Category Archives: Art

Art to Inspire Inspired Me!

For the last two months, I’ve been leading a program at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) that I’ve just LOVED!

The class was brilliantly designed by Colleen Leduc a learning and programs coordinator at the gallery and a certified art therapist.

Photo from the WAG website

Colleen has taught the class in the past. But this year her administrative responsibilities at the gallery increased and she couldn’t fit time to lead the sessions into her schedule so she asked me and a colleague of mine to take over.

What a privilege!

The class is called Art to Inspire and this year we offered eight-afternoon sessions on Thursdays in April and May. The people who participated have dementia or Alzheimer’s and come to the program with their caregivers who may be family members or friends.

One participant took the piece he’d made in class home and framed it and then brought it to the next session to show us

Our sessions were held in a large sunny studio looking out over the WAG’s rooftop. We began each session with coffee or tea and cookies and friendly conversation around the table getting to know each other.

We talked about our interests, events in our lives and families, and what was going on with the weather and the news.

At our last meeting yesterday one of the participants said the sense of community created through these conversations had been the best part of the weekly sessions for her.

Photo from the WAG Facebook page

Our second activity was going into one of the galleries in the WAG and looking at a piece of art, or several pieces of art and discussing them. I LOVED this part of our sessions with everyone offering their unique ideas about the artwork and the feelings the artwork evoked.

Both caregivers and those with dementia or Alzheimer’s shared wonderful observations and insights.

After our time in the gallery, we would go back to our studio and create some art. I have included some of the marvelous pieces members of our group created in this post.

We used all kinds of different things for our creations which were often connected in some way to the artwork we had studied in the gallery.

I realized that just because someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia doesn’t mean their artistic instincts or talents have been hampered at all. The work created during our eight sessions was just amazing!!

Leading this class was just a delight for me. My own life was enriched immeasurably by the wonderful people I got to know in the last two months because of the class. I am so grateful to the WAG for giving me this opportunity.

There was one participant in the class who said at the end of every session, “That was so much fun MaryLou.” That moment always made every minute of preparing for the class worthwhile.

The program runs in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba, and the University of Manitoba College of Rehabilitation Sciences.

Although the current program has come to an end people who are interested in the course can keep checking the WAG website for information about future classes.

Other posts………

Wraggling Along

Ageing

Warli Art- Kids Love It And You Will Too

Art in Bloom

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Filed under Art, Health, winnipeg art gallery

Stitching Beauty

Last weekend my husband and granddaughter and I went to a quilt show at the Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship Church.

The show and sale was a fundraiser for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) an aid organization that has been helping vulnerable people around the world for over a hundred years.

My husband and granddaughter look at a quilt made with old ties

The quilts are made by a group that meets regularly year-round to create them. The quilters volunteer their time and much of the material they use to make the quilts is also donated.

I loved this quilt at the show called Going Home.

There were so many beautiful quilted pieces to see at the show and I marvelled at the thousands of hours of work they represented.

My friend Marge with a quilt she made during the pandemic

I went to the quilt show last weekend to support my friend Marge who is one of the quilters who donates their time to make the quilts that were on display.

This is a photo of Marge with a quilt she made several years ago. She’s a true artist with her quilting needle.

My mother-in-law stitching a special quilt for me to use in workshops I presented

My mother-in-law Anne was a beautiful quilter.

Our older son holds his infant baby brother. The yellow quilt around the baby was made by my mother-in-law Anne.

From infancy to adulthood our sons both slept under the various quilts their Oma made for them.

Grace Mennonite Quilt by Linda Klassen

I attended Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach for most of my life and when we celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2011 Linda Klassen, a member of the congregation, made this quilt filled with symbols related to the church’s history.

More quilts from the MCC show – photo by Teresa Rempel from her Facebook page

Quilts are truly works of art. They can tell a story, inspire emotion, please the eye, stir the heart and elicit memories.

And at the quilt show for MCC last weekend they also raised funds to help the vulnerable. How great is that?

Other posts……….

