Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shellmouth Artist's Retreat

Well, I am counting the days now until the annual Shellmouth Artist's Retreat. This event is a week long time of meeting old friends and welcoming new ones, eating like kings and queens and of course, painting. Shellmouth is situated approximately 25 minutes north of Russell, Manitoba, and is a tiny hamlet situated in the Dropmore River Valley. It is a very picturesque setting for the hordes of artists that converge on the place every year. The only real obligation the artists have to live up to is to cook one meal for upwards to 30 people (and then clean up!) The Retreat is a non-instructional event where people are free to do whatever type art their heart desires. Of course there is much learning going on as everyone mingles about to see what others are up to, and this is a valuable learning tool in of itself. The art making reaches a feverish pitch by the weekend, at which point we have a public viewing and wind up party. We have been fortunate to have the organizers sister, Sandra Hollenburg and her husband Jack perform live music for us at the dance. They are called Silk and Steel and sound fantastic. Jan Layh, the organizer, has been putting the Retreat on for over 8 years now and it has not decreased in popularity at all, in fact there is a waiting list to attend. The energy levels at this Retreat are way off of the scale and the Art that is produced is a wonderful thing to see.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Carver

Yesterday my dogs and I took a drive up to Cranberry Portage to visit my carver friend Irvin Head. Irvin owns and operates an Art Gallery called Northern Buffalo Sculptures and he bides his time between there and his studio down by the lake. When I got to the gallery I found his wife Lisa running the place while Irvin helped some people take down a few teepee's to ship up to the site of the Guy Indian school at Clearwater Lake, where there was going to be a gathering. These two people were instrumental in organizing the construction of what is currently the world's largest teepee. It is a wonderful site to behold and an asset to the Canadian north. Already there have been numerous events held at this site and it is rapidly becoming a popular tourist site.

I wanted to see Irvin to get some photos of him and his studio as I am planning on doing a series of paintings honoring the north and its people. I recently received a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council to complete a project I am calling "Meditations on Northern Manitoba." Irvin is a wonderful carver and very sensitive to his materials and surroundings. He has begun to gather stone from the land around him and is excited about creating pieces that speak of their roots. For those of you who don't know, the rock in these parts is very old and hard and require quite a bit of labour to fashion. I am excited about his venture and wish him well.