Sunday, September 06, 2020

Beep Beep

It had my name written all over it, so of course I had to buy it. It was very good.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Now selling on eBay

A long time goal met... I have now listed some of my art on eBay!

Saturday, August 22, 2020


A podcast episode that popped up in my feed this week was immediately interesting to me. Given my ongoing interest in missing people, and a side interest in people who choose to disappear, it's notable that I hadn't heard of Johatsu and the Night Movers before. Enjoyed the podcast and did more reading on this elusive story...
Tokyo's johatsu are said to disappear into the Sanya district's streets
In Japan, if you want to disappear from your life, you can just pick up the phone and a ‘night moving company’ will turn you into one of the country’s ‘johatsu,’ or literally ‘evaporated people.’ You can cease to exist. Meet the people who choose to disappear and the people who are left behind..." [listen to the podcast on the BBC].
Of the many oddities that are culturally specific to Japan — from cat cafés to graveyard eviction notices to the infamous Suicide Forest, where an estimated 100 people per year take their own lives — perhaps none is as little known, and curious, as “the evaporated people.”... [read more in the New York Post].

There is a book on the phenomena, entitled The Vanished (by Léna Mauger). Sadly, there is no audiobook and before paying crazy prices before buying a used hardcover, I checked out the reviews.... and they were not very good (Goodreads reviews).

Actually, there are two. The other, entitled The Night Movers (by Shou Hatori), has done its own vanishing act... can't find it in any form. Hmmm. It's a shame, as this guy was a night mover.

Aspiring authors: there is a book here! Just be sure to include an audiobook.

Japan's 'evaporated people' have become an obsession for this French couple - story and podcast
Do Stressed-Out Japanese Really Stage Elaborate Disappearances? On the Trail of the Johatsu or 'Evaporated People' - Time
The chilling stories behind Japan’s ‘evaporating people’ - New York Post
Rulebreakers: How I Disappear - BBC: The Documentary Podcast

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

COVID Diary 4

Just had a moment where the multiple traumas and tragedies of late began piling up. The Beirut explosion, the Red Deer doctor attack, so many crazy things happening in this world. For the most part, I have been compartmentalizing ok, but had a wave of emotion hit me when I saw two photos in my CBC Radio stream.
The one that pulled at my heartstrings was this classroom photo of little kids in school, sitting with masks on, at their social distanced desks, so much of their natural spirit controlled, like invisible walls. Not being able to move, to squirm beyond their invisible walls, I can almost see the regimented ways the must need to move about their school, how orderly they must need to be on their breaks. Sad eyes over masks. How tragic. Snuffing out the kid in kids. I am not a parent, so have been learning at an emotional distance about what they say will be the long term effect of COVID on children. But somehow this one picture got me, and I cried. It feels so SAD to see the natural life spirit of kids snuffed out in the very environment they go to be with their friends, to learn, where it used to be an hour or two where they would need to sit controlled before recess, but always still witin note-passing, ruler poking and spitball throwing distance. These kids will be changed by this in ways we cannot be imagined. 30 years from now adults will be struggling through therapy to untangle complex issues. I can't imagine being a parent and needing to navigate all this. And how hard this must be on teachers. They are just little kids.

The other picture was of the arrest of activist Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong. It is just so grim. It says resistance IS futile in any world where China has any influence. What struck me was the faces of the officers that surround him, eyes downcast, in resignation. I want to say in shame, as that's what I imagine I see.

There is more going on, and mostly I cope, but occasionally things pile up and it all hits me. I think the fact that I don't have TV, and don't stream it online, has protected me, by not searing iages of people in hazmat suits into my brain. I think its a wise choice, as I still get plenty of news and analysis and human stories through radio and podcasts. But it also lets images like these stand out, to not pass me by.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

A man, a wild boar and a birthday suit

A must-listen podcast episode from What It Happens:
That boar has that man's laptop!
Listen to the CBC story here
The birthday suit boar chase in central Berlin was caught on film by Adele Landauer. You can listen here.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Recent art

