Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report mid December 2015. With my duties and involvement as Chair of the Sukwtemsqilxw West Kelowna Arts Council (http://www.swac-arts.com) I made it a personal goal to read the report and to record my responses.

It’s not an easy report to read.

The content is disturbing, but it is important to bear witness to those who have lived and died as a result of Canada’s First Nation policies. That is all I will say, except that those who participated in the Commission’s research and final report, you have great strength,  humility and grace.

Http://juliatrops.livejournal.com/F882.html

As of this writing, I am approaching the “Calls to Action” and am eagerly anticipating and already considering ways that my community can aid in the healing of the relationships between First Nation and non First Nation peoples.

Dancing with Dragons

I dreamt of dragons last night.

Diving in to the water was the only way to make them vulnerable but the water top had a thick membrane that had to be broken through, then many layers of what appeared to be fibreglass before I could get to the actual water.  At first jumping on the membrane didn’t work, and I was being pursued. It was very frantic. I finally found a spot where I could get my heel in and I started peeling away. The dragon was not far behind but he to go through his own hole. I was submerged. I waited.

He came down in to the water and he looked for me.  I didn’t know what to do but from seeing Aaron play his game, I knew there were tools down here that I could use to my benefit. One was dust, one was a cap, and I had to find the mage jars.

I found the cap, I don’t remember where maybe it was floating like a jelly fish.  The cap I discovered had two effects. It turned the dragon, like dry ice, and it make him shrink.  I knew also that the acid of the dragon’s skin would have no effect on me in the water, so I grabbed on to him freely when he came to circle. He had no fire.  He was surprised by that. I had the element of surprise, and I grabbed on to him and shoved the cap over his muzzle.  His eyes opened wide, but he was helpless until he shook me off.  The dragon found his entrance and promised me he would return. 

I stayed underwater where I could breathe freely and swam around exploring.  I found a small door at the bottom of the ocean, near some shells, and I opened it.  Inside were seven hard, and instructions in French. The jars were dated 24 Septembre and there was a 31 Septembre. The instructions basically aid to fill all but one with something, and the one jar, labeled 24 September, the instructions were in bold about this jar, I was to put something else in it. The instructions said that what was put in this jar would be not detected by the enemy, whoever was the enemy, and if the jars were examined, this one would remain innocent and overlooked.  I left fairly quickly and could not read the instructions fully, as the dragon was returning, and I had to find the weapon.

I still had the cap, and I did not find another weapon. 

I chose to go out of the water back in to society, but the dragon was there in human form, and found me.  I still had the cap, and I put it on his head. He struck!  He had two friends with him, an older man, like a father, and a younger woman like a sister or wife.  The dragon became East Indian, and a prince.  The mother appeared, and not knowing who I was, and I was still with him, noted his smaller size. He disagreed, and she asked him to perform a stunt.  He could not do it, and then realized it must have been my cap.  By this time, I went around to the other two and pulled the cap over their heads until they became very small like 12 year olds.

I ran away and the dragon yelled after me that he would find me.  I knew I had to return to the water to find the dust that would enable me to fight while in the air, and those jars.  I remember now that the instructions said the jars would hold water from the ocean, and the dust, it must be the sand from the ocean, maybe that is the dust I needed. Both were plentiful and available for the taking.  From fighting the dragon in the air before I went in to the ocean, I knew it was very difficult, the element was the dragon’s not mine.  I needed some sort of advantage in the air, and the dust was it.

There was another part of the dream, to do with a few members of my museum board, but it is faint now. Bob and Laurie were there, they were going to be in trouble and needed my help, but at the same time, I needed theirs.

I think the preceding dream has to do with the work I am doing on “sisters”, this week’s project here in Otranto. The piercing of the water membrane had to be deliberate and forceful as well as the peeling of the layers until the water was revealed.  I am deliberately working through that in my work – finding the cap available just floating, and then, just now, I am realizing the sand was the magic dust, dried by the air, and so of both elements, and maybe that the water to put in the jar, these are all elements freely available under and in the ocean.