My Talented Friends

A Utah Massacre Remembered

Going On A Field Trip

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An Unexpected Art Gallery

I had to be downtown for an early physio appointment yesterday and when I arrived at the clinic at the corner of Graham and Edmonton the door was locked. I was a little annoyed at having to wait but it gave me time to survey my surroundings.

Right in front of me was something that looked like a picnic table but as I examined it more closely I realized it was really interesting in both design and shape. It zigged and zagged and was long and narrow and it was looped together with these deep forest green railings.

I noticed a plaque on the table so I went over to take a look. The sign said the table was actually a work of art by Nicole Marion and Chris Wiebe and had been installed in 2020.

It was called PIICNIIC and had been made to look like a picnic table sliced in half and overlapped. The artists wanted it to be not only a piece of art but also a place for people to sit and rest or eat their lunch.

I had probably walked by that bench a hundred times in the past since it is right on the route I often use to walk to and from work but I’d never really noticed it before yesterday.

My eye travelled down PIICNIIC and there at the end of it was another artistic piece! I went over to take a look. Some kind of steel box had been painted in a modern and colourful way.

I did a little research when I got home and found out it was actually a transit box. It had been painted by an artist named Sarah Collard and she called it Bus Stop because it was right beside the bus shelter.

Sarah said she had painted actual people she saw on Graham Avenue walking by the bus stop or waiting to take the bus. She made blind contour drawings of them, which means she looked only at them and not at what she was drawing on the box till she had finished their outlines. It made them seem a little strange and abstract.

I took a couple of photos of the colourful box myself and then snagged a couple from the wonderful Murals of Winnipeg website.

After discovering these two art pieces I went over and tried the clinic door again. Still locked.

That’s when I spied ANOTHER piece of art on the wall of the clinic building right beside the door.

A plaque beside it said the work was called cloth, quill ghost worlds and was created by an Anishinaabe artist named Scott Benesiinaabandan. It had a deep black background and eight photographs of these colourful bits of cloth stuck together with porcupine quills.

There was a barcode on the plaque so you could listen to Anishinaabe songs while looking at cloth, quill ghost worlds.

While I was getting ready to do that the receptionist came to open the door to the physio clinic so I hurried inside.

I had been annoyed about not being able to get into the clinic but realized that had actually been a good thing because it had made me stop and really look at my surroundings.

Here I was in a kind of mini art gallery on a Winnipeg street corner and if the clinic door had been open I wouldn’t even have noticed.

It made me wonder what other beautiful little things about my city had gone unobserved because I was too busy thinking, or listening to a podcast to actually notice things around me as I walked.

It made me realize I needed to be more observant!

Other posts……..

Ten Historic Winnipeg Buildings

Living in an Art Gallery

Who is Dr. Rizal and What Is He Doing In Winnipeg?

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Mothers in Art and Life

An Inuit mother teaching her daughter to throat sing in the sculpture The Gift by Goota Ashoona. Photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Son of our tour guide and his mother. Photographed in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

A Young Mother by Bessie Potter Vonnoh -1896. Photographed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

A mother elephant and her child. Photographed in the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Mothers in the Park by Francisco Zuniga – 1986- Photographed in the Mayan World Museum in Merida Mexico

Mother and daughter making chocolate. Photographed in Ubud Bali.

Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso – 1921 – Photographed at the Chicago Art Institute

Mother bison and calf. Photographed at Fort Whyte Manitoba.

War Dread of Mothers by George Roualt. Photographed at The St. Louis Art Museum.

dee dee snorkel guide in boracay philippines

Dee Dee our snorkelling guide with her children. Photographed in Boracay in the Philippines.

Together by Nirite Takele -1985. Photographed in the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town South Africa.

Mother and child in a home we visited in Shangri-La. Photographed in Yunnan province China.

Other posts…………

Mothers in Our Family

Mothers at the Met

A Hat For Mother’s Day

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My Portrait

A few days ago I shared this portrait that a grade four student at a Winnipeg school had drawn of me when I made an author visit to her class. That got me thinking of other portraits people have drawn of me.

One of my all-time favourites is this one my grandson did of me six years ago when he was five. It was called Grandma in the Rain.