Realize I have been posting very little of my own art of late. I'm always meaning to get better pics, sign or watermark, list for sale, blah, blah, blah... so post very little. BUT I have been creating like crazy, mostly on blank playing cards, and involving stamp collage. I'm in the ACEO arena here, and will probably sell as such on eBay soon. Might even dust off my old Etsy store. But, for now, creating and not worrying about all that.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Artists Documentation Program

I have always been fascinated by the work of art conservators, so this captured my attention. It was mentioned briefly in a podcast or radio program (I forget which), but I did manage to jot down the program name to it look up. 
Conservators of contemporary art face unique challenges. Unlike old masters, contemporary works are often materially ephemeral, time-based, interactive, or conceptual. In restoring these works, conservators rely heavily on documentation of an artist’s materials, techniques, and intent, frequently needing to consult the artist directly. When an artist is no longer living, the available information can become quite scarce.
To address this problem, conservator Carol Mancusi-Ungaro conceived of the Artists Documentation Program (ADP), in which conservators interview artists in the presence of their artworks, in order to understand their materials and techniques. The ADP creates a lasting record of an artist’s attitudes toward restoration and exhibition of their works–a “living will” for their work. Founded at the Menil in 1990, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation..." [continue reading on the ADP website].

Artists Documentation Program (ADP) - official website (interview video access)
Artist Documentation Program - Menil Collection (since 1990) - International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA) blog

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Roll Call: Lady Butler's first

This week I learned about an artwork with an interesting history that otherwise would have passed me by, thanks to Malcolm Gladwell's podcast.

The Roll Call (officially Calling the Roll After An Engagement, Crimea), an 1874 oil-on-canvas painting by Elizabeth Thompson Butler (Lady Butler) was a first, depicting army forces exhausted and depleted after a battle. At the time, soldiers were only portrayed pre-battle, pristinely groomed and brave. This little-known female artist changed all that.

Thompson was just 26 years old when she submitted the painting to the Royal Academy, and it was an instant hit. Butler wrote that she awoke and "found myself famous". Queen Victoria insisted that she should buy it, and the work remains in the Royal Collection, hidden from public view.

In the inaugural episode of his popular podcast, Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell visited the painting in London and shared his learnings. In particular, Gladwell explores the 'first' nature of the work, and the fact that the artist has remained largely unknown. It's a good listen.

The Lady Vanishes - Revisionist History episode

Sunday, July 12, 2020


For a couple of weeks I have had a Post-It Note with the word "Bullockornis" written on it, waiting for my attention. A co-worker had used the word in out internal chat system, and I answered "?". He said Google it. So today I did...
This image from Dinopedia is a contradiction... as this
presumably ferocious giant bird looks almost cute
Bullockornis planei, nicknamed the demon-duck of doom or thunderduck, is an extinct flightless bird that lived in the Middle Miocene, approximately 15 million years ago, in what is now Australia.

Bullockornis stood approximately 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) tall, and weighed up to 250 kg (550 lb). The size of Bullockornis' skull (larger than a small horse), and its very large beak, once led to speculation that the bird may have been carnivorous. Most currently agree that it was a herbivore, related to geese and ducks. This, in addition to the bird's tremendous size and earlier misclassification as a carnivore, gave rise to its colourful nickname.
Although the name actually means‭ '‬ox bird‭'‬,‭ ‬Bullockornis is better known in popular culture as the‭ '‬Demon duck of doom‭'‬.‭.. Although Bullockornis was without doubt a large bird,‭ ‬it was not named for being the size of an ox but instead for being discovered in Bullock Creek... [continue reading on Prehistoric Wildlife]

Bullockornis ("Bullock Bird") - Australia: The Land Where Time Began
Bullockornis ("Ox Bird") - Prehistoric Wildlife

Friday, July 10, 2020

In praise of Conestoga Huts

I was inspired by a CBC Radio All Points West interview today to Google 'conestoga hut'. The interview was with a British Columbian behind an initiative to bring an innovative homeless solution from Eugene, Oregon to the province. As a person whose heart is heavy with the lack of action to end homelessness, I'm impressed and inspired. A few pics and and links...

