This time on a soft grey fall afternoon with rain and just a little bit of snow which made us feel all cozy and comfortable inside as we caught up on what has been happening in our lives.  Our group has done many things together in between those two luncheons at The Gates. ready for mini golfWe’ve gone miniature golfing.

mermaid's kiss gallery gimliWe’ve done the Art Wave tour in Gimli. 

with T-4's assiniboine park- easter 2015We’ve welcomed spring by the duck pond in Assiniboine Park.We’ve visited a pumpkin farm. We’ve found our way out of an Escape Room. We’ve had an English Tea Party. We’ve hit a hamburger stand after helping one of our group members move. We’ve lunched by the river.
We’ve made Christmas centerpieces. We’ve worked on art projects. We’ve taken a course about chocolate. 

We’ve done a jig saw puzzle.  We’ve walked the Carol Shields labyrinth at Kings Park. We’ve celebrated birthdays.We’ve visited the traditional Mennonite village of Neubergthal. We’ve been to PineRidge Hollow. We’ve gone browsing at a Flea Market. We’ve written poetry. We’ve been to a tea room.

the gossips by rose aimee belanger

We’ve explored a sculpture garden. 

We’ve made cards. 

We’ve also been to movies and concerts and had a little mini book club. We’ve done crafts and gone sketching and we’ve done lots and lots of visiting. I am blessed to be part of this group of supportive friends. 

Other posts………

A Lovely Day in Steinbach

Getting Crafty for Christmas



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Mary’s Childhood

1674 st. anne and st. Joachim with mary Francesco Solimena_

1674 painting of Mary and her parents by Italian artist Francesco Solimena.

I’m preparing for a women’s retreat I’m speaking at in October and in one of my talks I will be looking at the childhood of Mary, Jesus’ mother as it is found in the Gospel of James.  The gospel was written within fifty years or so of the gospel of John in the New Testament and was held in high regard till the fifth century when the current New Testament canon was more or less finalized.  Pope Innocent I declared the Gospel of James untrustworthy in 405 AD, but it continued to be very popular in the Eastern Orthodox church and inspired literally thousands of pieces of art that depict Mary’s childhood.

Veit Stoss_St. Mary altar_joachim&Anne_Crawcow, Church of St. Mary_1477-89Mary’s father’s name was Joachim. Joachim was from Nazareth and Anne, Mary’s mother was from Bethlehem. We see Anne and Joachim here in a beautiful wood painting found in the Church of St. Mary in Krakow Poland.  It is by artist Veit Stoss and was created in 1480. 

Joachim and Anne's WeddingAnna and Joachim married when Joachim was 46 and Anne was 24.  Their wedding is depicted in this 1476 codex illustration by Cristoforo de Predis. 


Joachim and Anne settled in Jerusalem. They were good people known for their work helping the poor and for donating money to the temple. Joachim was a wealthy sheep owner and often supplied the priests with sheep to use for sacrifices in the synagogue.  Anne and Joachim loved each other and were devoted to one another but had to wait twenty years for their daughter Mary to be born.  We see the couple above in a 1528 painting by Italian artist Ambrosius Benson. The Embrace of Saint Joachim and Saint Anna is in the collection of The Prada in Madrid.

giotti anna and joachim at the Golden GateThe conception of Anne and Joachim’s daughter Mary was something of a miracle. That miracle is recorded in a beautiful 1305 painting by Giotto di Bondone called Legend of St. Joachim and St. Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate. The Gospel of James records that an angel directed Anne and Joachim to go separately to the gate of the temple. When they met they kissed and Anne became pregnant. 

The Birth of the Virgin by Wolf Traut (1478-1520)According to the Gospel of James Anne breastfed her daughter right after she came into the world and midwives were in attendance.  There are hundreds of paintings depicting the birth of Mary. Above is The Birth of the Virgin by German artist Wolf Traut painted in 1513


and this is The Nativity of the Virgin by Flemish artist Earsmus Quellinus painted in 1665.  

russian orthodox icon mary as a child

 Russian Orthodox Church icon depicting Mary as a little girl.