A grade five student Kim Ji Hyun did this portrait of me some twenty years ago.

This is the artist all dressed up for a cultural day at the elementary school where I was teaching in Hong Kong. Ji Hyun’s family came from Korea.

When I was teaching in an international high school in Hong Kong the art teacher asked me to pose as a model for his students. I was amazed at their talent and the different ways they drew me.

A university student named Ayaka who I was training to be a guide at the Winnipeg Art Gallery drew this sketch of me when she was shadowing me on a tour in 2020.

In 2018 when I was working at the Winnipeg Art Gallery kids’ activity booth at the Fringe Festival my colleague Marion did this water-colour portrait of me.

I did this myself when I was taking a sketching course in 2014.

I found this self-portrait done at the start of the pandemic in my sketchbook.

I did this one of me holding my newborn using a photograph.

Here’s one a grade two student did of me back in the late 1980s. I’m sitting at my desk talking to my class.

I am in the striped dress in this family portrait my older grandson did when he was five. Those are hearts above his head and those of my husband and me.

Our friend Rudy did this sketch of my husband Dave and me when he was holidaying with us in Portugal.

I absolutely adore this portrait done by my younger grandson last year for my birthday. He was six. Notice he didn’t forget my signature necklace and don’t you just love the heart in the sky that turns into a butterfly?

Other posts……….

Modelling Career- Different Perceptions

Portraits in Plasticine

Painting Her Own Portrait

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Drawing Kids Into Art Galleries

My husband Dave walking up to the South African Art Gallery

One of the things that really impressed me about the South African Art Gallery in Cape Town is they had an entire room set up especially for kids.

The artworks were all installed at a height that would allow children to easily see them and study them without craning their necks to look up.

A special sign welcomed children and told them the room was just for them.

Flying the Kite by Laura Knight

The artworks were chosen with kids in mind.

Edward and His Cat- Artist Unknown

Some were portraits of children and animals.

The Screaming Child by Irma Stern

As I looked at this piece of a child screaming I could just hear kids asking, “Why is she screaming?” “What made her so mad?”

The Story of the Money Pig by Thomas Gotch

There were paintings to intrigue. In this painting called The Story of the Money Pig a woman is telling two girls a story that may come from the book by her lap and the piggy bank on the sand obviously figures into the story. But how?

The Champion by Peter Clark

There were bright bold prints.

Untitled by Simon Jones

There were pieces with blank faces so the children could imagine themselves in the painting.

Playground by Jansje Wissema

They had included photographs that reflected the children from various backgrounds who might be coming to visit the art gallery.

In order to stay viable in the future it is important for art galleries to attract children and young people as patrons.

I thought the children’s room at the South African gallery was a unique way to try and do that and one that other galleries might do well to emulate.

Other posts………..

Kids Are Creative

Two Artists- Me and My Grandson

Warli Art- Kids Love It and You Will Too

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Filed under Art, Childhood

What’s a Crankie?

Friends invited us to a Crankie Concert on Friday night.

What’s a crankie? It’s an old way of telling stories. You start with a long illustrated paper that is wound onto two spools. The spools are loaded into a box with a viewing window. The paper is then hand-cranked while a story is told or a song is sung.

A woman operates a crankie. This is from a blog post by William Hudson that clearly explains how a crankie is made and how it works.

I remember once making a crankie for a project at school when I was a child.

The concert Friday night featured several music pieces that were accompanied by crankies. Perhaps the most moving was a song performed by an Indigenous singer and drummer named Ray CoCo Stevenson and a musician from Gimli Kael Sauerborn. The song they shared with us was Comes to Light.

Kael Sauerborn and Ray Stevenson perform Comes to Light at the Crescent Fort Rouge Church on Friday night. You can see someone operating the crankie just behind Ray and the image has been projected onto the screen for the audience to see

The song Comes to Light is about the 215 children’s bodies that were found at the Kamloops Residential School in May of 2021. The lyrics recognize how tragic it must be for Indigenous families to learn about something like that. The song extends an offer of support and solidarity.