Conestoga Huts: Cost-Effective and Durable Micro-Shelters - Community Supported Shelters
Safe Spot Communities: Simple Shelter + Peer-Support = Stability - Community Supported Shelters
CSS Resident Stories - Community Supported Shelters
Erik and Fay de Buhr on life in a Hut: “We love small spaces.” - Community Supported Shelters
Erik de Buhr builds huts for the homeless – but eventually gives them a 'loving shove' - Christian Science Monitor

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The glorious works of Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero Angulo is Latin America's most recognized living artist, but is still new to me. His distinctive style is referred as "Boterismo", depicting people and figures in large, exaggerated volume.

"When we look at the work of Fernando Botero, be it a painting, drawing or sculpture, we are amazed at the enormous size of the figures, as much animals as people and things...The figures painted and sculpted by Botero are not really ‘fat’. They are his formal bid for expressing the sensuality of form, to explore the possibilities of volume and give monumentality to the protagonists of his pictorial world"... [continue reading on Raising Miro]

"I don’t paint fat women. Nobody believes me but it is true.
What I paint are volumes. When I paint a still life I also
paint with volume, if I paint an animal it is
volumetric, a landscape as well."
Fernando Botero

10 Facts You Need to Know About Fernando Botero - Daily Art Magazine
Big, big, bigger Botero - Raising Miro
Inside Botero's NYC Apartment and Studio (great sneak peak from $6M 2017 listing) - Street Easy Blog
Botero’s Voluminous Sculptures Around the World - Art Weekenders
Fernando Botero - Colombian Artists (GREAT photos!) - The Art Reference Blog
The Art of Fernando Botero: Colombia’s ‘Most Colombian’ Artist - Culture Trip
Fernando Botero in the casting room, a thought experiment - The Art Blog
Fat is Beautiful - The Art of Fernando Botero - Travel Ark 2.0
Fernando Botero & his amusing versions of the Mona Lisa - Public Delivery
Inflated Animal and Human Shapes in the Art of Fernando Botero - 300 Magazine, A Medium Corporation
Visual collection of Botero's work (2500+ works) - ArtNet

Thursday, June 25, 2020

How a podcast about design works (99% Invisible)

I am a huge fan of 99% Invisible, so I really enjoyed this video interview with Roman Mars.

Meet Roman Mars, the creator and host of one of our favorite shows, 99% Invisible. It's a wonderful podcast that celebrates and obsesses over the overlooked design in our everyday lives. We visited Roman at his recording studio (ie. home office) to geek out over the hidden world of design, radio production, and storytelling through podcasting...

Meet Roman Mars, Creator of 99% Invisible - Adam Savage's Tested episode page about the 2014 interview

Meet Roman Mars, Creator of 99% Invisible - watch Norman Chan's interview on YouTube

99% Invisible  - Roman Mars's podcast website

Friday, June 19, 2020

World Refugee Day (June 20)

World Refugee Day this year is Saturday, June 20, 2020. I am pre-writing this post, inspired by a 2019 story on artnews.

The Met Is Covering Up a Painting by Marc Chagall to Show What the World Would Lose Without the Contributions of Refugees

"Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this week will be unable to see one of the major works in the museum’s collection: Marc Chagall’s The Lovers (1913–14). The painting, although still on view, has been obscured with a drab gray curtain in honor of World Refugee Day (Thursday, June 20). The museum is hiding the painting to emphasize what the world stands to lose if countries turn away refugees such as Chagall, a Russian Jew forced to flee France with his fiancee, Bella Rosenfeld, after the Nazi invasion. The Lovers depicts the artist and his wife, who resettled in New York..." [continue reading on artnet].

Marc Chagall's The Lovers (uncovered)

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Columbus, Indiana: an architectural epicentre

The public library in Columbus, Indiana - architecture I. M. Pei
Yes, that's a Henry Moore sculpture ("Large Arch")
It all began with a swimming pool.

Not just any swimming pool, but a kidney shaped one.

