A woman doesn’t live by studio alone, but in the last weeks of intense art production before an exhibition, you’d sometimes never know it. You began this process feeling like you might have found meaning, but by this stage any meaning that exists is in the completion. It’s only now you begin to think you might know how to do this art stuff. You also know that you couldn’t sustain the pace.
Many, many years ago, as a new art school graduate working an evening job as a gallery attendant, I met Alberta sculptor Katie Ohe when she brought in an entire exhibition of her welded and polished steel abstract sculptures for installation the next day. Her face was exhausted and exhilarated and slightly burnt, from too much arc and torch late at night to meet a deadline. I doubt I even spoke to her – I was young and and shy and nobody – but I’ve never forgotten that look. Maybe we all wear it sometimes. If we’re lucky.
Along with the memory of Katie Ohe, that evening gallery attendant job gave me something else that lasts to this day, the habit of trying to cram as much studio time in as possible then cramming everything else into the time left over. Making a living. Making a home. Making a life. In these last days of art production when I’m alone a lot, I sometimes wonder if my choice was the right one. But later, when I see the exhibition all hung and lit and glowing, I hope I’ll be sure.
And in the meantime, out there in the world, crocuses are growing. In the warm April air on remote hillsides in Grasslands National Park just a few kilometers from where I live, swaths of soft purple are tucked into the prairie. So a couple of days ago I turned the production flame down low for awhile and good friend and fellow artist Catherine Macaulay and I went to see them. A slow walk, a high hill, meandering on ridges, growth just beginning to feel like spring. And those small gentle cups, tucked away. Also glowing.
The exhibition I refer to is New Artists, New Work, at the Assiniboia Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, opening April 24. I’ll be there for the reception. Please do say drop by and say hello!
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