Westside Culture Days

Westside Culture Days

Westside Culture Days

The last few months have been taken up with Westside Culture Days, as well as work for Comic-Con and Gallery Odin.  What is Westside Culture Days do you ask?  Well, sit right down and I am happy to tell you!

Westside Culture Days came about because I am a big believer in community and I have been trying to think of a way to get artists and businesses to work together under one umbrella.  In my book Art & Money, I talk about the benefits  of businesses and artists working together.  In the spring, my friend and fellow artist Vera Peltonen posted up a poster for an event she was involved in in Michigan.

Art on Nepessing Street Vera Peltonen
Art on Nepessing Street

I was immediately captivated by the possibilities here.  The complaints normally heard on this side of the lake is that it is so spread out being about 20 square km, there are so many strip malls, so many business, so many failing because of the high cost of rent.  Artists and creatives have no recourse for renting because of that rent and are pretty much invisible.  Not only that but there are two governments on this side, both the Westbank First Nation  (WFN) and District of West Kelowna (DWK) who don’t really get along.  People live on WFN land and work on DWK land, and vice versa.

I thought wouldn’t it be great if this type of event could happen on this side of the lake?  Wouldn’t it be great for the artists and cultural entities work together with businesses to go beyond the governmental problems?  So it got me thinking …. Culture Days is coming up in September, it is May …. there is tons of time.

I approached my friend Melissa Brown who owns the Blenz here on the Westside.  We talked about it, and she said that even if it just happens in her coffee shop, she is happy to participate.  Then I went to talk to my friend Tracy Satin who is the Cultural Manager for the Westbank First Nation Sncəwips Heritage Museum.  She was excited for the possibilities too.  So we all made a plan. I went and talked to Bob Kusch with DWK who supported the idea, as well as Karen from Greater Westside Board of Trade. Tracy assigned Coralee Miller within the WFN Sncəwips Heritage Museum to work specifically on this project. Melissa talked to her many customers, also local business people, who got excited and many were able to grasp the vision and the passion.

Now, our locations for Westside Culture Days are WFN Sncəwips Heritage Museum, Westbank Shopping Centre, Dogwood Nursery, Main Street Westbank, Snya?tan Shopping Centre, Okanagan Landing Shopping Centre, Volcanic Winery, and more being added as businesses hear about it and artists talk about it. The landlord for Westbank Shopping Centre gave all the empty spaces and the use of the parking lots for free, we just have to get insurance for those three days to be able to use the empty spaces. I hope other landlords join in on that principle!  Way to support your tenants Bentall-Kennedy!

Westside Culture Days

 

 

 

 

 

We called it Westside Culture Days so that there is no differentiation between governments of WFN and DWK but included Westbank and West Kelowna as entities. We are a community and that is the focus. Below is a snapshot from the Westside Culture Days website, but you will probably hear more about this as time goes on. Small updates not yet published on that website are the inclusion of the Food Bank and the local Hockey teams.

The first press article… don’t you just love that sublimal and serendipitous ad … “Just got better” at the bottom?

Westside Weekly July 14
Westside Weekly July 14

From the Westside Culture Days website:

Culture Days is a cross Canada cultural fair on Sep 26, 27 & 28. http://www.culturedays.ca. This event encourages creatives of all types and the public to interact in various ways some of them inventive and unusual. If you can think it, you can do it!

The Westside is a mix of very impersonal strip malls with many businesses scattered throughout the area and many spaces are empty. For this one weekend it could be very exciting to see the businesses cross the line of culture to participate in a very active way on this weekend. Some already are involved, and this could be a way for them to highlight it in a very visible way.

Next The Microcosm Snapshot of How

From the Culture Days website:

Culture Days aims to:

  • FOSTER appreciation and support of the artistic and cultural life that is lived, created and expressed across the country in urban, suburban and rural areas alike;
  • PROMOTE direct interaction between creators and citizens, as a key to increasing understanding and appreciation of art and culture; and
  • AFFIRM that every citizen is the guardian of the cultural life of his or her community.

Culture Days believes that every individual — regardless of age, location or experience — has the right to access and participate actively in arts and culture.

Culture Days also believes that the arts and cultural sector makes a vital contribution to the economic and social development of Canada and contributes to the overall health of the country.

People who had never participated in the arts before found it exciting and rewarding, finding a side of themselves they did not think existed. To us, that is what Culture Days is all about.
-Pam MacKenzie, Consolidated Artist Group of 7s (North Bay, ON)

Living in the Dash – Sharing the Story

Living in the dash sharing stories

Our life happens in the dash.