The lyrics that went with the images in this section of the crankie were……….. Up in the sky, they found a way to glow. Those northern lights I know are giving us the hope we need.

You can read the lyrics, listen to the song and see the crankie that goes with Comes to Light here.

A crankie can be a beautiful way to bring the lyrics of a song to life.

Other posts………

Afternoon Delight

Come From Away- A Musical for Our Time

Ten Things I learned about Carole King

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Filed under Art, Music, Winnipeg

Storied Land-Metis, Indigenous People and Mennonites

Miriam Rudolph has created a series of prints to tell a story of the Metis and Indigenous people of Manitoba and how it intersects with the story of her Mennonite ancestors. Miriam has called it Storied Land: Repmapping Winnipeg. It is part of the Headlines: The Art of the Newscycle exhibit currently on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Each print is accompanied by a collection of articles from local news sources including the Winnipeg Free Press which describe the subject of the print.

Miriam went to the Winnipeg archives to read old Winnipeg Free Press newspapers to find stories about Indigenous people. In older editions of the paper, which she photographed she found little mention of the Metis or First Nation People of the province.

Now there are many more stories about Indigenous people in the newspaper and the Free Press has Indigenous writers and columnists. Miriam illustrates this by having the Indigenous people with their ribbon skirts and drums appear prominently in this print.

Here Miriam shows the East and West Reserves in red ink- land near Steinbach and Winkler that was given to new Mennonite immigrants to Manitoba. But this was land that Metis families also claimed as their own.

The Metis were petitioning to have official rights to the land but the rights of the Mennonite immigrants were rewarded instead. See how the Mennonites are front and centre and the Metis family at the top is smaller and in the distance?

In 1881 a railroad was built right through Winnipeg. North of the tracks smaller cheaper houses were built for new immigrants coming to Canada from other countries and later for Indigenous families coming to Winnipeg from off their reserves.

Bigger fancier houses were built on the south side of the tracks for wealthier families. The railroad tracks continue to divide Winnipeg but some recent articles in the Winnipeg Free Press suggest that moving the rail tracks might be good for the city.

This is Miriam’s print of Rooster Town. It was a settlement of some sixty Metis families that was located where the Grant Park Shopping Mall is now situated. The people who lived there had jobs and were contributing citizens of the city but were treated very rudely and unkindly by other Winnipeg people. Their community came to be known as Rooster Town.

In 1959 the people who lived there were forced out of their homes. You can see the roosters, the Metis family and the small homes in Rooster Town compared to the larger homes of other Winnipeg residents.

Mennonite Settlement in the North Kildonan area of Winnipeg began in 1928 when a new wave of Mennonites immigrated to Canada from Ukraine. Some 20,000 arrived. Palliser Furniture is an example of a business that began in North Kildonan where one of the small houses became a woodworking shop.

The land was gardening land and was valuable because properly cultivated it could provide a good supply of food to the city. It was offered to the Mennonites. People built homes and raised chickens. This print provides a contrast between the Mennonite settlement in North Kildonan to Rooster Town where people couldn’t purchase land or homes and where amenities like electricity and water weren’t provided.

In this print, we see the powerful politicians who decided a hundred years ago that an aqueduct should be built to bring water from Shoal Lake to Winnipeg. Aninishanabe people were living on a peninsula on Shoal Lake but in order to make the water flow properly to the city the peninsula was turned into an island making it difficult for the Indigenous people to get supplies.

In June 2019, an all-weather road was finally built to connect Shoal Lake to the Trans Canada Highway. Miriam shows the aqueduct in red. The road is called Freedom Road. You can see the Shoal Lake families in the bottom left-hand corner. Some Mennonite churches were vocal politically in advocating for the building of the road.

Miriam is heartened about the future of positive Indigenous-settler relations by the possibilities offered by the Naawi-Oodena land grant which makes the former Kapyong Barracks located in the Tuxedo and River Heights area of Winnipeg a large urban First Nation reserve.

The plan is to develop it into a community with homes, businesses, sports facilities, and schools. In her print, the Indigenous people are front and centre and the settler people are off to the side.