It was while listening to episode 370 of 99% Invisible, The Pool and the Stream Redux, that I learned about 2 things:
• The history of skateboarding (some of which I was familiar with), and
• How Columbus, Indiana, USA, became an epicentre of modern architecture... who knew?!?

I am not going to spoil things and try to put the story in a nutshell for you. Take a listen yourself, or read the transcript if you prefer.

In the meantime, Google is my friend and I am off to learn more about this architecture.

The Pool and the Stream Redux (episode 370) - 99% Invisible podcast
Columbus, Ind.: A Midwestern Mecca Of Architecture - NPR podcast
The Precocious Genius of “Columbus” (movie review) - New Yorker
Small and Mighty Mecca of Modern Architecture in Columbus, Indiana - The Roads Travelled

Here are a few photos of the city's architecture.... which I have intentionally left untitled. If you're into architecture, have fun identifying them:)

Thursday, May 28, 2020

You would have been 71

May 28, 2020

Carol Leigh

You would have turned 71 today
If only you were still here
I never had to calculate your age, as I would just add 10 years to my own age
At 61, I have already lived so many years longer than you
While I came to accept your death, I simultaneously could never quite grasp the it of it all
You were so full of life
Always my big sister
You had such amazing perspectives 
Not only did you know the histories of all religions, but you celebrated them all
Not one to be knocked down, no matter what curve balls life dealt you, you always looked at what laid ahead as an adventure 
I can hear you saying
It's not what I would have chosen, but it's where I am
I might as well enjoy it
You taught me this so well
You equipped me well
To face the world without you
I am not often lonely, but sometimes when I think of you, I feel lonely
I miss you so much
You taught me to embrace life
You taught me to make the best of any situation 
You taught me that I am strong enough to survive anything
Even when it seems I can't imagine surviving life without being able to talk things out with you
Oh, our grand telephone marathons, how we would sometimes go on for hours
Long enough that we needed pee breaks
Today I am thinking about how I would meet you
Every other Friday night
At the Bay
We'd dine in the Bay's glorious rooftop buffet
Where one could sit for hours
We loved meeting here because it was next to the furniture department 
They had all these living scenes set up
Living rooms you could step into
Where you could imagine your life
You could sit back in an easy chair
Or perch on an ottoman
And imagine living in the space
We met there because either of could arrive first
And amuse oneself for hours, til the other arrived
I was so young and green
And you gave me big sisterly advice
I knew how to live as a young woman in the big city
Because of you
There wasn't a problem you couldn't solve
Or help me solve
And on the way we'd examine all the possibilities of what could come next
And the opportunity in each
I never felt daunted by life
Weekend mornings when I was living in the West End
And would go out for coffee
And think, no
This doesn't seem right
I should be with Carol right now
But you were gone
Once or twice every weekend I would see you
At your hospice
Sometimes picking you up to take you for a drive
Oh, how you loved those drives!
You who had lost your ability to explore 
Could once again travel the streets
Coast through Stanley Park
Enjoying sun snd rain
Fresh air and memories
And we would talk, and talk, and talk
I was at a total loss when you were gone
I would go out for coffee
But not quite relax
It was quite a shock, to be there, alone
Without you
Without you to visit
Without you to talk to 
Without you
In this place that you encouraged me to move to
How would I enjoy it
Without you to share it with?
An existential moment
A moment of reckoning
Many moments
But slowly
I had the strength to carry on without you
Even though a part of me broke inside
I had those lessons
It's not the life I would have chosen
This living without you
But I did
I am 
I know there is a lot I have pushed
Down and away
But never did I look at bleakness ahead
I saw opportunity and possibilities ahead
I could turn my energy to embracing where I was at the moment
Counting my blessings 
Digging deep
And, eventually, living again seemed normal
I stopped feeling at a loss
Because I'd much rather visit you
Than have coffee by myself
I was ok
I am ok
So many memories float through my mind this morning 
My heart
My soul
I miss you terribly big sister
But you are always here with me
I feel your presence often
And I feel your lessons always
Love you forever Carol Leigh