The dragon could represent the conscious mind, the ego perhaps, or an issue – no the air is the conscious mind, and the dragon I feel is the ego or an issue, or a challenge. The cap could imply a finishing, a topping,  a capping of the situation, maybe – that it gets smaller and smaller when the cap is applied, perhaps might work.  The dust is of the earth, practicality, analysis is an air element, but being down down  to earth and covering or sprinkling the dragon with the dust (water earth dried (fire) by air) means to apply a wholistic solution.

Before the dragon in the water episode happened in the dream, actually the reason it started is because I had to choose a video game, for whatever reason, and there was a reel that I could choose from. I didn’t really want to, I remember, but I had to. I’d seen Aaron play this game, and I had chosen it before I knew it, somehow I’d pressed the button.  When it started, I found myself in a changing scenery, first was a desert, and I knew I had to find water. The dragon found me, and there was some sort of battle do with the sky, or in the sky, and I was hurt, but I don’t remember the particulars, I just knew I had to find the water because it would also heal me.

The meaning of the jars and the reason for them being labeled to escape detection, I am not sure about, what is the significance of 24 September, why was there a 31 Septembre, why was it written in french (the language of sorcerers? I thought that was Latin), but the requirement to translate it, and that I had the tools to do so (I speak minimal french), was kinda like Alice in Wonderland.

If I remember anything else about the dream, I will write it, but the significance seemed pretty obvious. It was the first clear dream I have had since arriving here, clear enough that it could have happened yesterday.

RIP Tracie Ward – Five more minutes, please

It still feels very surreal, and I can’t believe you have passed on. I keep expecting to see you at events here in town. RIP Tracie Ward. You were an amazing person to know. Your vision, your straightforwardness, and your passion will be missed so much. The effects of your influences on every community you lived in will be felt for many years to come. You were much loved and even more respected in this city than you could ever imagine. My sincere condolences to your family, and all of your friends.

Artist Interviews – challenging, for the artist and the interviewer

I was recently featured in an artist interview, and am going to be doing a series on other artists as well.

Apart from being valuable SEO tools and information, they help the interviewer and the interviewee consider their own work. And that is always invaluable!

Thank you to Miriam Schulman, also a figurative artist, for the interview and for opening this door for me.  I appreciate the vote of confidence, not only in my work, but knowing and understanding that I will try to help others, as she has done.

To read the interview Miriam has done, follow this link, it will open a new window.

Be sure to check out Miriam’s work available on Etsy, and her facebook page.

Miriam Schulman New York Artist

The time has come the walrus said….

To speak of many things…

First on the list is that after ten years as a resident artist, I am leaving the Rotary Centre for the Arts. Now just because I am leaving the RCA, does not mean I am stopping being an artist… far from it…

And yes, it has been a blast. I met so many people, and the purpose of the Rotary Centre, to foster and nurture emerging artists, I feel has been completed in my case.

When I first came to the RCA, I was fresh out of university, new to Kelowna. I had applied for the RCA in March 2002, the same week I heard about it, and haunted Randy and Carlyn’s offices steadily until I found out I was accepted.

I had so many dreams and thoughts and wishes and goals when I went in to the studio that August 1 – eight years on my own, and the last year and a half with three friends-  I am very proud to say I think I accomplished 95% of what I was hoping and more that I did not even imagine. There are life drawing sessions now within Livessence, which grew from my drawing sessions – man that was hard work to get going – twice a week for two years, how did I do it, I am not sure even now. Participated on the board for the Arts Council, and then later helped to establish the Arts Awards with Corinne Zawaduk and Sharon McCoubrey. Still on the board for the Kelowna Museums Society – and trust me, these guys are a blast – not what you would typically consider a museum crowd.

I met a tremendous number of people from all walks of life – I remember I was so shy at the very beginning, barely could talk to anyone. (Okay, I am still shy, but not as bad!) I hid in my studio most of the time and worked my ass off, both online and off. People – including other artists – thought I was crazy for spending as much time as I did developing my online presence, selling work to begin with on ebay to pay bills. I am so glad I did that – it opened doors for tolerance that I would never expected. Many of my ebay artist friends I still keep in contact with – I find them incredibly invaluable as a source for common sense and insight.

My work has gone all around the world, clients from so many countries. Being the world citizen I am, I can only say how wonderful that makes me feel knowing that somehow my work has connected with others of different cultures and thoughts. I must be doing something right.

