Canadian basketball player jerseys matched with fancy skirts are featured in a work called One of the Boys created by sculptor Esmaa Mohamoud. They are part of the exhibit Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The artist says as a child she felt very gender fluid and loved nothing more than playing basketball with her brothers. She remembers being told to take off her Vince Carter Raptors’ jersey and put on a dress. She didn’t want to, so she slipped her basketball jersey over her dress. Esmaa says she hopes all kinds of diversity will be accepted in Canada. She believes our differences shouldn’t scare us but draw us closer together.The same artist Esmaa Mohamoud created these thirty concrete basketballs for a work titled Heavy, Heavy Hoop Dreams. They serve as a metaphor for the deflated dreams of black men in North America. Esmaa says while only 30 men each year make it into the NBA; many black young men grow up confident that one of those 30 will be them so they fail to make a back up plan for their life. She says that creates a real weight for black males but also makes them fragile which is why some of the basketballs are dented or not inflated. We might not readily associate basketball with art but in her two pieces Esmaa Mohamoud uses items from the sport to create artworks that engage us and make us think.
Gender Neutral Washrooms
Seeing Steve Nash
Five Things About Selma
We were invited to the new home of friends who recently moved to the St. James area of the city. The only bus I could take arrived a good forty minutes before our dinner date time. Walking towards our friends’ home from the bus stop I came upon a lovely little park I didn’t even know existed. As I wandered into Benjaminson Park I came upon a sign that explained the park had been named after Skuli Benjaminson (1879-1970) a pioneer who had owned one of the first homes in the area. He helped chop down trees so Portage Avenue could be built and was instrumental in bringing power lines into the area. He was the only owner of a car and telephone in the neighborhood’s early days and he generously provided communication and transportation services to his neighbors.
Benjaminson Park is lovely. There’s a bench under a tree which is the perfect place to read. You have a lovely view of the river. I sat reading my book for a good half hour enjoying the beautiful purple flowers around me, the birds swooping down to the river and the leafy greenery. I was almost sorry to leave but a fabulous meal with great friends awaited me.
Winnipeg is full of little parks like the Benjaminson. It would be neat someday to do a pilgrimage and try to visit them all.
The Grand Canyon For Free
Exploring Gros Morne National Park
Walking in A Haunted Forest
Filed under Nature, Winnipeg
Britta B’s piece Fluke which I saw at the Art Gallery of Ontario last week is a good example of what an affirming experience it can be to view art. Britta is a spoken word artist and slam poetry champion from the Regent Park neighborhood of Toronto.
Her work Fluke consists of a large glass jar sitting on an old ink stained school desk. You are invited to put your hand in the jar and take out one of the folded colorful papers inside.You read the affirmation printed on the card and then refold it and return it to the jar. While you look at Fluke you can listen to Britta reciting a poem which contains lines like ……
You are not a fluke. You know everybody’s got their insecurities, their flaws, and disadvantages, but nobody’s got you. You are not a fluke.
Artist Britta B thinks most people lack affirmation. They do too much negative self talk. She wants everyone to know they deserve to be cared for. Britta B says we have to keep reminding ourselves of all our good qualities.
Katherena Vermette on the Wall
Ai Wei Wei
Filed under Art, Reflections
He had a sign on his guitar that said This Machine Kills Fascists. He was a writer and a radio personality. Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg and many other great musicians have acknowledged his influence on their music.
Those are some of the new things I learned about Woody Guthrie when I attended the Winnipeg Fringe Festival show Woody Sed. Before hearing the very talented Thomas Jones take on the personas of almost twenty different characters from the music icon’s life I only knew Woody Guthrie was Arlo Guthrie’s father and that he had written the song This Land is Your Land.
From the excellent play Woody Sed I learned Woody had a tumultuous life. He inherited Huntington’s Disease from his mother and passed it on to two of his children. He lost a sister and a daughter in separate fires and his father was also injured in a fire. Due in part to his disease and his need to wander and try new things none of his three marriages lasted. He fought in World War II. He was often penniless and homeless and spent the last decade of his life in health care institutions.
Despite his troubled personal life Woody is considered one of the most significant figures in American folk music. A quote from Woody Guthrie that Thomas Jones repeated numerous times throughout his fringe show was “Take it easy but take it.” I am not sure in what context Woody said this, perhaps in a song he wrote, but to me it means ‘Don’t give in to fear and anxiety. Live life to the fullest.’
The Guess Who on the Wall
Connecting With Burton Cummings
All That Jazz in Kansas City
Filed under Music, Theatre
What would it have been like for a young woman who is an aspiring artist to be in Paris at the same time as Pablo Picasso? You can find out by reading The Art of Rebellion by Brenda Joyce Leahy. There’s a Picasso show at the Winnipeg Art Gallery right now and The Art of Rebellion would be an interesting book to read before or after visiting the exhibit.