It is the journey between birth and death. It is the “and”. It is everything we experience for good or ill. It is what determines our beliefs and interactions. It is the pause between the start and the stop. It is what happens between each breath.

This is a project for an exhibition, ultimately about sharing, growth, compassion and understanding.

As a part time job, I transcribe statements for a public service agency. People telling their stories and besides the person in that agency, I am the first witness to their experience. As I listen to these people, describing their trust, their betrayals, their cynicism, their strength, their hopelessness, I think because I listen with compassion and empathy, some healing has occurred in my own life.

The one thing I can tell you for sure is never listen to anyone who says “oh get over it” or “stop living in the past”. Those kinds of statements are insensitive and ignorant. They indicate a lack of understanding of you and your experiences. Don’t listen to them.

This is a project that surrounds people and their lives.  People sharing their story. You can tell whatever story you want. All anonymous. You can talk about it, you can write it.  You can tell your story as you lived it, or as you wish to have lived it.  It’s not all about the bad stuff you did, or such, it is whatever you want to talk about. Your biography, your hurts, your joys, whatever. It is open to your interpretation. It can be as long as you wish or as short as you wish. It can be your entire life, or it can be what happened yesterday. Whatever is important to you.

Audio – Record your story – Save it to your desktop then send to me.

Written – Record your story

Part Two – What I Will Do and the Show

Living in the Dash – Writing the Story

Part two:  What I will do

Writing the Story

I will transcribe your story and become your second witness. The recording, whether audio or written, is the first and the act of recording validates whatever it is you say.  When you record or write, consciously think about this as you go through the process.

If you choose to do an audio recording, I will be transcribing – writing the story for you.  Your name is not important unless you choose it to be, but your story is. I feel that there is healing in this process and there will be a healing and compassion in the process of my transcribing. There is healing in telling the story and healing in writing the story. When I do any transcribing, I always say a little prayer for each person regardless of what was done or received.

Audio – Record your story – Save it to your desktop then send to me.

Written – Record your story

So how will the show look?

The show itself would look like this. Part one would be the visual: Everyone’s story, printed out, papers, 8 1/2 x 11 would cover the walls of the art gallery, all through the art gallery, everywhere. You wouldn’t be able to get away from it. All of your stories. All double spaced stories. Part two would be the recorded audio: Stories would be told on continuous loop, all stories one after the other, different people talking, in various places throughout the gallery. Part three would be recordable audio: There would be places for people to record their own stories if they have not already or to add if they already have. Part four would be tactile: there would be a place for them to write their own stories. Part five, and the most important: the people who come in to the gallery become the witnesses, the validations of all these stories. That validation creates connection, understanding, empathy and compassion. There might be a part six, which would be people in the gallery telling their stories in person.

I believe that there are many in the community who share the same experiences. Maybe in others seeing and hearing what is said, there will be healing in them too.

This is all anonymous. No identification.  You would need to give permission to have your stories used in a public setting, but this would be implied by the very fact of submitting it. I am thinking that a book could also come out of this, because there is something empowering by seeing your words in print. This I can tell you for sure.

It’s about healing, partnerships and compassion. We can do this together. I believe it is the only way.

Audio – Record your story – Save it to your desktop then send to me.

Written – Record your story

Works on display and available for sale: Canadian Blood Donor Clinic

art mixed media painting female nude dancer julia trops

Planting Seeds – The Artworks – June/July

I tend to work in series and projects almost like writing paragraphs that create chapters that creates a book. This particular series of works has to do with some soul searching, planting seeds, growing within and going beyond boundaries, and of course, the process of self-discovery. I feel these works are gentler than my past bold bright colours and to me, I can almost hear water lapping at the shore on a calm day.   Each one has it’s own message, it’s own story to tell. I’ve labeled them as I see them but it is very possible when you look, you will see your own. I believe that what we see is a projection of what is inside, so please don’t let my titles hold you back.

All of these mixed media works started out from a life drawing in charcoal and progressed through acrylic to oil and throughout, some graphite.   There was no direct expectation of expressing a specific thought, they evolved as they wished with me acting as conductor. Where I directed the flow was in the formal elements only.