I did a stint as an instructor – both privately and in classes. I want to tell all my former students that you were all so fabulous for coming to see me, and thank you for believing in me enough to allow me to be your teacher.

I was on CBC Radio three times – once with Marion Barschel (Daybreak South) in Nov 2010 regarding the Culture in Kelowna and twice with Sheryl McKay (NxNW). The second was  March 2008 regarding the Okanagan Erotic Art Show. Sheryl said I was the first person in a live CBC interview to say the word *masturbation* on the air. That’s pretty distinctive. The first was in 2004 during a focused interview when I was in studio 203, and she came to visit all the artists.

Because of the “safety” of the RCA, I was able to branch out in areas I would never have thought possible. Exhibitions, books, painting gigs…. I am now working on my fifth book, three catalogs later (Livessence and two Okanagan Erotic Art Shows 2009 and 2011), and one based on my own work. More are planned.

When I think of what I have accomplished in ten years, all I can say is I am so glad I was in the RCA, it gave me the freedom and the confidence to spread my wings, it gave me the support and structure necessary, and it gave me the belief in myself, because they believed in me.

What a gift, and I thank you!

In my perfect world –

There is always one Watercolour Painting on board 3"x5"
There is always one Watercolour Painting on board 3"x5"

Everyone does not need to get along.

I would rather that they didn’t, actually, because some of this friction is the fodder of growth and enlightenment.

But what I would like to see is that people support each other –

for example, as a person out in the community, whether an artist or a traditional business person, I would like to see people advertise each other’s events and businesses. I don’t see that happening right now.

I would like to see people on Facebook and Twitter share each other’s events and sales, or each artist share another’s exhibition. I don’t see that happening right now.

I used to do that, but I do not any longer….why is that you ask? I stopped because out of many of my friends, it seemed I was the only one doing it. I stopped because I could count on one hand the other artists doing it – and I can count on two fingers the number of traditional businesses who do it for others, especially their competition. I stopped because people came to expect it. I stopped because I was focusing on everyone else’s shows rather than my own work. So I stopped. No one else was doing it…. and I came to wonder …. why?

On one level, why can’t this be a mutual admiration society?

Are people so afraid to point “their” public in another’s direction? Are people so worried that their own income will be sacrificed if someone else is promoted? It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and dogs run in packs. Eventually there will only be a lone dog… and the lone dog will die….

I would like to see the local community support the local community. If you are on Facebook, what would it cost you to hit the SHARE button on local Okanagan events and happenings and press enter? Would it REALLY hurt you to hit the RT button on Twitter?

This is the season of giving, no matter what your faith. Give the gift of recognition – of the “I see you” to another person, or another person’s business. Remember The Miracle on 34th Street, the department store that helped people find gifts by promoting the competition?

Ignoring instructions to steer parents to goods that Macy’s wants to sell, Kris tells one shopper (Thelma Ritter) to go to another store for a fire engine for her son that Macy’s doesn’t have. She is so impressed, she tells Julian Shellhammer (Philip Tonge), head of the toy department, that she will become a loyal customer. Kris later informs another mother that archrival Gimbels has better skates for her daughter.” Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_on_34th_Street

Why not?

In the case of artists – I would like to see locals buy from locals. Why on earth would you go to HomeSense when you can buy original art for much less, and the quality is much higher?

Case in point, Studio 113, of which I am a member, has original artworks in the form of Christmas cards which can then be custom FRAMED! The cost for these? Under $15 and many are under $10 and $5. Get your framing done for about $30-$50 and there you go!! ORIGINAL art that will likely only APPRECIATE as we artists get older and the bonus?

Watch it skyrocket when we die.

Just kidding… kinda….

There are a ton of local stores, born and bred in the Okanagan, who need your business – who probably have terrific sales on – WHY NOT share them out on Facebook, or on Twitter?

Share share SHARE. Pass the info on, everyone is always looking to do better for himself as a buyer, so help out your fellow man, who may be a buyer AND a seller. Imagine if we did this the whole year long…. why not?

Companions, Journeys and Perseverance – Artists and Artmaking

Saw this on Facebook today as someone’s status –

Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life. (Pythagoras)

It is really easy to replace the word “Friends” with “Family” or “Acquaintances” or “Co-workers” or “Peers” or…. “Fellow Artists”….