Pablo Picasso liked his women “short and submissive” but Gabrielle the heroine of The Art of Rebellion is anything but submissive! She rebels against her parents’ plans to arrange a marriage for her and runs off to Paris to try to fulfill her dream of being an artist. This was a positively scandalous choice for a woman at the turn of the century when the artistic community was almost exclusively male and a marriage to someone wealthy or titled was considered the height of success for girls. Brenda Leahy has done her research and paints a realistic picture of Paris at the time. She doesn’t shy away from having her heroine face the grim reality of surviving there on her own.
Women in a Hat With Flowers by Picasso 1944 is one of the paintings in the current Picasso exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The Art of Rebellion by Brenda Joyce Leahy has a woman in a hat on its front cover too!
You can even find a hint in one scene in The Art of Rebellion that Gabrielle actually encounters Picasso at an artist’s hangout in Paris. I’m a feminist and an art lover like Gabrielle so even though The Art of Rebellion was written for a young adult audience I enjoyed it too.
Launching Not One Book But Three
A New Book Set Right Here in Winnipeg
Spectators and contestants gather for the top junior chef hot dog contest.
Who would be the top chef? Another contest during our family’s Pelee Island reunion was designed specifically for the great-grandchildren. They each picked a mentor from the next generation to help them create and name a gourmet hot dog.
My husband Dave tests the Nacho Dog.
Our senior generation acted as judges which meant we got to taste each of the culinary creations and grade them on creativity, taste and presentation.
The Hot Taco Doggie team wore sombreros and had Mexican music playing during their hot dog presentation
The junior chefs and their mentors had used hot dogs in so many different ways. The Candy Crusher dog featured chocolate sauce and hard candies. The EggsZactly hot dog was served on a waffle with a poached egg on top and the Big Mac hot dog featured macaroni and cheese. After each hot dog had been tasted and graded the teams appeared one by one in front of Judge Uncle Dave who provided commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of their work. Here the creators of the Raging Oma hot dog receive their feedback from the judge. In the end the Holy Chipotle team was the champion because the taste of their hot dog with its homemade chipotle sauce just couldn’t be beat.
A team hugs as they await the judge’s verdict on their hot dog
The contest was lots of fun but also a great exercise in team spirit and cooperation as partners worked together in the kitchen to create their hot dogs, shared ingredients with other teams and cheered on their opponents.
The Amazing Race Driedger Style
A Dog Ate the Cabbage Rolls
Name That Driedger Family Game
Margaret as a young woman
Yesterday I said a final goodbye to my Auntie Margaret. My father’s ninety-one year old sister died on July 20. A memorial service and tea hosted by Margaret’s family provided an opportunity for people who had loved my aunt to gather and remember her passion for music, her interest in current events, her respect and care for the children she taught during her long career as an educator, her special relationship with her granddaughters, her love of good books, her skill as a hostess and cook, and her ability to engage in stimulating conversation on a whole variety of topics, the more controversial the better .
My Aunt Margaret second from the left enjoys a laugh with her sisters as they dress up in some of their mother’s clothes
Margaret loved to laugh. Her laughter could fill a room. Once I was in a Winnipeg movie theatre packed with hundreds of people. The audience began to laugh at the antics of the characters on the screen. I could pick out my aunt’s laugh almost instantly it was so distinctive. I hadn’t seen her before the lights of the theatre dimmed but I knew from her laugh she was in the audience and indeed I discovered later she had been.
My Dad with his five sisters. My Aunt Margaret is to his right.
My aunt was the first feminist I knew personally. When I was a young woman she gave me a copy of The Woman’s Bible which provided reflections on every single female in the Bible. I had never heard of many of these women before because their stories had been so neglected or simply overlooked by mainstream religion. In mid-life Margaret went back to using her maiden name, not because her commitment to her husband Dave was any less loyal, but I think to reassert her individuality and to show her appreciation for a mother who had taught her to ask questions and a father who had encouraged her to become as educated as she could despite her gender.
On my last visit with Margaret a few weeks ago my sister and I engaged in a lively conversation with her for nearly two hours about family, politics, theology and travel. I was in Ontario when I received word she had died and in the letter I sent her daughter Lynne that night I said I would remember my Auntie Margaret for her signature laugh, her eagerness to learn new things and embrace new ideas, and how easy it was to talk to her. I will miss her and so will the many people who gathered to remember her yesterday.
Back Porch News
My Grandmother’s Epitaph