If you would like to see the rest of the collection please visit www.juliatropsart.com. They are located in the Painting/Mixed Media section of the gallery. To purchase one of these works, please contact me.  20% of the purchase price will be donated to Canadian Blood Services.  Below are a glimpse of works available at the Blood Donor Clinic.  You may go and see them in person if you wish.

mixed media art original painting female nude julia trops  mixed media original art painting julia trops  mixed media original painting female nude julia trops gratitude  mixed media original painting abstract female nude julia trops  mixed media abstract female nude original painting julia trops  mixed media abstract female nude original painting julia trops  abstract female nude dancer original mixed media painting julia trops  mixed media original painting abstract female nude back julia trops  art mixed media original abstract female nude dancer julia trops

 

 

Giving Blood at Canadian Blood Services

mixed media art female nude

As of the beginning of June 2014, I’m a blood donor with 57 donations. I started donating blood when I was around 18 or 19, I can’t really remember – early 80s anyway. I can’t remember why I started except that it seemed to be the right thing to do – this was before the Jackie Chan ads but I do know his message was my thoughts. I took some time off of donating while in the Air Force, children and such and iron deficiency problems which still plague me today, but this last issue is counteracted by taking an iron supplement. I try to give a minimum of four times a year if I can. Even after these many donations I can’t stand the needle, I can’t stand to look at it at all, and have to take a deep breath when it’s going in.

Giving blood is something our family does. Our two daughters also started donating when they turned 18, and our son might be coming in soon too. I guess the philosophy of giving is that it’s a direct, impactful and easy way to help our fellow man. To make it fun and interactive, we have races to see who is the fastest in donating. It’s not like we have any control over it or anything, but it makes for some fun conversation. My husband Chris usually beats me though as my average time is around 7 and his is 6. My fastest time is just over 4 and a half minutes. I either drank a lot of water that day or the nurse hit a gold mine of a vein!

http://www.blood.ca

Death and solitude justify art

Excerpted from Word for Word:  A Prairie Voice, 1996:

Venerated Prairie author W.O. Mitchell, 82, left a hospital bed in Calgary, where he is being treated for prostate cancer, and traveled to Winnipeg last week to address the annual meeting of the Writer’s Union of Canada.  Some highlights:

“Death and solitude justify art, which draws human aliens together in a mortal family, uniting them against the heart of darkness.  Humans must comfort each other, defend each other against the terror of being human.”

“All artists make or create, and the result is an important ingredient in the receipe for culture, for they are the bridges and patterns which connect us, which create human solidarity.”

“Artists, philosophers, historians know that man is a finite, warm sack of vulnerability and because of this knowledge they do have an unfair advantage over politicians and generals and quarterbacks.”

I was given these quotes from a gentleman who came to the Summerland Art Gallery Philosopher’s Cafe, where I was presenting with David Korinetz and Linda Lovisa.  It struck some amazing chords within  and it says everything about arts and the humanities and being human.  Those who are in business should take note that they can not fail by championing the humanities, because it is what makes us who we are.

The Charity Donation Condundrum …. solved?

mares of diomedes

I get the feeling that artists are finally willing to stand up for themselves and not be bullied or “shamed” (you expect to be paid? but this is for charity!) in to donating their art, and I think that they would almost jump at any effort from non profits and businesses actually respecting their work as a valuable commodity… obviously it is valuable enough that their work is constantly requested for a silent auction or other fundraising project.

This is a problem that I feel personally invested in, and I’m trying to establish a win win scenario for all involved.  I think I have found a way it can be done

The Proposal
It’s been a common goal of many businesses that they become more involved and invested in their local arts and culture.  At the same time, I am suggesting that the non profit approach the idea of art in silent auctions or art in their fundraising schemes, in a different way.  Here it is:  they ask their favourite business to choose their favourite artist(s) and buy an artwork from them, then donating that work to their charity.

The Benefits
What would be the benefit to the business and the charity?  Bragging rights of donating, bragging rights of supporting (really supporting as in $$) the local art scene, being able to pinpoint a favourite artist,  plus they get their tax receipt for their purchase price from the organization supported by the receipt from the artist (why this is important will be explained in a minute). Because they are invested, they share this with their business partners and customers, boosting the event’s promotion, and the charity gains the exposure it so desperately needs.  The artist and the artwork is respected.  It becomes important for that business’ donated work to get a higher bid. I can’t see how this would fail. It just needs to be championed and done!

Better than nothing, you say?
There is a misconception that perhaps the artwork was originally purchased  by someone and then donated to the charity for auctioning off.  Nine point nine times out of ten, this is not the case.  Charities who ask for work from artists  expect it to be given for free, and we artists are expected to be honoured to be asked. (We aren’t.) Oh, but there is a reserve, and the artist gets paid 50 or 60 or 70% of the money coming in. What does that work out to, really?  50% of 30% of an artwork’s value… you tell me.  It’s better than nothing, some people say.  I say, artists, hold out for the brass ring, and keep a reserve all right … reserve your work for those who really respect it.  There is no one strong arming you, and they came to you.  Be the apple at the top of the tree.