We are all in this together, my fellow artists – it is the main idea in my philosophy to aid others in their search and goals – I don’t ask for anything in return – gifts given with obligations of return are not gifts. I do what I do because I love what I do, and it feeds my own excitement. That is a pretty good reward!

When I write with criticism, sure it could be “nicer”, but I am not always politically correct. Most of you already know that. lol. I believe that a message given with passion and conviction is much stronger in impact than one given with nice nice words, and pats on the back. Did I upset you with what I said? You might want to look internally for the reason – did you expect something different? More softer, more cautious, more ….deferential?   . Read my blog post about your perceptions and my responsibility.

There are four key words in the Pythagoras quote – Companions, journey aid and the idea of perseverance. The word companions does not mean or imply that everyone gets along. A journey can be long or short, and aid does not always mean you have to say nice things. Sometimes it is better to be open and direct. Perseverance is a word that requires conviction and belief to be carried out. Words contain within themselves their own key to action, and their own political correctness.

Living and sharing with a good heart will make your journey … interesting – regardless if you like your “companions”, or like the “aid”. But above all..you do need to persevere.And we are all on a journey – whether we recognize it or not.

Your Perception and My Responsibility

Rosie's Hope watercolor on canvas 3x3
Rosie's Hope watercolor on canvas 3x3

How you perceive something has everything to do with you, and nothing to do with me.

Perception has always been a fascination of mine. How one perceives about an external, or even an internal source of stimulation seems so complex on the outside, but it is, in fact, a really simple concept. This is the realm of the psychologist, and I am not one, but I am an observer and a student of human nature, most especially my own.

Perception was how, with the help of a psychologist, I got myself out of a huge life threatening depression, without drugs. It took many years of course, these things do not happen overnight, but it made me more aware and helped me to apply these principles to other areas of my life. These were valuable lessons.

It all boils down to the fact that our perception is one of our own responsibility.  Only we are responsible for what we think. And what we think and how we react can have everything to do with ego, and the incumbent “entitlement” and “expectation”.

A friend said, “PERception is skewed with DEception to create MISperception. Ie….Trompe le’oiel. I perceive it to be an opening to prevarication or quibbling.” And I do agree with that. The DEception part has to do with our own self – our ego which is full of expectations and entitlements (I deserve, I expect) but the DEceptive part is … are we really entitled? do we really deserve? …

if we go with his example of Trompe l’oeil (an artwork that looks so real it fools the eye), the painting is what it is, a highly realistic painting. The viewer may not know it is a painting and therefore expects it to be real. Once they find out it is a painting, they may feel amazement, dismay, admiration… a whole host of feelings. Some may even be angry at being fooled!  But the feelings are from the person themselves as they relate themselves to the painting.

Another person disagreed and said, “Unless you rovided(sic)  the subject for perception with bias or prejudice – ie. how it is presented.”

No, actually that is not true. There is a distinction between how I present something, and how you perceive something. My presentation is dependent upon how I perceive something and then react, according to my own prejudices, insecurities and emotions. This is my realm of control. Your reaction to what I present is in your realm of control. You react according to your own prejudices, insecurities and emotions. You react according to what you perceive as your entitlements, and your expectations. Are you entitled to be responsible for what I think and say? No, you are not. Am I entitled or do I deserve to be responsible for what you think and say? No I am not.

If you tell me that your reaction is based on how I present it, then you are giving me your power. You are giving your power over your own mind and heart over to me by saying that you would not have reacted in such a manner if I hadn’t done so and so. For example, a man (or woman) subject to anger issues hits his/her spouse, this is one of the most common statements: if you hadn’t done so and so, I would not have hit you. That is the paradox when someone uses force over another. They are afraid that they have lost their emotional power, and want it back physically, when they have actually given that power away. The receiver of the abuse has taken on the responsibility of the other’s emotions and given their power away, that of responsibility to themselves. This responsibility includes acknowledging what is rightfully theirs, and what is not.

Every time I get angry over something, I have to opportunity to look at my ego, and what I believe my entitlements are and what are my expectations of the situation or the other person. It can be a very enlightening and profound experience, and what a gift I give myself!