Anne and Joachim promised God that because they had been blessed with a child they would give her in service to the temple. In this icon of the Russian Orthodox Church we see Mary as a little girl. By the time she was six months old Mary could already walk seven steps. She had many playmates and her first birthday was celebrated in style with a big dinner.  By the way in the Catholic Church Mary’s birthday is celebrated on September 8, the same day as my husbands’ birthday.

mary and parents by Jose Alejandro ArangoHere we see an image of Mary and her parents by Mexican artist Jose Alejandro Arango. At age two Joachim thought it was time they took Mary to begin her service in the temple but Anne begged him to let Mary stay home another year and so they waited till she was three years old.

presentation of the virgin done in 1534 by Titian

First Presentation of the Virgin by the Italian artist Titian done in 1534

There are literally hundreds of paintings of Mary being presented at the temple by her parents.  

Presentation of Mary at the Temple by another Italian artist Gaspare Diziani some two hundred years later in 1730.

Presentation of Mary at the Temple by  Italian artist Gaspare Diziani in 1730.

 In the Catholic and Orthodox church the day Mary went to live in the temple is celebrated as a liturgical holiday on November 21st.

the education of the virgin in the hermitage guido rene 1641

In this 1641 painting Education of the Virgin Mary Italian artist Guido Reni shows Mary with the other young woman in the temple. This painting is in the collection of the Hermitage in Moscow.

Mary lived at the temple till she was twelve. She was probably part of a special school for girls there, where she was taught all kinds of creative skills singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. She will have learned weaving and spinning as well as practical things like healing illnesses and had an opportunity to study the Scriptures and to learn about the customs and history behind Jewish holidays. According to the book of James Mary stayed at the temple till she became betrothed to Joseph. 

education of the virgin Eugène Delacroix 1842 FrenchBut………. in many famous paintings Anna and Joachim are depicted as being a big part of Mary’s life right up until her marriage.  We see that in this 1842 painting of Mary and Anna called Education of the Virgin by French artist Eugene Delacroix

The Education of Mary Jean Jouvenet 1700 Uffiziand in this 1700 work called The Education of Mary by another French artist Jean Jouvenet which is part of the collection at the Uffizi gallery in Florence.

The Education of the Virgin and is by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens. It dates from 1625 and is in the Royal Museum in Brussels.This painting is called The Education of the Virgin and is by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens. It dates from 1625 and is in the Royal Museum in Brussels.It shows Mary as a young adult with her parents just before her marriage. 

El Greco’s The Holy Family painted in 1592..pngIt should be noted that there are many artists who have portrayed Anna and Joachim taking a very active role in the care and raising of their grandson Jesus. Like in Spanish artist El Greco’s The Holy Family painted in 1592.

Holy Family with Saint Anne and Saint Joachim by Lorenzo Lotto

Holy Family with Saint Anne and Saint Joachim by Italian artist Lorenzo Lotto

The books chosen for the Bible tell the stories of many men’s childhoods- that of Moses and David and Joseph in the Old Testament and of course the childhoods’ of Jesus and of Timothy in the New Testament but there are only fleeting references to the childhoods’ of women.  That makes the account of Mary’s childhood in the Gospel of James even more interesting to explore. 

Other posts………..

A Preganant Mary and A Mary With Knives In Her Heart

Thinking About Mary On Good Friday

The Pool of Bethesda



Filed under Art, Religion

What’s An Ed Camp?

I was talking to a teacher this week who said for a professional development day her department had participated in an Ed Camp.  I’d never heard of an Ed Camp before and I wanted to find out what it was all about so I did some research. 

At an Ed Camp no topics have been pre-determined before the event begins and there are no speakers or presenters hired.  For the first thirty minutes or so of the day participants chat with others and write topics they would like to discuss with their colleagues on sticky notes.  Then the organizing committee looks at all the sticky notes- chooses the most popular topics, removes duplicates and uses a large grid to post the location for discussions, the times and the topics.  It might look like this.edcamp-oregon-whiteboardSo if you were interested in talking about all day kindergarten you’d go to room 603 at 9:10 and everyone in the room would discuss that topic together.  Or if you wanted to talk about doing Multi Media projects with students you’d go to room 702 at 2:30.  