Remember the point about a receipt?

Canada Revenue also recently changed the guidelines for cultural donations. Quite frankly, it does not do artists or investors any favours. Normally, for cultural institutions such as public galleries, art is not purchased from the artist, it is donated by the artist, and or donated by the patron.  The quick and dirty on that new CRA guideline is that artworks considered Cultural Property donated to Art Galleries and such, may be given a taxation receipt, but that receipt must be the value of what that patron paid for it, regardless of how many years ago.  So that means is if an Emily Carr, for example, bought by Mr Z in 1960 for 20,000$ is donated to the local gallery, Mr Z will get a receipt for 20,000$, regardless if that Emily Carr was worth 2.5 million today.

Changes such as what CRA did for 2014 really highlights the necessity of creating clean donations.  I would not be surprised to see CRA do audits on non profits, and really question why they are giving receipts to artists for their donation of artwork, when their artwork is getting less than 30% of the market value.  I might be naive, but I really think there are businesses out there who don’t want to do what was always done, and who are looking at a way to become personally invested in the local art scene, and perhaps support some local organizations at the same time.  I’d be interested in connecting with these businesses, so if you are one of them, send me a note.

http://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=http://juliatrops.com/2014/04/the-charity-donation-condundrum-solved

I seldom use an eraser

Charcoal-Drawing-Trops

I seldom use an eraser, and when I do use one, it is at the very end of the drawing session, sometimes even a few days later.  The reason for this is, I believe a mark laid is a mark played.  The essence of the expression is intact and pure, the lineage of senses and expression maintained.  The lack of eraser forces me to be efficient and clean and direct.  It is about the honesty of mark making in my practice.

Before the eraser … (please excuse the colour differences, as this one was taken by my iphone during drawing session, and the lights were dim. Interestingly, the colour is more correct in this image than the second image.)

Charcoal Drawing Trops
Before- Charcoal Drawing Julia Trops

And after the eraser …

Charcoal-Drawing-Trops
After – Charcoal drawing Julia Trops

The editing is slight, and only because I felt that the drawing was telling me to do it. Sounds strange if you aren’t an artist yourself, but my fellow artists will know exactly what I am talking about. The editing was done three days after drawing session was finished. This work and others are available for sale in my online gallery. This link will open a new window.

No More Styx and Stones at Penticton Art Gallery

Acrylic Painting Bullying

Artist Statement for No More

Like many others, I have been the recipient of physical, mental and emotional bullying all my life. So many times I wished those watching would stand up for me and say “hey, wait a minute…”, but no one ever did. Even now, in the Okanagan, I have first hand experience of how loyalty to one’s friends supersedes what is morally right, or kindness to another. Over the years, through processing my own experiences and exploring my identity, I became aware of patterns of behavior, not only in myself as victim, but others, both the aggressors and the bystanders. In becoming aware of my own personal triggers of perceiving myself as a victim, I have developed thought processes to re-route my
previously traditional response. I re-vision scenarios where I am no longer the just recipient, but instead, I am a witness trying to understand the source of anger or sadness or lack of education that provoked that aggressor’s hate. Hate is an expression of pain or anger or being threatened, and I understand now that hate directed outwards is not personal, but symbolic. This understanding has made me aware of what a gift it is to both myself and to that aggressor, in witnessing and acknowledging their pain along with my own, and this act of witnessing is transformative and powerful.

In any action, positive or negative, there are two types of people: the bystander, who witnesses, and the participants. Witnessing can occur before, during or after a situation. Even those bystanders who choose not to participate cannot avoid becoming part of the scenario. By making that choice, bystanders become the witness, and they stand by and share in what they see and hear. I believe that bystanders can choose to be the people who say “no more”, and these are the people who become heroes, who stand up and effect change for both the aggressor and the victim. I don’t think anyone is determined to be a hero. I believe heroes are reluctantly so.

What if Charron, the ferryman across the River Styx, said “No more”? What if he, the bystander, decided he was not going to participate in his traditional role of taking those condemned over to Hades over the river of hate?

I have always had sympathy for Charron. I’ve always imagined Charron takes up the mantle of pain for each person who uses his ferry, and that he can see through to their pain, the pain and anger that caused these people to be evil, but can do nothing about it.

He is a witness to both their crime and their past. Instead of traveling the river of hate, what if he were to examine it? What if he employed empathy and he, as a witness, was the cause of their transformation? The ferryman Charron, a bystander, a witness, previously thought to be powerless, a victim in and of his role, becomes the most powerful of all.

Acrylic Painting Bullying
No More 9×36 Mixed Media Julia Trops