It doesn’t matter what I say, you can choose to be offended, you can choose to be anything! Your choices are dependent on what YOU believe, what YOU agree with, what YOU are comfortable with, they have nothing to do with me. Of course you can say to me that you are offended with whatever I did. That is completely valid – but to then pass judgment and/or punish shows me much about you. Your judgment and punishment tells me that your ego expects that I will be hurt by these actions, and somehow you feel entitled to this sort of retribution. Judgments and actions made to “punish” me for YOUR feelings is something that I CHOOSE to ignore, because I have no power over it.

My favourite saying these days is “Not my problem”. lol!

Every situation is neutral. Every single one.

A person can do whatever they want but if you do not react, or choose not to react, or choose your reaction, instead of just “reacting!” then you will, in my opinion, have gained awareness of yourself.

But… there are layers of awareness – these layers have to do with one’s own beliefs.

You will never control another person, and why would you want to? Someone who wants to control another, whether through religion or philosophy, tells me that that person really is not comfortable with what they believe and want someone else to believe it too, to back up their own “yes, it does make sense.” We are social animals. We all want to belong to something or someone – our ego drives us to associate with certain groups to fit in, or to give security. We seek out groups that fill a need. Remember outside of food and shelter and essential clothing, need is an ego affair. Anytime you say you “need” something, that is your ego talking! Your spiritual self “knows”, it does not “need” (in my opinion). Your higher spiritual self does not need to convince anyone, it does not need to control anyone. Your spiritual self understands and gives space and let’s a person walk beside them rather than be handcuffed together or drag the other behind.

Imagine how much control you would have over your world, choosing what to react to and what not to react to. The world is a big place and there are so many things that can tie you up in knots and create stress. Start eliminating those, again choices!, and enjoy a freer and unencumbered life. Having free will and the ability to choose is a scary thing for some people. They’d rather be told what to believe and what not to believe, what is right and what is wrong. As soon as you rely on an external source for judgments, you have given over control to someone else.

Regarding this post, the idea that you are responsible for your own perceptions –  these are words on a page. It is not important to me whether you do agree or disagree. It is enough that you read and considered.

On death and dying

I’ve been putting off thinking about this. I know I have to do it, objectively I know that it will be beneficial on a few levels to get these feelings out in the open. I don’t usually talk about my feelings, let alone broadcast them to the world, but maybe this will help to let them go.

My father died two years ago on March 17th 2008. I am not sure I told anyone other than close family, I don’t remember. I remember that on March 16th my mom phoned me from her cell phone at the hospital in Calgary and asked me to say a few words just in case my dad passed on. He was in a coma, he was 74, the same age as my grandfather (his father) when he died. She put the phone to his ear. I whispered I forgive you for everything, I wish you all the best. He never regained consciousness and died the following day on March 17th. I flew to be with mom for the next week to help her sort things out, and well, just keep her company. I enjoyed the time with her, but I knew she was very fragile. Who wouldn’t be after being married for 54 years and suddenly losing their partner? On the way back home, I was seated with a man who looked like my dad I kid you not. He was returning to Kelowna after a birthday celebration in Calgary with his family… guess when his birthday was? Yes, it was March 17th.

I thought I was over my father’s death, his passing. I thought I had dealt with all the pain, the anguish, and come to terms with the unfulfilled potential of a real relationship with him. Just this past weekend at the Farmer’s Market in Kelowna, I had a discussion with a man who was a woodworker, same as dad, and he had a wooden cane, same as dad. In trying to manage the conversation, I couldn’t stop crying, the tears were flowing. Thank goodness I had my sunglasses on. But I knew then I had to do something to deal with these emotions, I am ready to let them go.

My friend Vince passed on in April of this year, April 28th to be exact, at about 3 pm. I haven’t been able to deal with the feelings of his passing very effectively. Vince was such a kind and special man. He was everything that I wished my father was and more. He was intelligent, could speak (boy could he speak!) and he was always ready to look on the positive side of things. But most importantly, he was patient and he listened. He was only 70 I think, I never really asked his age, but I think he mentioned something like that earlier when I first got to know him. He just went through a very bad cancer scare in the past few years, and I kept hoping and hoping that he would get through it. He did. He seemed to conquer the illness and things went on, but it felt to me like something else was going on. I didn’t ask. I was not strong enough to ask.