Everyone is on equal footing in each room.  Everyone shares their ideas and questions.  But…… if the discussion isn’t going anywhere or isn’t what you were looking for it is imperative for you to leave and go elsewhere.  It may be that most people migrate to just a few rooms where the discussion is hot and heavy and meaningful but that’s okay. awesome at ed camp.

This poster encourages everyone to talk in their sessions and to leave sessions that aren’t interesting or helpful. 

Sounds like a very unique kind of professional development. This journal article contends that 94% of teachers who participate in ed camps find them rewarding and helpful.  A much better record I suspect than most traditional professional development days where folks sit passively and listen to speakers. 

Now I’m wondering how ed camp type events might work in businesses, in churches, in university classes, in non-profit organizations and for staff at public institutions like art galleries and museums?

I think I’d like to try going to an Ed Camp. 

Other posts…….

Improving Education in Manitoba

Hopeful Diversity

Be Present




Filed under Education

The Raft of the Medusa

raft of the medusa photograph

 Raft of the Medusa 100 Mile House 2009 photograph by Adad Hannah

What’s going on here?  That’s what you might ask when you look at this photo currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in an exhibit called Ways of Seeming.  

raft of the medusa

Raft of the Medusa 100 Mile House 2009 by Adad Hannah

Probably the first thing that will help you understand the photograph is to know that it is only a small section of a much bigger photo.  

raft-of-the-medusa-by-thedore-gericault1The photo is actually a re-staging of a famous painting called The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault which is in the Louvre in Paris. Gericault painted it in 1818 when he was just twenty-seven years old. It depicted a true event- the wreck of the frigate Medusa which ran aground in Maruitania in 1816. 147 people escaped from the boat on a quickly constructed raft. Thirteen days later when they were rescued there were only 15 survivors, the rest had died of starvation, cannibalism, suicide, drowning and dehydration.


Visitors check out The Raft of the Medusa in the Louvre

Gericault read interviews with the survivors, built a model of the raft and visited a morgue to study cadavers before he began his painting.  The captain of the Medusa was charged with incompetency. When Gericault created The Raft of the Medusa it was a very controversial current work and because of that his painting gained a wide audience and helped establish his reputation as an artist. The painting shows the moment the raft is being approached by a rescue boat. It is on a huge canvas so the figures are almost life size.


This photograph of a different section of the larger work is also in the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection and has been on display in the past.

In 2008 Canadian artist Adad Hannah was asked by art collector Gus Horn to come to his home town of 100 Mile House in British Columbia to stage a version of the The Raft of Medusa that would involve the people of his community. Hannah agreed and in 2009 spent three months in 100 Mile House working together with a group made up largely of teenagers, to sew costumes, build sets, paint a back drop, figure out make-up and do yoga so they could hold the poses in the painting long enough for Hannah to film and photograph them.  Finally they were ready and the elaborate tableau was staged. The photographs in the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection are ones Hannah took that day. You can read more about the project here. 

New York artists collective called The Bruce High Quality Foundation in 2007.

Adad Hannah’s photos weren’t the first or last time Gericault’s famous painting has been re-enacted. This version was staged by a New York artists collective called The Bruce High Quality Foundation in 2007.raft of the medusa Hu Jeiming

Chinese artist Hu Jeiming chose to use the Gericault painting as inspiration for his commentary on the impact of the Cultural Revolution on China and how the country is now being driven by consumerism. 

Now that you know the story of The Raft of the Medusa be sure to come and check out the photo on display now at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

PS.  If your eyes are really sharp you will notice a discrepency between the first two photos in this blog post.  See if you can find it.  Adad Hannah staged a couple different versions of the tableau which explains the difference. 

Other posts…………

Industrial Doilies

Grandfather I Have Something to Tell You

Art That Is Too Opinionated?

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Filed under Art, winnipeg art gallery