Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Urban Wildlife

Life in our little corner on Turnbull Place has become a lot more interesting since my new neighbour Jack has moved in.

Jack is a lagomorph, a prairie white-tailed jackrabbit. He has taken up residence in a bushy corner of my front yard dominated by a large, spreading Colorado Spruce, surrounded by tall Karl Foerster and shorter Oat grasses, amidst local drought-tolerant flowers.

The prairie jackrabbit world -- like our own -- has become more fragile and complicated. Moving into the city is a flexible and resilient way for Jacks to adapt to habitat loss and climate change.

In early spring, Jack is out on the boulevard eating green grasses and dandelions. Several times I have seen him out there with a partner. No March Hare madness on display... Jack is discreet. He's just claiming his little patch of paradise.

We acknowledge each other. We share the same space, breathe the same air and are blessed by the same sun. Walking along the boulevard where he is crouched down, he looks at me as if to say, "This is my world too!"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Gazebo for Grow Regina

This is my working model, a maquette 15" high and 24" in diameter, laser cut in MDF, a representation of the gazebo planned for Grow Regina. Large or small, a gazebo is a refreshing focal point in the garden, providing shade, shelter, rest and intimate views of the surrounding landscape. It's a place where life and art are rooted; a place where the smell of wet earth, the sight and feel of nature's fecundity and the rhythm of its unfailing cycles reminds us of our place in creation. And it's a place to watch butterflies and bees among the flowers, to delight in the passing seasons, the evening moon and the morning star.

This gazebo is still a work in progress. The Cicansky Gazebo is being planned for installation next year at the Grow Regina Community Gardens, and will be fabricated of powder-coated metal. It will also be  available in sizes from 25 feet in diameter to the size of a child's dollhouse. The railing around the gazebo can be custom-designed using a child's drawings, or a variety of other designs.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Harvest time

Dug these carrots in the garden. They were celebrating a spectacular garden season. Let's boogie!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gone fishing...

This was my first trip fishing the great northwest off Prince Rupert – out on the water the sky was grey. It was cold and windy with whitecaps heaving… But it was a different world under water. The fish were biting. My first fish was a 28 pound chinook.  Then a 17, 19 and 25 pounder not including the three that got away. On the last two days the sky cleared and the sun broke through. The water was flat and the eagles soared. Long live the wonder of the great northwest!

Wet and Wildness

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet,
Long live the weeds and wildness yet.
                    -- Gerald Manley Hopkins
And then of course, there were the ones that got away...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Totems of the Self

At first glance, Victor Cicansky's books seem to constitute a motley autobiography, a multivolume Song of Myself:  "My Life With Clay", "My Garden Palette", "Regina: My World", "My Bronze Age", and so on. The titles point to two of his central preoccupations: the cultivation of gardens, and the making of art in clay and bronze using "My Colours"  glazes and patinas. Like Joe Fafard, his colleague from the days of the Regina Clay scene, Cicansky has a mischievous talent for befuddling the eye of the beholder. Even his bugs are ironically comedic, having exercised their "biting" wit upon the volume entitled "Control of Insect Pests".Upon seeing the damage inflicted by these trickster devourers, I was reminded of Bacon's famous dictum that "some books are to be tasted," while others are to be chewed and digested".
– Dr. Eva Seidner, for the Mira Godard Gallery

In literary works there are significant differences between an autobiography and a self-portrait, and it would be interesting to pursue elsewhere the question of whether or not similar distinctions apply in the visual arts. For the moment, however, I wish to focus on the clearest and most basic distinctions between Cicansky's books and the universal idea of "the book" as collated information printed on paper and bound between boards.For even without the benefit of Cicansky's background notes, the viewer understands that these volumes and their titles stand for passages or "chapters" in the life of the artist. But of course, Cicansky's books are not books in anything other than their outward appearance, which in fact belies their true nature. They are simulacra  conceptual representations of what Cicansky's autobiography might look like, if he were to publish it in book form.
– Dr. Eva Seidner
We are accustomed to thinking of the Great Books as somehow transcending the realm of existence in which their mortal authors and readers must dwell. But even a book whose ideas and mode of expression survive through many generations cannot endure forever as a physical object. By fashioning his books out of clay, Cicansky seems to underline their fragility and their connection to the earth, from which all things come and to which all eventually return, to come again as new forms in a new season.
– Dr. Eva Seidner

Self-Portrait: A Small Library 2011 was part of The Self-Portrait Show, the 50th Anniversary Exhibition at the Mira Godard Gallery in Toronto from mid-March to mid-April. Excerpts from "The Patient Labyrinth of Lines", the accompanying essay by Dr. Eva Seidner are ©2012, reprinted with permission.