I met Vince through the Kelowna Museum’s board – I can’t remember when I first got on there, I think it was 2005 or 2006, something like that. Of all the people on the board, I warmed up to a few of them, but Vince was the one I always hoped would be there. He was such a light at the table. He was so patient, and kept bringing up points that couldn’t be forgotten, he remembered everything. He had a comment for almost everything too lol!- but it was always in a positive, fun or intelligent way. Vince was ex military as well, and he always teased me about giving my MFO beret to the Military Museum. We bantered back and forth with his being army (though he always seemed too smart for that) and my being air force. Sometimes I would get glimpses in to his thoughts and feelings about protocol and the politics of situations. I don’t deal too well with either sometimes. He knew that and still liked me. LOL!

I knew he was thinking about the time when he was going to pass on, because he kept talking about his properties, and selling them, and I knew that he was trying to get things in order so that Fran, his wife of 50 some years, would not have to deal with a lot of this stuff. I think on one or two of the board meetings prior to his departure, he kept talking about things and projects not to be forgotten. I knew something was going on, but I was not brave enough to ask. I was afraid to ask.

I met Fran through Vince – she was so open and warmhearted. It was very easy to see why they were together. Two sides of the same coin, the cement between their relationship was something to be envied. Fran is a very talented artist sculptor, and one who was always willing to lend a helpful word. We talked a few times about art and carving, and I thought one day I might try that too. She was one of the people who was instrumental in me doing my own sculpture work today. Fran and Vince were such a special couple. They are where I hope my husband and I are in another 30 years. I know he loved just spending time with her. He supported her vision and he believed in her. Fran, you were so lucky to have a man like that be your partner! How you must feel the loss of his friendship, his voice, his nearness.

The first board meeting after his passing I did not have to attend thank God because I was with my family on vacation. Somehow I kept my brain going on other things so I would not have to think about Vince. But, because I have to pass the Laurel Building, which is right next door to the RCA where I have my studio, I had to think of him. I thought of how he would be so pleased to see the building being finished, and I can imagine him saying that he hopes it will be interpreted completely. That was one thing he was really strong about – he wanted to make sure that things were interpreted completely – no point in having an object that just sits there to be looked at – it needs to be understood as well. He had a few pet projects, I hope they are followed through. I couldn’t go to his memorial. Physically and emotionally incapable is the only way I could describe it. I got a little card in the studio when I got back about the day, Canadian Armed Forces Day, May 15th, and it had his picture. Tears again. There was no way I could go.

The second board meeting after his passing, so the beginning of June, I was fine until someone said his name. Then I couldn’t stop crying. I was not prepared for this reaction at all. I am still at the point that if I think of him then I cry. Can’t stop that it seems. I have not been able to talk to Fran, I mean, emotionally able. I am one of those people that when I cry, I have no voice and am incapable of talking. If I called her up, it would be silence on the phone on my end because I would not be able to speak. When my friend Emelia passed on a few years ago, she called to say goodbye, and even though we were not super-close, I still could not speak very well for the tears. She was a very nice lady and I will always honour her memory.

Even now, just writing this, I have a huge pile of wet kleenex on my desk.

Partnerships are funny things. You can either get along really well, or not get along really well, and still recognize that one person is the other part of you, the other contract you made for this life. You don’t always have to like it. Some days you can like it. Maybe most days you won’t. Lucky are the people who enjoy most days. Even luckier still are the people who enjoy most days in spite of their pain and/or dissatisfaction.

We all have to die. Yes, I know it is inevitable. Can’t run away from it, even though many would like to. I don’t think we just stop. I do think we continue on in some way. I do think that those who pass on are still around, and I don’t think they abandon us, though to the child part of us, it may seem that way. Dying and leaving just does not make sense. I can not see Vince leaving Fran at all, I think he is still there with her, and I think that that will never change. He is a loyal person who would never abandon her, just as she would not abandon him, if the roles were reversed.

I would like to believe that Fran and Vince will meet again, that their love story will continue on in another life. I am sure it will. What makes me cry? The beauty of their relationship, the beauty of their souls, what they shared with each other in this life, and what they gave to others. There is a purity in this kind of love that is heartbreakingly beautiful. This is what makes me cry.

In the ending, there is a new beginning. There has to be. The rhythm of the universe demands that it be so.