Photo of Miriam Rudolph from the Winnipeg Art Gallery website

If you want to know more I suggest you watch the video of a lecture artist Miriam Rudolph gave at the Winnipeg Art Gallery about these prints. She links each one with many Winnipeg Free Press articles and pieces from other media sources including Mennonite ones that provide added insight into each of her prints. She explains them in much more detail than I have and it is just fascinating.

I am giving a tour at the art gallery this morning which will include these prints of Miriam Rudolph’s and writing this piece last night was a way for me to prepare. I hope you will enjoy learning about them too.

Other posts……….

Life’s Journey and Tea Parties

The Wheat Oracle Who Wore Pants

Art from Obituaries

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Filed under Art, Media, Winnipeg, winnipeg art gallery

The Blanket Toss- Too Scary For Me!

Sedna’s Blanket Toss by Jonasie Faber

We have a piece on display now at the Winnipeg Art Gallery- Qaumajuq called The Blanket Toss. It was carved by Jonasie Faber who is an Inuit artist from Greenland. The piece shows a traditional game that is popular, particularly in Inuit communities in Alaska.

Although now the blanket toss is primarily a game that is part of celebrations in northern communities at one time it served a hunting purpose.

Strong people would surround and hold a tarp made of walrus or seal hide and toss someone with good eyesight up so they could spot game.

Because of the lack of trees above the arctic circle gaining altitude offered an excellent opportunity to spot game.

Photo from Wikipedia

In northern Alaska today, the blanket toss is part of a festival called Nalukataq which means ‘to toss up’. The festival marks the end of the spring whaling season when whale meat is distributed to the community. The blanket for the toss is made up of several walrus or seal skins sewn together. Ropes extend from the corners and are pulled tightly between four wooden beams.

Blanket Toss by Kathleen Lynch

People circle the blanket and pull it out to throw the blanket dancer into the air- sometimes as high as 40 feet. Traditionally the whaling captains and their wives jumped first and threw out gifts like tobacco to the people in the community as they jumped. Today they usually just throw candy out to the children.

Celebration by Rhonda Shelford Jansen
Blanket toss by Mark Parkinson
Blanket Toss by Huong

The Juneau Empire a newspaper in the Alaskan capital reports on blanket toss competitions in high schools where they pick winners in a jumping contest. Participants are judged on how high they go and what kind of tricks they can do when they jump.

Blanket Toss by Ken Lisbourne

I’m always learning new things about Inuit culture and tradition at my job at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. This week I learned about the Blanket Toss. And although it looks fascinating it’s certainly not something I’d like to try!

Other posts……….

Inuit Fashion Show

Inuit Games

Good-Bye Pitaloosie

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Three Women

I saw this statue in the South African Museum of Art in Cape Town. It was called Three Damara Women and was by sculptor Dorte Berner.

It made me think of other images of three women in my photo collection.

This sculpture of three women is called The Gossips. It is by Rose Aimee Belanger and is located in Altona’s Gallery in the Park. My friends Debbie and Esther join me in posing with the statue.

This photo is of my mother Dorothy on the left and her sisters Leila and Viola and was taken in 1934 in Drake Saskatchewan.

These statues of a trio of Quebec suffragettes were photographed in Quebec City. Therese Casgrain, Idola St. Jean and Marie Lacoste GĂ©rin-Lajoie fought for 22 years to get women the vote in Quebec.

This photo is of my mother-in-law Anne with her younger sister Agnes and her older sister Gertrude. It was taken in Leamington, Ontario in the early 1930s.

This statue honours the Canadian women in the army, navy and airforce who served in two World Wars. It is on Memorial Boulevard in Winnipeg.

This photo is of my Grandmother Annie Jantz. Behind her are two of her friends.

This photo is of me at my wedding with my two high school friends Debbie and Shirley Joy.

I photographed this enthusiastic trio of young women at Ho Chi Minh’s tomb in Hanoi.

This photo is of me at a graduation ceremony at the high school I taught at in Hong Kong with twins Natalie and Felicity who were my students.

Other posts………

Sisters

Women Soldiers

Are You This Determined to Vote?

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